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Spicy Pickled Carrot Sticks

I’m sort of obsessed with carrots. I eat them every day at lunch. And then again at dinner, sometimes. I think we go through a couple pounds a week.

They’re a healthy snack. They can be used to great effect in either savory or sweet dishes. Mmm… carrot cake. And carrots make great pickles.

Jar of Spicy Pickled Carrots

Jar of Spicy Pickled Carrots

Pickling is in. But you don’t have to go through the trouble of sterilizing jars and all the other fun of home-preserving. A quick pickle only takes a day or so in the jar to pick up the flavor of a tangy, slightly sweet brine. They’ll keep for a month, but they’re best at around the end of one week. And they don’t usually last much past that here.
The canned jalapeños come with carrots.  They're not as good as mine.

The canned jalapeños come with carrots. They're not as good as mine.

I started with this basic recipe for pickled carrot sticks from, but replaced the dill seeds with cumin seeds and added jalapeño peppers. I think it’s pretty close to what you’d find on the salsa bar at a taqueria. You can use just about any seasonings you want, and can adjust the sweetness to taste, varying either the sugar or the blend of vinegars (cider vinegar is sweeter than white vinegar). You could also try with basil, oregano, chili flakes and a bit of balsamic for an Italian pickled carrot. Or swap rice vinegar for the cider vinegar and add ginger for a Japanese take.

Spicy Pickled Carrot Sticks

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
4-5 whole pickled jalapeño peppers*
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 1/4 C water
3/4 C white vinegar
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp salt

1. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet, over medium heat, for about 3 minutes.

2. Add the cumin seeds, water, white vinegar, cider vinegar, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, and salt to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Simmer for about two minutes.

3. Put the carrots and jalapeños in a glass or metal bowl and pour the hot brine over them. Cool, uncovered, to room temperature. If you’re planning to keep the carrots in a glass jar, you can do this right in the jar. An empty pickle jar is handy for this project, but far from necessary.

4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They’re ready to eat after one day.

* Is it cheating to use pickled jalapeños? Maybe. You could certainly use fresh peppers. Or just about any other veggies. But I like the flavor of the pre-pickled ones in the can. And if I’m short a little brine when I put everything in the jar, I’ll top it off with brine from the can.


    1. Carol says:

      Mmm, sounds yummy. I love those pickled carrots they have at taquerias, so will definitely need to try this out. Thanks!

    2. dan says:

      You should definitely try these out. The ones at the taquerias are usually sliced on a bias, but for regular snacking, I prefer sticks. The recipe works either way, of course. Super easy.

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