This carrot cake oatmeal feels like eating carrot cake for breakfast, but much better for you with it! With warm spices, carrot and maple mixed through hearty oatmeal, it's a comforting and tasty start to the day.
This post may contain affiliate links, where we earn from qualifying purchases. See more details in the policy page.
Oatmeal is one of my go-to breakfasts in colder weather as it's both warming and gives just enough energy to get the day going. True, we enjoy things like Dutch baby pancakes or waffles too, particularly at the weekend, but oatmeal is perfect for your everyday mornings. Tasty, but also not too time consuming or indulgent.
This carrot version, however, feels like that bit more of a treat, with the warm spice flavors in there and carrot cake vibes, but is actually just as healthy as regular oatmeal (if not better, thanks to the dose of veggies!) And while it takes ever so slightly longer than a simpler version, it is definitely worth it.
Different dessert influences
When I first made this a few years ago, I was actually thinking of this as more of a combination of oatmeal and the Indian dessert, carrot halva (gajar halwa), where you slow simmer carrot and spices in milk. I added cardamom in there, as is typical in halva/halwa, and a little ground almonds at the end.
However, it seems others have taken the general oats and carrot idea from a different dessert angle - carrot cake - and so over time I have adapted to be a little more in that style, using warm cinnamon which goes so well with oatmeal anyway.
I have added some raisins, and you could also add walnuts if you like, as some do for carrot cake itself, though personally I like this (and the cake) better without them. I have still kept with the ground almonds as I really like the little nuttiness in there, but you could skip if you like.
How to make carrot cake oatmeal
Making this twist on classic stovetop oatmeal is very easy:
- Cook the oats, grated carrot, milk and spices together on the stove, stirring now and then to avoid too much of a skin forming and it sticking to the bottom.
- Once the liquid has almost all gone, you add a little ground almonds, raisins and maple syrup. Cook a minute or two more then serve.
Yes, this oatmeal takes that little bit longer than plain oatmeal, but it's worth it, in my mind. The end result is smooth and has a more complex flavor, but without adding in lots of sweeteners. It's tastes almost indulgent, but really isn't.
Top tip: use rolled oats
The flavors and textures work best cooking a little longer, so rolled oats, also called old fashioned oats, are best for this. They hold up better and have a bit more texture after cooking that bit longer. Quick oats become far too soft.
You could possibly use steel cut oats but they tend to need longer still to cook and have almost a more nutty texture that I think distracts from the cake-like flavors going on.
As mentioned above, you could add walnuts in with the oatmeal itself if you like, and a little vanilla would also work. You can tweak the spices to add eg some allspice, too. Brown sugar works instead of maple syrup, though personally maple is my favorite here. You can make it a little sweeter, if you prefer, too.
The maple almonds I suggest to top are based on the maple candied pecans I make for my pear gorgonzola salad and are so good, I often make extra to snack on too. Best of all, they are only minimally sweetened, and with maple syrup too, and so not as indulgent as you might at first think.
You can skip these if you like, of course, and add other toppings of your choice - things like seeds or other nuts are all particularly good for that nice contrasting crunch.
Larger batches and re-heating
While this is written to be one relatively generous portion, it also works making a larger batch - just multiply everything up. It will take a little longer to cook if you are making more.
You can make a larger batch of this and re-heat as you need it, either warming gently on the stove or in the microwave. As you re-heat, add a little extra milk as needed if it gets too thick.
Other ways to prepare this oatmeal
While I have yet to try myself, this is also an ideal contender for cooking in the slow cooker which make it even more practical for busy mornings. For this, you will likely need a little more liquid to ensure it doesn't become dry and just cook on low. You could also use steel cut oats.
Another option is to make it as overnight oats, just combining everything in a jar or bowl and leaving in the fridge overnight. For this version, you will not need as much liquid - just add everything apart from the liquid to the bowl/jar and then add milk to cover the oats etc by around ½ inch/1cm. The carrots will be slightly crunchier making this way, so if you prefer, you could steam them first, but I don't think it's needed particularly if finely grated.
This carrot cake oatmeal makes for a delicious, hearty breakfast that's easy to make and good for you too. It has warm spice flavors and a gentle sweetness. And being so healthy, you can happily make it again soon, guilt-free.
Try these other oaty breakfasts:
- Homemade granola (a relatively healthy version with nuts and cranberries)
- Banana oatmeal (one of our go-tos on busy mornings)
- Swiss Bircher muesli (the classic overnight oats with apple)
- Orange overnight oats
- Plus get more ideas in the breakfast and brunch recipes archives.
Carrot cake oatmeal
- ½ cup carrot ½ cup is approx 1 medium carrot, finely grated
- ½ cup old fashioned oats
- ⅔ cup milk can also use non-dairy eg almond
- ⅓ cup water
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground almonds
- 2 tablespoon raisins
- 2 teaspoon maple syrup or to taste
Maple almonds (to serve, optional)
- 2 tablespoon slivered almonds
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup plus a little more to drizzle
For maple almonds (optional to serve - can make ahead)
- To make maple almonds, toast the slithered almonds in a dry skillet/frying pan, turning now and then, for around 5 minutes until starting to brown and they smell nutty.
- Add the maple syrup and quickly stir to coat the nuts all over. If you have a nonstick skillet, you can remove it from the heat and set aside for the nuts to cool, stirring now and then to make sure they don't stick too much. If not, then pour the nuts onto a silicone baking mat or piece of wax paper to cool. Break the clumps of nuts slightly before using. You may not use all, and can make these a good 2-3 days ahead and store in a box at room temperature.
- Peel and finely grate the carrot.
- Put oats, carrots, milk, water, cinnamon and ginger in a small pan and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the milk has reduced down and thickened slightly, around 7 - 10 minutes.
- Add ground almonds, raisins and maple syrup and cook a minute or two more.
- Serve warm, topped with maple almonds, if using, and eg a little extra maple syrup or other topping of your choice.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
This post was first shared in October 2015 and has been updated, primarily with new photos and added video plus some tweaks to the recipe.