Authentic Mexican Pickled Carrots


Authentic Mexican pickled carrots, or “zanahorias en escabeche,” are a beloved staple in Mexican cuisine. These tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet pickled vegetables are often served as a condiment alongside tacos, tortas, or simply enjoyed as a snack. Making these delicious pickled carrots at home is surprisingly easy and allows you to enjoy a taste of Mexico anytime. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of creating your own batch of authentic Mexican pickled carrots.


To make authentic Mexican pickled carrots, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 lb (450g) carrots, peeled and sliced into thick rounds
  • 1 large white onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 jalapeño peppers, sliced (adjust to taste)
  • 1 cup (240ml) white vinegar
  • 1 cup (240ml) water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional, for a hint of sweetness)
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)


Step 1: Prepare the Vegetables

  1. Peel and Slice the Carrots: Begin by peeling the carrots and cutting them into thick rounds. This ensures they maintain a satisfying crunch even after pickling.
  2. Slice the Onions and Jalapeños: Thinly slice the white onion and jalapeño peppers. If you prefer a milder flavor, remove the seeds from the jalapeños.

Step 2: Cook the Vegetables

  1. Heat the Olive Oil: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Sauté the Vegetables: Add the sliced carrots, onions, garlic, and jalapeños to the pan. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables start to soften but still retain some crunch.

Step 3: Create the Pickling Brine

  1. Combine Vinegar and Water: In a separate pot, combine the white vinegar and water. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Add Seasonings: Stir in the bay leaves, dried oregano, black peppercorns, salt, and sugar (if using). Simmer for about 2 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Step 4: Pickle the Vegetables

  1. Combine Vegetables and Brine: Carefully pour the simmering brine over the sautéed vegetables in the saucepan. Ensure all the vegetables are submerged.
  2. Simmer Together: Allow the mixture to simmer for an additional 5 minutes to ensure the flavors combine well.

Step 5: Cool and Store

  1. Cool Down: Remove the pan from heat and let the pickled carrots cool to room temperature.
  2. Transfer to Jars: Once cooled, transfer the vegetables and brine into sterilized glass jars. Seal tightly with lids.

Step 6: Refrigerate and Enjoy

  1. Refrigerate: Store the jars in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving. This allows the flavors to fully develop.
  2. Serve and Garnish: Enjoy your authentic Mexican pickled carrots as a condiment, side dish, or snack. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.

Serving and Storage Tips for Authentic Mexican Pickled Carrots:

Serving Tips:

  1. As a Condiment: Serve your pickled carrots alongside tacos, burritos, or tortas for a tangy and spicy addition that enhances the flavors of your favorite Mexican dishes.
  2. On a Platter: Include them in a charcuterie or appetizer platter. They pair wonderfully with cheeses, cured meats, and other pickled vegetables.
  3. Salad Topper: Add a handful of pickled carrots to salads for a burst of flavor and crunch. They work especially well in Mexican-inspired salads with ingredients like black beans, corn, and avocado.
  4. Snack: Enjoy them straight from the jar as a snack. Their tangy and spicy flavor makes them an addictive and healthy treat.
  5. Garnish: Use pickled carrots as a garnish for grilled meats, sandwiches, or burgers. They add a zesty kick and a pop of color to any dish.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration: After transferring the pickled carrots and brine into sterilized glass jars, ensure the lids are sealed tightly. Store the jars in the refrigerator. The pickled carrots will keep for up to 2 months when properly refrigerated.
  2. Wait Time: For the best flavor, let the pickled carrots sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving. This allows the vegetables to fully absorb the brine and develop their characteristic tangy taste.
  3. Sterilization: Always use sterilized jars to store your pickled carrots. To sterilize, boil the jars and lids in water for 10 minutes, then let them air dry completely before use.
  4. Labeling: Label each jar with the date of preparation. This helps you keep track of freshness and ensures you use the oldest jars first.
  5. Small Batches: If you plan to consume the pickled carrots slowly, consider storing them in smaller jars. This way, you only open a small portion at a time, keeping the rest sealed and fresh.
  6. Avoid Contamination: Use clean utensils each time you remove carrots from the jar to prevent contamination and extend the shelf life of the pickles.

