16 Ways To Use Matchstick Carrots Other Than Tossing Them In Salad

Named after the slender flame igniters they resemble, matchstick carrots are more than just a salad topping. Instead, they're the skeleton key responsible for unlocking a world of recipes. That might sound like a bit of an exaggeration, but these petite root vegetables, which often conveniently come pre-washed and cut, effortlessly elevate a range of dishes, adding visual vibrancy, subtle sweetness, and a delightful crunch to whatever they touch.

More than a simple recipe guide, this article is a globe-trotting adventure in discovering all of the ways matchstick carrots can be used beyond the familiar salad bowl. The journey spans diverse culinary landscapes, from Vietnam where matchstick carrots breathe life into bánh mì sandwiches, to Japan where they play a crucial role in sushi. Not to mention their unexpected roles in muffins and meatballs.

There is true value to this unassuming ingredient: Matchstick carrots aren't just time savers, but also culinary allies that enhance recipes without compromising on taste. 

Ginger pickled carrots

If your fermented vegetable repertoire is confined to just pickles and sauerkraut, it may be time to broaden your culinary horizons. From asparagus and beets to onions and cauliflower, virtually any vegetable is fair game for pickling, and that includes carrots. Matchstick carrots are especially convenient because they come pre-washed, pre-cut, and ready to use, saving you from the hassle of washing, peeling, and julienning their full-sized counterparts.

For a simple recipe, gingery pickled carrots are a tasty gateway into the world of fermentation, plus they make a fantastic topping for sandwiches, savory bowls, and stir-fries. With the veggies already prepped, there are just a few more steps to transform them into pickled carrots. Start by peeling and slicing the ginger and garlic, then prepare the brining liquid by heating water, vinegar, honey, and salt. Afterward, layer the vegetables in a jar, cover them with the liquid, and allow them to sit for a few days before indulging in the flavorful results.

Garlic chicken lo mein

Few dishes hold as much importance in Chinese takeout as lo mein noodles. Made from a blend of eggs and flour, these noodles offer a subtle flavor that absorbs the accompanying sauces and seasonings with ease. What's more, their tender and chewy texture serves as an ideal complement to sautéed vegetables like red bell peppers, snow peas, broccoli, and yes, carrots. Usually, prepping the vegetables takes a lot of work, but thankfully, you can bypass the time-consuming process of julienning the orange veggies by opting for the pre-peeled and pre-cut matchstick variety instead.

Garlic chicken lo mein is our favorite version of this classic dish. Making it involves cooking the noodles and marinating the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, vegetable oil, cornstarch, and garlic. Once the chicken is cooked, the veggies get their turn in the wok. The chicken and noodles are then added back to the wok and everything is tossed together before serving. While not the star of the dish, matchstick carrots provide a vibrant burst of color and a crunchy texture that perfectly contrasts with the tenderness of the noodles and chicken.

Drunken noodles

Drunken noodles, also known as pad kee mao, are a spicy Thai stir-fried noodle dish featuring wide rice noodles bathed in a flavorful sauce made with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and chili. Common additions include chicken, shrimp, or beef, along with colorful vegetables like Thai basil, scallions, and carrots.

Matchstick carrots are the unsung heroes of this recipe, helping streamline the prep work. Amidst washing, chopping other veggies, soaking the noodles, marinating the chicken, preparing a six-ingredient sauce, and cooking everything together, the prepared veggies act as a lifeline. Beyond saving you time in the kitchen, matchstick carrots have a slender, bite-sized form that adds a satisfying crunch to the dish, complementing the chewy rice noodles and succulent protein characteristic of this stir-fry dish.

Flavor-wise, carrots' subtle sweetness harmonizes effortlessly with the bold and savory elements, elevating the overall flavor profile of this Thai street food favorite.

Bánh mì sandwiches

Born on the lively streets of Ho Chi Minh City, bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich that seamlessly blends local and French flavors, resulting in one of the most delicious sandwiches ever created. At its core is the celebrated French baguette, providing the perfect canvas for a filling of fresh local produce and meat. While some variations trade the traditional French pâté for chicken breast or grilled pork, the vegetable medley — consisting of cucumber, cilantro, and matchstick carrots — remains a constant.

Not to put any of the other vegetables down, but matchstick carrots steal the show here. They provide a refreshing crunch to every bite, while at the same time introduce an enticing splash of color. Tossing raw carrots onto the sandwich is a viable choice, but elevating your bánh mì experience can also involve a thoughtful twist: pickling them for an hour in a brining solution of sugar, rice wine vinegar, salt, and water. Though this step requires a bit of patience, the payoff is an additional layer of flavor that enhances an already delectable sandwich.

Cinnamon carrot muffins

Matchstick carrots are incredible allies when crafting savory dishes, but sometimes, the sweet tooth prevails. When that happens, turn to these petite root vegetables to create scrumptious cinnamon carrot muffins. As tasty as they are nutritious, these breakfast treats cleverly combine raw and puréed carrots, golden raisins, pecans, and maple syrup, offering an on-the-go breakfast that's surprisingly healthy and tasty.

