Safety & Uses for Carrot Tops

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Eat Your Carrot Green Tops (the leaves) - Yes You Can!!

PLEASE NOTE: The Carrot Museum does not recommend self diagnosis or self medication. The information contained in this web site has not been verified for correctness. Some of the information contained herein is hearsay and may not be correct. Use the information from this page only at your own risk!  If in doubt consult a doctor.
Note: If you have diabetes it is recommended you read this before eating carrots.
Speak to your doctor or health-care provider about vitamin A rich carotenoids if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition

Recipes/Uses Here - Make a Dye - WW2 recipe - Nutritional valueMedicinal Use - Health Benefit - TeaPesto

Important Note - the safety of carrot tops.  There are a few reports of people having an adverse reaction to the consumption of carrot tops – this could be due to a variety of circumstances and variables - the individual metabolism, the carrots themselves and variables (such as organic or not).  As you research this matter you find many people make arguments on both sides and it is recommended that you do your own research on their safety.  If in doubt take the advice of your own health professional. As far as the Carrot Museum is aware no Government agency has banned their consumption or issued warnings of any hazards.

Many people, and especially the media believe that carrot tops are poisonous and potentially deadly, but that’s actually not true.

carrot leaves - used medicinally in ancient times

In fact, they are edible and loaded with vitamins and minerals. There is a persistent belief that the alkaloids in carrot tops make them slightly dangerous for consumption, but this isn’t really true, as alkaloids are a substance found throughout nearly every leafy green vegetable.

Carrot greens are the most under-exploited class of greens despite their high nutritional value. When we think about carrots, we tend to only remember the colourful roots of its various varieties.

The feathery green leaves make up nearly half of the weight of the carrot but rarely reach the markets or our plates. They are often discarded after harvest to improve the shelf life of the roots, and merely used as animal and poultry feed. But they have the potential to increase food diversity for human beings, not to mention their huge nutritional value. 

Carrot leaves, just like the roots, are rich in vitamin A. Carbohydrates and Protein account for 60 per cent and 20 per cent respectively of the leaves’ dry weight, as per a study published in the Journal of Food and Dairy Sciences in April 2011. The leaves have potassium that lowers blood pressure, supports metabolism and prevents osteoporosis. (Goneim, & A., Gehan & Ibrahim, & Y., Faten & Elshehawy, Shady & Sh.M,. (2011). Carrot leaves: antioxidative and nutritive values.. J. of Food & Dairy Sciences, Mansoura Univ.. 2. )

Carrot tops also contain calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Given that they are rich in natural antioxidants, carrot-green extracts are often added to commercial food products. No wonder health food enthusiasts and foragers use them in herbal teas, soups and salads.

A lot more information here, particularly on preservation -

This popular myth of inedible carrot leaves has been perpetuated through continual hearsay and personal anecdotes, but little scientific study to prove or disprove it. This has been a matter of debate for many years and the controversy and misguidance seems to continue. While it is true that carrot tops contain alkaloids and nitrates to which some people can be sensitive, they aren’t inherently toxic to most of us unless we eat them by the wheelbarrow-full.  The main reason there are conflicting reports is that there are poisonous look-a-likes that are often mistaken for Wild Carrot, please be familiar with all the characteristics of this wonderful wild edible before you enjoy them.  I can only refer to the scientific reports at the end of this page. I believe that the issue arose because the leaves contain alkaloids, a group of organic compounds that contain such nasty poisons as strychnine, cocaine, and caffeine.

Carrot leaves have a mildly bitter, earthy flavour reminiscent of the root with a spicy after taste, similar to mustard leaves.  Humans tend to associate bitterness with toxicity, but as it turns out, these greens are edible and do not pose a threat to health. Due to their mild bitterness, however, they are rarely considered for consumption.

There is further information here from the Well Preserved Blog - Are Carrot Greens Toxic? Deadly? Edible?  Many farmers consider that the greens will not be ultimately consumed and could well therefore apply pesticide sprays to them.

Yes you can! Included in the carrot family - Apiaceae ("umbellifers") - are the well-known plants: angelica, anise, arracacha, asafoetida, caraway, carrot, celery, Centella asiatica, chervil, cicely, coriander (including cilantro), cumin, dill, fennel, hemlock, lovage, Queen Anne's lace, parsley, parsnip, sea holly, and the now extinct silphium.  Some of this family are poisonous, but not carrot!

Carrot tops ARE edible and are highly nutritive, rich in protein, minerals and vitamins. They contain 6 times the vitamin C of the root and are a great source of potassium and calcium. The tops of the carrots are loaded with potassium which can make them bitter, so the use of them in food is limited, but there some ideas and recipes below.  The leaves do have antiseptic qualities and can be juiced and used as a mouthwash.

The leaves of carrot (Daucus carota L.), are, more often than not, wasted. Carrot leaves are very rich in both nutrients such as vitamin C, β-carotene, fibers and several minerals such as Na, P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn, Zn, and Fe . They have a pleasant taste and characteristics suitable for processing. They may be used as a raw basis for the preparation of several foods. The use of the byproducts of the vegetable industry has presented technological viability, and they have been used for the formulation of cream soups made of dehydrated vegetable stalks.

This 2011 report  concluded that (1) carrot leaves had high protein, carbohydrate and potassium content. So it could be used in several bakery products such as cakes, (2) Addition of 0.10% acetone carrot leave extract as a natural antioxidant equal the action of 200ppm of TBHQ as an artificial antioxidant in delaying oxidative rancidity until 45 days at 63°C. (Goneim, & A., Gehan & Ibrahim, & Y., Faten & Elshehawy, Shady & Sh.M,. (2011). Carrot leaves: antioxidative and nutritive values.. J. of Food & Dairy Sciences, Mansoura Univ.. 2. ) Table from this report-

nutrient content of carrot leaves

Some clear benefits to the human body:

Carrot tops have high chlorophyll content that may help heal skin and rid the body of toxins.

