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French-Style Carrot Salad

This quick and easy French-Style Carrot Salad with homemade vinaigrette is a refreshing and delicious vegetable side dish salad that just might become a new favorite!

Grate some carrots, slice some green onions, whisk up a simple maple-Dijon dressing, and toss it all together for one yummy salad that’s perfect for spring, summer or any time of the year!

French carrot salad is decidedly different than the traditional American-style carrot salad that you might be more familiar with. You know…the one with raisins, pineapple, and a mayonnaise-based dressing.

Sure, that salad is good too. But if you’re looking for a lighter, less sweet, not-creamy carrot salad, this one is most definitely worth trying!

Apparently, this dish (or one very similar) is quite popular in France where it is often served as a light starter to a meal and is called salade de carrotes râpées, which simply means grated carrot salad (those 6 years of French I took in high school and college finally came in handy!).

There, you would traditionally get a salad of finely grated carrots and parsley tossed lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper.

For a little extra flavor, I decided to swap out the parsley for green onions, and I made a basic vinaigrette using olive oil, white wine vinegar, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard.

This salad can be made in 15 minutes or less, and you don’t even need to let it sit before serving. In fact, I highly recommend you don’t let it sit. When eaten immediately, it’s so fresh and flavorful.

The slight sweetness of the carrots pairs beautifully with the green onions and the tanginess of the dressing. It’s simple, healthy, delicious, and a great way to eat your carrots!

French style carrot salad in a white bowl with a spoon

Ingredients You Need

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the end of the post.

  • Olive oil (mild or light-tasting recommended)
  • White wine vinegar
  • Maple syrup (or honey)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Carrots
  • Green onions

How to Make French-Style Carrot Salad

Note: This is just a brief overview of the steps. Scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.

2 numbered images, number one is of a vinaigrette dressing being whisked together in a bowl, number two is of carrots being peeled and grated

Step 1: In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, maple syrup (or honey), Dijon mustard, salt and pepper until well-combined and emulsified.

Step 2: Peel and grate the carrots (use the smaller holes on the grater).

2 numbered images, number 3 is of the dressing and grated carrots being tossed together with two spoons in a bowl, number 4 is of the carrot salad in a serving bowl topped with green onions

Step 3: Place the grated carrots in the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss until the carrots are evenly coated with the dressing.

Step 4: Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and top with sliced green onions. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • I prefer using a mild or light-tasting olive oil for the vinaigrette. I find that extra-virgin olive oil can sometimes have too strong of a flavor that can overpower a salad (of course, you can certainly use it if you like).
  • If you don’t have a whisk, you can put all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until well-combined and emulsified.
  • Be sure to grate the carrots yourself so they are moist and fresh. It can be tempting to take a shortcut using pre-grated or shredded carrots from the grocery store, but those can sometimes be dry and somewhat tough.
  • When the French make this salad, they finely grate their carrots, so I recommend using the smaller holes of a box grater. But you can use the larger holes if you’d like slightly larger pieces.
  • I find that grating the carrots by hand using a box grater goes quickly enough that I don’t need to pull out the food processor (which makes me happy because that means I also don’t have to clean it!). But using the food processor is also a great option.
  • This salad is best when served immediately. As it sits, the flavor begins to mellow, and the dressing will begin to pull moisture out of the carrots, which adds a lot of liquid and can cause the carrots to lose their crunch.

Substitutions & Variations

  • If you’re not into green onions, you can go the classic route and use fresh chopped parsley instead (or you can add parsley in addition to the green onions).
  • Honey can be used instead of maple syrup.
  • Try using lemon juice instead of vinegar.
  • Or you could use a different type of vinegar (I prefer to stick with the light-colored ones so they don’t change the vibrant orange color of the carrots).
  • The mustard can be omitted from the vinaigrette (just note that it won’t emulsify as well without it).
  • I’ve also seen recipes that add a small amount of cumin to the vinaigrette (maybe ¼ teaspoon or so). I haven’t tried it yet, but you might want to!
French style carrot salad on a white plate with a fork

Make-Ahead, Storing Leftovers and Freezing

Make-Ahead

As mentioned, this dish is best when served immediately, so I don’t recommend making it completely ahead of time (plus, it’s so quick, you don’t really need to).

That being said, you could prep the ingredients ahead of time. Grate the carrots, slice the green onions, make the vinaigrette, and store them all in separate containers in the refrigerator. Toss the carrots with the vinaigrette and top with green onions right before you are ready to serve.

Storing Leftovers

Leftover carrot salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.

I recommend eating it within a day or two, however, because the carrots will start to release moisture and lose their crunch as they sit (the onions will become softer too).

Also, I have found that the leftover salad loses its flavor punch as it sits, so keep in mind that you might need to readjust the seasoning.

Freezing

This salad is not freezable.

2 small bowls of carrot salad in front of a serving bowl filled with salad

What to Serve with French-Style Carrot Salad

This salad is very versatile and can be served with just about anything!

It’s especially good for picnics, potlucks and cook-outs. And it’s awesome next to a sandwich or wrap (or you might even want to put it on your sandwich or inside your wrap).

I most often serve it as a dinner side dish. You can pair it with chicken, beef, pork, lamb, or even fish. The first time I made it, we had it with meatloaf (and it was awesome).

This year for Easter, I’m going to serve this and some sautéed peas and pearl onions alongside my maple-mustard glazed spiral ham. YUM!

I hope you try this French-Style Carrot Salad and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Side Dish Salad Recipes to Try

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

a spoonful of French style carrot salad being lifted out of the bowl

French-Style Carrot Salad

This quick and easy French-Style Carrot Salad with homemade vinaigrette is a refreshing and delicious vegetable side dish salad that just might become a new favorite!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Estimated Calories: 183

Ingredients

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, mild or light-tasting recommended
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, or honey
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

For the Salad:

  • 1 pound carrots
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions

Instructions

Make the Vinaigrette:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, white wine vinegar, maple syrup (or honey), Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until well-combined and emulsified; set aside.
    Alternately, if you don't have a whisk, you can put all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until well-combined and emulsified.

Make the Salad:

  • Peel and finely grate the carrots (I use the smaller holes on my box grater).
    Alternately, you can use a food processor to grate the carrots.
  • Place the grated carrots in the bowl with the vinaigrette; toss until the carrots are evenly coated with the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
  • Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and sprinkle the green onions evenly over the top.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

  • This salad is best when served right after tossing. As it sits, the flavor loses its punch, and the dressing will begin to pull moisture out of the carrots, which adds a lot of liquid and can cause the carrots to lose their crunch.
  • If you want to prep things ahead, make the vinaigrette, grate the carrots, slice the green onions, and store them all in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. Toss the carrots with the vinaigrette and top with the green onions right before serving.
  • Leftover carrot salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. However, I recommend eating it sooner than that – within a day or two – before it gets overly watery and soggy. You may also need to readjust the seasoning.
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