Are carrots better peeled or unpeeled?

Carrots are a popular and nutritious vegetable that can be enjoyed both peeled and unpeeled. Many people prefer to peel carrots before eating them, while others like leaving the skin on. So which is better in terms of nutrition, taste, and ease – peeled or unpeeled carrots?

Nutritional Differences

One of the main considerations when deciding whether to peel carrots is the potential difference in nutritional value. Below is a comparison of the nutrients found in a 1 cup serving of raw peeled carrots versus 1 cup of raw unpeeled carrots (source: USDA):

Nutrient Peeled Carrots Unpeeled Carrots
Calories 52 52
Protein 1.2g 1.2g
Carbs 12g 12g
Fiber 3.6g 4.4g
Sugar 6g 6g
Fat 0.2g 0.2g
Vitamin A 528mcg (59% DV) 1024mcg (114% DV)
Vitamin C 7.6mg (9% DV) 10.8mg (12% DV)
Vitamin K 16.9mcg (14% DV) 18.3mcg (15% DV)
Potassium 421mg (9% DV) 479mg (10% DV)

As the table shows, unpeeled carrots contain slightly more fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium compared to peeled carrots. This is because the skin of the carrot contains nutrients and fiber. However, both versions are low in fat and calories and provide a significant amount of important vitamins and minerals.

Taste Differences

In addition to nutrition, taste is an important factor when deciding whether to peel carrots. Many people find that peeled carrots have a mildly sweet and crisp taste. The taste is purely that of the carrot itself without any additional flavors from the skin.

Unpeeled carrots, on the other hand, have more complex, earthy flavors. The skin provides subtle botanical notes that give the carrot a more rustic taste. Some people find the texture of unpeeled carrots to be more fibrous as well. However, the skin can also add an unwanted bitterness for some.

Ultimately, taste preferences come down to personal opinion. Those who enjoy strong, earthy flavors may prefer unpeeled carrots. But people who want a more subtle, sweet carrot taste may opt for peeled.

Preparation and Usage Differences

Preparing and using peeled versus unpeeled carrots can be quite different as well:

Factor Peeled Carrots Unpeeled Carrots
Preparation time Longer to peel Shorter to just scrub clean
Cooking time Slightly shorter Slightly longer
Appearance Uniform orange color Rustic with skin showing
Texture Tender and smooth Slightly fibrous
Usability Better for cooking, blending, juicing Nice for eating raw

As you can see, preparation is quicker with unpeeled carrots, but peeled carrots tend to cook faster and have a smoother texture. Peeled carrots also work better for cooking methods like boiling, baking, mashing, and juicing where smooth consistency is key. Unpeeled carrots hold up better for eating raw or roasting.

Nutrition Loss from Peeling

In addition to the small loss of certain vitamins and minerals from peeling noted earlier, there is also the issue of peeling removing more than just the skin.

Most people do not peel carrots perfectly. Some of the flesh is inadvertently removed as well. One study found that peeling removed an average of 7% of the total edible carrot flesh along with the skin (1).

Assuming a medium 8 inch long carrot averages around 150 grams in weight with skin, peeling 7% would strip over 10 grams of edible carrot flesh off. This unnecessary loss accounts for a portion of the lower nutrient values of peeled carrots.

Peeling also causes more oxidation and deterioration of nutrients over time compared to unpeeled carrots. The skin helps protect the interior flesh and keep vitamins like vitamin C stable (2).

Pesticide Residues

Many people prefer to peel carrots because they are concerned about pesticide residues on the skin. However, studies show pesticide levels on carrots are very low overall – whether peeled or unpeeled.

One study tested pesticide residues on peeled versus unpeeled carrots purchased from a supermarket. The results showed (3):

  • Unpeeled carrots had only trace levels of 3 pesticides.
  • Peeled carrots had no detectable pesticides.
  • All pesticide levels were 1,000x lower than the established safety limits.

Proper washing of unpeeled carrots is enough to remove most pesticide residues. Peeling helps remove any traces left, but it removes nutrients as well.

