My family's Italian Carrot Salad Recipe is legendary! You just need 25 minutes to make this delicious carrot side dish featuring a red wine vinaigrette and basil. We serve it for every occasion because it's easy, diet-friendly and everyone loves it!
Mom always says the best Italian food consists of just a few simple ingredients. Isn't that a great recipe for life, too?
This Italian Carrot Salad features crisp-tender carrots, a red wine vinaigrette and basil coming together to make magic. It's similar to this Italian Bean Salad and simple tomato salad and tastes like a million bucks.
Mom has made this carrot salad recipe my entire life. When she says we're having "the carrots" with dinner, no one has to ask what kind!
It's the perfect side dish for barbecues, potlucks or dinners at home. Since it’s made without mayonnaise, it holds up well outdoors.
Plus, it’s vegan, gluten-free, low-calorie and contains no added sugar, so it works for people with various dietary restrictions.
You have to make this! And don't miss these other Italian side dishes.
Carrots: Start with whole, raw carrots. They’ll have the best flavor and texture.
Basil: Fresh basil leaves add incredible flavor and a pop of green to accent this dish. Dried basil won’t taste as good here.
Red Wine Vinegar: This provides the signature, tangy flavor for the carrot salad dressing. If you’d prefer not to use it, substitute plain white vinegar for the closest flavor, or use white balsamic vinegar to add a hint of sweetness.
Olive Oil: We always use regular olive oil, which tastes milder than extra virgin olive oil. Use what you prefer.
How to make carrot salad without mayo
See the card at the end of this post for the full recipe, but here's an overview.
- Peel the carrots and trim off the ends.
- Cut the carrots into planks and boil them until they're crisp-tender. Rinse with cold water and drain them in a colander (affiliate link).
- Place the boiled carrots in a bowl with the oil, vinegar, seasonings and basil.
- Toss the ingredients with two spoons to combine.
- Don’t overcook the carrots, or they’ll be too mushy for this salad. You want to be able to stick a fork in with a little resistance.
- Plan to make this simple carrot salad at least an hour ahead of time, so it has time to marinate and cool off. You can leave it at room temperature for up to two hours before it needs to be refrigerated.
How to serve it
Serve this carrot side dish at room temperature or slightly chilled. It’s so refreshing and delicious! It looks beautiful in a platter (affiliate link).
Just make sure to have plenty of Italian Bread to dip into the oil and vinegar mixture. You’re in for a treat!
Frequently asked questions
Store any leftover marinated carrot salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
When you take these carrots out of the fridge, you’ll notice the vinaigrette dressing has congealed. Don’t reheat the leftovers, though, because it will soften the carrots too much, and the salad will lose its refreshing taste.
Just take the carrot salad out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving it. Then toss it with two spoons, and it'll be perfect.
If you haven’t planned ahead and really want to eat some right away, you can use the microwave for a few seconds just to take the chill off.
Cooked carrots are healthier than raw carrots, according to a study cited by Prevention magazine. Cooked carrots allow the body to absorb more of carrots' beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene turns into vitamin A, which helps improve the health of our eyes, skin and immune system.
More Italian favorites
- Italian Potato Salad with Green Beans
- Marinated Roasted Bell Peppers
- Broccoli Rabe with Garlic
- Sautéed Escarole
- Eggplant Caponata
- 63 Italian Appetizers
If you try this Italian Carrot Salad recipe, be sure to leave a comment and a rating!
Italian Carrot Salad Recipe
- 2 pounds whole carrots
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 6 medium basil leaves
- Fill a large pot ⅔ full with hot water. Set it on the stove over high heat and add a couple teaspoons of salt to the water. Cover the pot.
- While the water is heating, rinse and peel the carrots. Trim off and discard the ends. Cut each carrot in half so that it is 3-to-4 inches long. Cut each piece in half the long way to make the carrots thinner. If you have a thick carrot, you might want to cut it in half again the long way.
- When the water is boiling, add the carrots to the pot. When the water returns to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pot. Boil the carrots for 10 minutes, or until they are done to your liking but not mushy. (Check by inserting a fork in one or tasting it.)
- While the carrots are cooking, stack the basil leaves and roll them tightly into a cylinder shape. Slice the cylinder of basil into pieces about ¼ inch wide. This will give you ribbons of basil (chiffonade).
- When the carrots are done, drain them in a colander in the sink and run some cold water over them to stop the cooking. Transfer the carrots to your serving bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Gently toss everything together with two spoons.
- Serve at room temperature. (You can make it one or two hours ahead of time and let it marinate at room temperature, if you wish.) Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to five days.
(Recipe Source: Adapted from my Mom, who doesn't measure anything when she makes this. Originally published on January 4, 2016 and updated now with new photos and additional information. Photos by Kanyi Muraguri for Cooking with Mamma C.)