Have your cake and eat pancakes, too! These tropical carrot cake pancakes have sweet bits of pineapple and golden raisins, crunchy carrots and walnuts, and a delicious pineapple cream cheese drizzle to complete the entire carrot cake experience.
These carrot cake pancakes with a tropical twist are NEXT LEVEL, ya’ll. Good on their own – even better topped with tropical fruit, nuts, and the dreamiest pineapple cream cheese drizzle. The recipe was inspired by a memorable piece of carrot cake my dad ate after recovering from a major surgery when I was a child.
When my grandma passed away (RIP Mimsie, I love you!) my dad and I found the carrot cake recipe in an old family recipe book. I took it home with me to test and was pleasantly surprised to find pineapple as one of the ingredients. It made the cake extremely moist and added a natural sweetness that complemented the carrots and warm spices. I took the flavors of that carrot cake and turned them into an acceptable meal to eat before noon.Jump to Recipe
To reinforce the pineapple flavors in the carrot cake, I made a pineapple cream cheese drizzle in addition to adding chunks of pineapple to the batter. I tossed in some shredded coconut to play out the whole tropical vibe I was getting from the pineapple. It gives the pancakes some texture, along with the carrots, walnuts, and chewy raisins. As I mentioned in the Salad 101 from my Teriyaki chicken salad post, texture is everything!
If you like a less sweet breakfast, you can totally skip the drizzle. The pancakes aren’t super sweet on their own, so they’re great by themselves or topped with nut butter, fresh fruits, nuts, or a dusting of powdered sugar.
Tips for Making the Best Tropical Carrot Cake Pancakes
If you’re going for the pineapple cream cheese drizzle—make sure you start it the day ahead. You’ll need softened butter and cream cheese, so remember to take those out of the fridge at least 30 mins ahead of time.
You want to make sure the carrots and pineapple are super dry before adding them to the batter. To achieve this, I like to use a cheesecloth to wring out the excess liquid. I explain how to do this in the instructions within the recipe. You can use paper towel if you don’t have cheesecloth, just make sure to use enough to soak up all the liquid.
To achieve big, fluffy pancakes you want the batter to be THICC. You might be surprised by how thick and chunky the batter is, but don’t be tempted to thin it out. TRUST the process.
I like to cook the pancakes on a flat griddle over med-low heat—think low and slow. Great pancakes require a bit of patience. If you cook them on high, the outside will start to burn before the middle gets a chance to cook. Not cute. You also don’t want to go too low or you won’t achieve that beautiful golden brown color. Medium to med-low is the sweet spot, depending on your equipment. The pancake is ready to flip when bubbles form across the top and the bottom is golden brown.
To keep the pancakes warm while you cook in batches, heat your oven to 200 degrees F. Store the finished cakes on a heat safe plate covered with a towel.
How to Ditch the Recipe: Tropical Carrot Cake Pancake Edition
These carrot cake pancakes do not have to be tropical. Feel free to omit or swap any ingredient you aren’t feeling. Below are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing!
- Pumpkin pie spice: Any combination of warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, ginger, cardamom.
- Pineapple drizzle: You can use any soft fruit you want for the cream cheese drizzle—strawberries, cherries, mango, peach, blueberries.
- Mix-ins and toppings: fresh fruit (make sure it’s dry before adding to batter), dried fruit like cranberries, cherries, mango, candied ginger, coconut flakes or chips, cacao nibs, nuts, seeds.
- Coconut oil: Oils with a mild flavor such as canola or vegetable work best for pancakes, but you could also use olive oil for a stronger flavor profile.
- Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk, check out this recipe for how to make your own! All you need is whole milk and white vinegar.
If you make these tropical carrot cake pancakes, let me know how you ditched the recipe to make them your own!
Check out some of our other breakfast favorites!
Tropical Carrot Cake Pancakes + Pineapple Cream Cheese Drizzle
For the pancakes
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3 tbsp coconut oil melted and cooled
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups carrots (2 medium) finely grated, patted dry
- 1/4 cup pineapple finely chopped, patted dry
- 2 tbsp golden raisins, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts finely chopped
- 1 tbsp shredded coconut (optional)
- cooking spray, butter, ghee, or coconut oil
For the pineapple cream cheese drizzle
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 3/4 cup pineapple syrup (see below)
- 4 tbsp butter softened
- hot water (to thin)
For the pineapple syrup
- 1/2 a fresh pineapple cut into chunks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
For the pineapple syrup
- Prep the pineapple for your syrup the night before by cutting up half a pineapple into chunks and placing in a glass bowl with 1/2 cup sugar. Toss to coat, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Keep the rest of the pineapple for the pancakes and to garnish.
- The next day, make a simple syrup by pouring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and a syrupy liquid forms. Remove from and set aside.
- Pour the refrigerated pineapple with all the juices from the sugar in a blender and pulse to combine. Add warm simple syrup and blend. Strain pineapple mixture through a strainer lined with a cheesecloth, making sure to squeeze all the liquid out. You will have more than you need for the recipe—store in a mason jar and use for other sauces or cocktails!
For the cream cheese drizzle
- In a stand mixer, whip softened cream cheese, pineapple syrup, and butter until smooth. Add a little hot water to thin if sauce is too thick.
For the pancakes
- Prep carrots, pineapple, raisins, and walnuts. For the carrots, finely grate in a food processor and then pat dry with paper towels or wring out excess liquid through a cheesecloth. Finely dice pineapple and pat dry or squeeze through cheesecloth. Finely chop raisin and walnuts. Set all mise en place aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until just combined. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add carrots, pineapple, and shredded coconut (if using) and mx well. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, along with the melted coconut oil and gently combine with a spatula. Fold in walnuts and raisins until all ingredients are just barely combined. It will be thick and chunky.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
- Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium to med-low heat and coat with cooking spray or fat of choice. Scoop 1/4 cup batter onto the skillet and cook until golden brown and small bubbles form on the top. Flip pancakes and cook another minute until bottoms are golden brown. Keep pancakes in the oven to stay warm until ready to serve.
- Garnish pancakes with extra pineapple, walnuts, grated carrots, coconut, and pineapple cream cheese drizzle.
Did you make these Tropical Carrot Cake Pancakes?
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These look so good!
Thanks, Sara! Anything carrot cake and I’m hooked. 🙂