World's Best Carrot-Raisin Salad Recipe (With Pineapple)
Why Make Carrot Salad?
This recipe is a surefire hit! I learned how to make it from my mom, who has become The Carrot Salad Lady in her town; she probably makes it at least once per week for potlucks, for special gatherings, and for her loved ones.
How could such simple ingredients make such a fantastic salad? Like all perfect foods, it's the combination of tastes and textures that make this a dish you'll turn to again and again for parties, picnics, summer lunches, or simply to have around since it's fantastic with a sandwich or quick lunch.
Read on for this simple and tantalizing recipe.
- 2 pounds carrots (approximately 10 large carrots)
- 1 (16-ounce/450-gram) can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1/3 cup raisins or dried currants (see Variations at the bottom for more details)
- 1/2 lemon, including the zest
- 8 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- Grate the carrots on the smallest holes of your box grater into a large bowl. Alternatively, you can use the grater from your food processor. Texture is incredibly important to a fantastic carrot salad. This is why you want to use the smallest holes of your box grater, rather than the larger ones.
- Drain the cans of crushed pineapple. (I think it's important to use crushed, rather than chunky pineapple, because the texture blends so wonderfully with grated carrots. Make sure you drain thoroughly, otherwise you'll end up with a vaguely soupy salad, which you want to avoid.)
- Zest half of the lemon, and put 1/2 of the lemon juice into the salad.
- Add in the sugar, salt, and currants or raisins.
- Mix thoroughly, and taste for seasoning. Sometimes carrots are really sweet, so you'll need less sugar; other times, carrots aren't very sweet, so you'll need a bit more sugar than I've called for.
- Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving. This allows the ingredients to meld into a single taste. Though I think this salad is best served cold, some people prefer it room temperature.
One of the reasons I love this salad is its versatility. Whether cold, cool, or room temperature, it's incredibly delicious!
I've had friends comment on how my carrot-raisin salad is so much better than what they make.
They ask: What's your secret?
I say: Using fresh carrots and adding sugar.
They say: Oh, I don't add sugar to mine. Those sweet carrots don't need it!
And I say: Umm, well, yes they do. Even the sweetest carrots benefit from the addition of sugar.
Though I love this salad for leftovers, it really is at its premium the day it's made. This is why, when I'm making it for a dinner party or to take to a potluck, I always make it the same day I serve it. Admittedly, the taste difference is minor, but the textural difference is noticeable. The carrots lose their super-crunchiness, and to my taste buds this is part of the enjoyment of this salad.
- Are you diabetic? Then by all means use Splenda rather than sugar.
- Is there a big difference between using raisins versus currants? It's a matter of taste, of course. I like both, though I think the tinier size of currants makes a prettier dish—but the difference is minor, and I've used raisins (probably) as many times as I've used currants.
Enjoy this wonderful salad!