Mexican Pickled Carrots Recipe (Zanahorias en Escabeche)

Mexican pickled carrots, or zanahorias en escabeche, are a perfect topping for your favorite Mexican food. Put these spicy carrots on tacos, tortas, enchiladas and anything else you want. Your local taqueria has them, but now you can make them at home with this easy quick pickle recipe. 

View from above of glass jar filled with Mexican pickled carrots.
How to Make Mexican Pickled Carrots

Mexican Pickled Carrots

In Mexico these pickled sliced carrots are called zanahorias en escabeche

They’re perfectly crisp and have just the right amount of heat!

These spicy carrots are usually served as an accompaniment or condiment to Mexican dishes.

Often times you’ll get them at taco stands, your favorite taco shop or Mexican restaurants, where they are placed on your table soon after you arrive. 

You can munch on them with corn chips, on their own, or wait for your food to arrive and use as a topping.

Certain brands of canned jalapeños include a few carrots and onions. My personal preference is to eat the carrots in the pickled jalapeno peppers first, then start eating the chiles.

Two glass jars filled with spicy Mexican pickled carrots.
How to Make Zanahorias en Escabeche
How to Make Mexican Pickled Carrots or Zanahorias en escabeche
Zanahoria Means Carrot in Spanish

Are Mexican Pickles Spicy

As I mentioned above, some cans of pickled jalapeños include carrots. I swear sometimes I think the carrots are much spicier than the actual jalapeños. 

But not all Mexican pickled vegetables are spicy. For example, pickled red onions are much milder than these spicy carrots.

If you prefer a milder spicy then the best way to control the heat level is if you make Mexican pickles at home. You can use jalapeños for a milder heat and serranos for a hotter pickled carrot. For an extra heat use habanero peppers.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This Mexican spicy pickled carrots recipe uses simple ingredients and it’s easy to make.
Bring home the flavors of your favorite taqueria with this crunchy carrots.
Zanahorias en escabeche are the perfect addition to your favorite Mexican dishes.
You’ll love the tender yet crisp texture, the tangy spicy with a touch of sweetness that these Mexican carrots have. 

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Mexican Pickled Carrots Ingredients
Ingredients to Make Mexican Pickled Carrots with Jalapeños

Authentic Mexican Pickled Carrot Ingredients

The ingredients for this very easy recipe are quite simple and easy to find anywhere. I’ll list them below but you can also print out the recipe card to have the full recipe and all the details on hand.

Carrots: I’ve always used regular orange colored carrots, but you could experiment with different colors too. I cut into either carrot slices or carrot sticks.

White Onions: Yellow onion can also be used. I don’t recommend red onion because it will give you a strange color in this recipe.

Green Chile Peppers for Heat: As mentioned you can use jalapeño peppers
 for mild heat, serrano chiles for medium heat, or habaneros for spicier carrots.

Garlic Cloves: I don’t suggest substituting with garlic powder, you need whole for flavor and texture.

Spices & Seasonings: Whole bay leaves, black peppercorns, Mexican oregano
and salt. (Some people also add cumin seeds, I don’t care for it in this recipe.)

White Vinegar: Use regular white vinegar because others like apple cider vinegar and red or white wine vinegar will not yield the authentic Mexican flavors.

Water 

Oil: I use olive oil but you could use your favorite vegetable oil too. 

Don’t let the 11 ingredients scare you off, making these spicy pickled carrots is very easy and perfect for beginner with pickling foods.
A note on the Mexican oregano, if you can’t find it then regular oregano is fine to use.
For the hot peppers I like to use large jalapenos, but you can use whatever is available to you — in a pinch  you could even toss in a few chiles de arbol!

How to make Mexican Pickled Carrots
How to Make Zanahorias en Escabeche

Sterilize The Jars for Storage

The first step before you begin with the preparing of the pickled carrots, is to sterilize your glass jars to store the pickled carrots.

