By Team Dirty
Sep 29, 2023,
Picture it: a sunny afternoon from your childhood. You’re at a family cookout. Adults are chatting, there’s music playing, and the kids are running around chasing each other. Some uncle or other is manning the grill while all the aunties and older cousins are laying out the sides. They call out to the kids. It’s time to eat! You run over and grab your plate. On it are a handful of chips, some mayo-based salad you probably won’t eat, and a hot dog fresh from the grill. Bliss.
Now you’re grown up and remember fun-filled days like this every time you have a hot dog. They’re a time machine. And maybe you think there’s no way a plant based dog can compare. Wrong! Prepare yourself for the magic of our Vegan Carrot Dogs, which are inspired by those cookout faves and are just as smoky, flavorful, and nostalgic. Plus, they’re good for you, good for the planet, and contain no mystery meat. Oh, and don’t forget the fixins! We’ll give you four delicious ways to serve these carrot dogs up.
Now, let’s learn how to make Vegan Carrot Dogs in the Instant Pot. Don’t have one? No worries, we include stovetop directions as well. Hot diggity dog!
What you’ll need to make Vegan Carrot Dogs
Carrots: pretty obvious, huh? We like carrots about the length and width of traditional hot dogs. The more uniform in size they are, the more evenly they’ll cook. Feel free to trim them to the same size or use a peeler to narrow them down and round the ends if you prefer. Peeling is optional, but the color of the carrot dogs will look more a-peel-ing if you do.
Vegetable broth: any low-sodium variety will do, but we recommend purchasing an oil-free broth if possible. Better yet, make your own broth using our Vegetable Bouillon Powder.
Apple cider vinegar: we add this to our marinade for extra depth of flavor and a nice tangy, brightness. It also helps neutralize a lot of the natural sweetness from the carrots so the flavors stay balanced.
Low-sodium soy sauce: this brings the umami and is the primary source of salty flavor in our recipe. Be sure to purchase low-sodium gluten-free soy sauce or tamari if you’re cooking for anyone sensitive to gluten.
Vegan Worcestershire sauce: we like to add this for more complexity. You can find vegan Worcestershire sauce in most specialty markets or online. There are also vegan gluten-free varieties available. Sidenote: if you’re new to cooking this way, check out our Speciality Ingredients page with links to buy these kind of products online and substitution ideas.
100% pure maple syrup: one of our favorite ways to add a little sweetness. Be sure the only ingredient listed is maple syrup. Either Grade A or B will work for this recipe. The grades indicate flavor and color, not quality, with Grade A being lighter in color and more delicate in flavor, and Grade B being darker with a more robust taste. Choose whichever sounds best to you.
Smoked paprika powder: this is where the smoky flavor comes from, so don’t skip it! If you’re allergic or sensitive to paprika, you can substitute it with a couple drops of liquid smoke.
Let’s make Vegan Carrot Dogs in the Instant Pot
Cooking carrot dogs in the Instant Pot is ideal since you’ll get that “marinated all night” flavor without the wait. Pop these dogs in a couple hours ahead of time, follow the instructions below, and you’ll have smoky, healthy goodness ready to slap on a bun by dinner.
First, prep your carrots by removing the stems and making several slits lengthwise. Peel them if you wish, and set aside.
Grab your Instant Pot (it’s not getting dusty in the garage, is it?), and place all the marinade ingredients into the inner pot. Whisk well to combine.
Now place your carrots into the pot and toss them gently in the marinade to coat.
Put the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it into place, ensuring the nozzle is in the sealing position so steam can’t escape. This would prevent the pot from coming to pressure, which is the whole point. Use the Manual (or Pressure Cooking) mode on high pressure and set the timer to 3 minutes.
Once the timer goes off, use the quick release method to release the steam. This just means you’ll (very carefully!) twist the nozzle on the lid to the steam release position. We recommend using an oven mitt or covering your hand and arm with a towel when adjusting the nozzle to protect your skin. That steam is hot!
Once all the steam is released and the lid is unlocked, you have two options. If you’re planning to serve the dogs the same day, leave your Instant Pot on the “keep warm” setting until you’re ready to follow the browning instructions below and serve them.
If you’re preparing your dogs at least a day ahead of serving, remove the lid, and let the carrots and marinade cool completely. You can use oven mitts to remove the inner pot and set it on a heat-proof surface or wire rack so the carrots cool faster.
Transfer the carrots and all of their marinade to a resealable bag or airtight container so all the dogs are in contact with the marinade, and store in the refrigerator until ready to reheat and serve.
How to cook carrot dogs on the stove
Cooking carrot dogs on the stovetop totally works, but we recommend letting your dogs soak overnight in the marinade after cooking for ultimate mouthgasms, so plan ahead.
