Best Sugar Free Carrot Cake Recipe

Sugar free Carrot Cake

In this article I will teach you how to make a carrot cake that is both low fat and low in sugar. A serving of this sugar free carrot cake is 160 calories(220 with frosting) and equals only four Weight Watchers points (six with frosting).

Most bakers shy away from removing fats or carbohydrates from their cakes. Baking is all about chemistry and changing the chemistry can lead to disaster. There are some changes you can easily make and some changes you need to more careful with.

To reduce the calories in your cake, you have to reduce the fat or the carbohydrates or both.  There’s fat in many common cake ingredients, such as oil, butter, shortening, margarine and egg yolks. Carbohydrates are found in sugar, sweetened fruits, and flour.

It is possible to minimize the fat in cake without compromising the flavor. You can exchange certain fatty ingredients with things like applesauce, non-fat yogurt or non-fat sour cream.  But don’t replace all your fatty ingredients because fat plays an essential role in the cake structure. The fat coats the protein in the flour, preventing water from reaching the flour gluten and therefore limiting the gluten-forming capacity. More gluten in a cake results in toughness instead of tenderness. It also acts as a flavor, especially if you use butter, and holds the air bubbles that are created with baking soda and baking powder.  In most lower fat cakes you will see half fat,  and half fat substitutes, like half oil and half applesauce.

If you want to eliminate the fat and cholesterol that comes from the egg yolks, you can change the types of eggs you use in your recipe. To reduce a whole egg, you can substitute two egg whites per egg.  Like oil, the egg yolk acts as an emulsifier.  Again, you don’t want to substitute all the eggs with egg whites. Using just egg whites will dry out your cake.

Now, here’s the tricky part. How do you substitute sugar with a sugar substitute like Splenda? It acts as a tenderizer in the cake, preventing the gluten from forming.  Gluten makes bread elastic, which you do not want in a cake. Sugar is also part of the volume of the cake, so, without it, the size of your cake would be reduced. No one wants a pancake as a cake layer. Sugar also provides some of the browning in cake recipes. The Splenda website recommends lightly spraying your batter or dough with cooking spray before baking, to help achieve a more golden brown color.

Since regular sugar (sucrose) prevents the gluten from forming, we should try to reduce the amount of gluten in the recipe by using lower protein flours. Cake flour is typically 8-10% protein, all-purpose is 9-12%, and bread is 12-14%. The protein consists of approximately 80% gluten, so the gluten of cake flour is weakest, and bread flour the strongest. If you want to reduce the overall carbohydrates, you can use whole wheat flour.  It has a higher protein count but the protein comes from the bran and germ, which does not contribute to the gluten in the flour.

Splenda is a one-for-one substitute for sugar. So substitute one cup of sugar with one cup of Splenda, 1 Tbsp for 1 Tbsp. etc. Cakes made with Splenda tend to cook faster, so check the doneness sooner than the recipe specifies. In the recipe below, I removed all the sugar and substituted Splenda, one for one. Although the carrot cake loses its volume due to the lack of sugar, I increased the volume with the pineapple and carrots. 

When you bake a sugar free or fat free cake, try to use a smaller cake pan. In the low-calorie, low-fat carrot cake I used an 8 inch pan instead of a 9-inch pan. Because your cake will not rise as much with a sugar-free cake, an 8-inch pan will give your cake more height.

Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? 

Sugar Free Low Fat Carrot Cake


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 tsp Cloves
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 1/4 Cup Splenda
3 egg whites
2 eggs
6 Tbsp Canola Oil
6 Tbsp applesauce
1 tsp Vanilla
3 1/2 Cups Grated Carrots
1 Cup undrained Canned Crushed Pineapple
1/3 Cup Walnuts or Raisins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8 inch cake pans with
nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients except
for the Splenda and walnuts. In separate bowl, beat together Splenda
and all of the wet ingredients except for the carrots until smooth.

Pour dry ingredients over wet and stir just until moistened. Stir in
walnuts and carrots and pour mixture into two greased and floured
8″ cake pans. Bake in center of 350°F oven for 30-40 minutes until
toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and the the cake is
beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Let cool in the pans on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Cover the cake
pan with a large plate and flip the cake back onto the rack, right side
up, to cool completely. Repeat with the other cake.  Makes 16 servings.

For frostings to go with this carrot cake please go to my post on Sugar Free frosting recipes!

Filed under: Cake & Frosting RecipesCake Decorating 101