1. In a deep pot add plenty of water to completely submerge the jars. Bring the pot of water to a boil then carefully place the thoroughly cleaned jars and lids and boil for 10 minutes.
2. Carefully remove from the hot water and set aside to come to room temperature before filling. 

You can use mason jars, pint jars, or canning jars or repurpose some clean glass jars from your pantry. (I’ve linked to the pint-sized jars I use at the bottom of this post.)

If you don’t have jars, you can use any very clean airtight container.

Much like my refrigerator pickles the recipe for these spicy carrots isn’t really a canning recipe because it makes smaller portions and there’s not water bath involved. 

How to Make Mexican Pickled Carrots

After you’ve sterilized your jars or airtight containers, then you can get started on the carrots.

Sautéing sliced carrots in a stainless steal pan to make spicy pickled carrots.

Step 1
Heat the oil in a very large pan then sauté the carrots for a few minutes.

Sautéing carrots, jalapenos and white onion in a stainless steal pan.

Step 2
Add the chiles, onion, garlic and bay leaves and cook for about 8 minutes.

Boiling water with white vinegar to make pickling brine for Mexican carrots.

Step 3
While the carrots and other vegetables are cooking you can prepare the brine by mixing the vinegar and water in a medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, allow it to come to a boil then turn off the heat and set aside.

Adding oregano, salt, and peppercorns to sautéed Mexican pickled carrots.

Step 4
Next add the salt, oregano, and peppercorns to the carrot mixture and cook for about 3 minutes, stir to combine the spices and vegetables well.

Now you can test a piece of carrot to see how crisp or tender it is. You can decide how much crispness you’d like your carrots to have, but preferably they should be close to al dente. Turn off heat.

Filling a large mason jar with carrots, spices and pouring in pickling brine.

Step 5
Fill your glass jars with the carrot mixture to 3/4 full of the jar. Then very carefully pour in the mixture of vinegars and water. 

Two mason jars filled with spicy Mexican pickled carrots.

Step 6
Wipe clean the rim of the jars, seal with their lids and allow to spicy pickled carrots to come to room temperature. Then store in the refrigerator and they’ll be ready to enjoy the next day.

How to Store

Store in the refrigerator in for up to one week. If you use a proper canning process they will last longer. 

Red enchiladas filled with crumbled Mexican cheese.

How to Serve Mexican Pickled Carrots or Zanahorias en Escabeche

The great thing, and one of my favorite parts, of these spicy carrots is that you don’t have to wait a long time to enjoy them. Make them one day and within 24 hours you can start eating them.

Check out all the Mexican foods you can serve these pickled carrots as a topping or side dish. They go well on various Mexican dishes, anything that you’d like to add a little touch of heat. Make sure to put the pickled carrots in small bowls next to some fresh salsa when you’re serving them.

Tacos: Carne asada tacos, potato tacos, breakfast tacos, refried bean tacos, and chorizo tacos.

Tortas: torta de jamon, molletes, pambazos and milanesa tortas.

Enchiladas: Red enchiladas and enfrijoladas or bean sauce enchiladas. 

Soups: Sopa de fideo and sopa de conchas. They also go perfect with Mexican macaroni salad. 

Snack: You can also just grab some and put on top of corn chips as a fun crunchy delicious snack.

Authentic Mexican Pickled Carrots
Authentic Mexican Pickled Carrots

They Should be Crunchy not Mushy

Spicy Mexican pickled carrots should have a bit of a crunch to them and not be too soft or mushy.

Though I do understand we all have different tastes, and that is why I am leaving the “crunchiness” level up to you. 

How to Make Mexican Pickled Carrots
Mexican Spicy Pickled Carrots

FAQ

Can I make them mild?
Yes you can adjust the amount of heat. Use milder jalapeños and less of them.

How long do I have to wait to eat spicy pickled carrots after prepping?
It’s best to allow 24 hours so they can really develop their pickled taste and better textures.

