Julio’s Hot Carrots

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As TD will agree, my love for the hot carrot borders on embarrassing.  A staple of the Southern California taco stand, I often force him into causing a distraction so that I can heap these spicy little gems directly onto whatever I’ve ordered, completely bi-passing the appropriate little dishes provided.  Who am I kidding, whatever  I’ve ordered is just a beard to deliver the hot carrots.

Also embarrassing?  It’s taken me this long to realize I could make my own at home.

In researching recipes I discovered that what I thought was a requisite member of any good salsa bar may just be regional.  Most recipes I found suggest that the hot carrot originated in a Mexican restaurant in San Diego called Julio’s.  Julio’s is no longer open and sadly, I don’t remember ever going there while growing up.  But, his legacy is strong and far-reaching.

Sadly, not the first Kitchen God photo bomb this blog has seen.

I thought this would be a fun fourth of July recipe because somewhere along the way I found an Alton Brown creation called Firecracker Carrots.  Sadly, his recipe uses baby carrots.  The blasphemy.

Will I stop raiding the spicy carrot bowl at our local taco shop?  Have you met me?  But, at least in my house, hot carrots have been elevated from a sometimes food to an all-the-time food.

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San Diego Style Hot Carrots

source:  this recipe is a little like salsa, I mixed and matched ingredient lists until I got a blend I liked


  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 7 ounce can pickled jalapenos (with juice)
  • 2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS oregano
  • 1 TBS kosher salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 TBS oil (I used olive)


  • Clean and peel carrots.  Slice on the diagonal to about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Add carrots to a large saucepan and bring to boil in about 24 ounces water.  Once water hits a steady boil, set timer for 5 minutes.  Promptly drain carrots in a collander.
  • While water is heating, thinly slice onion.
  • In a large bowl, combined onion, jalapenos and juice, vinegar, spices, bay leaves and oil.
  • Add blanched carrots to bowl.  Mix until all ingredients are well distributed.
  • Cover bowl and let mixture cool for three hours.
  • Hot carrots can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.  They won’t last that long, I promise.

12 thoughts on “Julio’s Hot Carrots”

  1. I knew there was a reason I addore you so! I am always on the hunt for a hot carrot concoction and found one this weekend that added potatoes to the mix. Delicious!

  2. I had the pleasure of eating at Julio’s restaurant in San Diego in 1979. The food was awsome and the carrots and jalapeños I have never forgotten how good they were.

  3. Terrie-

    You are a part of Julio’s history! I can’t believe I grew up in San Diego and never went…and I thought I was a native!

  4. The cook from Julio’s, Mario, opened his own restaurant at 30th and Adams called Casa Adams–& the carrots are fantastic!

  5. Taylor-

    Adding Casa Adams to the list for San Diego visits! Thanks for the info.

  6. Thanks for recipe,lost mine in my collection. This was printed in the San Diego union paper years ago. Julius was a great restaurant went the many times.

  7. Use to go to Julio’s every Thursday with my mom after work in the 70’s , she owned a beauty shop right next door. The best Mexican restaurant ever! Loved those hot carrots. I have an old newspaper version of the receipt I clipped out and have held onto for over 30 years. Fantastico! ??

  8. OMG, great memories of Julio’s. Went there often in the 70’s
    with my friends. We went there especially for the hot carrots but the food was great as well. Always satisfied our munchies :}

  9. Interesting, in that I both ate at Julios often starting about 40 years ago, and also I once clipped the original recipe printed in the San Diego Union Tribune, and I am certain that it had a few tablespoons of white sugar in it, in addition to more oil. I have not made them in years, but I am going to try and make some soon. I will use THIS recipe as a guideline, but it IS NOT the original! :/

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