What Do I Do with Carrot Greens?

By Aurelia d'Andrea September 3, 2013 Categories: What Do I Do with...

You see them in knee-high piles after the twice-weekly farmers’ market in my neighborhood; the verdant remains of the day’s carrot sales. The long, lanky tops, their shiny green leaves vaguely reminiscent of Italian parsley, are mostly overlooked by home cooks and professional chefs alike. This is probably due to the unrelenting rumor about the leaves being poisonous (due to their resemblance of the extremely toxic plant Queen Anne’s Lace).

While it’s true that carrot leaves do contain alkaloids and nitrates—which some people can be sensitive to in the same way that others are sensitive to potatoes, eggplants, and other nightshade plants—they aren’t toxic unless you eat them by the bushel. They are, however, versatile and downright tasty, depending on how you prepare them.

You can use carrot greens in the same way you’d use parsley, either as a garnish, or minor player in salads, or as the no-holds-barred star of the culinary show. From carrot-top pesto to carrot-greens soup, the possibilities are vast and varied, and come with a nutritional bonus: They’re packed with potassium, chlorophyll, and other nutrients with health-supporting benefits. 

This simple salad marries carrot greens with the humble chickpea and a dash of cumin to unite the flavors and textures. Try bringing a bowlful to your next potluck and having your friends guess the ingredients.

Warm Chickpea and Carrot-top Salad

Serves 4

1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 medium onion, minced
1 14-oz can chickpeas, drained
1 cup finely chopped carrot greens,
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, to taste

Heat oil over medium heat. Add cumin, and sauté 1 minute, or until fragrant. 
Add onion and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. 
Add chickpeas and sauté until heated through and any liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and add carrot greens. Toss, then transfer to a serving bowl and season with lemon juice and salt before serving.

Next Previous | Next Previous


I made this but I used half the lemon juice and everyone really liked it. I was very surprised at how good it was.

patricia - 2015-11-04 03:01:23

When I was a child the carrot tops always went to our ponies who considered them a delightful treat. My rabbits rarely got a share. We never ate them as my mother thiought them too tough to bother with.

Jean - 2015-07-24 16:05:28

queen anne's lace is not toxic, it is the common name for wild carrot. however it is similar in appearance to poison hemlock, which is deadly.

Tate Hewitt - 2015-06-28 17:24:56

Thanks for this recipe. I was just about to toss a beautiful bunch of carrot tops in the compost bin and thought, "I'm just going to google 'Uses for carrot tops.'" I went straight for the Vegetarian Times option that popped up because I've had such great success with your recipes in the past.

Charlotte T - 2015-02-27 19:25:01

To "Kevin" who lambasted Stephan for the accident that occurred with his rabbits: It was an accident and I'm sure he does feel horrible about it. Publicly berating him doesn't accomplish anything.

Charlotte T - 2015-02-27 19:22:00

To 'Stephan' who wrote below about the rabbits; How absolutely horrifying!!! You should face animal cruelty charges!! You are an idiot!! If you don't know what to feed an animal, either find out or don't have animals! What a monster!

Kevin C - 2015-02-04 01:12:11

We fed carrot greens to our rabbits and truckloads of cull carrots to sheep, never did we see any adverse effects. Never thought of trying them and we now have a garden full. Time to give it a try. However once we fed the rabbits this carrot-like green growing in a swampy place behind our home. The rabbits were dying before we could get back to the first cages to pull it out, what we later learned was poison hemlock. It was surprising how fast this happened and we lost over 20 rabbits.

stephen - 2015-01-11 00:12:32

This recipe is delish, thanks!

Sue - 2014-09-04 18:01:04

What do I do with farmers market carrot greens? Ask nicely for a couple handfuls to feed my pet bunny. (Beet greens, too.) I guess she'll have share with me next time. ;)

Liza - 2014-08-29 15:35:30

I agree with the posts below - Queen Anne's Lace and our commonly cultivated carrots are the same species. One is wild, and one is not. The roots, stems, seeds and leaves of all carrot cultivars are completely edibe and have been eaten for centuries. The issue is when Queen Anne's Lace is mistaken for poison hemlock - a very toxic plant. The easiest way to tell the difference is to smell the roots - Queen Anne's Lace roots smell distictly like carrots, while poison hemlock roots do not. There are other differences too, but that's the most obvious one.

Kathryn - 2014-08-26 13:50:49

Wild Carrot/Queen Anne's Lace's poisonous look alikes are poison hemlock, wild parsnips, and cow parsnips.

Ana - 2014-08-02 07:47:44

Queen Anne's Lace is NOT toxic! It is a wild carrot and just as edible! In fact, it is even healthier and richer in nutrients!

Ana - 2014-08-02 07:32:26

Thanks for that very clear and great comment by Rachel. Otherwise, without it I would hesitate to even keep the leaves of carrot plants. Thanks, Phuong

Phuong - 2014-05-15 19:15:51

Will try this one today

Jane Mac-Leay - 2014-03-27 18:05:10

Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) and cultivated carrot (also Daucus carota) are the exact same genus and species. The cultivated carrot's subspecies is sativus. Queen Anne's lace is no more "toxic" than our garden carrot -- is it possible you've confused that with poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)? Their leaves can be confused with carrots by those who haven't studied both carefully. I've eaten Queen Anne's Lace roots, stems and leaves for decades with no ill effects, and intercrop it with my tomatoes to boost production and with lettuce to keep the soil cooler. Thanks for letting me correct a potential misconception of a wonderful wild food, and for sharing the salad recipe and other ideas with those of us who are concerned about what to do with the "throwaways"!

Rachel - 2013-10-16 20:27:49