Can I use baby carrots to make pickled carrots?
I’ve only ever used regular carrots, but yes you could also use baby carrots. Slice them in half and do remember they have a slight different flavor than regular ones.

Is it ok to reuse the pickling liquid?
Not for pickling more carrots, only use it once. But it would make a delicious, tangy and spicy marinade for your favorite protein. Don’t use too much though because the vinegar mixture can be an overpowering flavor. 

Are spicy pickled carrots good for you?
These pickled Mexican carrots are low in calories and fat. Carrots are a good source of Vitamins A and C. Chiles are also a good source of vitamin C. Additionally it’s believed that pickling gives greater health benefit. 

Mexican Pickled Carrots
Mexican Pickled Carrots

Authentic Mexican Pickled Carrots Recipe

Mexican zanahorias en escabeche are unlike other pickled carrot recipes. These are tangy, spicy, have a crispness to them and are addictive.

These pickled carrots are incredibly easy prepare. Just be sure to read through the entire recipe before you begin. Do also check out the tips in the notes section. 

You’ll see how easy it is to make them. It really won’t take you much more than 40 minutes or so. If you like you can double the recipe and make a big batch for personal consumption or to gift to family.

Next time you’re at your favorite Mexican restaurant and they offer you some pickled carrots, you can be proud that you too know how to make them at home. I really do think this will become another one of your favorite Mexican recipes. 

Buen provecho!

How to Make Pickled Carrots with Jalapeños
How to Make Pickled Carrots with Jalapeños
Nancy Lopez author of Mexican Made Meatless

Gracias

I’m so happy you stopped by. If you have any questions or want to let me know how you liked this recipe, do leave a comment. Muchas gracias, I appreciate you!

View looking into large glass jar filled with pickled carrots.

Mexican Pickled Carrots or Zanahorias En Escabeche

Nancy Lopez & MexicanMadeMeatless.com
Mexican pickled carrots can be served as a garnish or side with any Mexican meal. Put them on tacos, tortas, enchiladas and anything else you want. Your local taqueria has them, but now you can make them at home!
5 from 37 votes
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Video

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course accompaniment, Appetizer, garnish, topping
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 10
Calories 61 kcal

Equipment

  • jars and lids sanitized ( I used one 32oz jar + one 8oz jar)
  • large frying pan
  • medium pot

Ingredients
  

Your Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. carrots peeled and cut into coins*
  • 1 medium large white onion sliced into slivers
  • 3 fresh jalapeños sliced into strips (or use serranos)
  • 4 whole garlic cloves if small use more
  • 3 whole bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon oregano preferably Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1.5 cups plain white vinegar (1 1/2 cups) see notes
  • 1.75 cups water (1 3/4 cups) see notes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil more if needed

Instructions
 

Sanitize Jars and Lids

  • You can do this quickly by placing the jars and lids inside a large and deep pot filled with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and remove and drain off the water while you prepare the carrots.
    Ingredients for making Mexican pickled carrots placed inside small bowls and all on top of a blue tablecloth.

Cook The Carrots

  • Heat the oil in a very large pan then sauté the carrots for a few minutes.
    Sautéing sliced carrots in a stainless steal pan to make spicy pickled carrots.
  • Add the chiles, onion, garlic and bay leaves and cook for about 8 minutes.
    Sautéing carrots, jalapenos and white onion in a stainless steal pan.
  • Next add the salt, oregano, and peppercorns to the carrot mixture and cook for about 3 minutes, stir to combine the spices and vegetables well.
    Adding oregano, salt, and peppercorns to sautéed Mexican pickled carrots.

Prep The Vinegar Brine

  • In a medium pot (while your carrots are cooking), mix the water and vinegar and bring to a soft boil under medium-low heat. Once boiling cover and turn heat to low and allow to simmer until it’s ready to be poured over the carrots in the jars.
    Boiling water with white vinegar to make pickling brine for Mexican carrots.

