Hellloooo there!! …*waves frantically*…I’m guessing you are reading this recipe because of one of two things:
- You’re looking for an awesome plant-based BBQ recipe option, or
- You’re wondering what in the world a CARROT hot dog is.
If you fall in the second camp, I know, I kind of had the same reaction a few years back when my mom and I made them together for the first time. I believe the reaction is usually something like “a carrot…what??!?” A carrot DOG, like a hot dog, but a carrot, a delicious vegetarian alternative to the summertime favorite.
Now, stick with me here… I promise you won’t regret it.
How often have we suffered through dinners made with store-bought, frozen veggie patties that taste like cardboard (it can’t just be me, can it?). That’s not fun for anyone, never mind the fact that you don’t actually get to enjoy the best part of BBQs if you’re eating cardboard.
No more, my veggie-loving friends, carrot hot dogs are here for you as a flavorful meat alternative. And honestly, your meat-loving friends will be so curious you’re going to be swaying some over to the plant side once they take a bite. Mwhaha.
What are carrot dogs made out of?
Carrot dogs are, you guessed it, carrots! They are made with a flavorful, savory, umami-loaded marinade that soaks into the carrots and gives them their perfect taste. They’re naturally vegan (so vegetarian, too) and dairy-free. They can also be made gluten-free with a few swaps.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Medium-Sized Whole Carrots: trimmed and peeled, whole carrots that are generally the same size are what you need. You can even peel them into a hot dog shape, however, I just keep them as they are to reduce food waste.
- Soy Sauce, Water, Rice Vinegar: the liquid base of the marinade
- Liquid Smoke: it’s smoky and savory and gives the carrot dogs that unique flavor
- Garlic and Ginger: wonderfully packed with flavor, these fresh aromatics give a flavorful bite to the dogs
- White Pepper, Onion Powder, Black Pepper: more pantry-stable spices that give flavor to the marinade
- Sesame Oil: slightly nutty and savory, it adds a depth of flavor to the marinade
There you have it! Mostly items you likely already have in your pantry or fridge, ready to come together to make your delicious BBQ-worthy carrot dogs!
How to Make Carrot Dogs
Before we start, it’s super important to note that you will need to plan ahead to make carrot dogs, because they require at least a 24-hour marinate for the most flavor.
You can reduce the time down to 12 hours – like if you start marinating them in the morning and plan to cook them that night. Just note, that the longer the soak, the more flavor the dogs will have.
Step 1: Prepare the Carrots
First, wash the carrots, and if you have a vegetable scrubber you can generally get them clean enough that they don’t require peeling – but I’ll leave that one up to you!
If you do want to peel the carrots, do so now. You can even shape them into more of a hot dog shape, using your buns as a guide. Personally, I just leave the carrots as they are with the smaller end still intact.
Trim the ends of the carrots, too.
Step 2: The Marinade
Whisk together the marinade by combining all of the ingredients. Place the carrots in a shallow dish so that once the marinade is added, the carrots will at least be half covered. Ideally, it will have a lid, too, so that you can just pop it in the fridge.
Cover the carrots with the marinade and place in the fridge until you’re ready to proceed with the next step. Again, I recommend at least 12 hours, preferably 24 hours before cooking them up.
What if the marinade doesn’t cover the carrots completely? No problem! Every time you open your fridge, just give them a good shake to move them around.
Step 3: Cook the Carrot Dogs
There are two parts that go into cooking carrot dogs: boiling and grilling (or searing).
The boil ensures that the carrots are tender throughout, so simply transfer the marinade to a large saucepan, along with the carrots, and bring to a boil for about 15 minutes (depending on the size of your carrots) until they are tender at the thickest part.
To test carrots’ doneness, simply poke with a fork. If it easily goes in, your carrots are ready. If it’s a little hard to do, keep simmering.
Once they’re done boiling, remove the carrots from the marinade and pat them slightly dry.
