Mexican pickled carrots, or zanahorias en escabeche, are a perfect topping for your favorite Mexican food. Put them on tacos, tortas, enchiladas and anything else you want. Your local taqueria has them, but now you can make them at home!
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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 Mexican restaurants, 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.
What Are Zanahoria en Escabeche
Zanahorias en escabeche translates to pickled carrots. More specifically zanahorias means carrots and escabeche is pickling.
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 hot carrots.
Additionally if you make Mexican pickles at home you’ll be able to control the heat level. Use jalapeños for a milder heat and serranos for a hotter pickled carrot. For an extra heat use habanero peppers.
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 (either carrot slices or carrot sticks)
- white onions
- green chile peppers for heat
- garlic cloves
- whole bay leaves
- black peppercorns
- Mexican oregano
- white vinegar
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!
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.
You can use mason jars, pint jars, or canning jars or repurpose some clean glass jars from your pantry. (I’ve linked to the ones 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, however, you can of course double or triple the recipe and make a proper pickled carrot canning recipe yourself.
But the great thing is that you don’t have to wait a long time to enjoy these carrots.
How to Make Mexican Pickled Carrots
After you’ve sterilized your jars or airtight containers, then you can get started on the carrots.
Heat the oil in a very large pan then sauté the carrots for a few minutes. Add the chiles, onion, garlic and bay leaves and cook for about 8 minutes.
While the carrots and other vegetables are cooking you can prepare the brine by mixing the vinegar and water in a small saucepan. Allow it to come to a boil then turn off the heat and set aside.
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.
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.
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 Serve Mexican Pickled Carrots or Zanahorias en Escabeche
You can also just grab some and put on top of corn chips as a fun, spicy and slightly hot snack.
Check out all the Mexican foods you can serve these pickled carrots as a topping or side dish. Make sure to put the pickled carrots in small bowls when you’re serving them.
- Breakfast Tacos: Huevos con Salchicha
- Tacos de Papa Dorados (Potato Tacos Recipe)
- Easy Sopa de Fideo
- Mexican Shells Soup | Easy Sopa de Conchas
- Mexican Macaroni Salad Recipe | Ensalada de Coditos
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.
Another thing you can adjust is the amount of heat. So feel free to adjust it by the type of chile you use as well as the amount. See the recipe notes.
If you want a fiery option you could even use habaneros.
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 to make a large batch.
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!
Mexican Pickled Carrots or Zanahorias En Escabeche
- 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
- jars and lids sanitized ( I used one 32oz jar + one 8oz jar)
- large frying pan
- medium pot
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.
Cook The Carrots
- In a large frying pan heat the oil, then add the carrots and cook for about 3 minutes. Next add the chilies, onion, garlic, and bay leaves and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes. Next add the salt, oregano, and peppercorns and cook for about 3 minutes, stir to combine the spices and vegetables well.
- 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, cook until they reach your desired texture. Turn off heat and set aside.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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 couple of weeks in the refrigerator, that’s if they last you that long!
- 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.
Tell me what do you like to top with these pickled carrots?
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…