This classic carrot and raisin salad combines sweet, tangy, and creamy flavors. It's as easy as it gets - grated carrots and raisins all tossed in a creamy and tangy dressing.
About carrot and raisin salad
This salad a time-honored dish has been around for a while, and a lot of us forget how delicious this simple dish is.
I have also seen it in different cuisines, just with their own variations. This recipe is an American classic version of this salad.
You probably had it at least once at family gatherings or at a Chick-fil-A restaurant (unfortunately, it is not on the menu anymore).
You may see it made with canned pineapples, apples, or nuts as a variation.
The main ingredients are raw carrots and raisins. Raw, grated carrots provide a fresh crunch and raisins create a chewy contrast to the crunchy carrots.
This salad is meant to be sweet and tangy. Carrots and raisins already have natural sweetness, but I also add a little bit of sugar to further elevate the sweet taste if the main ingredients.
The creamy dressing provides a tangy flavor to balance the sweet taste of the carrots and raisins.
A lot of recipes use just mayo as a dressing, but I also like to add some sour cream. Sour cream gives the dressing a refreshing tanginess and makes it a little lighter.
This classic side dish is a great alternative to cabbage coleslaw and pairs well with sandwiches, burgers, poultry, and barbecue. t is also one of the easiest dishes you can contribute potluck.
This is the overview of the recipe ingredients. Please, see the recipe card for quantities at the end of the post.
- Carrots: use fresh and crunchy carrots. Avoid buying bagged pre-shredded carrots, as they do not taste as good as fresh ones.
- Black raisins: regular raisins are the preferred choice because they have a chewier texture and retain a bit more moisture. But you can also use golden raisins instead.
- Mayonnaise: use a full-fat mayo for a rich and creamy taste.
- Sour cream: makes the dressing lighter and adds tangines. You can also use a full-fat plain Greek yogurt instead.
- Sugar: adds extra sweetness to the salad. You can use honey or maple syrup instead.
- Salt: to add savory notes and balance the sweet and tangy taste of the dish. You can also add a little bit of black pepper.
Follow these 4 simple carrot raisin salad recipe steps.
Step 1. In a small bowl, add mayonnaise, sour cream, and sugar (if using). Mix well until the sugar is almost dissolved. Taste the dressing. You may add a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to balance it. Cover the dressing and place it in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Step 2. Wash the carrots thoroughly under cold water and pat them dry. Cut off the top and bottom ends with a knife. I usually peel them with the vegetable peeler before grating. But it is optional. If you decide to leave the skin, make sure to scrub the carrots well with a vegetable cleaning brush. Place the box grater on a cutting board. Grate the carrots using a coarser side of the box grater. I like larger shreds for better crunch. If you prefer smaller shreds, use the finer side of the grater box. Repeat the process with the rest of the carrots.
Quick note: You can also use a food processor, especially if making a very large batch.
Step 3. Place grated carrots in a large bowl. Add their black raising and sprinkle everything with a pinch of salt. Give it a quick mix to distribute the salt.
Take out the prepared dressing and pour about half of it into the salad. Mix it well and taste it, it may not need more dressing if you like the salad to be lighter.
Otherwise, add the remaining dressing and mix it one more time. Add more salt and pepper if needed. You can serve it right away, but I like to chill it for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
Step 4. Pour the prepared dressing over the carrots and raising. Mix well until all the ingredients are well coated. You can serve it right away or chill the salad in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
This recipe is very simple, but I would like to add a few practical tips to make the process even easier.
- Choose fresh, firm carrots to make this salad.
- If you have an opened package of raisins, they might be dry already. To plum them back up. soak them for about 15-20 minutes in very warm water as they might be dry already.
- If you use only mayonnaise, add a little bit of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to the dressing.
- Use the larger side of the grater box to grate the carrots for better texture.
- Finely grated carrots will be not crispy and might turn soggy.
- To keep the salad crisp, add the dressing 30 minutes before serving.
- This salad looks even better when served in a clear bowl, so everyone can see its vibrant colors.
This salad pairs well with poultry, seafood, beef and so much more. Here are a few serving ideas:
- As an easy side dish: serve it along with BBQ chicken, meatloaf, or fish as a refreshing and sweet-sided dish.
- With sandwiches or wraps: great as a side dish or even a filling for a simple sandwich or a wrap.
- Bring along: include it in a picnic basket with other cold salads, cheeses, bread, and more. It is also a great dish to bring for a potluck or a BBQ cookout.
- In a lunch box: It's an easy-sided dish you can pack in your lunch box. Taste fresh with any simple.
If you plan to make this salad ahead of time, store the dressing separately in an airtight container.
You can also store grated carrots for up to 3 days in the fridge. Simply add raisins and dressing before serving for a fresh taste.
If you take the salad to a potluck, consider transporting it in a cooler to keep it chill and fresh.
Depending on the season and the main dish you are serving, you can make a few variations of this carrot salad:
- With fruits: fresh diced apple or canned crushed pineapple
- With nuts: right before serving, add chopped roasted walnuts or other nuts to the salad.
- With cranberries: instead of raisins, try tangy and sweet dried cranberries. Can be a great variation for a Thanksgiving table.
- Spicy: you can add some cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger or red pepper flakes to pair it with different main dishes.
- Herbed: add fresh chopped parsley, dill, or cilantro for a fresh taste.
- Dairy-free: If am not in the mood for mayo dressing, I dress it with just olive oil, honey, and lemon juice. Very refreshing and light version.
More salad recipes
- Ukrainian beetroot salad
- Mimosa salad with tuna
- Herring under a fur coat salad
- Olivier salad
- Beets, arugula, and goat cheese salad
- German beets salad
Frequently asked questions
Carrot raisin salad can last in the fridge for up to 3 days. However, It is best to enjoy it within 24 hours for the fresh taste and crunchy carrots. If you make it ahead of time, add the dressing before serving.
The best way is to grate the carrots on the coarser side of the box grater for a crunchy texture. You can also use your food processor to grate the carrots.
Black raisins are better for this salad as they have more flavor and chewier texture. But you can easily use golden raisins instead.
Carrot and Raisin Salad
- 1 grater box
- 1 pound carrots, 5-6 cups grated
- ¾ cup raisins, regular or golden
- ¼ cup mayonnaise, full fat
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
- In a medium bowl, whisk ¼ cup mayo, ¼ cup sour cream and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Place it in the fridge until ready to mix with the salad.
- Wash and peel carrots. Use box grater larger side to grate the carrots. Transfer grated carrots into a large bowl.
- Add ¾ cup of raisins to the carrots. Season everything lightly with salt and mix it.
- Pour about ¾ of the prepared dressing and mix the salad. Add the remaining dressing if you want the salad to be more creamy.
- This salad is good to serve right away, but it becomes even better when chilled in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Make sure to stir it again before serving. You can garnish it with fresh parsley, nuts or seeds.
- You can use only mayonnaise or only sour cream for the dressing, but I prefer both.
- No need to peel carrots, if they are washed and scrubbed well.
- If the raising have been open for a while, let them soak in very warm water for about 15 minutes to plum them up. Drain and dry them with paper towels before adding too the salad.