Although the recipe calls for two cups of full-sized carrots, you can easily swap one cup for the matchstick variety, thereby saving yourself the trouble of pulling out the vegetable peeler and mandolin. The matchstick veggies remain raw, joining forces with chopped pecans and floured raisins. Meanwhile, the other half of the carrots designated for the purée get boiled for 30 minutes. As the puréed half brings moisture and fluffiness to the muffins, the matchstick variety introduces eye-catching orange specks and an unexpected crunch.

Healthier meatballs

Opinions on meatballs have been divided for far too long. While carnivores lean toward the classic ground beef variety made with spices and egg, vegetarians will venture into plant-based alternatives like those made with black beans and mushrooms. Finally, there's an option for all of the omnivores seeking a harmonious middle ground: behold the all-in-one meatball.

Built on a foundation of lean ground beef, which can be substituted for plant-based meat, these meatballs not only bring a burst of nutrition but also a vibrant array of colors from the added vegetables. This unexpected mix includes sweet onion, red pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, and matchstick carrots. 

Unlike other veggies requiring peeling and chopping, the matchstick carrots come prepped and ready for the pan. Once tender, the vegetables get folded into the beef or meat substitute before heading to the oven. Although the carrots might not steal the spotlight in this recipe, their subtly sweet flavor and essential structural support role are unmistakable.

Salad base

Whether you're a loyal Greek salad enthusiast or favor the classic Caesar salad, the role of lettuce in your lunch is undeniable. While it might be trepidatious to ditch your leafy greens, it can be fun to explore other veggies from time to time. If you're unsure where to start, this shredded carrot salad recipe is an easy introduction to non-lettuce salads. Despite its unassuming appearance, you'll be pleasantly surprised by its satisfying and refreshing qualities.

While the recipe calls for regular carrots, you can take the lazy cook's route with prepared matchstick carrots instead. By doing so, you'll save at least five minutes, skipping the need to wash, peel, and grate a pound of veggies. 

With the base effortlessly prepared, the only remaining step is whisking together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper for the dressing. This sweet and tangy sauce complements the sweetness of the carrots, so apply liberally over before finishing everything off with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and green onions.

Mongolian beef

If you've ever been discouraged by the lengthy ingredient lists of some Asian-inspired recipes, fear not — this slow cooker Mongolian beef recipe is tailored to any level. It brings steak together with a vegetable medley featuring carrots, scallions, garlic, and ginger. All are generously coated in a sauce made from sesame seed oil, brown sugar, beef stock, and cornstarch before embarking on a leisurely two-and-a-half-hour soak in the slow cooker.

While many recipes call for full-sized carrots, you can streamline the process by opting for the pre-cut matchstick variety instead. After all, the goal is to have tiny carrot strips, so why add unnecessary work? Beyond the convenience, the matchstick carrots inject vibrant orange hues into what's otherwise a very monochromatic dish. 

Upon tasting, you'll notice how well the natural sweetness of the carrots complements the savory and umami notes of the beef, resulting in a well-rounded flavor profile you'll be dying to sink your teeth into.

Miso soup

Miso paste, made up of fermented soybeans, serves as the foundation of this miso soup recipe. It creates a rich umami base that's complemented by vegetables, alliums, and udon noodles. While a few items, like miso paste and kombu leaf, might require a trip to the Asian supermarket, putting everything together is fairly easy. The only time-consuming part is prepping the veggies, a process demanding a number of cutting techniques: thin slices for the onion and shiitake mushrooms, bias cuts for the celery, and matchsticks for the carrots.

Unfortunately, we don't have any time-saving hacks for the other veggies, but using pre-cut matchstick carrots will save you a few minutes at least. The cooking process involves sautéing all the veggies in sesame oil before introducing udon noodles, miso paste, ginger juice, and rice vinegar. There's a lot happening in this bowl, yet the vivid orange matchstick carrots steal the spotlight. As you taste your creation, notice the playful textural contrast between the crispiness of the carrots and the chewiness of the udon noodles.

Veggie patties

We have nothing against classic latkes. Honestly, we'd happily devour those grated potato fritters every week if we could. However, there are times when the whole preparation process feels a bit too demanding. The routine of washing, peeling, grating, and draining pounds of potatoes can be tough on our biceps and fingertips, you know? So, when you're feeling a bit lazy or just craving something different, reach for fried carrot patties instead.

Using matchstick carrots, which are already grated to the perfect patty size, makes these savory fried pancakes a breeze to whip up. The bonus is that they don't release a bunch of water like potatoes do, eliminating the need for the vegetable-wringing step. Just mix the raw veggies with eggs, flour, breadcrumbs, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper, then shape them into patties. Fry until they turn a beautiful golden brown hue on both sides and serve them with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh chives.