They are high in potassium and help keep your blood pressure levels in control.

They have detoxifying effects and are excellent for your kidneys.

They are rich in vitamin K as well. Vitamin K is responsible for blood clotting and regulating blood calcium levels.

It is acknowledged that there have been accounts of people getting sick from eating carrot tops.

This is entirely possible but it is also possible that these people have either an allergy or an intolerance to carrot tops. There’s an important distinction between food allergy and food intolerance. Carrot Tops are loaded with vitamins and minerals. There is a persistent belief that the alkaloids in carrot tops make them slightly dangerous for consumption, but this isn’t really true, as alkaloids are a substance found throughout nearly every leafy green vegetable.

Food allergy causes an immune system response to a particular food protein; the immune system overreacts and interprets the food as harmful, resulting in itching, swelling, trouble breathing, and even death in extreme cases. (read more about carrot allergy here)

Food intolerance occurs when the body lacks an enzyme to process a particular food, causing unpleasant symptoms like nausea, abdominal cramping, or acid reflux; these are not immune system responses and are not life-threatening. Another reaction with similar symptoms is food poisoning, which is caused by bacteria or toxins.

Carrot LeavesThis may be possible with commercial carrots that have been heavily sprayed with pesticides (since the greens are most affected), but likely not a problem with organic or home grown carrots.

A true food allergy to carrots is uncommon, but an interesting reaction called oral allergy syndrome (OAS) can occur in people who are allergic to birch pollen and mugwort pollen. The major allergen in carrots, a protein called Dau c 1, is so similar in structure to the molecules in birch pollen and mugwort pollen that the body can’t tell the difference. That means if you have an allergy to either, eating carrots can trigger a reaction in the form of itching or swelling of the mouth or throat. According to WebMD, the symptoms of OAS become less severe when you cook the trigger food because heat alters the offending protein. All this basically means a person could have an unexpected cross-reactive allergy, food allergy, or food intolerance to carrot tops (as one might have with dairy or wheat) — but that does not make them toxic.

If carrot greens are toxic or "poisonous" then one would think that USDA or the UK Department of Agriculture would have concerns and introduce regulations to prevent stores from selling them, or at least enforce the display of a warning notice? One of the leading US food scientists, Harold McGee) has declared them as safe. People say "you don't see them in the supermarket" - very true - but this is mainly because the greens continue to draw moisture from the root and therefore dry out the carrot more quickly, and hence removed to improve shelf life.  In fact some supermarkets DO sell them with the tops attached, usually at a premium price.

The curator of the Carrot Museum has visited many stores, markets, farmers markets of all sizes in 25 countries of the world and NEVER seen them banned or warned against.

Flavour and Nutrition -

Nutrients - Carrot greens contain an impressive list of nutrients, including significant amounts of vitamin A, dietary fibre, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. There is no fat or cholesterol in these greens, and there are roughly 90 calories in 1 cup of these raw greens. These greens also contain vitamin K and various phenolic compounds and carotenoids, along with trace amounts of other antioxidants.

(Reference - J. Agric. Food Chem.200755156395-6400

Carrot tops have a peppery flavour, similar to arugula or parsley and can bring that same sort of spice to a range of dishes. When cooking with them, remove the fibrous stems, as you would any other tender herb such as parsley or dill.

These greens are packed with chlorophyll, a phytochemical that gives plants their green colour and pigmentation. Chlorophyll is an excellent source of magnesium, which promotes healthy blood pressure as well as strong bones and muscles, and has been noted to purify the blood, lymph nodes and adrenal glands

They are high in potassium, which can lower blood pressure, support your metabolism, and help prevent osteoporosis. People most at risk for heart disease are the ones who get too little potassium.

What's more, carrot greens are rich in vitamin K, which is lacking in the carrot itself and is vital to bone health. They have also been noted to deter tumour growth.

A simple use of them is to mix some in with a mixed green salad, or add to coleslaw. You may also use it for garnish. Combine your common sense and your creative skills, and invent something! That's what makes cooking fun. It is a form of art.  Carrot greens are high in vitamin K, which is lacking in the carrot itself.

Carrot tops are an outstanding source of chlorophyll, the green pigment that studies have shown to combat the growth of tumours. Chlorophyll contains cleansing properties that purify the blood, lymph nodes, and adrenal glands. Scientists have been unable to synthesize chlorophyll in the laboratory, but green plant foods contain sufficient quantities to protect the human body.

The leaves do contain furocoumarins that may cause allergic contact dermatitis from the leaves, especially when wet. Later exposure to the sun may cause mild photodermatitis. (This is NOT the same as 'poisonous' - it will only affect susceptible people with allergies to the plant. Some people have the same reaction to yarrow, ragwort, chamomile etc.)

Carrot leaves contain significant amounts of porphyrins, which stimulate the pituitary gland and lead to the release of increased levels of sex hormones.

There is a distinct difference between toxins and allergens. Carrots (Daucus carota), whether wild or domesticated, are not toxic, they are allergenic. This is like peanuts, which are not toxic but can kill those who are allergic to them.
It is however  important that any wild plant be positively identified before it is used for food. The tiny tops have tiny almost feathery branches. Carrot seedlings look a lot like bindweed. It takes a while to figure out the differences. Bindweed is redder and the leaf arrangement looks sort of branchy.

Also watch the video link on the cultivation page.

