Spicy Garlic Carrot Pickles

These spicy garlic carrot pickles are full of flavor and perfect for snacking or serving alongside (or inside of) sandwiches.

Spicy Garlic Carrot Pickles

At the end of last year, when we first got wind of the fact that we might be moving cross-country, I pretty much halted my canning efforts altogether. I hated to do it; I was missing out on raspberry, apple and pear season (though I still made an exception for my pear ginger preserves!), but I knew that moving full jars of preserves is a lot more complicated than moving a bunch of empty jars.

Full jars of preserves can’t go on the moving truck, for one thing. At least not if you are moving in the middle of winter – since the trucks aren’t temperature-controlled, the preserves could freeze and break their seals or jars. So of the two cars we drove to Minnesota in December, about 3/4 of the storage space in one of them was taken up by ten boxes of finished preserves, jams and jellies. It was a bit of a pain, but every jar arrived intact, so it was worth it.

Now that I have all my jars, canning pots and other necessary tools unpacked, I was able to embark on my first canning project since September this weekend. I started with something easy: these spicy garlic carrot pickles. They are so, so quick to make – the most time-consuming part is waiting for the water in the canning pot to come to a boil. Beyond that, the process is slice carrots, boil brine, pack jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, and boom! You’re done!

I thought about making dilled carrot pickles, but seeing as I still have four large jars of dill pickles left from summer, it seemed unnecessary. I wanted to mix up my flavor profiles!  So I went with a red pepper flake and garlic combination for a spicy, aromatic pickle. These carrot pickles will be perfect for serving on or alongside sandwiches, or just eating straight out of the jar when we want a crunchy, flavorful snack.


If you aren’t a fan of spice, you can cut back on the red pepper flakes a little bit – you’ll still get lots of garlic flavor. However, you can not safely increase the amount of garlic in each jar.

You may use distilled white vinegar in place of apple cider vinegar here. The color of your brine will definitely be clearer, though the vinegar flavor will also be stronger. I like using apple cider vinegar because it has a more mellow flavor. Do not substitute another type of vinegar unless you know for sure it is at least 5% acid.

Spicy Garlic Carrot Pickles

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 3 pint jars

Spicy Garlic Carrot Pickles

These spicy garlic carrot pickles are full of flavor and perfect for snacking or serving alongside (or inside of) sandwiches.


  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2” thick sticks and trimmed to fit your jars


  1. Prepare for canning: Wash the jars and flat lids. Put the jars in the canning pot and cover with hot water. Heat over high to bring to a boil and keep the jars hot.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, salt and oregano to a boil.
  3. Line the hot jars up on a folded towel.
  4. Put 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes, 2 garlic clove halves (so a full clove) and a few peppercorns into the bottom of each jar.
  5. Pack in the carrot sticks, leaving a generous 1/2" of headspace.
  6. Pour the hot brine over the carrots, again leaving 1/2" of headspace.
  7. Use a clean towel to wipe any vinegar off the rims, then top each jar with a lid and a tightened ring. Place the jars back in the canning pot and make sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the lid from the canner and turn off the heat. After 5 minutes, transfer the jars to a folded towel and allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check the seals of the lids after 1 hour. If a seal has not formed, refrigerate the jar immediately.

PS: New to canning? Here are all the tools you’ll need. And here’s how to get started with hot water bath canning, step-by-step!

PPS: I also made this creamsicle jelly from Food in Jars this weekend. Dan loves the orange + vanilla combo, so the jelly was a big hit!

Everything You Need to Get Started With Water-Bath Canning

Canning Tools 101

I talk a lot about food storage here on Savvy Eats.  From storing fresh ingredients so they last a little longer, to freezing ingredients and complete recipes, to infusing liqueurs, I try to cover it all. But my absolute favorite way to preserve produce is water bath canning. And now that fresh produce is finally coming into season around here again, I’m so excited to pull out my canning pot and return it to its semi-permanent summer home on the stovetop.

I get a lot of questions about what a beginner needs to get started with canning. Luckily, there are very few specific canning tools that you’ll need – you probably already have many of these things in your kitchen.

Note that these are the tools you will need for water-bath canning, which you can only use for high acid preserves. If you want to can vegetables, pumpkin butter or other low acid foods, you’ll need to follow the pressure canning method, which is a whole different animal.

But if you want to preserve most fruits and some tomatoes as jams, jellies, marmalades, and other types of preserves, here’s the canning tools you’ll need:

A deep stockpot.

