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Easy Pickled Carrots – a canning or refrigerator recipe

Pickled carrots are a great addition to any meal. They have a tangy flavor but the sweet carrot flavor isn’t overpowered. With this easy pickled carrot recipe you can make a jar or two for the refrigerator or a full canner load for the pantry. Plus, I’ll show you how to safely change up the seasoning make the pickled carrots that will satisfy any pickle enthusiast. . 

two pint jars of pickled carrots

Ingredients

You probably have most of the ingredients for pickled carrots in your pantry. So weather you have some fresh carrots in the refrigerator that aren’t being eaten quick enough or your harvesting a ton of carrots from your garden, making delicious pickled carrots won’t take much time at all. 

Carrots – You can use type of carrot that you like for making pickled carrots, this includes “baby” carrots that you can get at the grocery store. If you’re growing rainbow carrots (or find them at the farmer’s market) they will work just fine, but the color will seep out of the carrot and into the brine. It’s not a big deal, but something you probably want to be aware of. 

Vinegar – In order to be shelf stable, you have to use a proper vinegar solution. We prefer apple cinder vinegar, but you can certainly use white vinegar or rice vinegar if that’s what you like. Just make sure label states that it’s 5% acidity.

Dried Spices – I use a combination of celery seed and mustard seed for our pickled carrots. You can add different spices such as turmeric, red pepper flakes, whole black peppercorns, or dill seeds, if your family likes those spices. You can also use a bit of homemade pickling spice

Peppers, Onions, Garlic – These are optional but you can change up the flavor of your pickled carrots by adding them. You can safely add one garlic clove, a a few slices white or red onions, or a few slices of fresh hot peppers to the pickled carrots. If you want to add more then just a few slices, you can substitute the carrots with the other ingredient. For instance if you wanted to make spicy pickled carrots with jalapenos, like what is served in Mexican restaurants, you can fill the jar about 75% with sliced carrots and the rest of the way with jalapeno slices. 

Salt – Any non-ionized salt is acceptable, if you use a salt that has minerals in it the brine might be cloudy. Canning salt is preferred, if you use kosher salt use a fine ground salt. The salt is for flavor and to retain color, not to ensure safety so it can be left out, if there are dietary restrictions. 

Sugar – Sugar is often used in pickled carrots recipes to help balance out the vinegar. It can be safely omitted, if you prefer sugar-free pickled carrots. You can also use a bit of maple syrup or honey instead of sugar. Just know that the flavor will change a bit.

How to Make Pickled Carrots

As I’ve mentioned earlier, this recipe can be safely canned for shelf stable pickled peppers or stored in the refrigerator like refrigerator pickles. In order to be safely canned, they need to be processed using the hot water bath canning method. There are recipes for “canning” pickles without processing them, however, that is not recommended by USDA guidelines. Just because a jar seals does not mean the contents are safe. 

carrots sticks on a cutting board with a knife beside them.

Preparing Carrots for Pickling

All carrots need to rinsed, peeled and then rinsed again to prepare them for pickling. This will lower the bacterial load which is necessary for safe canning. Even if you’re making quick pickles for the refrigerator, still give them that second rinse as it doesn’t take any time at all. Baby carrots are already peeled, so they just need to be rinse well.

The carrots can be sliced into rings using a knife or crinkle cutter or cut into sticks which is really great for large carrots.

I’ve seen people use a mandolin and cut carrot ribbons, this is fine for refrigerator pickled carrots. I can’t find any recommended guidelines from reputable sources to know if this is a safe form for canning. I’ve reached out to National Center for Home Food Preservation and will update this when I get an answer. UPDATE: The response from NCHFP “While the ribbons may be thinner than sticks or slices, they may fold up in the jar and become thicker as they “stack” so we would not recommend doing so.”

For carrot sticks, you’ll need to cut them in lengths so that they can stand up in the jar and still leave 1/2-inch headspace. 

pot of pickling brine

Preparing Pickling Liquid

In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil. The dried spices will be added to the individual jars so that each jar will have the same amount. The same goes for garlic cloves, onion slices or fresh peppers. 

Gently boil the brine for 3 minutes. Then add prepared carrots and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the carrots are cooked about halfway through (about 10 minutes). If you are making these for the refrigerator, you don’t need to boil the carrots in the brine. 

a person putting pickled carrot sticks in a jar. The jar is tipped on it's side to keep the carrots from falling over.

Canning Pickled Carrots

  • Wash water bath canner and fill halfway with water. Put the pot on the stove and heat over medium heat. (The water shouldn’t boil, but should get too hot to touch.)
  • Wash jars and look for any nicks or cracks. Put the washed jars in the canning pot so they stay hot while you prepare the ingredients. Pint size jars are recommended. There are no processing times available for making pickled carrots in quart jars.
  • Wash lids and rings, and set aside. Manufacturers no longer recommend boiling lids, so just set them aside. 
  • Prepare the carrots.
  • Prepare the brine.
  • Par cook the carrots in the boiling brine.
  • Remove the jars from the canner with your canning tongs and place them on a towel on the counter.
  • Add celery seed and mustard seed to each jars. Add any other spices or garlic, peppers or onions.
  • Fill each of the hot jars with hot carrots and brine, leaving 1/2-inch headspace (the area between the food and the top of the jar)
  • Using a bubble removal tool (or chopstick), gently remove the air bubbles from each jar.
  • Recheck headspace and add more brine if necessary. If you don’t have enough brine to fill each jar to the recommended headspace, you can either add a bit of vinegar to make up the space or just put the jar that’s not filled correctly in the refrigerator.
  • Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth. 
  • Add lids and rings (just like you’d put on a mayonnaise jar lid, don’t crank it down)
  • Put the filled jars back into the canner and make sure the water level is 1 to 2 inches above the lids. Add more hot water, if necessary. 
  • Bring water to a boil and process jars for 15 minutes, adjust for altitude if necessary by adding 1 minute for every 1000 feet above sea level.
  • After processing, turn off the heat, and let the jars remain in the canner for 5 minutes.
  • Using canning tongs, remove the jars and put them on a towel on the counter.
  • Let the jars cool to at room temperature for 12-24 hours. 
  • Remove the rings and check the seals. If any jars didn’t seal, put them in the refrigerator to use first. 
  • Wipe the sealed jars with a clean cloth, label and store in cool dark place.
  • Use within a year or so. As long as the jars are sealed they’re safe to eat but the quality and crispness will deteriorate over time. 

