Carrot tops are a nutritious, versatile green easy to make into pesto, add to smoothies or juices, garnish a main dish, or add to a salad. Learn how to work this unusual addition into your next homemade meal.
What Are Carrot Tops?
Also called carrot greens, carrot tops are the frilly greens visible above the soil. If you only buy baby carrots or bulk carrots in a bag, you probably don't see this part often. Not only are these emerald-hued greens edible, they're delicious. Use carrot tops similar to parsley, or substitute them for parsley in any recipe.
What to Do With Carrot Tops
It's best to chop, tear, grind, blend and puree this green to use it, as the leaves can be fibrous. Fresher carrot tops from spring carrots are softer and won't have to be chopped as finely to use.
Use carrot tops in sauces like chimichurri, mash them with potatoes for color and flavor, or use them as a nutritious garnish for soups and stews (bonus points for adding them to the base chicken, beef, vegetable, or fish stock). Finely chop the greens and mix into rice or pasta, pair with shredded carrots and feta for vibrant salad, and whip with eggs for an herbaceous omelet.
What Do Carrot Tops Taste Like?
Carrot tops don't taste like carrots, but more like a green herb akin to parsley or tarragon with a hint of celery. This makes them ideal for sauces and marinades, or as a garnish. Some leaves may have a slightly astringent bite and mildly bitter flavor Blanch, saute, bake or blend astringent or bitter carrot tops before eating them.
Carrot Tops Recipes
Use carrot tops anywhere you would normally add parsley, or let it shine on its own. These three recipes call for parsley, but try them with a fresh bunch of carrot tops instead.
Where to Buy Carrot Tops
Find whole carrots with their tops intact at many grocery stores in the produce aisle, or at farmers markets. They're also easy to grow in your garden at home. Big box stores probably won't carry carrots with the tops still attached, but they're easy to find year-round at health food and specialty produce markets.
Place whole carrots with their greens in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator if using in a few days. Otherwise, separate the greens from the root, then wash and keep the greens separately in a sealed container with a damp cloth or paper towel wrapped around them.
Nutrition and Benefits
Carrot tops have six times more vitamin C than the root. They also contain potassium, calcium, and antioxidant-rich phytonutrients like chlorophyll.
All breeds and colors of carrot produce the same kind of feathery bright-green tops, all very similar in taste and texture.
It's been suggested that carrot tops are poisonous, but this is a false claim. The bitter flavor of some greens, particularly from older carrots, may put some people off. Cooking will mellow the bitter bite into a pleasant sweetness.