You need to be able to place the jars in the stockpot vertically and still have a few inches free above them. In water bath canning, the jars need to be covered by 1″ of boiling water – the extra space keeps the water from bubbling and boiling over the edge! I use this 11.5-quart stockpot (which comes with a canning rack) when I am processing half-pint jars or just a few pint jars, and this 21.5-quart pot (also comes with a canning rack) for larger jars. If you only want to invest in one, I’d go with the 21.5-quart. It does take a lot more time to bring enough water to a boil, but it gives you the flexibility to can everything from small 4-ounce or half-pint jars of fruit butters or jams to full quarts of crushed tomatoes.

When I’m canning small batches, it can be a pain to heat up even the smaller of my canning pots (and it heats up the kitchen like crazy, too!). So I’m considering investing in this 4th burner pot as well. It comes with a basket (that might work as a rack?), and should be just the right size for processing a few half pints at a time.

A rack to fit your stockpot.

The rack is absolutely necessary. It keeps the jars from resting right on the bottom of the pot during processing, so hot water can circulate all the way around the jars, heating your preserves evenly. Both of the stockpots I mentioned above come with their own rack, but you can also buy separate racks or DIY your own.

Another stockpot.

This one is for cooking your preserves! You’ll want to choose something that is nonreactive, since anything you water-bath can is going to be acidic. Stainless steel or enamel are good choices. Steer clear of copper, unseasoned cast iron or aluminum.


I use Ball canning jars almost exclusively. I can usually buy a 12-pack for $9-12, so they come out to $1 or less per jar. Note: the jars are reusable as long as they aren’t chipped or cracked, and the rings can be used until they rust or get too dented, but you will need to replace the flat lids with every round of canning. The lids are cheap, though – usually $2-3 for 12 lids.

Jar lifter.

This is the one specialty canning tool that I absolutely wouldn’t go without. I’ve tried using regular tongs to lift jars out of the water-bath canner, and the results have been terrible – think tipped over jars, splashes of boiling water and full jars that I just can’t get a grip on. Seriously, if you invest in one tool for canning, get a jar lifter. 

Jar funnel.

It is so much easier to keep the rims of your jars clean when you use a funnel to fill your jars. This is my second-most recommended specialty canning tool, though any funnel that fits your jars and lets preserves move through them will work.

Measuring cups or a good ladle.

Trying to pour your preserves directly from the pot and into jars can be a very messy and wasteful endeavor. Our ladle is terrible and drips everywhere, so I use measuring cups to transfer my preserves to their jars. If you go the measuring cup route, I recommend ones that are heat-proof and have a long handle, so you can keep your hands from getting overly sticky.

Clean towels.

You’ll want to keep a few towels on hand whenever you’re canning: one to rest hot jars on to fill with preserves, one to rest full & processed jars, and one for wiping the edges of the jars clean before putting on the lid.

Hot pads.

This one is probably common sense, but if you don’t want to burn your hands or your countertop on a hot pan full of jam, get out the hot pads.

A small heat-proof bowl.

You’ll need to sterilize your lids before you use them. I typically pour boiling water from the canning pot over the lids in a metal bowl a few minutes before I need them.

Lid wand.

This little magnetic wand will help you lift your flat lids out of the boiling water you’ve sterilized them in. It is immensely helpful, but honestly, I got by without it for my first 2 years of canning by just carefully pouring the hot water off the lids immediately before I used them.

Edited September 2014 to note: Ball says that preheating the lids is no longer necessary. So your lid wand is no longer necessary!

Plastic chopsticks or a very thin rubber spatula.

These are the best tools I’ve found to remove air bubbles before processing.

Well-tested, trusted recipes.

Choose recipes that have been well-tested so that you know that they are safe. Water activity, acidity, oxygen levels and processing times and temperatures all play a role in making a preserve shelf-stable, and changing one ingredient or the ratio of ingredients can throw the whole recipe off-balance. With my food science background, I feel pretty confident in the canning recipes I post. I also trust recipes from the USDA and Ball Preserving and from sites like Food in Jars and Local Kitchen. Plus, the recipes in most modern canning cookbooks have been put through their paces and are safe to use as well.  So especially when you are starting out, stick with these sources for your canning recipes. I’ll talk more later about the kinds of adjustments you can safely make to a canning recipe, too!

So there you have it: everything you need for your first canning experiments. Happy canning!

Psst: This post contains affiliate links. I only ever link to products that I truly use and love.