Carrot Cake Pancakes

Carrot cake pancakes with maple cream cheese topping by Cookie and Kate

How do I love pancakes? Let me count the ways. I love pancakes, first and foremost, because they give me an excuse to eat cakes for breakfast. Or dinner. Secondly, nothing makes me giddy like the sight of a plate of pancakes, piled high. Leisurely mornings are celebration-worthy occurrences, are they not? They deserve pancakes. Lastly, I love fluffy, whole wheat pancakes like these because they hold me over until lunchtime, unlike donuts or pastries. Hold the pastries, pass the pancakes.


I haven’t been able to get these carrot cake pancakes off my mind since I saw them in the Joy the Baker Cookbook. I really love Joy the Baker. Why? Because one day she posts cheesecake, and the next, kale and quinoa cakes. She bakes birthday cakes for her cat, Jules, and then unabashedly tells the world about it. Even Cookie doesn’t get birthday cake. Plus, her hilarious podcasts keep me company while I work at home. I pretty much feel like we’re friends, so when she published her first cookbook, I had to have it immediately. It is, as the cover says, a celebration of butter and sugar, but these pancakes stood out because they’re low in both of those ingredients and still incredible.

finely shredded carrots in food processor

Joy’s recipe was not my first attempt at making carrot cake pancakes, but her recipe turned out perfectly whereas the first recipe left me with fat, chewy pancakes. In my first attempt, I used my food processor to grate the carrots but it didn’t grate the carrots finely enough. The pancakes ended up sort of dense and almost crunchy. It makes sense if you think about it, because the carrots in actual carrot cake have over 30 minutes to break down in the oven but pancakes are cooked for less than 5 minutes.

how to make carrot cake pancakes

The carrot conundrum was the one thing keeping me from making these pancakes, but lo and behold, Deb of Smitten Kitchen posted Joy’s carrot cake pancakes along with her carrot grating advice. Deb suggested grating the carrots by hand with a fine grater instead of using the food processor, which didn’t quite satisfy me but got me thinking about other potential solutions. (Hand grating requires far more energy than I possess before breakfast.) I had a few ideas on how to bypass the problem, and fortunately my first attempt using the easiest method worked great. I used my food processor’s grating blade to grate carrots as usual, and then I swapped in the all-purpose blade and pulsed the carrots a few times. Voila! Finely grated carrots made with minimal effort.

carrot cake pancakes by Cookie and Kate

Considering that two of my favorite food bloggers love these pancakes, I was not surprised to find that I do, too. They are decadent and delicious, while being full of carrots and in my version, whole grains as well. What’s not to love? I suggest you make them this weekend.

whole wheat carrot cake pancake recipe by Cookie and Kate

Carrot Cake Pancakes
4.9 from 13 reviews
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Decadent and delicious carrot cake pancakes made with whole wheat flour.
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons packed Muscovado sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (about 6 big or 8 smallish carrots)**
  • Butter, for griddle
Maple cream cheese topping
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons milk (more or less depending on desired consistency)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit so you can keep the pancakes warm before serving. Spoon the cream cheese into a bowl and leave it out at room temperature to soften.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, Muscovado/brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla.
  4. Stir in the carrots, then dump the wet mixture into the dry mixture all at once. Stir just until incorporated. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes while you make the cream cheese topping and preheat your griddle/skillet.
  5. Whisk the cream cheese in a small bowl until it is uniformly soft and pliable, with no lumps. If your cream cheese is not soft enough yet to do this, try zapping it in the microwave for just a few seconds at a time. Whisk in the maple syrup, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Feel free to sweeten with more syrup or further thin it out further with more milk. Set aside.
  6. Over medium heat, melt a big pat of butter in a cast-iron skillet or griddle. Pour a scant ¼ cup batter into the hot pan, using the measuring cup to pat the batter down and out a bit. Cook, flipping once, until the pancakes are golden on both sides.
  7. Place pancakes on an ovenproof plate and keep in the oven while you cook the remaining pancakes, adding more butter to the pan as needed. Top with maple cream cheese and serve with extra maple syrup on the side, in case someone wants to sweeten it up further.
  • Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook.
  • Yields 11 to 12 medium pancakes.
  • These pancakes freeze well!
  • *Make your own buttermilk by combining 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Let it sit for 5 minutes then proceed as directed.
  • **If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, grate the carrots using the grating attachment. Then replace the grating attachment with your regular multipurpose blade. Pulse the carrots up to 10 times, until they are finely grated finely but not mush (see photo above).
  • Pancakes cooked in cast iron skillets taste the best, just saying. Get yourself one!