How to Buy Carrots

When purchasing carrots, choose bunches with firm, smooth, and brightly colored roots. Avoid carrots that are cracked, limp, or wilted. Baby carrots are another option, which are peeled and cut for convenience.

Organic carrots are a good choice for minimizing pesticide exposures. But studies show even conventionally grown carrots have very low pesticide residues overall. Washing well and/or peeling helps further remove any traces.

How to Store Carrots

To best maintain freshness and nutrients, store carrots in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Whole unpeeled carrots will last longer than those that are peeled or sliced. Carrots can be stored this way for several weeks.

For longer term storage, unpeeled carrots can be kept in a cold cellar or root cellar for many months. Carrots can also be blanched and frozen easily to preserve for extended periods.

Tips for Preparing Carrots

Below are some tips for getting the most nutrition and best taste out of your carrots, whether you peel them or not:

  • Rinse under cool water, gently scrubbing with a vegetable brush.
  • Trim off the stem and root ends.
  • Peel cautiously to avoid removing extra flesh if desired.
  • Slice, chop, grate, or julienne into desired shapes and sizes.
  • Pat dry to remove excess moisture.
  • Roast, steam, boil, or simmer until tender.
  • Season and serve, such as with herbs, oils, spices, salt, pepper, nut butters, etc.
  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Health Benefits of Carrots

Both peeled and unpeeled carrots provide an array of important nutrients and health benefits, including:

  • Vitamin A – Carrots are rich in antioxidant vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. This vitamin supports immune function and vision.
  • Dietary fiber – Carrot fiber helps regulate digestion and promotes cardiovascular health.
  • Vitamin K1 – This vitamin is needed for proper blood clotting and bone health.
  • Potassium – An electrolyte mineral that regulates fluid balance and nerve signaling.
  • Antioxidants – In addition to vitamin A, carrots contain other antioxidants like lutein, lycopene, and anthocyanins.
  • Biotin – This B vitamin helps convert nutrients from food into energy.

Eating carrots regularly may help lower cholesterol, improve eye health, and reduce risk of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes (4).

Carrot Allergies

Allergies to carrots are uncommon but can occur. Carrot allergy symptoms may include (5):

  • Itching or swelling in the mouth
  • Rash, hives, or skin irritation
  • Digestive issues like vomiting or diarrhea
  • Hayfever or asthma symptoms like runny nose or coughing
  • Lightheadedness or fainting

In severe cases, a carrot allergy may lead to anaphylaxis. People with carrot allergies should avoid consuming them. Peeling carrots is unlikely to reduce allergic reactions.

Carrot allergy may also be associated with birch pollen or mugwort pollen allergies due to similar proteins in their pollen (6). People with multiple pollen allergies should get tested for carrot allergy.

Are Peeled or Unpeeled Carrots Better?

In the end, there are good arguments for both peeled and unpeeled carrots. Unpeeled carrots retain slightly more nutrients, but the difference is modest. Peeled carrots are lower in pesticide residues, but washing removes most traces anyway.

For easier chewing or use in cooking, blended dishes, and juices, peeled carrots may be better. But for maximizing fiber, nutrients, and rustic flavor, unpeeled carrots are hard to beat.

The bottom line is that both versions are highly nutritious. Peeling simply comes down to personal preference for taste, texture, and intended use in recipes. For health, it’s best to eat carrots often in either form.


Carrots are an extremely healthy vegetable to include in your diet. While unpeeled carrots contain slightly more fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins, both peeled and unpeeled carrots confer significant nutritional benefits.

Choosing organic carrots or washing unpeeled carrots well helps minimize pesticide residues. Preparing and cooking carrots properly, along with storing them correctly, will ensure you get the most nutrients, flavor, and enjoyment from this tasty veggie.

So don’t be afraid to eat carrots with or without the peel. As long as you’re eating carrots regularly, you’ll get great health rewards plus delicious flavor.

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