Assemble Jars with Carrots and Brine

  • Fill each jar 3/4 full with the carrot mixture. Then pour in vinegar mix but leave about 1/8th inch of space from the rim. This is to leave enough room so it doesn’t spill.
    Filling a large mason jar with carrots, spices and pouring in pickling brine.
  • Seal tightly and set jars aside to allow to sit and cool down to room temperature. Once at room temperature you can put them in the refrigerator.
    Two mason jars filled with spicy Mexican pickled carrots.
  • Allow to sit in overnight to allow flavors seep into the carrots and make them more flavorful. Tightly sealed they will keep up to a week or two in the refrigerator, that’s if they last you that long! 
    View looking into large glass jar filled with pickled carrots and two coming out of the jar on top of a fork.

Notes

* As you can see in the video, I sliced the onions into coins. But I also like to slice them into diagonal slices. It doesn’t really matter. But keep in mind that the larger sizes may require more jar space or a little bit more brine.
  • If you need more brine just double boil a bit more until you have enough to cover the carrots. 
  • On occasions I’ve needed up to 2 cups vinegar and 3 cups water.
** Sautéing Time
If you slice the carrots into diagonal pieces or larger slices they may require a bit more sautéing time. Simply pay attention to how tender or crispy they are and how you want them to be. Some people like them crispier and others a bit softer. It’s up to you! 

Nutrition

Serving: 10servingsCalories: 61kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 1gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 268mgPotassium: 193mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 7642IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 31mgIron: 0.5mg
Tried this recipe?Leave me a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review and tag me on social media @MexicanMadeMeatless or tag #mexicanmademeatless!

Tell me what do you like to top with these pickled carrots?

This recipe was originally published on my old blog in August of 2010. It has been continually updated for better user experience.

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Recipe Rating




84 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love pickled carrots but I have never made them. This sound like the recipe I need to try. So many flavors with the onions , jalapenos and garlic. I can’t wait to try these.

  2. 5 stars
    I added these to our taco dinner and it added the perfect amount of flavor and heat! I’ll be making another batch soon!

    1. 5 stars
      I used to go to a restaurant that had a great version of this, but the place got trendy and tripled its prices so I don’t go anymore, so I’ve been looking for an alternative.

      The first time I made these, I followed the recipe exactly, but tripled it because they’re very popular in my family. They were really good, but something was still missing from what I was used to. Nevertheless, they were all finished in three days which meant that everyone approved.

      I made a second batch about a month later, this time adding a teaspoon of cumin seeds, doubling the salt, and I used Serrano and habanero chilis. This time, they came out a lot closer to the version that I loved from that restaurant. I think the cumin seeds and the hotter peppers were the secret.

      This recipe is definitely a keeper.

      1. Thank you Ed! I’m glad you played around with my recipe until you found what flavors your family was missing – that’s what cooking is all about. Enjoy!

  3. 5 stars
    I love this recipe because of how versatile it is and how well it can go with a variety of different recipes. Thanks for sharing!

  4. 5 stars
    These pickled carrots were so good on our tacos! Our kids loved them and it’s hard to get them to eat carrots, so thank you!

  5. Can these be preserved in a water bath for longer shelf life. An abundance of carrots and jalapeños this year and would love to have these around come winter

  6. 5 stars
    I have made this recipe 4 or 5 times. The more I make it, the better it is. Thank you so much for this recipe. It’s perfect! I needed it, since my abuelita is no longer here to help me!

    1. Thank you so much Rebecca, I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying the carrots. It may not be your abuelita’s recipe, but she’s always right by your side. Hugs.

  7. Thank you, Nancy. I made this recipe and it was fantastic. Great for a healthy snack as well as with a meal. I realize now that the calculations are for the entire recipe and not per serving.

  8. 5 stars
    Yummy!! I grew up near the Mexican border and lived of these until I moved to Montana. I’ve tried so many recipes and yours is the first one to taste absolutely delicious and perfect. Thank you so much for this recipe and can’t wait to make many more of your recipes