This bright salad delivers a tangy crunch all year round. It’s great for winter when leafy greens are difficult to find, and carrots are abundant. Tweak the original salad with your favorite toppings and mix-ins.
Grated carrot salad is commonly served in France. You’ll find it everywhere from school cafeterias to casuals bistros to home-cooked dinner parties.
It’s no wonder. What an easy salad to prepare that offers a pop of color to your meal. Plus, it’s nutritious!
Since carrots are naturally sweet and crunchy, you don’t have to work hard to make this salad taste delightful. Just add a simple vinaigrette and it’s ready to serve. Let’s learn how I like to make it in this recipe.
Which carrots to use
You can use ordinary orange carrots from the grocery store. I buy carrots in 5-pound bulk bags.
Check that your carrots are fresh, firm, and unblemished for a sweet and crunchy salad. Avoid old carrots that are limp or shriveled and deliver an unpleasant, unsatisfying texture.
If you have the luxury of using different colored carrots, the rainbow colors offer beautiful presentation to make your salad more appetizing.
Carrots from farmers market would be extra tasty for this salad because they tend to be sweeter, fresher, and more flavorful.
How to shred the carrots
When I didn’t have a food processor, I used an extra-coarse grater to shred the carrots.
Other tools include julienne slicers, whether that’s a Y-peeler, a mandoline, a rotary grater, a spiralizer, or a Thai papaya scrapper. These devices are ideal for shredding carrots, making papaya salad and Chinese potato salad. They create the perfect-sized carrot sticks.
TIP: Worst case, if you don’t have a grater, you can slice the carrots into julienne matchsticks by hand. It’ll be great practice for knife skills.
My friend Benjamin, who teaches francophiles how to speak French at FrenchTogether.com, told me he uses a food processor to shred his carrots to 6 mm match sticks.
NOTE: The thinner the carrots are sliced, the less crunchy the salad will be. I like crunchy carrots in my salad so I prefer to use the coarsest tooth for shredding. Others prefer a finer texture for a softer salad that picks up more dressing. Experiment to decide which is your favorite.
Looking at French recipe sites, I notice there’s an endless list of variations on salade de carottes râpées.
The next level of adventurous palates opt to top with fresh herbs, like chopped cilantro, green onion, parsley, or mint to the salad.
On the other end, there are grated carrot salad recipes that contain canned tuna, cheese (crumbled feta, grated comté cheese), and sliced ham.
There are plenty of ideas involving sprinkling dried fruits (raisins) and other shredded fruits and vegetables to the salad. Here are some suggestions:
- Nuts & seeds: Chopped pistachios, walnuts, sliced or slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
- Shredded vegetables: Zucchini, radishes, cucumbers, celery, beets
- Shredded fruits: Apples (especially Granny Smith apples), mango, pears
- Spices: Cumin, ginger, cinnamon
NOTE: For French readers, here are more suggestions on variations.
If you don’t have fresh lemon juice or you like the flavors in a vinegar, you can add balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
TIP: Some people like to add 1 tablespoon of orange juice to vinaigrette for a fruity tang.
Add ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard if you like it. You can give your salad an Asian twist with ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil.
NOTE: My vinaigrette recipe uses approximately 1.25:1 ratio of acid to fat. If you prefer your salad less sour, you can bump up the acid to oil ratio to 1:2 parts. Tweak the quantities to your taste preferences.
Tips for success
- If you use a fine-toothed grater, your carrot salad will get soggier and softer faster than if your carrots are coarsely shredded.
- To scale the recipe: Simply grate more carrots and make a larger quantity of vinaigrette.
- Some people prefer the salad cold. If that’s you, refrigerate the carrot salad for 30 minutes before serving.
5-minute French grated carrot salad (salade de carottes râpées)
- Chopping Board
- Mixing Bowl
- 2 lb (500 g) Carrots, as fresh as possible
- Gather the ingredients.
- Wash and slice the ends off the carrots. Juice the lemon. Finely dice the shallot to create about 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
Shred the carrots
- If grating in the food processor, cut the carrots into smaller segments to make it easier to put them in the food processor chute.
- Grate all the carrots in the food processor. If using a grater or julienne slicer, shred all the carrots to matchsticks.
Make the salad dressing
- Add the diced shallot, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar (if using), olive oil, and ¼ cup of lemon juice into a bowl.
- Mix the salad dressing ingredients until well combined and emulsified.
Assemble the salad
- Put the grated carrots into a large mixing bowl. If serving soon, mix the salad dressing into the grated carrots. Mix until evenly combined.
- Place a serving of the carrots on a plate. Add the mix-ins and toppings.
- Enjoy your grated carrot salad!
Can you make this in advance?
Yes! This salad stores well. The carrots might be a bit soggier the next day.
To mitigate this problem, you can use a coarser grater to shred the carrots. I find finely grated carrots wilt and soften more quickly than julienne-sized matchsticks.
If possible, store the grated carrots separately from the vinaigrette and dress the salad just before serving.
How to store leftovers
If the salad is already dressed, I transfer the leftovers to a container with a lid and eat it the next day. You can probably store the salad for longer than 1 day without it spoiling.
However, I find the longer the dressed salad sits around, the worse the texture becomes. It’s best to eat it as soon as possible.
If you haven’t tossed the dressing into the vegetables, the ingredients will last much longer.
Store the shredded vegetables and fruits in the fridge in sealed containers to avoid them drying out.
Store the vinaigrette separately from the vegetables in an airtight container. Mix the dressing into the shredded vegetables just before serving.
Can you freeze it?
I don’t recommend freezing this salad. The frozen carrots will become mushy.