Frozen carrots are a lifesaver for quick soups and stews. Once you learn how easy it is to freeze carrots, you won’t leave the market (or grocery store) without an extra bushel of carrots!
Small frozen carrots are great for roasting. Add a good drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and pop them into a hot oven. Or briefly steam or sauté to finish cooking frozen baby carrots.
You can also use diced, frozen carrots straight from frozen for a quick-and-easy weeknight carrot soup.
See the recipe card for the best way to freeze carrots, or keep reading for more options.
How to freeze carrots
Start with fresh carrots, peel them and cut the top. Then dice, slice or cut carrots according to your preference, or leave them whole. Blanch the carrots by rapidly boiling them in water for two minutes before plunging the par-cooked carrots into an ice bath. Dry the blanched carrots well, and flash freeze in a single layer for two hours before transferring them to an airtight container or freezer bag.
It is the best way to freeze carrots (or any other root vegetable) for a quick start on your mirepoix (or soffrito). Use the diced carrots in soups, stews and casseroles. Or oven-roast the whole frozen carrots.
Blanching preserves the nutritional value and the colour. And flash freezing ensures individually frozen carrots instead of a big chunk of diced carrot.
Keep reading for more detailed instructions and how to skip blanching or flash freezing.
What is blanching?
Blanching refers to partially cooking vegetables in boiling water (this cooking process can also be called parboiling). After boiling, plunge the vegetables into ice-cold water to stop cooking.
Why blanch carrots before freezing?
While it may seem like a hassle, it is a good idea to blanch carrots (or other similar root vegetables) before freezing.
- Blanching washes off any microorganisms that might remain on the surface.
- It partially cooks the carrots, making the cooking time from frozen faster.
- It slows down the enzyme action that causes loss in flavour, colour, texture and nutrients allowing the frozen carrots to last longer in the freezer.
Properly blanched, flash-frozen individual carrots (or diced carrots) can last up to a year in the freezer. But I try to finish mine within six to eight months before freezer burn can set in.
While we know that blanching extends the freezer life of these vegetables, exactly which parts of vegetable blanching lore are worth the effort? According to a Serious Eats article on the rules of big-pot blanching, the most important is an icy cold bath after the brief boil.
Can I freeze carrots without blanching?
Yes, you can skip the blanching process. But you will need to use the frozen carrots within a month because blanching inhibits the enzymes responsible for colour and nutrient loss.
Tips for freezing carrots without blanching:
- Always peel the carrots if you don’t plan to blanch them. It removes more microorganisms from the outer layer of the carrots. They contribute to the loss of colour and nutrients.
- If you skip blanching and flash freezing, it is best to dice the carrot finely and use it for mirepoix (that mix of diced carrots, celery and onion that gets a soup or stew going).
- Don’t defrost the carrots to use raw in cold salads. It is best to use them for soups, stews and mirepoix.
- Use it within one month.
Steps for blanching and freezing carrots
1. Prepare the carrots for freezing
Scrub your carrots clean and remove the outer layer of the carrot with a vegetable peeler.
I freeze those off-cut pieces of carrot in a separate bag to use for stock, along with all kinds of discarded veggies that still have flavour and nutritional value.
Use a sharp knife and cut carrot tops, including that bit at the top that traps so much dirt. Then cut the carrots depending on how you plan to use them.
- Whole roasting or sauteing: I like to keep small or baby carrots intact for a quick sauté. Or medium-sized carrots for oven roasting.
- Stir fries: Cut carrots into lengthwise strips and then matchsticks (aka julienned carrots) or batons. You can also slice carrots into rounds.
- Carrot cake: Grate the carrot as you would when making carrot cake with fresh carrots.
- Stews, soups and casseroles: I prefer small to medium-sized dice for my mirepoix (the classic mix of celery, onion and carrots).
Or quickly chop carrots into rough, small chunks with a food processor. It is a great way to process lots of carrots in no time!
See this article by The Kitchn for more carrot cutting techniques.
2. How to blanch carrots
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat, with enough water to comfortably cover the carrots.
While you wait for the water to reach a rolling boil, get your ice bath ready. Fill a large bowl (large enough to fit all your carrots) with cold water and ice. Don’t skip the ice bath!
Add the prepared carrots to the pot of rapidly boiling water and cook for two minutes.
Typically, I don’t change the blanching time depending on the size of the carrot pieces. I give all of my frozen vegetables a two-minute cook. This way, I know to subtract two minutes from the cooking time when relevant.
3. Rapidly cool down the carrots in an ice bath
This essential step creates crisp, vibrant carrots.
Drain the grated, diced, sliced or small whole carrots in a colander, or use a slotted spoon to remove whole carrots. And immediately drop them into the bowl of ice-cold water. Let them cool completely, about three to five minutes.
Transfer the cold, par-cooked carrots to a clean kitchen towel and gently pat dry. Or use paper towels.
4. Flash freeze carrots in a single layer
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the blanched carrots pieces in a single layer.
Transfer the tray to the freezer and freeze until solid – about two hours.
I store the parchment paper to reuse for the next batch of frozen vegetables.
5. Transfer the flash frozen carrots to airtight containers
Now you can transfer your carrots to an airtight container or freezer bag. Resealable freezer bags (like a Ziploc bag) work best because you can squeeze out as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
I wash and reuse my freezer bags for the next batch of frozen vegetables.
Reusable silicone bags also work well for diced carrots. They’re a bit pricey, but it’s a great way to still get the excess air out without a single-use plastic product.
Properly frozen carrots can keep for up to a year in the freezer. But I prefer to use it within six months before freezer burn sets in.
How to use frozen carrots
Frozen carrots are best for hot dishes, especially soups and stews that can do with the extra moisture. There is no need to thaw the frozen carrots. You can use them straight from frozen.
Don’t use frozen carrots for cold dishes like raw carrot salads. Fresh, raw carrots will always work best here. Frozen carrots can get soggy and lose their texture once defrosted.
How to freeze carrots
- Large pot for blanching
- Large bowl for the ice bath
- Parchment-lined baking sheet for flash freezing
- 5 carrots, about 450 grams / 1 pound
- Rinse the carrots, cut off the leafy end and peel the outer layer using a vegetable peeler.
- Cut the carrots according to your preference. I freeze baby carrots whole, but I prefer medium dice for large carrots.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Use enough water to submerge all of the carrots.
- Get your ice bath ready while you wait. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes.
- Add the carrots to the boiling water and cook for two minutes.
- Drain and immediately add it to the bowl of ice water. Let it cool completely, about three to five minutes (depending on the size of the cut carrots).
- Transfer the carrots to a clean kitchen towel and pat dry.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and arrange the blanched carrot pieces in a single layer.
- Place the tray in the freezer and freeze until solid, about two hours.
- Transfer the flash frozen carrots to an airtight container or resealable freezer bag and return it to the freezer.
- Store the frozen carrots for up to a year in the freezer.
- You can skip blanching and flash freezing if you plan to use the carrots within a month, but they will clump together and lose colour faster.
- See the step-by-step instructions for more details.
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Did you know?
You can also freeze broccoli florets for soups, stews and roasting. See how to freeze broccoli.
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