Variations of Authentic Mexican Pickled Carrots:

1. Spicy Pickled Carrots

  • Ingredients: Increase the number of jalapeño peppers or add a few serrano or habanero peppers for an extra kick.
  • Instructions: Follow the original recipe but adjust the number of peppers to your heat preference. You can also add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the brine for added spiciness.

2. Mixed Vegetable Escabeche

  • Ingredients: Add other vegetables like cauliflower florets, sliced bell peppers, and radishes.
  • Instructions: Prepare the brine and sauté the carrots as per the original recipe. Add the additional vegetables during the sautéing step to create a colorful and flavorful mixed vegetable escabeche.

3. Garlic-Lovers Pickled Carrots

  • Ingredients: Double or triple the amount of garlic cloves.
  • Instructions: Follow the original recipe, but increase the quantity of garlic for a more intense garlic flavor. Slice or crush the additional garlic cloves before adding them to the sautéed vegetables.

4. Cilantro-Lime Pickled Carrots

  • Ingredients: Add the juice of one lime and a handful of fresh cilantro leaves to the brine.
  • Instructions: Prepare the brine as usual, then stir in the lime juice and fresh cilantro leaves before combining with the sautéed vegetables. This variation adds a fresh, citrusy twist to the pickled carrots.

5. Sweet and Spicy Pickled Carrots

  • Ingredients: Add 2 tablespoons of honey or agave syrup to the brine for a touch of sweetness.
  • Instructions: Follow the original recipe, but stir the honey or agave syrup into the brine before pouring it over the vegetables. This variation balances the heat and tanginess with a hint of sweetness.


Making authentic Mexican pickled carrots at home is a simple and rewarding process. With their vibrant flavors and versatility, these pickled vegetables are sure to become a favorite in your household. Whether you’re new to Mexican cuisine or a seasoned enthusiast, this recipe is a must-try. Enjoy the tangy, spicy, and delightful taste of Mexico with every bite!

FAQ’s About Authentic Mexican Pickled Carrots:

1. What are Mexican pickled carrots?

Mexican pickled carrots, or “zanahorias en escabeche,” are a traditional condiment in Mexican cuisine. They consist of carrots and other vegetables pickled in a tangy, spicy brine, often served alongside tacos, tortas, and other dishes.

2. How long do Mexican pickled carrots last?

When stored in sterilized, airtight jars and kept in the refrigerator, Mexican pickled carrots can last up to 2 months. Always use clean utensils when handling them to prevent contamination and extend their shelf life.

3. Can I adjust the spiciness of the pickled carrots?

Yes, you can easily adjust the spiciness by varying the number of jalapeños or other hot peppers used. For a milder version, reduce the number of peppers or remove their seeds. For more heat, add additional peppers or use hotter varieties like serranos or habaneros.

4. Can I use different types of vinegar?

While white vinegar is traditional, you can experiment with other types of vinegar such as apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar for a slightly different flavor profile. Each type of vinegar will impart a unique taste to the pickled carrots.

5. What other vegetables can I add to the pickled carrots?

Common additions include cauliflower florets, sliced bell peppers, radishes, and onions. These vegetables complement the carrots and add variety to the pickled mix.

6. Do I have to cook the vegetables before pickling them?

Sautéing the vegetables briefly before adding the brine helps soften them slightly and infuse them with the initial flavors. However, if you prefer crunchier pickles, you can skip the sautéing step and pour the hot brine directly over the raw vegetables.

7. How soon can I eat the pickled carrots after making them?

For the best flavor, let the pickled carrots sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before eating them. This allows the vegetables to fully absorb the brine and develop their characteristic tangy taste.

8. Can I reuse the pickling brine?

It’s not recommended to reuse the pickling brine for another batch of pickles, as its acidity and flavor will have been diminished. However, you can use the leftover brine as a flavorful addition to salad dressings, marinades, or even cocktails.

9. Are Mexican pickled carrots healthy?

Yes, Mexican pickled carrots are generally healthy. They are low in calories, contain essential vitamins and minerals from the vegetables, and the vinegar used in pickling has probiotic properties. However, be mindful of the sodium content if you’re watching your salt intake.

10. What dishes pair well with Mexican pickled carrots?

Mexican pickled carrots are a versatile condiment that pairs well with various dishes, including tacos, burritos, tortas, grilled meats, and sandwiches. They can also be enjoyed on their own as a tangy snack or added to salads for extra flavor and crunch.


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