  1. says

    I’ve had carrot cake pancakes on the brain for awhile now — so interesting about grating the carrots super fine, I wouldn’t have thought of that and I’m sure my first attempt would have been crunchy too :)

  2. Bec says

    I have this sneaking suspicion my boyfriend and I may be having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow morning…

    • Bec says

      Aaaand we did indeed have them for breakfast, and they were wonderful. :D Even my boyfriend, who’s not always the biggest fan of the idea of healthy alternatives to his favourite foods, wolfed them down. Fantastic recipe :) I loved how light and fluffy they turned out, and the cream cheese made a great topping.

      Just wondering – do you think they’d work with fruit rather than with the carrot? I’d be curious to try some different flavour combinations, and I was wondering if you thought this would be an adaptable base recipe.

      • says

        Hey Bec, so happy you two enjoyed the pancakes! Thanks for commenting to let me know! I am not a baking expert by any means, but I am always searching for those perfect whole grain base recipes. I compared Joy’s recipe for carrot cake pancakes to her recipe for blackberry orange pancakes and the liquid and dry measurements are just the same. Please give some other fruit a try and let us know how your pancakes turn out. I think they will be delicious with almost anything!

  3. Teramo says

    What a great idea! I’ve never tried this but now have it on my list for this weekend. I notice you stipulate the use of real maple syrup for the cream…my own suggestion to kick this up a notch would be to use pure organic maple syrup…the taste is so much better that regular and is healthier. Organic mapke syrup can be tough to find sometimes so if they don’t have it at your grocery store get it online like i do….I get it from I also would drizzle some on top of the pancakes, after all whats pancakes without maple syrup…but Then again I’m a maple syrup fanatic.

  4. Sarah B. says

    I love pancakes too Kathryne, so much! Such a wonderful recipe here from Joy the Baker, and you’ve made them look amazing my lady, it’s 2am-worthy, good looking (starving!) Ps. Are you getting excited for your trip or what? :) Will be in touch soon, yay! xx!

  5. says

    I like Joy for the very same reasons you do. Her food is comfort, no fail, and delicious! Did you read her latest post about turning 31? I loved it! Deb’s food is awesome too. So the combination of both techniques from these two should be lovely, right? I always have carrots on hand and would love to try these pancakes soon!

  6. Marcia says

    These look fabulous, Kathryne! Thanks for the tip about grating the carrots–makes total sense. And that maple cream cheese topping looks absolutely decadent. I’m getting together with an old pancake-loving friend soon and think I’ll try these out on her. Oh, the things I’ll do for a friendship… :-)

  7. says

    I have really been meaning to get to making these since I got the Joy cookbook. I love her for a gazillion reasons, most of which you mentioned, and also because she is so sweet in real life! Love it when that happens.

  8. Christine says

    These were absolutely AMAZING. I adjusted the recipe slightly (for one!) and only used: 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of ginger and nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 cup of buttermilk and 2 small grated carrots and it they turned out literally gorgeous! So much so that I was literally eating each one as soon as I flipped it out the skillet! I ended up making 4 thick, medium-sized pancakes, and they definitely fill you up – not that that stopped me!

    • says

      Yay, so glad to hear you enjoyed the pancakes! Reducing the recipe for one was a smart move. I’m almost always cooking for myself and tend to make big batches of everything… when will I ever learn?!

  9. Sue J. says

    Made the pancakes for brunch today. Followed the recipe except for using FF whipped cream cheese for the topping and skimmed milk where milk was listed, because it’s what we had. The batter was a little thinner than expected, but made fabulous pancakes just the same. We used an electric griddle. I expect we will be making these again and again! Thank you!

    • says

      Nice! I made 3 batches while I was playing around with this recipe, trying to get it just right. I’ve had my fill of carrots and cream cheese for a while!

  10. says

    Those look ah-may-zing! And what are the chances– I have all the ingredients on hand! Looks like it’s going to be a happy Monday morning. Thanks for sharing.

  11. says

    I love that you’ve used whole wheat pastry flour. It has fast become my flour of choice. It makes for a lighter texture in baked goods, doesn’t it? I would never have thought to make carrot pancakes, but what a terrific idea!

  12. says

    Wow! I love the idea of using carrots in pancakes! I love my carrots, but usually just eat them raw or juice them.

    Mind if I borrow the recipe and make it egg and dairy free (and give you credit for where I saw it first)?

    Have a great day!

  13. says

    I saw this in Joy the Baker’s cookbook too and it’s still bookmarked to make. Your version looks absolutely amazing, and it’s really making me want to make this ASAP, maybe even tonight!

  14. says

    I have been dying to try these too! (just like everyone else here…:) )
    But your pictures make them look even more appetizing. Looks delicious.

