How To Tell If Carrots Are Bad (With Pictures!)

Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables that households just cannot do without. Because carrots are super inexpensive, they are a fantastic filler in your food or as a side dish. That’s why we usually buy carrots in bulk, knowing that carrots have an extended shelf life, but in the end, we always end up having some of them go to waste. Let’s find out exactly how to tell if carrots are bad.

carrots in a collander

You can tell that a carrot is bad if the texture of the carrot changes to super soft and bendy and if there is some discoloration on your carrots, like white spots or even some black and slimy spots. These soft spots will also eventually turn very mushy and disgusting.

Carrots are a super nutritious, inexpensive vegetable, and they have a long shelf compared to other more perishable fresh produce. To give carrots even more longevity, you should always store them in the refrigerator.

That’s not a guarantee of freshness, though; let’s see how you can tell if your carrots are still edible or if they’ve gone bad (BEFORE you use them as a pot roast side, or cook them up in a cast iron pan!)

How Can You Tell If Carrots Have Gone Bad?

You can tell that carrots are bad by looking at three main signs: the texture of the carrot, discoloration on the carrot, and, lastly, mold. There is another sign that may sometimes show itself, namely the smell of rotten carrots. Still, by that point, honestly, you would have probably already noticed and discarded the badly decomposed carrots.

carrots on a white table with text 'how to tell if carrots are spoiled'

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Sign #1: Bad Carrots Have Soft Spots

The following three signs all have to do with how the texture of carrots changes if they are bad. You will first notice that there is some softness in your carrots. They will no longer be the hard, solid vegetables they should be. They will still be salvageable at this point, though, because carrots are firm vegetables, and it takes some time for them to decompose completely.

In other words, this does not mean you should forget about them altogether. Use them immediately if you notice the appearance of soft spots in your carrots. You can cut those spots away and wash the carrots thoroughly to ensure you wash away any bacteria. After that, they are still edible unless the entire carrot has gone soft. Then you should throw it away.

Sign #2: Bad Carrots Are Mushy And Slimy

If your carrots have gone past being soft and moved on to being mushy and slimy, it is a sign of extreme decomposition; chances are that at this point, they will show some of the other signs as well. You can try and salvage some of the carrots if not all of them are mushy and slimy. Any better carrots in the bunch will probably have soft spots, but you can clean those and still eat them.

However, if the carrots are in extreme stages of decay, then you should definitely throw them out, especially if there is a bad smell around the carrots.

Another sign tied to this is the possible appearance of fruit flies. The slimy and squishy texture, along with the overripe smell, will attract these little bugs that will gather around your carrots like flies, creating a constant irritation in your kitchen and getting into every meal you prepare.

Sign #3: Bad Carrots Have Discoloration On Them

The discoloration is not always a sign that carrots are bad. For example, if you bought peeled carrots and they have white spots on them, then they are often still safe to eat. This occurs when a carrot no longer has skin to protect it against oxygen. However, if the carrots are white and have signs of a slimy and wet texture on them, do not eat them since this is a sign of bacteria.

You may also notice unpeeled and unwashed carrots that start showing signs of white and black discoloration. If it only started changing color recently, it is safe to cut away those areas of discoloration and still eat tasty carrots with plenty of nutrition.

However, if there are signs of mold along with the discoloration, you should take other precautions concerning the mold. Mold spores can attach themselves to every surface and utensil if you are not careful, including the inside of a fridge if the temperature allows.

So if you ever find a carrot with mold spots on its skin, you should consider throwing it away, but you should at least clean the entire area around it thoroughly.

discolored bad carrots

Look for these signs of spoilage on other vegetables too, like broccoli and cabbage!

Sign #4: Bad Carrots Are Bendable Without Snapping

Carrots are still edible when they start losing some of their texture and crispness. If the carrots are only slightly shriveled and no longer have the same snap, they are still in the initial stages of going bad, so now is the time to prepare them before they are entirely unsalvageable.

At this stage, it will be much harder to peel away at the skin with a peeler, and a lot of good carrots will go to waste. But these carrots are still edible, though not for long. As soon as they are cooked, you would never think that they are not that fresh anymore.

Sign #5: Bad Carrots Can Have Mold On Them

There are a few factors that you really should consider before you discard carrots that contain mold. Mold growth on carrots that are still firm can be cut away; however, if you give that mold time to fester and grow more rapidly on a carrot that is showing signs of decomposition, then you should probably discard all the carrots that are slimy, mushy, and have mold on them.

But you can still save a carrot with mold on it if it hasn’t spread too deep into the carrot itself. First, determine exactly how deep the mold root growth is and cut that off without cross-contamination. Do not cut into the mold and then cut into another piece of the carrot with no mold on it; this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as it will spread the mold.

You should cut into the carrot at least one inch away from the mold. The fungi and spores of the mold have a hard time penetrating and growing into carrots because carrots are denser with lower moisture content. Initially, it only grows on the skin and slightly below. But this does not mean that it cannot still become dangerous and some point.

You should trust your instincts. If you feel that the carrots are unsafe to eat for whatever reason, you should not try to salvage them. It’s always better to err on the side of safety. Also, after you cut away at carrots that have mold on them and washed them, cut a tiny piece, and taste it. If it does not have a mildewy taste to it, then you can safely use that carrot.

Suppose there is bacterial contamination in your refrigerator because of bad carrots. In that case, you should wash the fridge and discard any food that is not in an airtight container that may have been exposed to the bacteria.

moldy sliced carrots

Sign #6: Bad Carrots That Are Decomposing Smell Bad

If carrots have gone bad and they have a smell to them, it probably is because they are lying inside the crisper, still in the original packet that they were in when you purchased them. They will be lying in the moisture of a carrot (or carrots) that already started on the road to decay.

If you ever happen to be in a position where your carrots show all of the signs mentioned, those are different stages of decomposition. When it gets to this point, your only option is to discard the carrots completely; do not try to salvage them.

If you are in this particular predicament, you should give your refrigerator a proper scrub to eliminate any bacteria. The problem is that bacteria can still grow inside your fridge and find their way onto other foods that are not adequately sealed.

Whatever you do, never directly sniff bad carrots if there is mold festering on them. Mold spores can quickly travel into your lungs and respiratory system and cause severe health problems.


Carrots are an amazing vegetable with many health and flavor benefits. They last quite a long time when stored properly. But if you know that, maybe you accidentally take advantage of the fact and leave carrots in the fridge too long. If that’s the case, make sure to examine the carrots’ appearance and smell to make sure you don’t eat rotten carrots!

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