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Spicy Korean Carrot Salad

spicy korean carrot salad

Prepare to embark on a flavor journey that will tantalize your taste buds and leave your guests raving. Spicy Korean Carrot Salad is a delightful dish that combines the crunch of fresh carrots with a zesty, spicy marinade, creating a side that is both visually appealing and bursting with bold flavors.

Whether you’re hosting a potluck, planning a picnic, or simply looking to add a unique twist to your weeknight meals, this recipe is sure to become a new favorite.

Table of Contents

The Origins of Korean Carrot Salad

While the name may suggest a direct connection to Korean cuisine, the origins of this dish can be traced back to the Koryo-Saram, the ethnic Koreans who lived in the Russian Far East during the 18th and 19th centuries. As these communities adapted to their new environment, they began incorporating local ingredients into their traditional dishes.

When certain ingredients for the beloved Korean dish of Kimchi proved difficult to find, the Koryo-Saram turned to carrots as a substitute. Over time, the carrot-based salad completely replaced the cabbage-based Kimchi, becoming a staple in post-Soviet countries like Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.

korean carrot salad ingredient

What makes Spicy Korean Carrot Salad so irresistible?

It’s a combination of several factors that come together to create a truly delightful dining experience. First and foremost, the simple yet flavorful ingredients used in this recipe are the key to its success. Carrots, garlic, coriander, vinegar, and a touch of sweetness come together to form a harmonious balance of flavors that tantalizes the senses.

Korean carrot salad

Furthermore, the health benefits of this dish make it an appealing choice for those seeking a nutritious option. Carrots are a fantastic source of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, making this salad a smart addition to any meal. The use of avocado oil, a heart-healthy fat, also contributes to the overall nutritional profile of the dish.

Lastly, the versatility of Spicy Korean Carrot Salad is truly remarkable. It can be served as a standalone side dish, incorporated into a larger spread of Banchan (Korean small plates), or even used as a topping for baked or air fried potatoes or other dishes. Its vibrant colors and bold flavors make it a showstopper, perfect for impressing guests at any occasion.

Mastering the Technique: Julienning Carrots

The key to achieving the perfect texture and appearance in Spicy Korean Carrot Salad is the way the carrots are prepared. The traditional method involves julienning the carrots, which means slicing them into thin, matchstick-like strips.

Julienning Carrots

This can be accomplished using a julienne peeler, a specialized tool designed for this purpose. Alternatively, you can use a mandoline slicer or even a sharp knife to carefully slice the carrots into thin, uniform pieces.

The julienning process not only creates an appealing visual presentation but also allows the carrots to better absorb the flavorful marinade. The thin strips also provide a satisfying crunch that complements the overall dish perfectly.

Infusing Flavor: The Marinade

The heart of Spicy Korean Carrot Salad lies in its zesty, spicy marinade. This marinade is a harmonious blend of several key ingredients that work together to create a flavor profile that is both complex and irresistible.

Korean carrot salad marinade

The Oil

The choice of oil is crucial in this recipe, as it serves as the base for the marinade. Sesame oil is a popular choice due to its neutral flavor.Alternatively, you can opt for sunflower oil or even a refined olive oil, which will provide a light flavor.

The Garlic

Garlic is an essential component in the marinade, adding depth and warmth to the overall flavor profile.

The Spices

The chilli powder and black pepper adds a touch of heat, creating a delightful contrast that tantalizes the taste buds.

The Sweetener

A small amount of organic cane sugar or a suitable alternative, such as monk fruit sweetener or honey, helps to balance the acidity of the vinegar and the heat of the spices, resulting in a well-rounded flavor profile.

The Vinegar

Rice vinegar is the traditional choice for this recipe, as it lends a gentle, slightly sweet tang that pairs beautifully with the other ingredients. However, if you don’t have rice vinegar on hand, you can substitute white vinegar or red wine vinegar with equally delicious results.

Assembling the Salad

Once the carrots have been julienned and the marinade has been prepared, the final step is to combine all the ingredients and let the flavors meld together.

assembling spicy korean carrot salad

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

To add a delightful crunch and nutty aroma to the salad, the recipe calls for toasting raw sesame seeds in a small skillet. This simple step enhances the overall texture and flavor of the dish, making it even more irresistible.

Mixing It All Together

After the sesame seeds have been toasted, the julienned carrots, the warm garlic-infused oil, the remaining marinade ingredients, and the toasted sesame seeds are combined in a large bowl. Using salad tongs or a pair of forks, thoroughly mix the salad, ensuring that all the flavors are evenly distributed.

Allowing the Flavors to Meld

For the best results, it’s recommended to let the Spicy Korean Carrot Salad marinate for at least 2 hours, or even overnight. This resting period allows the flavors to fully develop and the carrots to become perfectly infused with the spicy, tangy marinade.

Serving and Enjoying Spicy Korean Carrot Salad

Spicy Korean Carrot Salad can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It makes a fantastic side dish, complementing a wide range of main courses, from savory mushroom stroganoff to hearty mashed potatoes. For a creative twist, you can even stuff the spicy carrots into baked potatoes for a unique and flavorful meal.

The salad can also be served as an appetizer or as part of a larger spread of Korean-inspired small plates, known as Banchan. Its vibrant colors and bold flavors make it a visually stunning addition to any table.

Top view- Spicy Korean carrot salad

Variations and Customizations

While the classic Spicy Korean Carrot Salad is a delightful dish on its own, there are endless possibilities for customization and experimentation. Some variations to consider include:

Incorporating Additional Vegetables

The julienning technique used for the carrots can be applied to other vegetables, such as eggplant, celery root, or zucchini, creating a more diverse and visually appealing salad.

Adding Onions

For an extra layer of flavor, you can sauté yellow onions in the oil before adding the garlic, infusing the marinade with a subtle onion essence.

Adjusting the Spice Level

If you prefer a milder version of the salad, you can reduce the amount of black pepper or omit it altogether. Conversely, for those who enjoy a more intense heat, feel free to increase the amount of black pepper or even add a touch of red pepper flakes.

Storage and Meal Prep

Spicy Korean Carrot Salad is an excellent make-ahead dish, as it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Simply keep it in an airtight container or jar, and it will maintain its vibrant colors and delicious flavors.

For those who prefer to prep their meals in advance, the julienning of the carrots can be done ahead of time. Store the julienned carrots in the refrigerator, covered, until you’re ready to proceed with the remaining steps of the recipe.


Spicy Korean Carrot Salad is a true culinary delight, blending the crunch of fresh carrots with a zesty, spicy marinade that tantalizes the taste buds. By mastering the art of julienning the carrots and crafting the perfect marinade, you can create a side dish that is not only visually stunning but also bursting with bold, irresistible flavors.

Whether you’re hosting a gathering, packing a picnic, or simply seeking to add a unique twist to your weeknight meals, Spicy Korean Carrot Salad is sure to become a new household favorite.

So, gather your ingredients, put on your culinary hat, and get ready to embark on a flavor adventure that will leave your guests raving.

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Spicy Korean Carrot Salad

5 from 1 vote


  • 4 large carrots peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 2 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon chilli powder adjust according to your taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the julienned carrots and minced garlic
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Pour the dressing over the carrot mixture. Toss everything thoroughly to ensure the carrots are evenly coated with the dressing.
  • Cover the bowl and let the salad marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop.
  • Garnish and Serve:
  • Before serving, sprinkle the salad with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions for a final touch of flavor and crunch.
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