  15. says

    Yes! I love carrot cake. I love pancakes. Three of my favorite bloggers love these carrot cake pancakes so will probably love them too!

  16. says

    I wish I had seen this recipe earlier. I tried out another carrot cake pancake recipe and it was a flop. This one turned out great! I had some walnuts laying around, so I toasted them and added them on top. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • says

      Sorry for the delayed response, Riley, but I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the pancakes! Walnuts sound like a terrific addition.

  17. says

    These sound fantastic. I wonder if I could replace the whole wheat flour with a mixture of buckwheat and gluten-free flour though? I’m going to try…

  18. says

    Great post! I’ve been eye-balling those pancakes also since I picked up Joy’s cookbook, but I find myself returning over and over to the always simple “Single Lady Pancakes.” Glad to encounter a fellow podcast listener out in the world! Thanks for sharing!

  19. tippiny says

    This recipie is one of the best i’ve ever tried. My family and i loved it so much. Thanks for this awesome recipie.

    • says

      Sorry Whitney, I haven’t tried! If you give it a try, please let me know how they turn out. I did, however, try substituting carrots for the banana in the banana oat pancakes recipe and they turned out pretty dry. Maybe you could do half bananas and half carrots, or add a little yogurt to make up for the lost moisture of the bananas?

  20. Kyna Arbb says

    Thank for sharing this AWESOME recipe! They were easy & delish!!!! I didn’t have ginger and I upped it to 2 eggs. They were perfect! Thanks also for the buttermilk substitute. I used unsweetened vanilla milk and skipped the vanilla extract.

  21. says

    These were great! I have a son with a lot of allergies so I modified by using mashed bananas as a substitute for egg and I used almond milk instead of buttermilk. I also substituted oconut oil to cook them. I added in some shredded zucchini too just to beaf up the veggies and nutritional value. :) I try to sneak veggies in wherever I can!

  22. Lauren says

    You are a savior!! Trying to find a breakfast for Mother’s Day and stumbled upon this recipe. I danced for joy when I realized we had all the ingredients (much to my brother’s amusement). Made for a delicious morning wonderful morning! Thank you so much Kate!!

  23. Greg says

    always looking for good breakfast ideas to feed guys at the firehouse! we have a lot of good cooks so it’s always a competition and this recipe will get me on top ! at least this week :)

  24. Mik & the fam says

    These were a hit with our fam! I have tons of carrots from our CSA share. Appreciated the grating tips – using the two step process with the food processor worked perfectly. The batter looked so carroty, I was skeptical that the pancakes would form well, but they were perfect. I used lime juice to curdle 2% milk, and used white whole wheat flour and some extra ginger powder. I also sprinkled walnuts on my maple cream cheese & it was divine.

    • Victoria says

      Sorry for the double post I hadn’t realized the first one went through. I used whole wheat flour, this recipe is delicious!

  25. Julia says

    I made these for myself and my 1.5 year old – they were so tasty and she gobbled them up :) I actually did not have enough carrots so I subbed a small oven-roasted beet (finely grated) for 1/2 cup of carrot and they still tasted (and looked) lovely (pink)! I didn’t have cream cheese so I subbed sour cream and a squeeze of lemon for the milk and cc in the topping – also delish. Thanks for posting!

  26. says

    Brilliant idea! My little sister hates vegetables but pancake is one of her favorites. No matter what my mom does, she refuses to eat vegetables. Now I have an idea how to get her to eat at least carrots. Will tell mom about this.

  27. Kelcy and Drew says

    We just made these for breakfast. Delicious! We didn’t have cream cheese so we altered the syrup recipe to include a touch more butter ;) and we loved it! The cake itself was a great density, but not too thick and a nice balance of savory/sweet. Thank you, Kate. You have two new fans in South Dakota.

  28. Clara says

    Big hit. Followed recipe and came out great. I will try to reduce the sugar content somehow in this weeks batch. Maybe with some banana or blue berries not sure yet. I love the beet incorporation idea since beets have such a strong taste the carrots can help water that down a bit. Finally I wanted to ask if any tips for baking pancakes. I freeze usually half a batch of batter (btw still came out great) or freeze cooked pancakes. But my problem is that making pancakes takes so long for me and I get easily distracted and end up burning some or just sweating up a storm on the stove. Can I perhaps grease a baking sheet and plop the batter. Or make then in a muffin tin and a bit thicker.

    • says

      Thank you, Clara! A baking sheet won’t work unless you get it really hot first (pancakes need to be poured onto a hot surface). Not sure about muffins. I invested in an electric griddle and now I can cook about six pancakes at once!

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