This Carrot Cranberry Salad recipe swaps the classic raisins for dried cranberries and adds pineapple, toasted pecans and lemon for a bright, fresh and crunchy side your family will love!
OK, I admit it. I’m not a raisin fan. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. I have a pretty strong contempt for those things. But I love carrots. When someone asked me the other day if I liked carrot and raisin salad, I said, “No, I don’t like raisins.” But it occurred to me that I could just swap the raisins for dried cranberries. I’ve made this in other recipes like my grandmother’s Icebox Fruitcake, so why not here?
So I took a classic carrot and raisin salad, swapped out those raisins, tweaked the dressing a bit, and added pineapple and toasted pecans to the mix. The result is a crisp, fresh, crunchy salad with splashes of sweet and savory that I really love.
The biggest challenge in making this salad is grating the carrots. It’s a little time consuming and requires a little elbow grease if you’re using an old school grater. You can save a lot of time with the chopping attachment on your food processor or blender.
You could also use a 10-ounce bag of matchstick carrots to make the process even easier, but I found the texture to be quite different and not quite what I wanted. However, if you’re short on time or don’t have a way to chop them up, the matchstick carrots will work.
A few things to note:
The recipe calls for about 6 medium carrots. I found that about 1 pound of carrots. Once grated you will need 3 1/2 to 4 cups.
I chose to soak my cranberries in the drained pineapple juice and a little hot water (just enough to cover them) to help them plump, but that’s not a requirement.
Yes, you can use raisins in this recipe – regular or even golden raisins.
When it comes to these pecans, roasting adds a deep flavor and intensifies the flavor. Pop them in a 350° oven for about 5 minutes if in chunks, or 7 to 8 minutes if cut in half. Just take them out as soon as they are scented. You’ll also need to let them cool completely before adding them to the salad.
If you hate yourself, you can swap out the mayo for Greek yogurt. (Just kidding of course – maybe. 😆)
When it comes to peeling those carrots, it’s a matter of preference. If they’re scrubbed well, there’s nothing wrong with eating the peel. Some people say they have an “earthy” flavor, so you can certainly peel them if you’d like.
Carrot Cranberry Salad
*If desired, you can substitute the shredded carrots for 1 (10 ounce) bag of matchstick carrots. The texture is a bit different, but it’s still delicious.