You can grill them on a grill pan or transfer them to an outdoor grill to finish. You can also sautee them in a cast-iron skillet, which gives a lovely char to the exterior, too. It only takes a few minutes on each side, until grill marks form, and then you’re ready to enjoy. Just add them to a hot dog bun and away you go.
Carrot Dog Toppings
How do you top a carrot dog? Just as you would a hot dog! You can go ahead and add your favorite toppings, and dig in!
- Ketchup and Mustard
- Pickle Relish
- Quick Pickled Red Onion
- Raw Onion or Grilled Caramelized Onion
- Sriracha Slaw
- Cheese Sauce
FAQs and Tips
Can I make carrot dogs in the Instant Pot?
Yes, instead of boiling the carrots you can easily cook the carrots in the Instant Pot. Add the marinade and carrots to the Instant Pot bowl. Cover and make sure the vent is set to sealing. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes (for medium-sized carrots) and 4 minutes (for quite large carrots). Once it’s done, quick-release the pressure and continue to finish them on the stovetop or grill.
Can I make these with baby carrots?
Can I marinate them for a shorter amount of time?
Yes, you can, because I won’t stop you, but honestly the longer the marinade the more flavorful the carrot dogs will be. I don’t recommend a super short marinade (like putting them in an hour before you want to eat). Be sure to plan ahead!
Can I make them without liquid smoke?
You can, they’ll have less of a smoky flavor, so if you feel like something is missing, give it a try with the liquid smoke next time.
Make them Gluten-Free
Use tamari or coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce. Check the other ingredients to ensure they are certified gluten-free too, and then make sure you’re using gluten-free buns.
You can easily adjust the serving size, as long as the carrots are in the marinade. If you are making more than 12, you will likely want to double the marinade to ensure the most flavor is infused.
Freezing & Make-Ahead
Ok, so you’ve made carrot dogs and now you’re wondering if you can freeze them. You can freeze already-cooked carrots, however, they will lose their firmness and texture but retain their flavor.
You can also freeze the raw carrots with the marinade (after you’ve given them time to absorb), and then transfer the frozen mixture to a pot to thaw and bring to a boil.
Make-Ahead: let the carrots marinate for up to 2 days if you need to prepare them ahead of time. You can also boil them ahead of time, and then grill them when you are ready to enjoy. It’s always best to leave them in the marinade as long as possible.
Store leftover carrot dogs in the fridge in an airtight container; reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop as desired, until warmed through.
What to Serve with Carrot Dogs
You can serve your favorite BBQ sides with carrot dogs – just as you would with a typical hot dog BBQ. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Vegetarian Baked Beans
- Potato Chips
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Avocado and Green Bean Salad
- Potato Cauliflower Salad
- White Wine Mac and Cheese
- Crispy Baked Fries
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Vegan Carrot Dogs
- Wash, trim, and peel carrots as desired. Add to a shallow baking dish or container that the carrots fit into and that the marinade will at least mostly cover them.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, liquid smoke, garlic, ginger, white pepper, onion powder, sesame oil, and black pepper.
- Pour marinade over the carrots and toss carrots to coat. Place the dish in the fridge for at least 12 hours, up to 48 (24 hours is recommended). Turn carrots occasionally if they are not fully submerged (I just "swoosh" them around by pushing the cotainer a few times when I've opened the fridge).
- When ready to cook, place carrots and marinade in a large saucepan and boil for 15-20 minutes, until fork-tender. Remove carrots from the marinade and gently pat dry as desired (more marinade will splatter if cooking on the stovetop).
- Grill, Grill Pan, or Cast-Iron Skillet: heat over medium-high heat and lightly brush with oil, if desired. Place carrot dogs on the hot pan and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes until grill marks appear. Optional: if using a pan, add some marinade to it to create a glaze on the carrot dogs, but do know the rest in the pan has a tendency to burn quickly.
- Serve with hot dog buns and toppings of choice. Enjoy!
- Make sure the carrots are “hot dog” sized – you don’t want them too large or they’ll be difficult to eat.
- Use more or less carrots as needed, just being sure you have enough of the marinade if making more than 12.