The US Army Survival Handbook 2008, Department of the Army states - Worms or intestinal parasites – using moderation treatment with tea made from Tansy (tanacetum vulgare) or from wild carrot leaves. Also Gas and cramps - Use a tea made from carrot seeds as an antiflatulent.

Poison Hemlock connection - The belief that carrot greens are poisonous may stem from their close botanical proximity to poison hemlock, but I have been unable to find any reported instances of carrot greens poisoning (as opposed to speculation about carrot greens as a poison). Although numerous gardening and amateur cooking sites cite the edibility of carrot greens. 

Several poison control centres are silent on the matter. Many eat carrot greens regularly, both in salads and soups and have lived to tell the tale. Mild toxicity is a very wide term and not defined.  Some people are allergic to carrot greens which can cause a skin rash, but not by ingestion.

There is an allergenic substance in carrot tops, but for most of the population they are harmless and healthy. Carrot tops (even without carrots) are market vegetables in France, French cookbooks have recipes how to prepare them, they have been eaten for a long time.

If you notice the carrot greens taste more noticably bitter, however, you may want to steer clear. Alkaloids – which often are toxic, to varying degrees – generally have a bitter taste. Not all alkaloids are so toxic that you can’t consume them – caffeine, for example, is an alkaloid that many people consume daily, and the alkaloid tomatine in tomato leaves appears to be harmless in small quantities

There is a distinct difference between toxins and allergens. Carrots (Daucus carota), whether wild or domesticated, are not toxic, they are allergenic. This is like peanuts, which are not toxic but can kill those who are allergic to them.

Carrot Tops are approved by the US military in their survival guide to make into a medicinal tea.

There have been accounts of people getting sick from eating carrot tops. This is entirely possible and probably even true. It’s also possible and probably true that these people have either an allergy or an intolerance to carrot tops.

Food allergy causes an immune system response to a particular food protein; the immune system overreacts and interprets the food as harmful, resulting in itching, swelling, trouble breathing, and even death in extreme cases.

Food intolerance occurs when the body lacks an enzyme to process a particular food, causing unpleasant symptoms like nausea, abdominal cramping, or acid reflux; these are not immune system responses and are not life-threatening. Another reaction with similar symptoms is food poisoning, which is caused by bacteria or toxins.

The bottom line! - is there ANY documentary evidence of anyone, ever, being poisoned by the consumption of carrot greens? If you find some please let me know.

Specific Health Benefits

1. Boost the Immune System

One of the most prominent benefits of carrot leaves is its high amount of vitamin C. It is even believed that the vitamin C contained in carrot leaves is even greater than the one in the roots, about six times more. Which is why carrot leaves could be useful additions to chicken soup or salad, because combined with other ingredients, they can work together in boosting the immune system. They are particularly useful for relieving cold and equally beneficial for skin health.

2. Help Preventing Tumour Growth

The most common compound contained in green leaves is chlorophyll. It is the one chemical that is responsible for photosynthesis as well as making the leaves of plants green. Turns out, chlorophyll also contains powerful nutrients whose main function is to prevent tumour cells from growing. Some researches suggested that carrot leaves have the ability to hinder tumour growth which in turn restricting malignant cell division.

3. Act as Mild Diuretics

Aside from preventing tumour growth, there is another benefit of chlorophyll contained in carrot leaves. Though may not widely known, chlorophyll in fact can act as a mild diuretic, which helps in stimulating the outflow of bodily fluid in the form of urine.

4. Aid in Detoxification

Chlorophyll also has detoxifying effect to our bodies, which explain the similar effect found in other green leaves such as green tea. The detoxifying effect in turn helps the kidney to filter harmful substances in our blood, consequently preventing the formation of kidney stones as well as dissolving those already present.

5. Support the Digestive System

The benefits of chlorophyll goes along the way. As it turned out, the detoxifying properties of chlorophyll also help in cleansing the colon as well as relaxing it. Combined with the dietary fiber normally found in greens, they work together in stimulating bowel movement, pushing out the wastes from digestion which in turn improving the absorption of nutrients.

6. Protect Heart Health

Carrot leaves is also high in potassium, which is known for its effect in regulating blood pressure. Those who are high in blood pressure usually have potassium deficiency. Therefore adding carrot leaves to our daily meal might keep our health healthy by lowering high blood pressure and thus preventing stroke commonly caused by atherosclerosis.

7. Help in Maintaining Muscles’ Endurance

Not only are carrot leaves rich in macronutrients, they also pack some minerals which work together for common good. Take for example, magnesium. This mineral is known for its role in preventing inflammation by reinforcing the muscle tissues in all over our body. Combined with other mineral such as potassium, the compound of the two can work together in strengthening muscles and improving blood flow which keep us energetic throughout the day.

8. Promote Bone Strength and Health

Not only minerals, carrot leaves also contain some beneficial vitamins, one of them is vitamin K which is important for blood clotting as well as increasing bone density. Combined with minerals such as calcium and magnesium, vitamin K can promote overall bone health as well as strength, greatly reducing the chances of bone and joint problems such as osteoporosis.

9. Help Maintaining Eye Health

Carrot leaves are as equally as nutritious as their own carrot roots! Carrot leaves do contain high amount of vitamin A which has well-known benefit of keeping eyes’ health. Which makes it a good idea to eat the carrot plants whole, roots and leaves.

10. Help Improving Blood Circulation

As discussed on earlier paragraphs, carrot leaves are rich in magnesium and potassium which work great together in keeping our blood circulations in order. Improved blood circulation also means better metabolism, sharper focus and of course essential for maintaining overall body health.

11. Regulate Blood Pressure

Both potassium and magnesium also play essential parts in keeping blood pressure in check. Multiple studies have been done to find significant correlations between magnesium intake and the reduction of blood pressure.

