Old-Beijing Fried Carrot Fritters (炸素丸子)

5 from 1 vote
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These fried carrot fritters are extra crispy on the outside and tender inside. They’re loaded with vegetables and aromatics to create the best texture and fragrance. Both deep-frying and pan-frying methods are included. {Vegetarian}

Fried carrot fritters with dipping sauces

Fried carrot fritters bring back some of my favorite childhood memories. When I was in elementary school, I was living with my grandparents, who enjoyed vegetables and very simple food. They often bought these Old-Beijing style carrot fritters from street vendors for snacking. It was the early 90s when you could get two pounds of them for 50 cents. It was usually stuffed in a paper bag. And I couldn’t help but reach for one of them on the way home. 

Chinese vegetable fritters
Fried carrot fritters close up

The ingredients

These carrot fritters are loaded with vegetables and use an egg and some flour to hold them together. Seasoned with green onion, cilantro and a touch of five spice. They’re super crispy on the outside and have a very soft and moist interior that is savory and slightly sweet because of the carrot. I like to serve them with a gingery sauce and a ketchup garlic sauce. 

When I make them, they rarely even make it to the dinner table because we just snack away on them as soon as they’re out of the frying pan.

Dipping carrot fritter in the sauce
Texture of inside of the carrot fritter

How to make carrot fritters

Prepare the vegetables

Most of the work in this recipe is cutting the vegetables. 

I used a cheese grater (medium grain) to shred the carrot, but it does take a while. You can use your food processor to speed things up. The pieces of carrot should be around the thickness of a matchstick, but not as long. 

For the cilantro, it is best to chop it by hand. This will keep the leaves in slightly larger pieces, which creates crispy bits when you fry the fritters up. Also, chopping cilantro using a food processor might make it a bit mushy.

For the ginger and garlic, it’s best to use a lemon zester to grate them. Hand mincing works as well.

Make the batter

Once you have prepared all the vegetables, add them to a big bowl. Add the beaten egg and mix them together.

Add the dried ingredients into a separate bowl and mix well. Stir them into the vegetables. Then mix to combine. Depending on the condition of your vegetables and how you cut them, you might notice the batter already holding together. 

Slowly drizzle a bit of water into the bowl and mix until there’s no dry flour left. You should be able to form a ball of the batter using your hands or a spoon. And its texture should be soft.

When you start cooking, use a small spoon to scoop out the batter while forming it against the bowl. It works the best when the surface of the carrot fritters is slightly uneven, as it creates a crispier surface in the cooked fritters.

How to make carrot fritter batter

How to fry carrot fritters

To get the best result, I have to admit that it’s best to fry the carrot fritters. 

To minimize the amount of oil, you can use a small tall pot for frying. 

The oil temperature should not be too hot, which will make the carrot fritters’ surface very dark. On the other hand, a very low temperature will make it take a very long time to fry them and the fritters’ surface won’t crisp up well. 325°F (160°C) is the best temperature, but you don’t have to measure the oil temperature for a great result. I usually use medium-high heat to heat up the oil, then turn it to medium when adding the fritters. If it starts to bubble too hard, I turn it to medium-low heat. If the fritters stay in the pan for 3 minutes but still do not brown up, turn up the heat.

Once done, the fritters will have a golden brown color on the outside and will be very tender and moist inside.

How to fry the carrot fritters

Pan frying works as well

If you do not like deep-frying, you can use much less oil and pan fry them. You should use enough oil to cover the bottom of a nonstick frying pan.

For the fritters, use 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter, and smash them onto the pan like thick pancakes. Keep the thickness around 1/2” (1 cm) or less, so the inside cooks properly. Cook for about 2 minutes per side until browned.

The biggest disadvantage of pan frying is that the surface of the carrot fritters will turn dark brown and won’t look as good as deep fried. Although it wouldn’t bother me that much if I’m not hosting.

How to reheat carrot fritters

The best thing about these fritters is that they reheat very well. You can store them in the fridge or freeze them, and then crisp them up in the air fryer. The reheated fritters are just as crispy and moist as the freshly made ones.

