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This carrot cake banana bread is the best of both worlds. It combines everything we love about classic carrot cake with the sweet familiar taste of banana bread in a healthier version you'll love. Enjoy it with or without the luscious cream cheese frosting for a delightful breakfast, snack, or anytime treat!
If you're like us and go for hearty and healthier treats, you're going to swoon over this irresistible combination of carrot cake and banana bread. This recipe uses applesauce in place of some of the oil which keeps things light but still manages to be moist, perfectly spiced, and infused with sweet banana flavor.
Grab a slice for breakfast on the go, or make it ahead to bring to a picnic or brunch. In the pictures, we top the carrot cake banana bread with cream cheese frosting which makes it very cake-like. But if you want to enjoy it for breakfast, you may want to skip it. It's also easy to make with or without the nuts and raisins, and leftovers freeze well for up to 3 months!
How to make carrot cake banana bread
It's really simple to make this carrot cake banana bread by following these simple steps:
- While your oven preheats, grease your loaf pan and whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Mash the ripe bananas in a large bowl then mix in the eggs, shredded carrots, applesauce, and oil.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. If you're using raisins and walnuts, add them in now.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake your banana bread until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. We find that it's best to wait for it to cool completely before taking it out of the pan.
- While you're waiting for your banana bread to cool, you can whip together the frosting.
- The only thing that's left to do is spread the delicious cream cheese frosting on top of the banana bread, decorate the top with add a few finely grated carrots or chopped walnuts, and dig in!
Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.
Ingredients in carrot cake banana bread
There are no complicated ingredients in this banana bread. We use applesauce in place of some of the oil because it gives the bread a wonderful lightness. Here's everything you'll need for the carrot cake banana bread:
- Flour – we use regular all-purpose flour.
- Brown sugar – adds a rich sweetness. You can use coconut sugar to make this recipe refined sugar-free.
- Baking soda – makes the banana bread rise.
- Spices – a warming blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. You can also use 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice instead of the individual spices!
- Sea salt
- Bananas – the spottier, the better!
- Eggs – eggs work best in baking recipes if they are at room temperature when you use them.
- Carrots – finely shredded (as opposed to grated) will help the carrots incorporate well into the batter.
- Applesauce – this lightens up the bread and adds moisture and a bit of sweetness. If you don't have applesauce on hand, you can easily make your own by peeling and coring 2-3 large apples, then blending them into a sauce.
- Cooking oil – any vegetable oil will work but we love the health benefits of using olive, coconut, or avocado oil.
The luscious cream cheese frosting is made with just three simple ingredients:
- Cream cheese – plain, and softened to room temperature.
- Butter – we use salted butter for the best flavor. If you only have unsalted butter, add a pinch of sea salt.
- Powdered sugar – a classic ingredient in cream cheese frosting.
Try carrot cake banana bread muffins
You can easily turn this loaf recipe into muffins. Simply prepare a regular muffin tin with paper or silicone liners and scoop batter into each cup, ⅔ of the way full. Bake them for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
What kind of oil should I use?
You can use any vegetable cooking oil. We love the health benefits of using olive, coconut, or avocado.
Can I make it gluten-free?
We've only tested the recipe using all-purpose flour but you could try it with your favorite gluten-free blend. Let us know how it turns out!
Can I make this ahead of time?
Absolutely! The loaf can be made up to 3 days in advance (or longer if you want to store it in the freezer.) Because of the cream cheese, we recommend frosting it just before serving.
How long does carrot cake banana bread last?
Unfrosted, the loaf will stay fresh at room temperature for 3 days. If you're not planning on eating it right away, store the loaf in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Once frosted, store leftovers in the fridge in an air-tight container for 2 days.
Popular banana bread recipes
- Strawberry Banana Bread
- Peanut Butter Banana Bread
- Buttermilk Banana Bread
- Poppy Seed Lemon Banana Bread
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar (can sub coconut sugar)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teapoon ground ginger
- ½ teapoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 large ripe bananas
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups finely grated carrots
- ¾ cup apple sauce
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- ½ cup EACH: chopped walnuts and raisins (optional)
Cream Cheese Frosting (optional)
- 6 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 1 tablespoon butter (softened)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 5"x9" loaf pan with butter or cooking spray. Whisk the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.2 cups all-purpose flour, ¾ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teapoon ground ginger, ½ teapoon sea salt, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Mash the bananas in a large bowl then whisk in the eggs, grated carrots, apple sauce, and cooking oil.3 large ripe bananas, 2 large eggs, 1 ½ cups finely grated carrots, ¾ cup apple sauce, ¼ cup cooking oil
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold the batter until only a few streaks of flour remain. Add the raisins and walnuts, if using, and stir a few more times.½ cup EACH: chopped walnuts and raisins
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Check the banana bread after 45 minutes and if the top is browning too quickly, tent it loosely with foil. Let the banana bread cool completely before removing it from the pan.
- Once the banana bread is completely cool, beat the cream cheese frosting ingredients with electric beaters until the frosting is smooth and creamy.6 ounces cream cheese, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 cup powdered sugar
- Remove the cooled banana bread from the loaf pan and cover the top with the frosting. If you'd like, decorate the top with a few chopped walnuts and a few pieces of shredded carrot.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.