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Classic Carrot Salad

Try this classic carrot salad recipe made with just four ingredients. It's one of the easiest salad recipes to prepare and is terrific for outdoor gatherings!

Wooden serving utensils mixing a bowl of Classic Carrot Salad.
Michelle Becker

Grated carrot salad has to be one of the easiest dishes in the world to prepare, as well as being pretty kid-friendly and good for you!

The Best Carrots for Carrot Salad

The trick is to start with the best carrots you can find. Here is where buying organic or from a farmer's market really makes a difference in taste.

Carrots, being root vegetables, are not only tastier when they are grown in compost-rich soil, but they are more nutrient-rich as well.

A Flexible Recipe

The proportions of this recipe are flexible, depending on what you have on hand. Many traditional carrot salad recipes also call for crushed pineapple, but I think with the apples, raisins, and carrots, it's sweet enough.

By the way, you can often find carrots of different colors at the market—deep red, purple, bright orange, and bold yellow. The taste differences are subtle (they're all delicious!). The main difference is in their mix of nutrients. For example, while orange carrots have lots of beta-carotene, red carrots have lycopene—the nutrient in tomatoes.

A plate of Classic Carrot Salad with the remaining salad in a bowl behind it.
Michelle Becker

Make-Ahead Salad

This salad—a cousin to coleslaw—can be served right away, but also keeps well in the fridge for an hour or two if you want to get your dinner side dish prepped and crossed off the list.

If you want to make it further ahead, grate the carrots and prep the apples, then toss them with a bit of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to prevent browning. Wait to combine with the mayo until closer to serving.

Don't Like Mayo? Try This!

Several readers have tried mayo-free versions of this recipe over the years and shared their success with us in the comments. Here are a few of their ideas:

  • Greek yogurt with a bit of honey
  • Lemon juice and honey
  • Splash of fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • Salad dressing, like thousand island or poppyseed
  • Vinaigrette with red wine vinegar and olive oil
Classic Carrot Salad in a bowl with wooden serving spoons.
Michelle Becker

Carrot Salad Variations to Try

Swapping out the mayonnaise—as suggested above—can vary this carrot salad recipe. These are some additional variations you can try.

  • Add some fresh or drained canned pineapple.
  • Add a teaspoon or two of mustard, lemon juice, or vinegar to give the salad more tang.
  • Add fresh parsley for a bit of color.
  • Use a combination of apple varieties for complexity.
  • Swap out the raisins for chopped dates or cried cranberries.
  • For savoriness, add garlic, cumin, or chopped onion.
  • For crunch, add chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • Make it French! A French carrot salad has honey, olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh parsley in place of the mayo and raisins. Some versions also add chickpeas.

Storing Carrot Salad

Refrigerate carrot salad, tightly covered, for 3 to 4 days. The salad may become watery after a day or so, as the salt in the mayonnaise brings out the water in the carrots and apples.

More Carrot Salad Recipes

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Classic Carrot Salad

Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 cups freshly grated carrots (from 4 to 6 medium-sized carrots)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup raisins (regular, golden, or a mix)
  • 1 large apple, (peeled or not, your preference) cored and chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise

Method

  1. Combine the carrots, raisins, apple and mayonnaise:

    Gently combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.

    Ingredients to make a Classic Carrot Salad in a bowl.
    Michelle Becker
  2. Chill, then serve:

    Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Side view of spooning Classic Carrot Salad out of a bowl.
Michelle Becker