Kid-friendly No Sugar Carrot Cake Pancakes Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: No Sugar Carrot Cake Pancakes

Recipe: No Sugar Carrot Cake Pancakes

No Sugar Carrot Cake Pancakes

by Erin Fletter
Photo by (Robert MacDonald/Shutterstock)
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
8 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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No Sugar Carrot Cake Pancakes

Carrot Cake!

Something about carrot cake just really shouts Spring, don’t you think? Just how old is the recipe for carrot cake, exactly? Tracing back, we found that Carrot Cake evolved from a medieval recipe from the Middle Ages for Carrot Pudding. Of course, throughout the (hundreds of) years, cakes and baked things became sweeter and sweeter as sugar became more readily available (and cheaper!). We wonder: if people living in the Middle Ages could taste a slice of today’s carrot cake, what would they say about the sweetness?! The modern day recipe we enjoy today was further evolved from retro recipes of the 60s and 70s, when canned fruits, nuts, and raisins were added to almost everything. We wanted to keep both the tradition of the original recipe and the modern-day retro feel alive by adding raisins and applesauce instead of tons of added sugar to our pancakes. The accent of the kid-made butter with added cinnamon and honey provides plenty of sweetness and just the right tang to counteract the pancakes' fruit flavor.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • grate :

    to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).

  • wet vs dry :

    to mix wet and dry ingredients separately before combining them: dry ingredients are flours, leavening agents, salt, and spices; wet ingredients are those that dissolve or can be dissolved (sugar, eggs, butter, oils, honey, vanilla, milk, and juices).

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Stove
  • Saucepan
  • Large mixing bowls (2)
  • Grater
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk
  • Wooden spoon
  • Nonstick skillet
  • Pancake turner


No Sugar Carrot Cake Pancakes

  • 1/2 C raisins
  • 1/2 C grated carrot (2 to 3 carrots)
  • 1 C plain yogurt **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free plain yogurt)**
  • 2 eggs (for EGG ALLERGY sub 1/2 C puréed silken tofu)**
  • 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Food Allergen Substitutions

No Sugar Carrot Cake Pancakes

  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free yogurt for yogurt.
  • Egg: For 2 eggs, substitute 1/2 C puréed silken tofu.
  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour.


No Sugar Carrot Cake Pancakes

plump + drain

Add 1/2 cup raisins to a saucepan on your stovetop with enough water to cover about an inch above the raisins. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes until the raisins have plumped and almost doubled in size. Remove from the heat and let cool. Drain from the water and add the raisins to a large bowl. Let them sit and cool some more while you make the rest of your pancakes.

grate + mix + whisk

Have your kids grate 2 to 3 carrots to measure 1/2 cup and set to the side. Then measure and mix together 1 cup of yogurt, 2 eggs, and 1/4 cup of applesauce to the bowl with the cooled, plumped raisins. Have your kids whisk vigorously until the raisins begin to fall apart. (You can't taste the flavor or texture of the raisins—they are just a way to sweeten the pancakes without any processed sugars!)

combine + pour

Have your kids measure and combine the dry ingredients in a new bowl: 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the grated carrots to the mixture and mix with a wooden spoon only until incorporated, don't over mix!

brush + drop + flip

Heat a nonstick skillet on your stovetop over medium heat, and brush the skillet with a touch of butter, olive oil, or nonstick spray. Then drop 1 tablespoon dollops of batter onto your preheated skillet. Next, cook the pancakes on the first side for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the top starts to bubble a tiny bit and the edges start to cook. Flip the pancakes and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Makes about 24 coin-sized pancakes.

Surprise Ingredient: Carrots!

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Photo by Kindel Media

Hi! I'm Carrot!

“I'm at the root of this recipe! Get it? Root? Carrots are root vegetables! We grow up in dark and cozy soil. Our leaves get plenty of sunshine, though. If you grow us, it's so satisfying to pull us out of our underground home and know you'll be tasting our crunchy sweetness very soon. But you may want to wash us first! You can eat carrots raw or cook them first. Either way, you'll enjoy our flavor, texture, and color in salads, savory dishes, and desserts, like carrot cake!"


