Do You Have To Peel Carrots Before Eating Them?

You know the drill. Before you cook with (or eat) carrots, you have to prep them by peeling them first. But wait — is this totally necessary, or have you been wasting tons of time by peeling your carrots before you eat them?

Cook's Illustrated conducted a test based on flavor only. They served both peeled and unpeeled carrots in a few different ways — raw, cut into coins and glazed, and roasted in a 425-degree oven. While some participants said that the unpeeled raw carrots had an earthier taste that wasn't unpleasant, most noted that this was actually not a good thing, saying they had a "dusty exterior" and "bitter finish." 

The unpeeled carrots that had been cooked didn't fare any better. Taste testers noted that they were "tough and gritty," and said that the the flavor in the cooked carrots was "again earthier, but not in a good way." Overall, the participants gave the unpeeled carrots a thumbs down on everything from taste to texture to appearance.

There are cases where it makes sense to let the peel remain, though, such as if you're using carrots in a slow cooker, in a roast, for pureeing (such as while making soup), or for juicing (via MyRecipes). There is some nutrition that can be found in the peel, and leaving it on means that you get more of the good stuff, like vitamin C, A, and niacin. It's worth noting, however, that this is a small loss (via Tufts University).

If you decide not to peel your carrots, it's certainly not going to hurt you. It's all a matter of preference. The only caveat is that you have to give them a good scrub with a firm vegetable brush before tossing them in to your pot. This way you'll remove any dirt or other grody stuff you don't want to eat.

Otherwise, you're likely going to want to bust out your favorite peeler, take a few minutes, and peel off those skins. Your carrots will look better, and more importantly, will taste better, too. And according to nutrition scientists, you'll still be getting plenty of nutrition from the carrot, even without the peel.