12. Prevent Anaemia

For those who are anaemic, consuming carrot leaves can help boosting haemoglobin productions in red blood cells, which in turn can prevent anaemia. For those who need some haemoglobin boosts but averse to blood supplements, carrot leaves can be safe and natural alternatives.

13. Serve as Menstruation Supplement

There is this kind of chemical compounds which is quite unique found in carrot leaves. They are called porphyrins, which are more commonly found in wild carrot leaves. The main function of porphyrins’ include stimulating the pituitary gland which in turn releases sex hormones.

Consequently, the hormones stimulates the uterus, which means those on their period can control their menstruation cycles. However, because it has an effect in inducing uterine contractions, it is strongly prohibited to be used by women in pregnancy.

14. Help Treating Kidney Problem

The most common trait shared by bitter greens is that they are all strong diuretics. Which means carrot leaves can be used to help stimulating the filtering process of kidneys by speeding the outflow of urine. This also serves to be solution to many kidney problems such as oedema and kidney stones.

15. Relieve Migraine Headaches

Carrot leaves are so heavy in vitamin and minerals that they can act as a natural health supplements. Not only that, they can also relieve headaches, including migraine headaches. Migraine is a kind of headaches symptom which occur on one side of the head, characterised by the agonizing pain it caused, often induces dizziness and nausea as the side effects.

The reason is because most of the time, migraines are caused by nutritional deficiencies, which also including anemia and low blood pressures. Therefore, by consuming carrot leaves, whether mixed salad or juiced together with other ingredients, might help in relieving migraines headaches and also preventing the migraines from happening again.

During World War Two the British Ministry of Food were always trying to find new recipes and alternative foodstuffs for those not available.  They came up with Carrot Tops and Potato Soup.

This is the extract from the Kitchen Front broadcast of 11 July 1942

"The other day I was looking at a row of carrots in my garden, trying to make up my mind whether or not to start thinning them. It seemed a pity to pull up the little things that were hardly fit to eat, but on the other hand if I left them any longer none of them would ever be fit to eat, so in the end I decided. to be hard and ruthless. So up they came - tiny little roots no thicker than a baby’s finger. I put those in a salad just as they were, after washing them of course, though they didn't go very far they were lovely and crunchy and sweet. The feathery green tops were still lying on the kitchen table when I came out to start the washing up after lunch.

My first impulse was to put then in the bucket for the rabbits, but on second thoughts they looked too good and tender even for my sweetest baby rabbits, so I decided to try and do something with them for supper for ourselves. What I did in the end, was to make a carrot-top and potato soup, and though it tasted quite different from anything we'd tried before, we liked it very much, and I felt extremely bucked at having invented a new dish. It was very easy to make, and this is how I did it. I happened to have some stock in the larder, so I put it in a saucepan and while it was coming to the boil chopped up the feathery carrot tops on the board, quite roughly, and peeled four large old potatoes.

As soon as the stock boiled I added the carrot tops and then the potatoes, cut into dice. Then I left the soup simmering with the lid on. After about twenty minutes the potato cubes were cooked, and I then added a little milk, and thickened the soup with some flour. A good pinch of some and it was ready. We each had a large plateful and some bread and cheese to go with it., and felt we had really discovered something – a carrot dish that did not taste at all like carrots, but was extraordinarily good all the same."

In the reign of James I, (1603)  it became the fashion for ladies to use flowers, fruit, feathers and the like to decorate their clothes. Picture showing carrot leaves in a hatThis was amusingly extended to the use of Wild Carrot flowers and its feathery leaves and stalks to decorate their hair, hats, sleeves, dresses and coats. The lacy green foliage  was especially fashionable during the autumn months when the leaves took on a reddish colouration.  

Parkinson, the celebrated botanist to King James mentions "That in his day, ladies wore carrot leaves in place of feathers -the light feathery verdure of which caused them to be no contemptible substitute for the plumage of birds..   In winter, an elegant chimney ornament is sometimes formed, by cutting off a section from the head or thick end of a carrot, containing the bud, and placing it in a shallow vessel with water. Young and delicate leaves unfold themselves, forming a radiated tuft, of a very handsome appearance, and heightened by contrast with the season of the year."

Carrot greens have antiseptic qualities, so they have been added to mouthwashes and, mixed with honey, to disinfect sores. They are also diuretic (increase urine flow), and can help treat kidney disease and edema.

Chewing carrot leaves can heal injuries in the mouth, bad breath, gum bleeding and mouth ulcers.

As a matter of interest it was Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40-c. 90) who catalogued over 600 medicinal plant species and said that the Greeks used carrot leaves against cancerous tumours. So you could always try that too!

Also in 1578 Henry Lyte wrote - The greene leaves of Carrots "boiled with honey and laid to, do cleanse and mundifie (purify) uncleane and fretting sores" (- a type of poultice) (read more about H Lyte on a separate Museum page here)

Carrot leaves were included in the 'potherbs' of old, but originally, of course, only Queen Anne's Lace was used (QAL is Wild Carrot). They are also an ancient source for yellow dye. (read more below)

The carrot leaves are pretty, but bitter, so what about using them on something that is robust in flavour, but boring in appearance?

Some eating suggestions:

How to Cook and Eat Carrot Tops/Greens/Leaves – Easy Recipe (Asian -

Carrot Tops add an earthiness to a recipe, they are ideal in soups, salads and sandwiches in small quantities.

Sprinkle some in a green salad for a great unique taste and extra crunch. If the rough texture is not to your liking, the leaves should be de-stemmed and chopped up finely.  Try decorate a pate with it, and glace it with aspic.

What about a "carrot top pesto vinaigrette"? You can hide the bitterness under the tangy vinegar, and sweeten it slightly with some honey.

