Candied Carrot Curls

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These Candied Carrot Curls are the perfect topping for your favorite carrot cake recipe! With just a few simple ingredients, you can make a quick and tasty batch of candied carrots with the perfect crunch and a sweet flavor with a hint of citrus.

A spilled plastic container of candied carrot curls.
These homemade candied carrot curls make the perfect topping for a classic carrot cake.

Why You’ll Love 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?! My candied carrot curls are crunchy and sweet with a light lemony flavor. They’re the perfect way to garnish a classic and moist Carrot Cake, these fun Pumpkin Cupcakes, or even a decadent Chocolate Carrot Cake!

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. The bride from the third wedding I did loved that they looked like little ribbons.

Ingredients Needed

Pouring lemon juice into a pot on the stove.
With simple ingredients, it’s deceptively easy to make your own gourmet carrot curls.
  • carrots – I recommend grabbing about 3 medium-sized carrots to start, but this recipe can easily be made in larger quantities if you like.
  • lemon juice – this helps the carrots keep their bright orange color and gives them a little zing of citrus flavor.
  • water
  • sugar – gives the carrot curls their “candied” quality with the perfect amount of sweetness.
  • chopsticks – you’ll use these to wrap the carrot ribbons.

How to Make Candied Carrot Curls

  1. Use a peeler to get nice wide strips of carrot. The first few from each carrot may not be wide enough; you can discard these or use them for something else.
  2. Place a small saucepan over high heat and mix the water with the lemon juice and sugar, then bring the mixture to a boil. Stir until all of the sugar is fully dissolved and incorporated.
Bringing water with sugar and lemon juice to a boil.
Watch the sugar mixture carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  1. Add the carrot strips and lower the heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
Adding carrot ribbons to hot sugar mixture.
For best results, be sure to use carrot ribbons of equal size.
  1. Remove from the heat and drain the liquid. You can keep it and use it for cocktails or other drinks, or even to add some flavor to dishes like lemony chicken.
Pouring carrot ribbons into a strainer over a bowl.
Keep the cooking liquid and use it as a unique syrup for cocktails or cooking!
  1. Allow the carrots to sit until they’re not too hot to handle with your bare hands. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 225 degrees F and move a rack to the middle.
  2. Arrange the carrot strips flat on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until dry but not brittle.
  3. Working quickly, wrap each carrot ribbon around a chopstick and return to the baking sheet. Place them with the ends underneath the chopsticks to prevent the carrots from uncurling.
Carrot ribbons wrapped around paper straws to create candied carrot curls.
Use chopsticks, paper straws, or other long and thin cylinders to give your candied carrots their signature curl.
  1. Place the baking tray back in the oven for up to 45 minutes. Start checking at 20 minutes, and as soon as the carrots start to take on any color, pull them out.
  2. Allow the curls to cool on the chopsticks, then remove them and use them as desired or store them until you need them!
Close up of finished candied carrot curls on a parchment lined baking tray.
With a slightly crispy and sweet flavor, this is an elegant way to add a pop of color and flavor to carrot desserts.

Expert Tips for Carrot Curls

  • These curls can be made up to five days in advance and re-crisped. 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!
  • If you have heat-proof gloves, they can be helpful for wrapping the carrot ribbons after the initial baking time. They’ll be hot, so you have to be careful either way!
  • Chopsticks can be purchased at your local Asian market, or you might be able to snag some extras from your local Chinese takeout restaurant if you ask them nicely.
  • Aside from chopsticks, you could also use wooden skewers or paper straws. The thickness of the tool you use will determine how tight the curls of the carrot ribbons are. Make sure whatever you use will hold up in the oven.
  • You can also use the handle of a wooden spoon or spatula to wrap the carrot ribbons and then carefully arrange them on the baking sheet. I prefer to bake them still curled, which really helps them maintain that shape.
  • For some additional flavor, you can add a pinch of other spices to your carrots like cinnamon or nutmeg.
  • Avoid adding carrot curls to any desserts or dishes until right before serving to prevent the carrots from getting soggy and losing their crunch.
Carrot curls laid out flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
You can also use this recipe to make candied carrot strips, but I prefer to curl them for a more beautiful presentation.


What do candied carrot curls taste like?

The final result of this recipe is a delicate and crunchy ribbon that does subtly taste of carrot, with a nice amount of sweetness and a nice pop of lemony flavor.

How do you make carrot ribbons curly?

I’ve found it’s much easier to wrap them around something long and thin aside from just trying to twist them into curly shapes. Chopsticks are my go-to tool, but there are other options like kitchen tool handles or thick wooden skewers.

What should candied carrot curls be used for?

These crunchy carrot curls are perfect on top of a classic carrot cake, but they can also be used for a light and citrusy dessert like these Lemon Cupcakes or an Orange Pie. Another great option is to pair them with a spice cake topped with cream cheese frosting.

How do you store carrot curls?

Keep any leftover carrot curls in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. They’re also great to make ahead of time, and can be re-crisped by popping them in the oven at 250 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

Did you make this recipe? Leave a review!
A spilled plastic container of candied 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 and make the perfect topping for carrot cake!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 30 carrot curls
Calories 41kcal
Author Stefani


  • 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.


  • Adapted from Epicurious (they got it from the December 2007 issue of Gourmet).
  • 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.
  • You should be able to get around 10 good carrot ribbons from each carrot.


Calories: 41kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 21mg | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1020IU | Vitamin C: 1.2mg | Calcium: 2mg
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