Can you candy carrots? Absolutely! These candied carrots are the perfect topping for carrot cake, or use them as a garnish for cupcakes. If you’ve been looking for carrot cake toppings without cream cheese, candied shredded carrots are a great option. You could also make candied carrot curls or candied carrot strips if you’d prefer. This carrot topping is naturally vegan, dairy free, and gluten free, and you can make it sugar free and lower carb as well.
What do you decorate carrot cake with? Buttercream frosting, cream cheese icing, and carrot shaped candy decorations or sprinkles are common carrot cake décor. This crispy candied carrot recipe is another fun option for carrot cake garnish.
These are candied carrots with white sugar. You could also experiment with making candied carrots with honey or brown sugar. However you do it, these easy candied carrots will be sweet and delicious.
The secret to making these cake decorating carrots is to ensure they get fully dry. To do this, our carrot candy sprinkles are first soaked in a simple syrup on the stovetop. Next, we dry the candied carrots garnish in the oven at a very low temperature.
Making candied carrot shreds is very similar to making candied orange rind. You could also make candied carrot coins with thin carrot slices or make carrot ribbons, but they make take longer to dry.
I’m using these as a carrot cake decoration, but they’re a tasty snack too. Carrot candies put a sweet spin on savory carrot chips made with olive oil and salt.
⭐ Carrot Cake Garnish Ingredients
Here’s what you need to make garnish for carrot cake:
- 2 medium carrots
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
That’s it! It’s hard to shred little baby carrots, so just use the big ones. Rainbow carrots may be fun to use if you’d like a color variation.
Feel free to swap out the sugar for Swerve granular if you’d like to make candied carrots sugar free. You could also add some pure vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin spice, orange extract, or ginger for flavor variations.
Another idea is to make candied carrots with orange juice. Just swap out the water in the recipe for juice.
Here is the kitchen equipment you need for this recipe:
- Vegetable peeler (optional)
- Box grater
- Small saucepan
- Colander or slotted spoon
- Parchment paper
- Dark cookie sheet
🥕 How to Make Candied Carrots
Now that you have your ingredients, here are the instructions for how to make carrot decorations! Remove the tops from the carrots, wash, and peel them (if desired). Use the large holes on grater to grate the carrots.
Put the carrots, water, and sugar in a pot. It won’t look like enough water, but the carrots will release water when cooking, so you don’t need more.
Put the pot of carrots on the stove over medium heat. They’re done on the stovetop when they begin to simmer and the sugar dissolves. It will take about 5 minutes.
Line a dark baking sheet with parchment paper (NOT waxed paper). Drain the carrots in a colander or remove them from the liquid with a slotted spoon.
Spread the carrots out in a thin single layer on the lined baking tray. No cooking spray is needed.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Fahrenheit (79C). This is the lowest temperature setting for my oven.
🔥 How to Cook Candy Carrots
Time to talk about how to make candied carrots in the oven! Place the baking tray with the prepared carrots on a rack one-third down from the top of the oven. Dry the carrots in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes, flipping them over after 45 minutes.
Crumble the candied carrot garnish pieces apart after drying. The candied carrot topping will continue to firm up and crisp as it cools. After it is cooled, you can use your carrot candy to top carrot cake cupcakes or muffins.
🌡 Carrot Candy Storage
Candied carrot garnish can be left in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. They may last much longer, depending on how thoroughly they were dried. I don’t recommend leaving them out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours for food safety reasons.
I experimented with putting the carrot garnish in an airtight container in the freezer, then defrosting in the fridge. As long as the carrots were dried well, this carrot topping does freeze well and thaws nicely. I was pleasantly surprised!
🤔 How to Garnish Carrot Cake
IMVHO, the best way to garnish carrot cake is to use cream cheese frosting and then sprinkle candied carrot topping on top. Alternatively, try pressing the carrot garnish into the frosted sides of the cake.
When I didn’t make carrot topping, I use crushed walnuts or chopped pecans to garnish carrot cake. Some other options are toasted coconut flakes, piped frosting in the shape of carrots, or carrot-shaped candies.
📋 Candy Carrot Calories
How many calories in candy carrots? One serving of this carrot garnish has 58 calories. This is for ¼ of the recipe, and only counts half the sugar (since some is drained away).
Candied carrots have 14.2 grams of net carbs per serving. They are not a good fit for very low carb or keto diets. They are, however, plant based and vegan.
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). Carrot candy is low calorie, but most of the calories come from added sugar. Foods high in added sugar, including candied foods and lollipops, belong in level 3.
The carrots by themselves only offer about 13 calories per serving and 2.2 grams net carbs per serving. Most Americans are consuming added sugars well beyond the recommended limits set by the Dietary Guidelines. Added sugar is largely empty calories, and not a great choice when you want to lose weight.
If you’d like to make candied carrots no sugar, consider using Swerve granular in place of the sugar. Swerve is a low carb sugar substitute that works as a 1:1 sugar substitute. It’s a great kitchen help if you’d like to make carrot candy sugar free.
You can buy unsweetened dried carrot flakes on Amazon here. They also offer carrot free candy that looks like carrots. You can find carrot shaped candy here and here.
Cut the carrots into thin long strips using a vegetable peeler. After cooking them in sugar syrup on the stove, wrap each strip around a skewer or the handle of a wooden spoon. Place the carrot curls in a single non-touching layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet before dehydrating the carrots in the oven.
You can make soft glazed carrots in the Instant Pot. These are not the same as the dried carrot candy in this recipe. However, they do make a tasty side dish. You can find a recipe for Instant Pot glazed carrots here.
As with Instant Pots, slow cookers are great for making soft brown sugar glazed carrots. You can find a recipe for Crock Pot glazed carrots here.
Canned carrots hold a lot of moisture and are best for making soft candied carrots. In other words, carrots glazed with butter and brown sugar or maple syrup. Here’s a great recipe for brown sugar glazed carrots.
Did you know you can use thin strips of carrot to make candied carrot flowers? Get the recipe for candied carrot roses over at Serious Eats.
What’s “healthy” always depends on what your individual needs are. Candied carrots may help picky eaters eat more veggies. However, they tend to contain an excessive number of calories from added sugar.
👩🏻🍳 Other Ways to Use Carrots
Looking for more carrot recipes? Try these:
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All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Carrot Candy Recipe (Candied Carrot Cake Garnish and Topping)
- 2 medium carrots (about 4½ ounces or 128 grams)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- Preheat the oven to 175°F (79°C).
- Cut the tops from the carrots, wash, and peel them. Use the large holes on grater to grate the carrots.
- Combine the carrots, water, and sugar in a pot. It won’t look like enough water, but the carrots will release water when cooking, so you shouldn’t need more.
- Put the pot of carrots on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally. They’re done on the stovetop when they begin to simmer and the sugar dissolves. It will take about 5 minutes.
- Line a dark baking sheet with parchment paper (NOT waxed paper). Drain the carrots in a colander or remove them from the liquid with a slotted spoon.
- Spread the carrots out in a thin layer on the lined baking tray.
- Place the baking tray with the prepared carrots on a rack ⅓ down from the top of the oven. Dry the carrots in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes, flipping them over after 45 minutes.
- Crumble the candied carrot garnish pieces apart after drying. The candied carrot topping will continue to firm up and crisp as it cools. After it is cooled, you can use your carrot candy to top carrot cake, cupcakes, or muffins.
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