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Cooking Tips

Do I Really Need to Peel Carrots? Ask Matthew

The shocking truth about who at Cook's Country doesn’t peel their carrots.  
By Published Aug. 31, 2022

Why should I peel carrots? Does it really make that much of a difference? 

—Lester Adolpho, Cook's Country reader

Well, Lester, what’s the situation here? Are you on a third date, cooking dinner for your new special someone for the first time? Do you want to be alone for the rest of your life? No? Do the safe thing; peel those carrots.  

Or maybe you’re just lounging around in your jammy jams feeling peckish on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The game’s about to start, but you still have a few seconds to grab some hummus and carrot sticks. A quick rinse and scrub will probably do the trick.

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So, if you ask me, I’d say it all depends on the situation, the recipe, and the stakes. But I couldn’t help wondering whether you and I are alone in our willingness to eat the occasional carrot peel. Are we monsters, Lester? I asked my expert colleagues here at Cook’s Country just that. Here’s what they had to say.

Do you want to be alone for the rest of your life? No? Do the safe thing; peel those carrots.  

Morgan Bolling, Executive Editor, Creative Content

“If they're ultrafresh, ultraskinny carrots I can understand not peeling them. And I don't peel them for Andrew Jangjigian’s chopped carrot salad recipe.

 But otherwise I peel my carrots because I think the skin can be bitter, especially on thick carrots.”

Jessica Rudolph, Senior Editor

“UGGHHH I love everything about this. I am SO staunchly anti-peeling. My favorite way to eat carrots is shredded raw in recipes such as Mark Huxsoll’s Shredded Carrot and Serrano Chile Salad or Amanda Luchtel’s Shredded Root Vegetable Salad with Orange Vinaigrette; I emphatically leave the peel on for both. (I also don't peel the beets for Amanda's salad, which is probably more controversial but is a hill I will die on.)

I will occasionally peel for certain applications—for simple sautéed carrots where the peel will separate and look weird or for crudités. (I'm not a monster.) [Neither are we, Lester!] I've also been peer-pressured (peel-pressured?) by my toddler, who does not like the look of an unpeeled carrot. (Strong vegetable opinions run in the family, it seems.)”

Mark Huxsoll, Test Cook (famous for having a way with vegetables)

“I am extraordinarily lazy when cooking at home and never peel carrots. I also go out of my way to buy pretentious carrots that are organic or from a farm stand and are supernice, so (echoing Morgan) they may not need to be peeled. I do, however, wash them once in warm water and once in cold water to get them very clean.

Now get back to work, Matthew!”

Amanda Luchtel, Test Cook (famous for having an even better way with vegetables)

“I rarely peel carrots unless I am testing a recipe or cooking for others and want that vivid orange of the carrot to shine through. As far as ‘smoking’ them for a delicious ‘not-dog’ [Amanda’s infamous meatless hotdog creation], I do not peel them because it adds to the rustic aPEEL and kinda gives the illusion of a casing. (Oh geez, I need to get off my computer.) 

We eat a ton of carrots, and I actually prefer the bitter notes of a carrot because that is how they are supposed to taste, and we have bred them to be sweeter and sweeter. I simply give them a good scrub and dive right into my hummus!”

Lawman Johnson, Senior Photo Test Cook

“I always peel carrots unless I'm not feeding them to a human. [Lawman thinks we’re monsters, Lester.] I find using the Y peeler very relaxing in the same way as trimming the fat off meat with a very sharp knife. That’s just me, but I don't necessarily think you have to peel them [yes, he clearly does]; it's more of a preference.”

Kelly Song, Test Cook

“Along similar lines [as Lawman], I also find peeling carrots strangely meditative and therefore, almost always peel them. There's something about the tactile feeling of peeling long, perfect orange slivers. Haha is that weird? Also, I don't need to scrub them much, so that's a plus.

The only time I won't peel is if I'm roasting some beautiful rainbow carrots—they have permission to stay skin-on. And in the case of roasting, I do like those slightly bitter, chewy bits that crisp up in the oven.

Lawman, do you feed carrots to Uni the hedgehog? Is a baby carrot for her the same size as one giant carrot? Food for thought . . .”

Lawman Johnson, Senior Photo Test Cook (Again)

“LOL . . . She likes fruit over veggies.”

Well, the image of an adorable hedgehog eating a strawberry is as good a place as any to end on. It seems you and I are not alone, Lester. Even the pros skip the peeling sometimes.