Carrot greens cooked in butter, with a little garlic or smoked bacon you don't know what you are missing!

Try sautéing the chopped carrot tops lightly in olive oil with garlic and onion. Then add other garden-grown veggies (the carrots themselves, zucchini, tomato, peppers, fresh herbs), sauté some more, then fold the entire garden mish-mash inside a whole wheat tortilla, brown it, and call it a quesadilla. Truly a great vegan treat, and the carrot tops gave a nice crunchy texture.

It is a delightful garden feast. I recommend adding your carrot tops to other things you may already have simmering on the stove.

(Note - The flower clusters can be french-fried to produce a carrot-flavoured gourmet’s delight. The aromatic seed is used as a flavouring in stews etc. The dried roasted roots are ground into a powder and are used for making coffee.)

Carrot Top Soup Recipe

6 small to medium carrots with tops and roots
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons white rice
2 large leeks, white parts only
2 thyme or lemon thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons chopped dill, parsley, or celery leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
Pull or pluck the lacy leaves of the carrot greens off their stems. You should have between 2-3 cups, loosely packed. Wash, then chop finely. Grate the carrots or, if you want a more refined-looking soup, finely chop them. Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the carrot tops and carrots, rice, leeks, thyme, and dill. Cook for several minutes, turning everything a few times, then season with 1 1/2 teaspoons slat and add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer until the rice is cooked, 16-18 minutes. Taste for salt, season with pepper, and serve.

How To Make Carrot Leaf Tea:

Ingredients:1 fresh bunch of carrot greens, washed

1 ½ cups of water; 1 tsp honey; 1 tbsp of lemon zest


1. Take a pot, add some water, carrot greens and lemon zest.

2. Bring the water to boil. Let the contents steep for 10-15 minutes.

3. Strain and serve. If you like a tinge of sweet in your tea, you can add honey once you turn off the heat. Never cook honey as it may disparage its healing properties.

 The tea is low in calories, therefore, could prove to be an excellent addition to your weight loss diet. Drink it right at the start of the day with a pinch of lemon, to kick-start your metabolism.

Carrot Top Juice (8 oz serving, number of servings: 1)

Ingredients  - 4 carrots, 1 beet with greens

Directions - juice carrots and beets together

Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Pesto

Ingredients 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 1 onion, chopped 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided 1 1/4 pounds carrots with tops on 4 cups chicken broth/stockcarrot soup with tops pesto 1 garlic clove 1 tablespoon chopped toasted walnuts


1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

2. Remove carrot tops from carrots, chop roughly, and set aside. Roughly chop carrots and add to pot. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover (leave lid slightly ajar), and cook until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, mince garlic in a food processor, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add 1 cup carrot tops, the walnuts, remaining 2 1/2 tbsp. oil, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and whirl until blended.

4. Purée carrot-broth mixture in a blender, working in batches, until very smooth, about 1 minute per batch. Ladle into bowls and swirl in carrot top pesto.

Carrot Top Pesto  Also try Carrot Pesto (no tops!) here

World Carrot Museum Experimenter’s Pesto - have some fun with this one with several alternative ingredients - but always carrot tops


•         Green tops from one bunch of carrots (from about 450g/1 pound of carrots)

•         Up to 2 tbsp olive oil (to get the consistency you like) or other oil of your choice

•         2 cloves garlic, peeled

•         1 handful of un-processed nuts (could be walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, cashews, pistachio – or a mixture, NOT salted!)

•         2 tspn basil (dry) or handful of fresh basil leaves - preferred.

•         1 ounce of cheese (again to your taste – cheddar, parmesan etc)

•         (optional) one hot pepper.


Place the carrot tops in the bowl of a food processor with the garlic, and nuts. Add 1 tbspn of oil and process. Finally whizz in the pepper if you want the pesto with a kick.

Add more oil and process till you get pesto-like consistency. More oil to be more fluid. less for more crunchy.

Add a hint of pepper to season.

Recipe by Diane Morgan from Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes, Chronicle Books (2012)

Serve this as a dip with crudités, add a dollop on top of bruschetta that has been smeared with fresh goat cheese, or simply toss it with pasta.

1 cup lightly packed carrot leaves (stems removed) 6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 large garlic clove 1/4 tsp kosher or fine sea salt 3 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted (see Recipe Note) 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

In a food processor, combine the carrot leaves, oil, garlic, and salt and process until finely minced. Add the pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped. Add the Parmesan and pulse just until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Makes about 2/3 cup

RECIPE NOTE Toasting pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds brings out their flavour. Spread the nuts or seeds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, place in a preheated 350-degree oven and toast until fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the nut or seed. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.

Some carrot top pesto variations -

Carrot Greens-Basil Pesto

1 large handful carrot greens without stems Same amount fresh basil leaves 2 large garlic cloves, crushed 1/2 cup pecorino romano, freshly grated 1 large lemon, zested and juiced 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted 3/4 cup olive oil a few grinds of black pepper 1/2-1 tsp. sugar, if needed 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, if needed

Toast walnuts in small skilled until fragrant; transfer to cutting board. When cool, chop coarsely.

Place carrot greens, basil and garlic in food processor work bowl. Pulse until coarsely blended then add about 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow stream while continuously chopping. Add grated cheese, walnuts, lemon zest and juice, and black pepper; set to on and drizzle in remaining oil. Taste for balance. If needed, add sugar and/or salt; pulse to combine.

Will store in refrigerator for up to two days in a screw top jar.

Carrot Top Pesto (Serves 4–6)

Ingredients •1 bunch young carrots •1 cup arugula (optional) •¼ cup almonds in shell •1-2 teaspoons green garlic •½ cup olive oil •Juice of ½ lemon •Salt and pepper to taste


1.Remove greens from carrots.

