Paleo Diet Carrot Cupcakes (Gluten-free and Dairy-free) – A Caveman or Cavewoman’s Dream | Cupcake Project

Paleo Diet Carrot Cupcakes (Gluten-free and Dairy-free) – A Caveman or Cavewoman’s Dream

I know I said that I had found my favorite carrot cupcake.  I called that carrot cupcake “unforgettably moist”.  These paleo diet carrot cupcakes are just as satisfying as my original carrot cupcakes (I may even like them better), with the added benefit that they are fairly healthy and can be eaten by those who subscribe to a paleolithic diet, those who are gluten-free, and those who are dairy-free.

These paleo diet carrot cupcakes don’t taste like “diet” cupcakes.  All of my tasters have loved them – even those who don’t like traditional carrot cakes.  Surprisingly, even my anti-coconut tasters enjoyed the coconut maple frosting (a mix of coconut oil and maple syrup).  Everyone also commented on the texture of the cupcakes.  The combination of moist carrots, sweet and chewy dates, and the crunch of pecans makes for a cupcake that’s more of a sensory experience that your typical light and fluffy cupcake.

What is the Paleo  Diet?

If you are still grunting, “ugg?” with your arms up in the air trying to figure out what the paleo diet is, here is your answer, straight from Wikipedia:

The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. In common usage, such terms as the “Paleolithic diet” also refer to the actual ancestral human diet. Centered on commonly available modern foods, the “contemporary” Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.

Like a gluten-free diet, wheat flour is out but flours made from nuts are OK.  Most paleo followers avoid all dairy products, so coconut oil is often used as a substitute for butter.  Some paleo followers use no sugar at all, while others will use honey and maple syrup in small amounts.  Sam Hoxie has complied a fairly thorough list of allowed paleo diet foods that you can reference if you are interested.

Paleo Diet Carrot Cupcake Recipe

I created this paleo diet carrot cupcake recipe by modifying the paleo carrot cake recipe found on They Call It Falling For A Reason (adapted slightly from a recipe on Elana’s Pantry).  The recipe uses walnuts instead of pecans (and fewer of them), honey rather than maple, and it does not include cardamom (I’m a huge fan of cardamom in carrot cake, so I threw it in).  The frosting I used is a coconut maple frosting that was originally used to top delicious looking paleo pancakes on Health-Bent.

As I noted above, I realize that not everyone following the paleo diet is willing to eat maple syrup.  I opted to use it after reading a post on Paleo Cookies on the subject.

Paleo Diet Carrot Cupcakes (Gluten-free and Dairy-free) – A Caveman or Cavewoman’s Dream

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Paleo Diet Carrot Cupcakes (Gluten-free and Dairy-free) – A Caveman or Cavewoman’s Dream


    Cupcake Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons almond oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, finely chopped (The food processor is the easiest way to do this.)
  • 1/2 cup pureed dates (If you buy dried dates and they are too hard to puree in your food processor, microwave them with a little bit of water to soften them. Strain out any excess water and then puree them.)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • Frosting Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup


    Cupcake Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, maple syrup, and oil.
  4. Mix carrots and dates into the wet ingredients.
  5. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  6. Fold in the pecans.
  7. Divide evenly between 12 cupcake liners.
  8. Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.
  9. Frosting Directions
  10. Mix coconut oil and maple syrup until smooth. This will be nearly impossible to do by hand. A hand mixer or an immersion blender works best for this because they allow you to mix in a small bowl which keeps the oil and syrup from simply spreading out all over a big mixing bowl.
  11. Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes.
  12. Eat and grunt with joy.


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64 Responses to Paleo Diet Carrot Cupcakes (Gluten-free and Dairy-free) – A Caveman or Cavewoman’s Dream

  1. Lisa @ Sweet 2 Eat Baking March 12, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    These look oh sooooo good. My fella would love these, he adores carrot cakes and the cupcakes are a perfect serving size (he’d have a massive door-stop wedge if he could, lol).

    Just wanted to let you know that I linked to your blog from my blog too. I love your blog and felt it was link worthy on mine. :)

    Keep on baking and posting! :)

  2. Anonymous March 12, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    They look delicious! :)

  3. Kristin @ Treat. Eat. Repeat. March 12, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    I LOVE that you included a paleo diet cupcake! I just learned about the paleo diet yesterday and it has definitely sparked my interest.

  4. Jennifer Carden March 12, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Coconut butter or oil? It looks like I see coconut shreds in the frosting.

    • Stef March 12, 2012 at 9:57 am #

      It’s my understand that coconut butter and coconut oil are the same thing.

    • Anonymous March 13, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

      There is definitely some confusion about these terms floating around. Some sites say they are the same. However, there is an actual coconut butter product. One can also make homemade coconut butter in a Vitamix or other high-powered blender by pulverizing unsweetened coconut shreds. Therefore, the separate coconut butter product actually contains the coconut fibers, unlike the oil. The butter is relatively solid at room-temp (more so than the oil), and does not seem to soften until it reaches approx. 76 degrees. When melted, it can make a decadent drizzle frosting when mixed with sweetener of choice. :)

  5. Maya from Dress My Cupcake March 13, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    Who would have thought these diet cupcakes would look so delicious! With a few orange cupcake wrappers these would be great for the upcoming holidays!