Quick Pickle Recipe for the Refrigerator

  • Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and set aside. You can use mason jars (canning jars) or any other glass jars since this recipe won’t be canned. 
  • Prepare carrots. If they’ve been refrigerated, let them come to room temperature before packing them into jars. 
  • Prepare brine and bring it to a boil. Turn off heat.
  • Fill jars will prepared carrots and dry spices, plus garlic, onion and peppers if desired. 
  • Pour hot brine over carrots, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Vinegar can corrode metal lids, the headspace will keep the vinegar away from the lid.
  • Put lid on jar.
  • Let the jar sit on the counter for a couple of hours. Shake it occasionally to help combine the spices. 
  • Put the cooled jars in the refrigerator and use within 3 months. 

How to Use Pickled Carrots

You can use pickled carrots wherever you would use other types of pickles…

  • Add to a charcuterie board or relish tray
  • Top street tacos or sandwiches with pickled carrot slices
  • Chop and add to tuna salad or chicken salad
  • Use the leftover pickle brine to marinate meat
  • Add pickle brine to deviled eggs
  • Make a quick salad dressing with pickle brine
Yield: 4 pint jars

Easy Pickled Carrots

pint jars of canned pickled carrots

Use this simple recipe to preserve carrots for shelf stable, long-term storage or or a quick refrigerator pickle recipe. See notes for refrigerator pickled carrots instructions. 

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds carrots - washed, peeled and sliced
  • 5 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (5%)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp canning salt
  • 2 cup sugar (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 tsp celery seeds
  • 8 tsp mustard seeds

Instructions

  1. Wash canning pot and fill halfway with water. Put the pot on the stove and heat over medium heat. 
  2. Wash jars and look for any nicks or cracks. Put the washed jars in the canning pot so they stay hot while you prepare the ingredients.
  3. Wash lids and rings, and set aside. Manufacturers no longer recommend boiling lids, so just set them aside. 
  4. Wash carrots, peel carrots and wash again. 
  5. Cut carrots into slices (1/4-inch thick) or sticks. 
  6. In a medium saucepan, combine apple cider vinegar, water, salt and sugar, if you're using it. 
  7. Bring it to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. 
  8. Add carrots to hot brine and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until carrots are about halfway cooked.
  9. Remove the jars from the canner with your canning tongs and place them on a towel on the counter.
  10. Add 1 tsp celery seed, 2 tsp mustard seed, and one garlic clove to each pint size jar.
  11. Fill each jar with carrots, leaving 1/2-inch headspace
  12. Ladle hot brine into each jar, keeping 1/2-inch headspace
  13. Using a bubble removal tool (or chopstick), gently remove the air bubbles from each jar.
  14. Recheck headspace and add more brine if necessary. If you don't have enough brine to fill each jar to the recommended headspace, you can either add a bit of vinegar to make up the space or just put the jar that's not filled correctly in the refrigerator.
  15. Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth. 
  16. Add lids and rings 
  17. Put the filled jars back into the canner and make sure the water level is 1 to 2 inches above the lids. Add more hot water, if necessary. 
  18. Bring water to a boil and process jars for 15 minutes, adjust for altitude if necessary by adding 1 minute for every 1000 feet above sea level.
  19. After processing, turn off the heat, and let the jars remain in the canner for 5 minutes.
  20. Using canning tongs, remove the jars and put them on a towel on the counter.
  21. Let the jars cool to at room temperature for 12-24 hours. 
  22. Remove the rings and check the seals. If any jars didn't seal, put them in the refrigerator to use first. 
  23. Wipe the sealed jars with a clean cloth, label and store in cool dark place. Use within a year or so. As long as the jars are sealed they're safe to eat but the quality and crispness will deteriorate over time.

Notes

** For quick pickled carrots use the following instructions...

Wash jars and lids in hot water. Prepare carrots and hot brine according to instructions above.

Add 1 garlic clove, 1 tsp celery seed and 2 tsp mustard seed to each jar. 

Fill hot jars with carrot slices or sticks.

Ladle hot brine into jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace.

Let the jars cool to room temperature. Shake a few times to mix up the brine a bit. Put cooled jars in the refrigerator. Try to wait a week before eating. This gives the flavors time to combine. Use within three months.

Did you make this recipe?

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More Pickle Recipes

There are so many ways to pickle vegetables. Here are some of our favorites…

Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles

My Granny’s Bread and Butter Pickle Recipe (this recipe always gets rave reviews!)

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Pickles

Classic Dill Pickles

Easy Pickled Cauliflower

pint size jar of home canned carrots

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

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