Old-Beijing Fried Carrot Fritters (炸素丸子)

Afterthought

Carrot fritters are one of my favorite childhood snacks. It’s so nice to make them at home because nothing can beat freshly fried fritters that are so crispy and the flavor is addictive. You can make them for a snack or an appetizer in a full-on Chinese dinner, or make them ahead of time for meal prep. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Other delicious vegetarian recipes

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These fried carrot fritters are extra crispy on the outside and tender inside. They’re loaded with vegetables and aromatics to create the best texture and fragrance. Both deep-frying and pan-frying methods are included. {Vegetarian}

Old-Beijing Fried Carrot Fritters (炸素丸子)

5 from 1 vote
These fried carrot fritters are extra crispy on the outside and tender inside. They’re loaded with vegetables and aromatics to create the best texture and fragrance. Both deep-frying and pan-frying methods are included. {Vegetarian}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: street food
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 servings (about 24 fritters)

Ingredients

Fritters

  • 4 big (400 g in total) carrots , shredded (yields 2 1/2 cups shredded) (*Footnote 1)
  • 40 g cilantro , chopped (yield 1 cup chopped)
  • 3 green onions , finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger , grated
  • 1 egg , beaten
  • 1 cup (150 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying (or 4 tablespoons oil for pan frying) (*Footnote 2)

Dipping sauce – ginger soy (Optional)

  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger , grated

Dipping sauce – spicy ketchup (Optional)

  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (Footnote 4)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup

Instructions

To make the fritters

  • Combine the carrots, cilantro, green onion, ginger and egg in a large bowl. Stir to mix well.
  • Combine the flour, salt and five spice powder in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to combine, then transfer to the big bowl with the vegetables. Mix thoroughly until the vegetables are evenly coated with the flour and start to stick together.
  • Slowly pour in cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, while stirring with a spatula, until there is no dry flour left and it forms a sticky paste that’s just enough to bind the vegetables together. I only used 2 tablespoons of water when I shot the photos because I used new carrots and they were quite watery. You might need up to 1/2 cup water depending on the condition of your vegetables. Try to use your hand or a spoon to shape a small ball of the batter, and it should be able to hold together but with a soft texture. You can sprinkle a bit more flour and/or a bit more water if needed. (*Footnote 3)
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a cooling rack.
  • Heat 2” (5 cm) oil in a small or medium-sized high-wall skillet or pot over medium heat until it reaches 325°F (160°C). Use a spoon to measure about 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter, round it like a ball, then slowly lower it into the oil. Repeat to form several balls. Fry until the fritters turn golden brown on all sides, 3 minutes or so. Transfer onto the lined baking sheet to cool. You might need to fry in batches depending on the size of your pan.

Dipping sauce

  • Choose the dipping sauce you prefer or you can make both. Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • To serve: Wait until the fritters cool off slightly before serving as an appetizer or a snack by themselves, or along with the dipping sauce(s) if desired.
  • Store and reheat: Store the leftover fritters in an airtight container or a ziplock bag in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Heat up the fritters in an oven (400°F / 200°C) or in a 300°F (150°C) air fryer until heated through.

Notes

  1. You can use a medium-grain cheese grater to shred the carrot. A food processor works as well, but take care not to cut the carrot too finely.
  2. If you do not want to deep fry the fritters, you can use just enough oil to coat the pan and pan fry the fritters by pressing the fritters into a flat shape. The fritters will be browned faster this way, so they won’t look very pretty (they will look a bit too browned), but they will still taste great.
  3. The batter is vegetable-heavy and that’s why it yields a great texture. The flour and water should be just enough to bind everything together. I highly recommend using a spoon to form the fritters. You should not shape a perfect ball in this case, but the fritters will come out more delicious. Because if the shape is uneven, it creates more crispy edges and bits when fried.
  4. If you like a creamy spicy sauce, add some mayonnaise into the spicy ketchup dipping sauce and make a third sauce!

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 196kcal, Carbohydrates: 27.1g, Protein: 4.4g, Fat: 7.9g, Saturated Fat: 1.6g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 352mg, Potassium: 317mg, Fiber: 2.8g, Sugar: 3.7g, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 2mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Dee says:

    In the Caribbean they have a similar recipe, minus the ginger plus a bit more water. I love those, so I guess I have no choice but to try yours as carrot fritters are my all-time favourite snack. Will rate as soon as I have made them thanks for your site. It’s brilliant!

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      The water quantity in this one really depends on the vegetables. When I tested the recipe, I can add up to 1/2 cup water while keeping the fritter’s shape. But when I was doing the photo shoot, I used young carrots which was super watery. I almost didn’t need to add water at all (I ended adding 2 tablespoons to keep the texture moist). I recommend adding a small amount of water at at time and observe. It’s so interesting to see a similar dish in a different culture! I hope you’ll like this one as well 🙂

  2. Alan Moore says:

    Sounds very good, but where is the list of ingredients?
    Sounds a bit like my favourite punjabi pakora, butn what flour, what spices, etc?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      If you click on “Jump to the Recipe”, which is right under the title of this post, you will see the recipe card with the ingredient list and instructions.

  3. Meda says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! Easy recipe, perfect results! I‘ve made ginger soy sauce with some sesame seeds.Thank you, Maggie

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