2.Blanch greens in salted water until tender and bright green.

3.Remove greens from water and shock in ice bath. Squeeze out water and set aside.

4.Repeat steps 2 and 3 with arugula, and then with carrot bottoms.

5.Blanch almonds until shells become loose. Remove almonds from water and allow to cool. Shell and set aside.

6.Combine carrot greens, arugula, garlic, almonds, olive oil, and lemon in food processor. Blend until smooth, adding salt and pepper to taste.

7.Toss pesto with blanched carrots, and serve. Pesto can also be tossed with your favourite spring salads, pasta, and veggies, or spread it on a sandwich.

Carrot Top Pesto (no cheese)

With fresh and bright flavours, this carrot top pesto makes use of the oft-scorned greens from your carrot bunch, complementing them with fresh lemon, garlic, and herbs. Ready in just a few minutes and perfect on pasta, sandwiches, crackers and more. 

 Prep Time 10 minutes; Cook Time 10 minutes

 Total Yield 1 cups; Calories Per Serving 107 kcal

 Ingredientscarrot top pesto

1 clove garlic chopped

2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon)

1 tsp fresh lemon zest (about 1/2 of a lemon)

carrot tops from 1 large or 2 smaller bunches of carrots (yields 1 cup blanched)

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

4 green onions fresh green parts only

1/2 cup raw walnuts (optional)

3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste 


To blanch the carrot tops: remove thick stem pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water in it. Once boiling, add the carrot tops to the pot. Stir occasionally, cooking for about 3 minutes or until bright green and tender. Immediately remove from the pot, drain the hot water, and add the carrot tops to the ice cube bowl to stop the cooking process. 

Drain the carrot tops, wring out excess liquid, and spread them on a plate to dry while you do the remaining recipe preparation. Add all of the ingredients from garlic through walnuts (if using) to the food processor. Blend until a chunky paste forms with small bits of carrot tops. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to stop frequently to scrape down the sides. Add the olive oil a tablespoon at a time until combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if desired. 

To use as a pasta sauce, cook your pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the reserved cooking water and carrot top pesto, stir to combine, and cook over low heat until warmed. Serve right away. 

Otherwise, once cooled to room temperature, store the pesto in the fridge in an airtight container for several days. The bright green colour may fade to a slightly darker green, and this is totally normal. (source -

Indian Recipes Poriyal and Kadhi (below)

Ingredients - Carrot leaves: 4 bunches (around 250g);Onion: 1 (large, finely chopped);Fresh coconut (grated): 2 tbsp Mustard seeds: 1 tspTurmeric powder: 1tsp Chilli powder: 1/2 tsp Oil: 1 tbsp Salt to taste

Method Wash and clean the leaves well. Remove the hard stalks and chop the leaves finely. Place a wok on fire and add oil. Put in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add the onion and cook for around five minutes. Add the leaves and mix well. Put in the chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. Sprinkle some water over the leaves and cover. Let the dish cook for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and add grated coconut. Mix again and cook for two minutes. Serve with curd and rice. 


Ingredients - Carrot leaves: 100 g; Sour buttermilk: 1/2 litre;Pearl millet (bajra) flour: 50 g;Garlic pods: 5 to10 Turmeric: 1 tsp Cumin seeds: 1 tsp Mustard oil: 2 tbsp Salt to taste

Method Cut the leaves finely. Place a wok on flame and heat water enough to boil the leaves. Cook till the leaves are soft and not much water remains. Take buttermilk, pearl millet, chilli powder, turmeric and salt in a bowl and mix well. Add this mix to the boiled leaves slowly while mixing continuously. In a pan, heat the oil and fry the cumin seeds and chopped garlic. Add to the kadhi and boil cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with bajra rotis. (nan breads will do)

Carrot top chimichurri

This Argentine style green sauce, or salsa, is a thrifty way to use up carrot tops, converting them into a savoury condiment that can be used to dress pasta, vegetables or meat.  

1 bunch carrots with tops

20g parsley, finely chopped, including stalks

2 tsp dried or chopped fresh oregano

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 pinch dried chilli flakes

8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp red-wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

 Method - Remove the carrot stalks and tops, soak them in water to remove any soil, and rinse. Repeat. Dry, then finely chop 20g of the stalks and leaves, and mix with all the other ingredients. Season to taste, and it’s done. The chimichurri will keep in the fridge for a week or two.


Carrot Top and Potato Soup carrot tops and potato soup



600ml/1 pint vegetarian stock

Preparation method:

Pour the stock into a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and add the onion, garlic, carrot tops, star anise and potato.

Season to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the potato is tender.

Remove the star anise. Roughly blend the remaining mixture with a  blender.

Carrot Top Tea

This is such an unbelievably delicious drink and great for detoxifying and strengthening the kidneys. Excellent for anyone suffering from urinary complaints.

Take a handful of carrot leaves (home grown are always best but shop bought carrots can be used as long as you thoroughly wash then to remove any chemical residues), tear them up and put them in a tea pot. Pour over boiling water and leave to steep until the tea is cold. Strain to remove the leaves and put them on the compost heap, then place the tea in the fridge to chill. It will last well for about 3 days if it hasn't all been drunk before then.
Carrots store best with their tops removed so making tea from the leaves is an excellent use of resources. Young leaves can also be used in salads.

