If you're looking for a quick and easy, no-heat side dish, this Classic Carrot Raisin Salad is just the thing! You can use pineapple in this recipe, or omit it, and I'm also including 3 different options to make this recipe without mayo!
With just a few raw ingredients and about 5 minutes, you'll have a delicious and healthy dish that will complement almost any meal. Serve this on a weeknight, or for Sunday lunch with the whole family!
My grandfather used to take us to Luby's whenever he was tasked with watching us for an afternoon. It's where I fell in love with creamy mashed potatoes, and warm rolls fresh from the oven... and of course, the classic carrot raisin salad.
Over the years the quality of food at Luby's has gone downhill, but my love for carrot raisin salad has only increased.
This is my favorite version to date and it uses only a hint of maple syrup to sweeten the dish, making it a wonderful side dish to any family meal!
3 Tips for the Best Carrot Raisin Salad
You might think that carrot raisin salad is just shredded carrots, a handful of raisins, and a bit of mayo - and you'd be mostly correct. However, there are a few tips that will help create the BEST version of carrot salad you've ever had and I'm sharing them with you now!
- Quality - Look for carrots with a bright orange color and avoid those that are wilted or have a rubbery texture. The quality of your carrots greatly impacts the salad's crunch and flavor, so shredding fresh carrots is best. The same goes for the raisins. Instead of the old box of raisins from the back of your pantry, grab some fresh soft raisins if you can.
- Balance - Avoid drowning your salad in dressing as this can cause it to get very soggy during the overnight rest. Having said that, you can increase the dressing by about 50% without it getting soggy, if you want a bit more in your recipe!
- Rest - If you can, allow the salad to rest in the refrigerator overnight. This resting time allows the flavors to meld and develop, resulting in a more delicious and cohesive salad. If you can't get it done the night before, then let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
The needed ingredients for this delicious carrot raisin salad couldn't be easier! Let's take a look at each one now and then you can grab the exact measurements in the printable recipe card at the end of the post.
- Carrots - Carrots are the star of this salad, providing a refreshing, crisp texture and a natural sweetness. You can get fresh carrots and grate them, or you can grab a bag of pre-shredded carrots instead if needed (though fresh is best!).
- Raisins - Raisins are the sweet component in this recipe that adds chewiness and bursts of natural sweetness to the salad. If you'd like to try something different, consider using other dried fruits like dried cranberries, currants, apricots, or even chopped dates for unique flavor variations.
- Pineapple (optional) - Many restaurants include pineapple in their carrot raisin salad variations. If you'd like to include pineapple in this recipe, simply add a 1/2 cup of drained pineapple chunks during the mixing process and enjoy!
- Mayonnaise - We use homemade mayonnaise which serves as the creamy base for the dressing, contributing richness and a hint of tanginess. If you prefer a lighter option, you can substitute the mayo with Greek yogurt, sour cream, or even a dairy-free mayonnaise alternative for a similar creamy texture!
- Lemon Juice - Freshly squeezed or bottled lemon juice adds a bright, citrusy note that balances the richness of the dressing and enhances the overall flavor. While lemon juice is the traditional choice, you can use other citrus juices like lime or orange to achieve a different zesty twist in your salad.
- Maple Syrup - Maple syrup brings a delightful natural sweetness with a hint of caramelized flavor, providing an alternative sweetener to balance the salad. If you prefer a different sweetener, you can use honey, agave nectar, or brown sugar as alternatives to maple syrup.
- Salt - Salt enhances the overall flavor of the salad and helps to balance the sweetness and acidity. We use pink salt, but use whatever variety you'd like!
The process of making this salad requires about 5-10 minutes of hands-on effort. After that, you can just chill the mix and serve!
- Grate: Start by peeling and grating fresh carrots. You can use a box grater or a food processor with a grating attachment for quick and consistent results.
- Prepare: In a mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt until you have a smooth and creamy dressing.
- Combine: Add the grated carrots and raisins to the dressing. Gently fold them in until they are well coated with the dressing.
- Chill: Cover the salad bowl and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This resting time allows the flavors to meld and the salad to achieve its full potential.
- Enjoy: When you're ready to serve, give the salad a final toss and enjoy!
Yes, you can make this salad ahead of time. In fact, it is actually recommended to make it the day before because it tastes even better after at least a few hours of chilling in the refrigerator. This resting time allows the flavors to meld!
Yes, you can experiment with other fruits. Chopped apples, diced oranges, or even pomegranate arils can add a delightful twist to your salad!
Certainly! If you want to make this salad more like the Chick-fil-A carrot salad, then adding pineapple chunks or tidbits would be a great addition. I love it both ways! If you do want to add pineapple, about a 1/2 cup of pineapple is plenty.
Carrot Raisin Salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. Ensure it's tightly covered to maintain freshness.
While using pre-grated carrots is convenient, grating fresh carrots provides the best texture and flavor. Pre-grated carrots can sometimes be drier and less crunchy, so fresh is recommended.
Absolutely! You can substitute mayonnaise with Greek yogurt, sour cream, or even a dairy-free mayonnaise alternative to make this a delicious vegan recipe.
Yes, you have control over the sweetness. You can adjust the amount of sweetener, such as maple syrup or honey, to suit your taste preferences.
To reduce the fat content, you can opt for low-fat or light mayonnaise and use less or no sweetener. Greek yogurt can also be a lower-fat alternative for the dressing.
Even more side dish recipes
Looking to make a few more fresh and delicious side dishes from scratch? Here are a few of our favorites!
Classic Carrot Raisin Salad
- 1 pound carrots (shredded) 4 cups
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks (optional)
- 1/4 cup mayo (Greek yogurt, sour cream, or vegan mayo can be used instead)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbps maple syrup
- dash salt
- Start by peeling and grating fresh carrots. You can use a box grater or a food processor with a grating attachment for quick and consistent results.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt until you have a smooth and creamy dressing.
- Add the grated carrots and raisins to the dressing. Gently fold them in until they are well coated with the dressing.
- Cover the salad bowl and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This resting time allows the flavors to meld and the salad to achieve its full potential.
- When you're ready to serve, give the salad a final toss and enjoy!