Lettuce wraps

Bite-sized, protein-rich, and bursting with flavor, these tofu and mushroom lettuce wraps are a fantastic go-to for a light yet satisfying meal. Butter lettuce leaves replace traditional wheat wraps, while sesame oil-sautéed mushrooms and tofu act as the filling. The finishing touch comes from a sprinkling of matchstick carrots and sesame seeds, elevating this lunch option to an uber healthy delight.

Speaking of matchstick carrots, their role, though minor, is crucial in three ways. First off, their lively orange hue not only adds vibrancy to the tan and brown filling but also creates a striking contrast against the vibrant green of the lettuce. Secondly, they contribute to the texture, adding the perfect crunch to balance out the tenderness of the tofu and mushrooms. Flavor-wise, they bring much-needed freshness to counteract the earthiness of the mushrooms and the umami richness of the sesame oil. All that and with no cutting involved? Count us in for this delicious and hassle-free meal option.

Homemade sushi

Delivery sushi could easily end up costing you over $50 in one go. So, instead of blowing your food budget yet again, try the fun, cost-effective experience of creating sushi at home. Not only will you save money, but you'll also develop a new skill and gain a deeper appreciation for all of the work that goes into making something as simple as a salmon roll. Along with essential DIY sushi ingredients like rice, nori sheets, and tuna steaks, vegetables like cucumbers and carrots play an essential role in many favorite rolls.

The petite size of matchstick carrots are the perfect fit for sushi, making the rolling process a breeze, especially if you're still getting the hang of sushi-making. Beyond their user-friendly nature, carrots bring a pleasurable crunch and vibrant color that sets them apart from other sushi ingredients. While using raw matchstick carrots straight from the bag works just fine, feel free to experiment with pickling or lightly steaming them to discover the diverse flavors and textures they can offer.

Fried carrots

First, there were French fries. Then there were sweet potato fries. Last we heard, jicama fries were trying to make their mark. Suffice it to say pretty much any vegetable has the potential to become a slender baton of fried perfection, including matchstick carrots. Despite their small size, these veggies maintain a satisfying crunch when fried, thanks to their sturdy texture. When heated, their natural sweetness adds a tasty contrast to savory dips, and their subtle flavor complements a variety of seasonings.

To whip up these little wonders, start by letting raw matchstick carrots rest on paper towels for about 10 minutes. This simple step ensures maximum crispiness. From there, fry the carrots in oil for a few minutes, drain, and generously season with your favorite toppings. For instance, you can keep it classic with plain sea salt or get adventurous with options like apple cider vinegar and mint.

Vegetable stir-fry

Unlike finicky dishes like soufflé, sushi, and risotto, vegetable stir-fry is forgiving and allows for experimentation. You can switch up sauces, try different noodles, and toss in proteins as diverse as beef and seitan, all while still creating a delicious masterpiece. It's hard to mess up stir-fry as any modification tends to improve, rather than hurt, the overall quality.

Embracing this foolproof spirit, feel free to throw in a generous amount of matchstick carrots into the wok alongside other stir-fry favorites like mushrooms, scallions, onions, and red bell peppers. Sauté the veggies in a neutral-tasting oil, such as canola or vegetable, until they're slightly browned around the edges. Once cooked, pour your favorite sauce over everything and stir to coat them evenly. While the tiny carrots might blend in, you'll instantly notice their characteristic crunchiness and sweetness the minute you take the first bite.

Creamy carrots

Adding cream to vegetable side dishes is a classic move, as seen in timeless favorites like creamed spinach and creamed corn. Regardless of the vegetable involved, cream brings a velvety texture and satisfying richness that can transform even the most underrated produce. Enter matchstick carrots, and once again, cream works its magic, turning these raw bites into a side dish worthy of weeknight dinners and special occasions alike.

To prepare, cook the carrots in a blend of butter and either vegetable or chicken stock until tender. Infuse the mixture with the flavors of bay leaf, a dash of salt, and a sprinkle of pepper. Then fold in the cream right before serving. Simple, tasty, and unexpected, this recipe may change your thinking when it comes to matchstick carrots. No longer relegated to mere crunchy salad toppings, they emerge as delectable, mouthwatering morsels that deserve a prominent place on your dinner plate.

Tangy coleslaw

No barbecue is complete without coleslaw, and no coleslaw is complete without matchstick carrots. Teaming up with cabbage and mayonnaise, matchstick carrots form the dynamic trio behind everyone's favorite picnic side dish. The important thing to remember here is not to be fooled by their petite size; these root vegetables pull their weight in more ways than you might think.

Right off the bat, their striking orange color pops against the mellow green of the cabbage, creating an appetizing presentation that's hard to resist. In terms of texture, their crunch meshes seamlessly with the cabbage's crispiness, delivering maximum impact in every bite. At the same time, their crunchiness contrasts with the creaminess of the dressing, giving coleslaw a well-balanced and satisfying mouthfeel. And let's not forget the sweet touch — the natural sweetness of raw carrots steps in to balance out the tanginess of the vinegar and the creaminess of the mayo in the dressing.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table, Mashed, and The Daily Meal.