Carrot-top soup

Main Ingredient: Barley Whole Wheat Carrot Potatoes Pear, Yield: 6, Carrot-top soup ingredients, 1 c Black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, 1⁄2 c Dried split peas, 1⁄2 c Pearl barley, 3 qt water, 1 T Cold-pressed olive oil (or Use your favourite fat free Liquid), 1⁄2 large Onion chopped,  2 medium Carrots sliced, 4 Carrot tops (greens only Stems removed, chopped), 1 large Mustard greens chopped, 1 Leeks sliced, 1 c Green beans, broken into sections, 1 large Potato, unpeeled, diced, 1⁄2 Bay leaf, 1⁄4 t thyme, 1⁄4 t tarragon, 1⁄4 t Savory, 1 tsp Salt, 1 pinch Pepper.

1. In a large pot, place the black-eyed peas, split peas, pearl barley,=20 and water and simmer until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes.
2. In a skillet heat the olive oil (or other liquid).
3. Add the onions and saute, covered, 10 minutes or until the onions begin to brown.
4. Turn off the heat under the onions and pour about ½ c of the bean cooking water into the skillet and mix well.
5. When the beans are cooked, add the onions and all the other ingredients to the bean pot and cook another 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
6. Serve in large soup bowls with generous servings of fresh whole wheat or black bread.

Carrot Green, Parsley & Hazelnut Pesto for Pasta

Great way to use up those carrot greens.

¾ cup hazelnuts (or mixture of hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts) 1/8 cup organic carrot leaves, chopped 1/8 cup organic parsley, chopped 1 clove garlic juice of 1 lemon ¼-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil ½ cup fresh-grated parmesan cheese generous pinch of sea salt.

Toast the nuts at 325ºF for a few minutes to bring out the flavour. In a food processor, puree the nuts, carrot leaves, parsley leaves, lemon juice and garlic.

Pour in cheese, salt, and olive oil, starting with ¼ cup. Blend, and increase olive oil if the pesto is too thick. Cook pasta (450g) until al dente, drain and toss with pesto while still hot.

(Excellent with a few handfuls of cooked pole beans thrown in as you toss with the pesto.)

Celery root salad with carrot top vinaigrette

Total time: 20 minutes - Servings: 4

1 (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound) celery root, 1/3cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4teaspoon minced garlic, 2 tablespoons chopped carrot tops, 1/4teaspoon salt

Peel the celery root with a large chef's knife. Cut it in half, then cut each half in thin slices. Stack the slices and cut them into thin rectangular sticks. It's easiest to do this in 3 or 4 batches. Place in a mixing bowl.

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in a blender and purée at high speed until emulsified, about 30 seconds. Add the carrot tops and the salt and purée just until they are finely chopped and still visible in specks in the pale green dressing, 30 seconds. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Pour the dressing over the celery root and stir gently to combine. The salad should be very lightly dressed, with flecks of green clinging to the celery root sticks.

Transfer to a serving bowl. This salad can be made up to an hour in advance and held at room temperature. The celery root will soften slightly and become silkier.

Each serving:215 calories; 2 grams protein; 13 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 18 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 277 mg. sodium

Whole carrot salad - tabouleh style

A delicious way to use the leaves of carrots - serves 2-4, depending on the size of carrots

3 carrots with their leaves
4 fresh mint leaves (can be replaced with another herb, to taste)
1 handful of raisins
1 dash olive oil
1 dash lemon juice 1 pinch salt

Preparation: Chop the carrot roots (with their peel on if they are organic) in the food processor (pulse) until they have a couscous texture. Put aside in a bowl. Chop finely the carrot leaves with a knife, like you would do with parsley. Remove the hard stems if there are any. Add to bowl with the carrot “couscous”, raisins and chopped mint leaves. Season to taste with lemon juice, olive oil and salt. The carrot leaves taste delicious, so don’t hesitate to put in more.

Carrot Top Scramble

1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 med onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
carrot greens, chopped
1 cup canned diced tomato (or fresh)
4 eggs (I used two whole eggs and two egg whites)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1) Sautée onion in a little olive oil for 2 – 3 minutes;
add garlic and continue to cook for another minute or so.

2) Toss in chopped carrot greens.
Stir and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until they begin to wilt.

3) Add diced tomato and simmer covered 3 minutes.

4) Crack eggs into mixture and scramble until well combined.

5) Top with cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6) Serve with toast and veggie sausage

Carrot Top And Rice Soup (Tuscan)
Yield: 4 Servings


3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 med onion; minced, 2 sm carrots; diced, 1 stalk celery; diced, 3 cloves garlic; minced, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 6 cups  vegetable broth, 1/2 cup  short grain rice, 1 1/2 cups chopped carrot tops, 4 tbs fresh grated -parmigiano-reggiano.


1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-gauge soup pot. Saute the onion, carrots, celery and garlic for 5 minutes over low heat until translucent. Add the salt and pepper, pour in the broth, and bring to a boil.

2. Add the rice to the broth and cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is almost tender. Add the carrot tops and cook for 5 more minutes, mixing well.

3. When the rice is done, pour the soup into four bowls, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

Gumbo Z'herbes Recipe – A New Orleans Delight!

Coming from the French gumbo aux herbes, this gumbo is the green variety to which several greens are used in the roux to make the ideal meat-free meals for Good Friday, Holy Thursday and the entire stretch of Lent!  Serves 12.