  6. Texanerin March 13, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    The whole coconut butter and oil thing is so confusing! To me, coconut butter is just ground up coconut (you can make your own by processing dried coconut in the food processor) and it tastes like coconut. What I call refined coconut oil looks and melts like lard. It doesn’t taste like coconut.

    I looked it up and lots of people say coconut butter and oil are the same, but then I found this: The difference between coconut oil and butter and it pretty much confirms that they’re different. And Elana uses both coconut butter and coconut oil in this recipe which makes it even more confusing. I really think she meant coconut butter for the frosting but maybe that’s just me.

    Now that my little essay is finished I’ll go and comment on how amazing this recipe looks. :)

    • Anonymous March 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

      Yes, I think she meant coconut butter as well. I love coconut oil (I use it for almost everything), but I can’t imagine biting into a big, sweetened glob of it on top of my cupcake. :)

    • Rural Living Today March 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

      One thing also is that there is unrefined (virgin) coconut oil that is just a pure solid oil but tastes like coconut. It’s awesome. I eat paleo and I know a lot of paleo recipes that make frosting using coconut oil instead of butter for a cococream (as opposed to buttercream) frosting.

      My favorite way though… melt it with a little dark chocolate, let it solidify. Tastes like coconut-chocolate Magic Shell.

  7. Texanerin March 13, 2012 at 4:54 am #

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve been trying to eat more grain free baked goods recently and can’t wait to try this! I especially love that it doesn’t have pineapple in it. Really, thanks a ton. I’m so excited about this recipe! Oh, and I love your caveman cupcake setup. 😀

  8. Patent Attorney March 14, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    What a great and healthy update of a recipe that was already amazing. I can’t wait to try these out at home, and maybe even bring some into the office if I’m feeling generous!

  9. C&C Cakery March 15, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Love that you went paleo – just wondering if you have a substitute for the maple syrup? I don’t use it as part of my paleo diet (though I know a couple paleos who do). I’d love to try this recipe, but I’m not sure what I could substitute – that’s quite a bit of syrup to take out.

  10. C&C Cakery March 15, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Love that you went paleo – just wondering if you have a substitute for the maple syrup? I don’t use it as part of my paleo diet (though I know a couple paleos who do). I’d love to try this recipe, but I’m not sure what I could substitute – that’s quite a bit of syrup to take out.

  11. C&C Cakery March 15, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Love that you went paleo – just wondering if you have a substitute for the maple syrup? I don’t use it as part of my paleo diet (though I know a couple paleos who do). I’d love to try this recipe, but I’m not sure what I could substitute – that’s quite a bit of syrup to take out.

  12. Jade @ Maids March 16, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    You always amaze me with your work, very impressive!
    looks so good!

  13. Texanerin March 16, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    I ended up making these a few hours after my last comment because I couldn’t stand it any longer!

    They have the best consistency of any grain-free baked good I’ve had so far. They’re fantastic! Next time I’ll double the spices because I don’t actually like the taste of carrots and these were more carrot tasting than I’m used to in carrot cake. My husband, who usually dislikes everything, loved these. Thanks for the recipe! :)

  14. CAB March 17, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    I love this recipe since I’m always looking for tasty Paleo friendly recipes to satisfy cravings. The only thing I would recommend against is the use of grape seed oil since most Paleo experts are opposed to the use of it. I recommend using either the almond oil or even walnut oil. I think I’m going to try it with avocado oil too since it has a mild flavor to it. Thanks for the recipe!

  15. Julia March 18, 2012 at 4:44 am #

    For reals, you have no ideeeea how perfect these look. OK fine, maybe you do 😉 I’ve been baking a lot more paleo recipes and carrot cake is my favorite, so finding these, oh wow. I can’t wait to make them!!!!

  16. Abigail March 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    I have recently begun eating the Primal/Paleo way, and baked goods have been extremely difficult to forego. These look amazing, I cannot wait to bake them!

  17. Sara Grace March 19, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    gluten free and they look oooh soo good! can’t wait to bake these!

  18. Anonymous March 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    What else could you use instead of coconut butter/oil? I am allergic but would LOVE to try these as I am following the paleo diet. Thanks!

    • Stef April 3, 2012 at 3:47 am #

      I would just skip the frosting. It really doesn’t need it.

  19. Katie M April 3, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    First off, I just want to say thank you for clarifying what the Paleo diet is at least a little bit. I have seen it more and more in the current diet fads but I would always forget to look at what it actually entailed. Paleo actually seems like it could be a really healthy way to eat, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough will power to follow it all the time!
    Anyway, these cupcakes look really delicious. I am usually not a big carrot cake fan, but I think the smaller amount and the fact that it is relatively healthy for you would make me like it more.
    How long have you been on the Paleo diet, and is it hard for you to follow?