  • Before carrots were orange, they were purple, red, white, and yellow. In the 16th century (after the Middle Ages), Dutch carrot growers invented the orange carrot in honor of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family (for Kings and Queens). They did this by crossbreeding pale yellow carrots with red carrots. 
  • Carrots soon caught on in England as both a food and a fashion accessory. For example, it's said that ladies in the 1600s would decorate their hats with carrot tops instead of feathers! 
  • The carrots we eat today were domesticated from a wild carrot native to Europe and southwestern Asia.
  • No one knows exactly how old carrots are, but history traces them back about 5,000 years. They were mistaken for parsnips before the carrot was identified as a distinct vegetable. Carrots and parsnips are related but from different families. Parsnips are white and look a lot like carrots. They're also root vegetables!
  • When carrots were first grown many hundreds of years ago, farmers prized them for their aromatic leaves and seeds—not just the roots! 
  • According to some sources, carrots are the second most popular vegetable in the world, behind just one other. Can you guess what's number one? Potatoes!
  • The longest carrot ever recorded was over 20 feet long! (The measurement included the taproot's long, skinny end.) The heaviest carrot recorded weighed over 22 pounds!
  • You may think rabbits love carrots naturally, and this is largely because of the popularity of the wise-cracking and charming cartoon rabbit character named Bugs Bunny. We see Bugs Bunny munching on a carrot in most scenes. In reality, if a rabbit ate a whole carrot, it would be like you or me eating 20 carrots in one sitting! Way too much! Here's another fun fact: The voice of Bugs Bunny, Mel Blanc, reportedly did not like carrots at all.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Carrots belong to the Umbelliferae family, named for their resemblance to an umbrella when their leafy green stems are attached. This family includes celery, parsnip, fennel, dill, and coriander.
  • Carrots are root vegetables, meaning they grow underneath the ground. Their feathery leaves grow above the ground. Can you think of other root vegetables? A few of them are beets, onions, turnips, potatoes, radishes, parsnips, fennel, garlic, and jicama.
  • You can eat every part of the carrot. Typically we eat the root part of the plant, but the stems and leaves are edible, too! A carrot's root can grow anywhere from 2 to 20 inches long before it's picked!
  • Carrots like to grow in cooler climates, not tropical, hot places. For this reason, they are usually grown in the autumn, winter, and spring months.
  • Baby carrots sold in grocery stores started as long carrots that were sliced and tumbled into smaller pieces to make them "baby-sized."
  • Carrot seeds are tiny. Find a teaspoon. How many carrot seeds do you think will fit inside? About 2,000!
  • A carrot plant will live for two years, meaning new crops need to be planted from seed every two years.
  • There are two main classes of carrots: Western and Eastern. The Western class includes four types, classified by their root shape: Chantenay, Danvers, Imperator, and Nantes. Several cultivars (varieties created by selective breeding) exist under each type. Many varieties have different colors than the typical orange. How many colors have you seen? The next time you're in the grocery store, look for these diverse carrots.
  • The English word "carrot" comes from the Greek word "karoton."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • One large carrot or a handful of baby carrots counts as one vegetable serving. Aim for three servings of veggies a day for kids and five servings for adults.
  • Carrots can be eaten raw, roasted, juiced, boiled, mashed, or steamed. However, they are most nutrient-dense when cooked and eaten with fat like butter or oil.
  • When you eat a carrot, how does it taste? Modern carrots have been bred to be sweet, which is why we often use them in baked goods like carrot cake! On the other hand, ancient carrots were bitter, not sweet.
  • Look for firm, brightly colored carrots with smooth, firm skin. Carrots that are limp or black near the top are not fresh.
  • Thicker carrots may be older and tougher to eat, whereas thinner carrots are typically younger, fresher, and sweeter.
  • Store carrots in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where they will keep for a few weeks!
  • One of the tastiest, easiest ways to cook carrots is to toss them with melted butter, salt, honey, and garlic, then roast them at 425 F for 20 minutes.
  • You can grate raw carrots and add them to salads or chop them to add to soups or stews. If you boil or steam carrots, you then puree them to add to breads, cookies, cakes, or even tomato sauce to sweeten it. Carrots add natural sweetness to whatever recipe they're in (and a pretty orange color, too!).


  • Eyes! The color of a fruit or vegetable tells us what nutrient it contains (nature is amazing!). Orange vegetables and fruits have a particular nutrient called beta carotene. Beta carotene was named for the carrot itself! This nutrient converts to vitamin A inside the body, which is good for our eyes! Studies have shown that only three percent of beta carotene is released from the raw vegetable when we digest it. But this percentage can be improved when we juice or puree raw carrots or cook them with fat like butter or oil. Carrots have the most beta carotene of any vegetable!
  • Teeth! The crunchiness of carrots helps clean the plaque off your teeth and gums, just like your toothbrush! Of course, this doesn't mean eating a carrot at the end of the day can substitute for brushing your teeth! Carrots also have minerals that protect the teeth. 
  • Purple carrots include anthocyanin, an antioxidant, just like purple eggplants, blueberries, and other colorful fruits. 
  • As with all vegetables, eating carrots helps protect us from getting sick! 


History of Carrot Cake!

Photo by Olya Kobruseva
  • Sources lead us to believe that carrot cake evolved from a medieval carrot pudding eaten in Europe in the Middle Ages. There are tons of recipes for carrot pudding in historic cookbooks—this was 'the' dessert of banquets in Europe and many other places around the world. Bakers used carrots to sweeten recipes because sugar was too costly. 
  • The earliest recipe for carrot cake may have been in a French cookbook from 1827. However, food historians claim that George Washington was served a carrot tea cake at a tavern in New York City in 1783. 
  • Carrot Cake caught fire in the United States in the 1970s when it was touted as a “health food,” likely because, in addition to carrots, recipes most often contained the addition of nuts and raisins. 
  • Carrot cake is the most popular flavor for children’s birthday cakes in Switzerland.
  • In Brazil, "bolo de cenoura," or "carrot cake" in Portuguese, is covered in a chocolate ganache.
  • Frosting cakes with cream cheese became popular in the United States in the 1960s; cream cheese frosted cakes can be traced back to Eastern Europe.

Lettuce Joke Around

What’s a vegetable’s favorite martial art? 

Carrotee! (Karate)

THYME for a Laugh

"Knock, knock." 

"Who’s there?"


"Carrot who?" 

"Don’t you carrot all about me? Let me in!"

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the rabbit say to the carrot? 

"It’s been nice gnawing you!"

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