Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

A warm, hearty muffin can be described as one of my most comforting  breakfast foods.  They can be healthy – naturally sweetened and made with whole grains – or they can be naughty – full of chocolate chips and peanut butter.

It’s one of those sneaky little breakfast items that allows you to get away with eating dessert first thing in the morning.

Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

That idea got me thinking again about a fairly common question:  what is the difference between a cupcake and a muffin?

Some might keep it simple – cupcakes are frosted, and muffins are not.

Others may turn to the ingredient list to form their opinion – most muffins contain oil or shortening, while most cupcake batters start with butter and sugar.

Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

In my mind, I differentiate between the two based on texture.  To me, a muffin should have a denser crumb.  I want a cupcake to be light, fluffy, and melt-in-your-mouth-y, but I like my muffins heavy and hearty.

Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

Your miles may vary!  This particular recipe breaks the  “muffins have oil” rule by substituting with unsweetened applesauce instead.  Most definitely a healthier option.  There’s also some grated carrots thrown in there, and if you want to jazz it up even more, you can add some chopped nuts or dried fruit.

Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

These muffins are cooked in a hot oven – 400F – which helps with getting the peaked top that you see in this picture.

Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

Oh, I just realized another differentiating factor between muffins and cupcakes – how they are eaten!  Cupcakes are eaten at room temperature and you can just take a big ole bite out of the side, no utensils needed.  But muffins are often eaten warm, sliced open and slathered with melted butter or a drizzle of honey (my favorite).  Even when I don’t slice my muffins, I tend to tear pieces of them off bit by bit with my fingers instead of biting into them cupcake-style.

Here’s the recipe!

Carrot Oatmeal Muffins
5.0 from 2 reviews
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12 muffins
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup grated carrots
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup white all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • Optional: chopped nuts and/or raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine grated carrots, applesauce, egg, vanilla, and brown sugar.
  3. In a second bowl, toss together all dry ingredients.
  4. Add the two mixtures together and beat just until combined. Do not over-beat (will cause muffins to be chewy)
  5. If desired, fold in nuts and/or raisins
  6. Scoop batter into greased muffin tins
  7. Bake for ~15 minutes


So, what do you guys think?  What is the difference between cupcakes and muffins?


  1. Nina Dee says

    I scoured the internet for carrot oatmeal muffin recipes, and chose yours because I had everything on hand. They were delicious! I made them exactly as per the recipe, adding chopped walnuts in the end and just threw some oats and walnuts on top with a little wheat germ. Perfection! Thank you :)

  2. Sherin says

    I followed the recipe except for one thing that the muffin batter become very tough as there was no wet ingredient to mix except one egg, so I added milk about 4 tbsp and it was perfect. Very easy and healthy. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. Judy says

    I was searching for a carrot oat muffin recipe to use my leftover carrot pulp from juicing. Thank you for this recipe.  I used spelt flour instead of wheat and I also added 1/2 cup more of oats and 1/4 cup of orange juice with some fresh orange rind. Turned out great! Great recipe for tweaking to suit any need. I was going to add shredded coconut but forgot :)

  4. says

    What a terrific recipe! I made a few small changes, but nothing major and they turned out great. Utterly delicious.
    I used a cup of whole wheat white flour instead of half white/half wheat, and went heavy on the spices: more than doubled the cinnamon, doubled the nutmeg, and added a half teaspoon of ground ginger.

    Incredibly delicious, hard to believe they’re so healthy too. A new breakfast staple.

  5. says

    I totally differentiate between muffins and cupcakes the same way as you – it’s all about texture! These look fantastic, and a much healthier option than most muffins. I’m going to bookmark this to try some time :)

    • Erin says

      It seems like texture is a popular way to distinguish the two!  I like these muffins because they aren’t too sweet on their own, and since I love drizzling honey on pretty much anything.. they are the perfect vehicle. :-)

  6. says

    I feel like making a carrot smoothie, and you just changed my mind. This is brilliant, thanks Erin :) This is definitely a muffin recipe. imho cupcakes are more on the desserts/ cake-ish side, with that I guess muffins are healthier.

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