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Candied Carrot Curls

Carrot Curls

Why are carrot cakes and carrot cake cupcakes always topped with a piped carrot drawing?  Apple cakes don’t have apple drawings on them, nor do peach cakes have little piped peaches.

Why not top your carrot cakes with the real thing?! 
Carrot Cupcakes

My candied carrot curls are crunchy and sweet with a light lemony flavor.

Don’t be alarmed by the number of steps in the carrot curl instructions.  I know it sounds like a lot of fussing, but making the carrot curls is really quite simple and the result is beautiful.  When Bride 3.0 saw the cupcakes topped with these, she loved that they looked like little ribbons.

These curls can be made up to five days in advance and recrisped. I also suggest making more than you think you will need as inevitably some end up losing their shape and some end up looking fantastic!

Carrot Walnut Loaf

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Carrot Curls
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4.29 from 7 votes

Candied Carrot Curls

My candied carrot curls are crunchy and sweet with a light lemony flavor.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword candied carrot curls, carrot curls
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 30 carrot curls
Calories 41kcal


  • 3 medium-sized carrots
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • About 15 sets of chopsticks You can buy them in an Asian market or ask nicely for some extras at a take-out Chinese restuarant.


  • Use a peeler to peel wide strips of carrots. You may need to discard several strips before the strips become wide. They will get wider as you go and it's OK if they aren't all the exact same width and length. There should be about 30 strips.
  • In a small saucepan on high heat, bring lemon juice, water, and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
  • Add carrot strips and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and strain out liquid. (The liquid can be discarded, but I like to save it to sweeten drinks. It is also really good to use as part of a sauce for a lemony chicken dish.)
  • Let stand until carrot strips are comfortable to the touch.
  • Preheat oven to 225 F with a rack in the middle.
  • Arrange candied carrot slices flat in a single layer on a parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake until dry but not brittle, about 30 minutes. (Leave oven on.)
  • Working quickly, wind carrot strips, one at a time, in a loose spiral around a chopstick. Place the chopstick with the carrot still wrapped around it back on the baking sheet, seam side down.
  • Return the baking sheet to the oven for up to 45 minutes. Check on the curls periodically starting at 20 minutes to make sure that they aren't browning. If you see signs of this, pull them early. Cook rates vary based on the thickness of the carrot strips.
  • Remove the curls from the oven, leaving them on the chopsticks to cool.
  • If curls are crisp, slip them off the chopsticks. If they are still a little soft, return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
  • Carrot curls can be made up to five days in advance. Store in a loosely-covered container at room temperature. When ready to use, recrisp if necessary in a 250 F oven for 10 minutes. Warning: Don't put them on your cake until just before serving or the curls will get soggy.


Adapted from Epicurious (they got it from the December 2007 issue of Gourmet).


Nutrition Facts
Candied Carrot Curls
Amount Per Serving
Calories 41
% Daily Value*
Sodium 4mg0%
Potassium 21mg1%
Carbohydrates 10g3%
Sugar 10g11%
Vitamin A 1020IU20%
Vitamin C 1.2mg1%
Calcium 2mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Note:  If you don’t want to make carrot curls but still want to top your cupcakes with real carrots, you might consider Chockylit’s carrot sprinkes.

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53 comments on “Candied Carrot Curls”

  1. I think it sounds very easy, like a simple syrup. I would think a bit of cinnamon would make them taste even better!

  2. Stefsays:

    Barb – Love the idea of adding cinnamon. I’ll have to try that next time!

  3. Thanks for the tip! I never thought about adding real carrot as a decoration before!

  4. Mindi Suesays:

    I love the idea! Cant wait to try it out!

  5. kirbiesays:

    What a wonderful idea. These curled carrots remind me of ribbons on gifts. so pretty!

  6. Marisasays:

    Such a great idea! You never disappoint Stef.

  7. This is great! I never thought about that with the apples…I wonder why we don’t put little apples on apple cake…apples are so cute! I think we should start a movement :)

  8. Stef, we are doing carrot cupcakes this week and I am looking forward to trying some of your suggestions and carrot curls. Great curlies girlie! very clever

  9. This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing it.

  10. Careful not to burn these when you are cooking them in the sugar and water. Mine were done in about 10 minutes – I left them in 15 though and yikes they burnt into crispy crisp sticky rock hard burned matter. OK off to go try again!

  11. Stefsays:

    Heather – Thanks! I looked for the link and never saw it. But, maybe I just missed it.

  12. Darn, I just finished off a batch of carrot cake muffins and I only wished I had seen this before. What a great idea for a fanciful topping.

  13. Lauren M.says:

    Awesome idea! Just a warning for those in high altitude… Make sure to be extra careful when cooking them in the simple syrup and then baking them… I took mine out of the oven to curl them after about 25 minutes, and they wouldn’t curl- they cracked whenever I tried. The bake time really needs to be decreased with the high altitude (I’m at 7,000 ft). Trying it again tomorrow, i’ll just have to do a trial and error this time… But amazing idea.. Love it!

  14. Didn’t work for me :( When I tried to seperate them to put hem on the baking sheet they were so fragile the ones that didn’t break apart in the saucepan ripped like wet tissue paper. Did this happen to anyone else? What did you do to fix it?

    • kat91says:

      this happened to me the first time too. try cutting them thicker. i used a mandolin slicer instead of a veggie peeler. but be careful, if you have an attachable holder, your carrot will be too long and thick to put in. i had to hold mine with my hand, just dont slice your finger tips off!

  15. Has anyone tried any other fruits or veggies (like orange peel, lemon peel, cucumber peel)? Looking to dress up a few different cakes. Thanks for all of your help

  16. Vikkisays:

    I’ve just spent nearly two hours making these, and when I took them out of the oven at the end, they were all flat – they’d gone in beautifully curled (most of them at least! and I got through three wooden spoons because the handles kept getting sticky) but have just collapsed.

  17. Katelynsays:

    These turned out amazing!! Just like the picture…I left them in the oven for way longer than called for, because they were not completely dry. I can’t wait to put them on my cake tomorrow!!!!

  18. Amandasays:

    I have done these before and lobe them! I want to do them for a wedding this Saturday, how far in advanced can I put then on the cupcakes? I don’t want them soggy

  19. Elliesays:

    5 stars
    It’s not okay if your strips are all different widths! That’s why some lose their shape and others don’t, they’ll cook at different rates.

    Avoid this by twisting the carrot while peeling your strips to get them all roughly the same size.

  20. STACY HAYESsays:

    5 stars
    Recipe works perfectly! These curls were a beautiful and delicious garnish for cupcakes.

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