Who needs salmon lox when you can have even better carrot lox?! Indulge in a delectable vegan alternative to smoked salmon with our recipe for vegan carrot lox.
I will be the first to admit that I am a bagel snob. Spending a decent amount of time on the east coast has given me an appreciation for a quality bagel, a superb breakfast sandwich, and a truly great lox and cream cheese.
Made with fresh carrots and a blend of savory seasonings, this plant-based dish offers a similar texture and flavor to traditional lox without any of the fish. Try it on a bagel with cream cheese or add it to your favorite salad for a delicious and healthy meal. It has quickly become one of my favorite ways to cook carrots!
“My husband and I are adventurous eaters, and we love to experiment with new & unique recipes on the weekends. We couldn’t believe how similar these carrots tasted to lox! We had chive cream cheese on hand, and ate on bagel toasts- Yum! Don’t forget the capers, which top it off perfectly!” —Stephanie
Lox vs. Salmon
So first off, lox and smoked salmon are not the same things. Lox is salmon filets that have been brined in an acid. Sometimes it can be smoked too, but it is always brined at a minimum. Smoked salmon, on the other hand, is just smoked and not brined.
With this in mind, I knew I need to capture both the acidity of the brine and the smokiness and well-known pink color of the salmon. What I came up with is a flavor-packed and delicious carrot lox made in a tangy and smoky marinade. It truly passes the east coast test, as I’m calling it, and tastes possibly even better than traditional lox!
Ingredients for Vegan Lox
Ingredients for carrot salmon are all pretty straightforward, but we do need to bring out the liquid smoke and some acid to really mimic the lox flavor!
- Carrots: Vitamin-packed carrots are the star of the show here. Aim for the largest carrots you can find, which will shave into nicer pieces of lox.
- Rice Vinegar: This type of vinegar brings a gentle acidity that helps the carrots to mimic lox.
- Soy Sauce: Soy sauce brings a salty, savory element. If you’re gluten-free, use tamari instead.
- Dill: Fresh dill is often served in fish dishes, so we’ll add it here to trick your brain into thinking you’re eating fish!
- Nori: Similarly, nori (or seaweed) will bring the flavors of the ocean to this vegan lox. Feel free to use sushi seaweed sheets, or snack-able nori.
- Capers: These seal the deal in tricking your brain into thinking the carrots are fish!
- Liquid Smoke: Find liquid smoke in most grocery stores – it’s a game changer in this recipe.
Liquid Smoke tip
Liquid smoke may sound like an oxymoron, but it is actually just the condensation created when wood chips are burned at high temperatures. It is very easy to use in recipes and only requires a small amount to have a big impact!
How to make Vegan Lox
Vegan lox is super easy to make at home. You’ll just shave the carrots into strips, boil, and serve!
Step 1: Shave
Using either a vegetable peeler or a mandolin slicer (set to the thinnest setting), thinly slice carrots lengthwise into long strips. This is crucial to mimic the thin texture of salmon!
This tool makes quick and even slicing a breeze!
Step 2: Boiling Water
Heat about 4 extra cups of water to a boil (either in a kettle or on the stove). Set aside. This will be the base of our brine – just like a brine for salmon lox!
Step 3: Broth
Add rice vinegar, ¼ cup water, soy sauce, dill, nori, capers, and liquid smoke to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then add shaved carrots. If carrots are not fully submerged, add just enough boiling water to cover the carrots. You don’t need to cover the pot for this, but you can to bring it to a boil slightly faster.
Step 4: Boil
Cook carrots in boiling broth for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the carrots sit in the broth for an additional 20 minutes. This allows the carrots to really absorb the flavor of the brine.
Step 5: Serve
Strain carrots from the broth, then serve on a cream cheese bagel with a sprinkle of capers! You can curl the carrot lox or lay it flat, whichever you prefer for the picture-perfect bite!
Storage: If you have leftovers of this lox- lucky you! These brined carrots will last 10 days in the fridge in a sealed container.
Serving: If bagels are not your thing, this vegan lox is great for serving as part of a whole brunch or a beautiful brunch board! You can also use them in a fresh salad or veggie platter.
Why this Recipe Works
This recipe is really a trick to the brain. It is the same color, the same texture, and the same flavor profile as salmon, but is it salmon? No. Does your brain care? Nope!
- The color of carrots is the first thing to signal to your brain that this is salmon. It is similar in shape because of how thin we cut the carrots and similar in color.
- Using the same flavors and process as traditional lox is key to making sure this truly tastes like a great lox! As I mentioned, lox is salmon that is brined and this same process and the same flavors can be used in almost the same way with carrots.
- Liquid smoke is the smoking gun of this recipe (ha – get it?)! It is a concentrated smoke flavor that allows us to mimic smoked salmon without needing a smoker!
Why is lox not called salmon?
The word lox actually comes from the Yiddish word for salmon, “laks”. So in a way, calling lox salmon would be redundant.
Why are there capers on lox?
Capers just belong on a good bagel and lox! But really, the salty and briny flavor of capers perfectly compliment the creamy cream cheese and tangy lox.
What To Serve With Vegan Lox
Carrot lox is even more versatile than traditional lox. It can be used on a bagel (duh!), in a salad, or on a smorgasbord!
- Thai Cabbage Salad has sweet and spicy Asian flavors that are even more delicious with briny carrots!
- Edible Flower Spring Rolls are gorgeous and so fun to serve. The tangy carrot lox is a great accompaniment to the earthy flavors of edible flowers.
- Cheese Board because who doesn’t love a good cheese board? And we know vegan lox goes with cream cheese so of course it goes great with lots of other cheeses!
- 2 to 3 large carrots
- ¼ cup rice vinegar 60 mL
- ¼ cup water plus more as needed, 60 mL
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce use tamari for gluten-free, 30 mL
- 1 Tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp crumbled nori I used a few pieces of snacking seaweed
- 1 Tbsp capers finely chopped
- ½ tsp liquid smoke
- To serve: bagels, cream cheese, sliced red onion, capers
- Shave: Using either a vegetable peeler or a mandolin slicer (set to the thinnest setting), thinly slice carrots lengthwise into long strips.
- Boiling Water: Heat about 4 extra cups of water to a boil (either in a kettle or on the stove). Set aside.
- Broth: Add rice vinegar, ¼ cup water, soy sauce, dill, nori, capers, and liquid smoke to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then add shaved carrots. If carrots are not fully submerged, add just enough of the boiling water to cover the carrots.
- Boil: Cook carrots in boiling broth for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let carrots sit in the broth for an additional 20 minutes.
- Serve: Strain carrots from the broth, then serve on a cream cheese bagel with a sprinkle of capers!