1 large or two small ham shanks or hocks

At least seven varieties of the following greens: 1 bunch greens, either mustard, collard or turnip or a combination of all three 1 bag fresh spinach or a box of frozen 1 small head cabbage 1 bunch carrot tops 1 bunch beet tops 1 bunch Arugula 1 bunch parsley 1 bunch green onions 1 bunch watercress 1 head romaine or other lettuce 1 head curly endive 1 bunch kale 1 bunch radish tops

3 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped; 1/2 head garlic, peeled, cloves kept whole ; 2 lbs. fresh hot sausage (a local sausage called chaurice is best, but Italian without fennel works well) ;1 lb. andouille sausage ;1 lb. smoked pork sausage; ½ lb. ham 1 lb. beef stew meat

1 cup flour Vegetable oil as needed;3 teaspoons dried thyme 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper 3 bay leaves; Salt to taste

2 cups cooked white rice;½ teaspoon filé powder (optional)


1. Place ham shanks or hocks in a large, heavy stock pot. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Wash all greens thoroughly in salt water, making sure to remove any grit, discolored outer leaves, and tough stems. Rinse in a bath of unsalted water (a clean double sink works well for this).

3. Place half the greens, half the onions, and half the garlic in a heavy-bottomed stockpot or 3–4 gallon saucepan. Cover greens and vegetables with water and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20–30 minutes, until greens are very tender. When they finish cooking, transfer them to a large bowl, using a slotted spoon, to cool. Repeat the process with the remaining greens, onions and garlic, doing it in two or three batches if necessary.

4. When all the greens have finished cooking, reserve the cooking liquid.

5. Place the fresh hot sausage in a skillet or medium-size saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook until rendered of fat and moisture. Remove the hot sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve the fat.

6. While the fresh hot sausage is cooking, cut the smoked sausage and andouille into 1/2-inch rounds and set aside. Cut the ham and the beef stew meat into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.

7. In a meat grinder or a food processor, grind the greens, onion and garlic into a puree, adding cooking liquid to prevent the greens from getting too thick. Do this in batches.

8. Remove the ham shanks from their cooking liquid, reserving the liquid for stock. Once the shanks cool, pick and chop the meat and set it aside; discard the bones and the fat.

9. Pour the greens cooking liquid and ham stock into separate bowls. Using your largest pot, or the two stockpots in which you simmered the greens and the ham, mix everything together. (Divide the pureed greens, the sausages, the beef and the chopped ham equally between the two pots, if using two pots.)

10. Fill the pot or pots with equal parts ham stock and greens cooking liquid and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

11. Heat the skillet containing the hot sausage drippings over medium-high heat. With a wooden spoon, slowly but intently stir in the flour until well combined. If the mixture is very dry, add vegetable oil until it loosens some, making a tight paste that’s still able to be stirred.

12. Continue to cook until the flour mixture begins to darken, stirring constantly. As Sara notes, you aren’t going for a dark roux, but you do want the flour to cook. Courage is the key here. Don’t be afraid to let it get dark.

13. When darkened and cooked, divide the roux between the two stockpots or put it into the single pot, dropping it in by spoonfuls and whisking to make sure that each is well incorporated.

14. Add thyme, cayenne, bay leaves and salt to taste.

15. Simmer for about an hour, or until the stew meat is tender, stirring quite often. Add more stock or water if it appears too thick. Serve over white rice.

Note: Filé in its pure form is a bright green powder made from pounded sassafras leaves. The Creoles and Cajuns picked it up from the Choctaw Indians, and used it as a spice and a thickener in the winter when okra wasn’t available. If you like it, add it slowly at the end of cooking or even stir it into your own bowl at the table. 

Carrot Leaf Dye

CARROT TOPS (daucus carota)
WHERE TO FIND IT: cultivated in a vegetable garden. Sometimes growing wild if it has been left to escape from the garden.
HARVEST TIME: in the summer, when the tops are a lush green and, before turning to seed.
INGREDIENTS: chop up the green foliage of 6 large carrot tops, 1 litre boiling water, alum.
Extra foliage can be added to made a slightly darker colour using no more than 300ml of water
EXTRACTION PROCESS: boil tops for half an hour. Strain liquid, and add 2 teaspoons of alum; make sure the alum is dissolved.
COLOUR MADE: light yellow.
LIGHTFAST QUALITIES: 4: fugitive pigment. The colour fades away over 3 to 5 months, depending on the amount of carrot tops used.
SHADEFAST QUALITIES: the colour fades over a 2 year period.
RUBBINGS: makes a very pale green colour.
METHOD: take the leaves and use them as a crayon, rub directly onto the paper.
LIGHTFAST QUALITY: 4: fugitive pigment. Fades over a 6 month period to an off white colour.
SHADEFAST QUALITY: 4: fugitive pigment. Fades over a 6 month period to an off white colour.

 Read about wild carrot here Wild Carrot

Carrot Leaves Reference material

A lot more information here, particularly on preservation -

Carrot leaves: antioxidative and nutritive values. April 2011Journal of Food and Dairy Sciences 2(4) DOI: 10.21608/jfds.2011.81946 GoneimGehan A.Ibrahim  here.

Development and Sensory Evaluation of Beta Carotene Rich Food Preparations Using Underexploited Carrot Greens,  Tarvinder Jeet Kaur &G.K. Kochar,  Journal of Human Ecology, Volume 28, 2009 - Issue 3  pp207-212 -

Provitamin a activity of Brazilian carrots: leaves and roots, raw and cooked and their chemical composition - (Food Science and Technology Print version ISSN 0101-2061On-line version ISSN 1678-457X Ciênc. Tecnol. Aliment. vol.17 no.2 Campinas May/Aug. 1997)

Carotene content in carrot leaves (abstract) -

Nutritional composition of selected green leafy vegetables, herbs and carrots - here (Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 56: 359–364, 2001)

Optimization of the carrot leaf dehydration aiming at the preservation of omega-3 fatty acids -

Nutritional composition of selected green leafy vegetables, herbs and carrots -

Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild By Steve Brill, Evelyn Dean

Plant Tissue Analysis and Interpretation for Vegetable

Crops in Florida

Eat Smart, Eat Raw Kate Wood

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