First prep your carrots by removing the stems and making several slits lengthwise. Peel them if you wish, and set aside.
Place all of your marinade ingredients into a pot large enough to hold the carrots without breaking (we prefer a wide pan with 3 to 4-inch tall sides) and whisk to combine.
Now drop the carrots inside and cover with a lid. Bring the marinade to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until the carrots are tender enough to pierce with a fork, but not mushy, about 7–10 minutes.
Cooking time can vary depending on the size of your carrots, so keep an eye on them.
Once done cooking, remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool completely before transferring the carrots and marinade to a resealable bag or airtight container (with all the dogs in contact with the marinade) and popping in the refrigerator until ready to brown and serve.
Browning your Vegan Carrot Dogs
Feel free to keep the dogs refrigerated in the marinade for up to five days before browning and serving.
This method browns the carrot dogs nicely and is also our favorite way to reheat them after marinating overnight.
Heat a large skillet—we like cast iron—over medium-low heat for a few minutes and remove the carrots from the marinade. Place the carrots in the skillet and discard the marinade (unless you’re not reheating all the dogs at once).
Cook the dogs until they’re browned on the outside and heated all the way through, about 7–10 minutes. Turn them frequently to ensure even browning.
Slap these babies on whole wheat, sprouted, or gluten-free buns and dig in. Yum!
Alternatively, you can fire up the grill and brown them that way.
Keep reading for our favorite ways to serve Vegan Carrot Dogs.
- 8 medium carrots, peeled or unpeeled, stems removed, and several lengthwise slits added (520 g)
- ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth or stock (120 ml)
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (60 ml)
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (use low-sodium gluten-free soy sauce or tamari if gluten sensitive)
- 1½ teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (use vegan gluten-free if gluten sensitive)
- 1½ teaspoons 100% pure maple syrup
- 1½ teaspoons yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
- ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper (about 10 turns)
- Prep your carrots and set aside for now. (Tip: Round the ends of your carrots with your veggie peeler for a traditional “hot dog” shape.)
- Place all of the marinade ingredients into the inner pot your Instant Pot (IP) and whisk to combine.
- Place the carrots into the IP, toss gently to coat in the marinade, then lock the lid into place, making sure the nozzle is in the sealing position.
- Use the Manual (or Pressure Cooking) mode and set the timer for 3 minutes. Use the quick release method when the timer goes off.
- If serving the same day, leave on "keep warm" setting until ready to brown and serve. If preparing the carrots at least a day in advance, remove the lid and allow the carrots to cool completely after all of the pressure has released. Once cool, transfer the carrots and marinade to a resealable bag or airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to brown and serve, up to five days.
- Place all of the marinade ingredients into a pot and whisk to combine. Choose a pot large enough to hold the carrots without having to break them.
- Place the carrots into the pot and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 7–10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender enough for a fork to pierce, but not mushy. Cooking time will vary based on the size of your carrots.
- Remove from the heat, take the lid off the pot, and allow the carrots to cool completely. When the carrots are cool, transfer them along with the marinade to a resealable bag or airtight container, and store in the refrigerator until ready to brown and serve.
Browning the carrot dogs
- When ready to serve, heat a skillet over medium-low heat for 2 minutes (cast iron works best), then remove the carrots from the marinade and transfer to the skillet. Discard the marinade (unless you're not serving all the carrots at once).
- Cook the carrots for about 7–10 minutes, turning them over frequently, until browned on the outside and heated all the way through. Feel free to grill your dogs instead.
- Pop on whole wheat, sprouted, or gluten-free buns, pile on the toppings, and enjoy!
4 tasty topping ideas for Vegan Carrot Dogs
A dog’s not a dog without the fixins and we have four delicious topping options for you. You can’t go wrong, so why not try them all?
Chili Cheese Carrot Dogs
Sure to make any omni drool, this combo takes the flavor up to 11. Start with our Speedy Chili (you can cook it a little longer to thicken it up) and then drizzle with our Classic Cheesy Sauce. Perfection!
Chicago-Style Carrot Dogs
Take a trip to the Windy City with our Chicago-Style Carrot Dogs. The Apple-Pecan Barley Salad is optional, of course, but we think it would make a scrumptious side.
Kraut Carrot Dogs
You can never go wrong with sauerkraut! Layer the kraut, mustard, and Everything Bagel Seasoning on your dog, then kick back and enjoy.
Sides we love with Vegan Carrot Dogs
You can keep it simple, just serve these delicious dogs, and everyone’s sure to be happy. But if you want to really do it up, here are a few sides we recommend:
What’s your favorite way to make Vegan Carrot Dogs? Tell us in the comments below.
May every day feel like a beautiful childhood afternoon.
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