    • Stef April 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      I don’t actually personally follow the Paleo diet. There is no way I could do it and also be a cupcake blogger. I do have some friends that have done it and it is pretty hard.

  20. Mootzie June 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    I have a question about the frosting. I used coconut oil and maple syrup and the resulting mixture was runny and oily. Did you use coconut butter? How did you stabilize the frosting on the cupcakes in the picture?

  21. paleo cookies June 13, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    Do you mind if I pinch this recipe for our new blog We will of course credit you and put a link to this page but as they are so good I’d like to share them

  22. Jason June 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Nice post, thanks.

  23. Anonymous July 8, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    How many calories are there per cupcake? Thanks for the recipe.

  24. Anonymous August 1, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    I”m with Mootzie – wondering how you got the frosting to stabilize. Mine is runny.

  25. Valerie August 5, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    I think if you use coconut butter instead of coconut oil & chill it it should set up better.

  26. Anonymous September 8, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    These are wonderful! I used dry figs and soaked them in water as suggested and puree them with olive oil. I also used honey instead of maple syrup. They turn out very moist and had a little crunch from the figs! FANTASTIC! Thanks!

  27. Anonymous September 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Made these today and followed it exactly the cupcakes came out perfect. I had some trouble with the frosting. First time making coconut frosting and it was not suggested that the coconut oil be hard and mine was liquid. So you might want to revise it some to say this. I used a hand mixer in a small bowl, and it did not whip so I got out the food processor which is most similar to the immulsion blender. Still nothing, so I put in the fridge and it finally started to get a lil thick. so that was trying. Still not really really happy with frosting, but its workable now.

    The most important thing is they TASTE AWESOME!

    Thanks so much!

    ps. I didnt have to soak dates.

  28. akedwards September 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    I have to say that I have not been happy with ANYTHING I have ever made with almond flour until now. This cupcake is DELICIOUS.


  29. Kaitlyn September 16, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    Was wondering:

    – would this be enough batter to make a normal sized cake?

    – can I sub honey instead of maple syrup?

    – can I take out the nuts? will I need to replace them with anything?

  30. Anonymous November 10, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    I just recently found out I can’t have eggs! I’m not one to stray from a recipe what can I substitute for the eggs? I also can’t have wheat or coconut :(

    • Anonymous December 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

      You can use apple sauce or natural yoghurt instead of eggs in some recipes. I realise that natural yoghurt does not fit into the Paleo foods. Try using Almond meal for the entire amount instead of adding any coconut flour, that might work, or flaxmeal / chia seeds?

      I tend to experiment a bit..can you have egg yolks? or whites or is it the entire egg??

  31. Anonymous December 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm #


    I am about to embark on the 21 day sugar detox as a lead in to trying to ‘go paleo’.

    I have just made these cakes but substituted the maple syrup, pureed dates and pecan nuts for mashed banana, mashed cooked green apple and crushed walnuts. They taste great!!

    Even my 22 and 23 year old sons, who are going to try to sugar detox with me didn’t turn there noses up at them : ) so thats always a good sign.

    I did not ice them!

    I am only just discovering most of these sites and recipies so I enjoy reading all the feedback


  32. Paleo Desert January 23, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    The skinwill look clearer and smoother skin than in the past. We sometimes don’t even realize how dull and poor our skin’s appearance is becoming until it starts to clear. The Paleo diet is really a skin-clearing miracle.

  33. Anonymous January 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    I just made these and my 4 year old ate 2 already! Didn’t even have time to make the frosting. I actually don’t think I need the frosting, they are delicious without it. And you are right, the cardamom is perfect for these

  34. sheone March 10, 2013 at 8:20 am #
    The Paleo Diet aka the caveman diet encourages you to replace dairy and grain with fresh fruits and vegetables. What I love about this way of eating is calorie counting is not encouraged. Awesome right?

  35. Andrea July 16, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    Amazing cupcakes! I did my own recipe but great inspiration. Thank you!

  36. Luc July 28, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Just did thème ! Great ! Suble taste ! My fist time time with dates, will do t again. Thanks ( Luc , French, pastry cooking amateur before paleo, still building my paleo skills )

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  40. Leslie Pieper-McQueen December 3, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    I have a cupcake blog called My Year of Cupcakes. I featured your Paleo Diet Carrot Cupcake recipe on Day 122. Here’s the link if you wanna take a look:

    Thanks for the great recipe!

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  42. Julie April 26, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Thank you for this recipe!!! I was really surprised how “normal” these cupcakes taste. They were moist, and I like crunchiness the nuts add to the recipe. I did not make the icing…….made real cream cheese frosting, and that made these cupcakes wonderful. I’m not following the paleo diet exactly, just trying to lower my grain intake.

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    Was just wondering do you have a nutrition guide for these?
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