Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira


This is probably my favorite way to eat carrots - cut into matchstick size, stir fried in sesame oil until crisp-tender with some red pepper flakes, and finished with a scatter of sesame seeds. It’s crunchy, salty and spicy. It’s really tasty at room temperature, which makes it a great bento filler.

Recipe: Carrot kinpira

Note that I don’t add any sugar or mirin here, unlike most traditional kinpira recipes. I just let the natural sweetness of the carrots speak for itself.

  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 Tbs. dark sesame oil
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes (about 1/8 tsp, or more if you want it spicier)
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds

Cut the carrots into matchstick size. (Cheat alert - you can use pre-shredded carrots meant for salad if you like, but then lessen the cooking time.)

Heat up a frying pan or wok with the sesame oil. Add the carrots and toss around until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes depending on how skinny the matchsticks are. Add the red pepper flakes and toss some more. Add soy sauce, toss toss. Add the sesame seeds near the end.

This does theoretically keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days, though around here it never does.

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red pepper flakes?

Could you use Japanese 7-spice powder instead of red pepper flakes? I bought some for the carrot furikake recipe and am trying to find other uses for it. Thanks.

sure - it would be even

sure - it would be even nicer with 7 spice powder. (I put red pepper flakes here so that people wouldn’t necessarily have to go out and get any special ingredients…hopefully most people have soy sauce and sesame oil around :))

Fantastic suggestion for

Fantastic suggestion for carrots. I’ll give it a try tonight for dinner!

This looks like a recipe I

This looks like a recipe I will want to try. It sounds (and looks) so tasty! :0)


I made this tonight for dinner (and have leftovers in tomorrow’s bento) and it was a big hit — thanks! I used red pepper flakes but next time will use the seven spice powder.

I’ve been meaning to try

I’ve been meaning to try some carrot kinpira! I shall have to give this recipe a try.

mmm… I just made this

mmm… I just made this today, and it was so delicious. thanks!


Isn’t that a great way to eat carrots? Soooo tasty. Thanks for reminding me to make it! I haven’t in a while.

How much shichimi togarashi

How much shichimi togarashi (7 spice powder) would you suggest using in place of the red pepper flakes?

Try starting out with the

Try starting out with the same amount, then adding a bit more if it doesn’t taste spicy enough for you.


Hi Maki,

If you add gobo, do you add it the same time as the carrots? Sugarfree kinpira-what a great idea!!! I haven`t been eating it lately because of the sugar/sweetness. Brought my lunch everyday last week! Okagesame de! I used so many recipes from this site, so thanks so much and looking forward to more.


If i’m using gobo, I first

If i’m using gobo, I first peel and cut it up and then put it in a bowl of cold water for about 10-15 minutes. This gets rid of any bitterness, and also seems to help it cook better. Then I’d start with the well drained gobo in the frying pan or wok, and add the carrots a couple of minutes later. (If the proportion of gobo is high I might add a bit of sugar actually, since gobo is not sweet. About a teaspoonful should do it for 1 cup gobo and 1 cup carrots.)

(Gobo is burdock, by the way, for anyone reading along.)

I’m glad you find the site useful! :)


This sounds simple and marvelous. I will give a try. I have a question about red pepper flakes. I think I never saw these. Is it hot pepper like in chinese food?

Yes that would be the hot

Yes that would be the hot (spicy) red chili peppers, which are ground or crumbled up finely. (flocons de piments rouges en français)

We tried this recipe tonight

We tried this recipe tonight and it was great! Plenty of leftovers for bento. Thanks for posting the recipe.

I just cooked this up last

I just cooked this up last night (and had it today with lunch). Yummy!

great recipe

I needed a quick vegetable to go with dinner and had a bunch of those mini carrot sticks - this recipe was perfect! Great flavor, quick to cook, and a pleaser with everyone. I will totally make this again.

Unfortunately, I did not make enough to include in my bento… this time!

Not so good with a knife ...

Is there a faster way to matchstick the carrots? I finally got a chance to make the recipe, LOVE IT, but it took me FOREVER to cut up the carrots.

I’m going to try it with carrot coins today, to see if that works. The matchsticks would still be cooler, but it took me like 20 minutes to cut them up. What am I doing wrong?

You do need a sturdy and

You do need a sturdy and very sharp knife. The more you do it, the fast you get!

Alternatively you can shred it with in food processor or a on a mandoline (or a cheap plastic verson of a mandoline) or grate it coarsely.


Thanks, maki! I guess I just need MORE PRACTICE, then. (Part of my problem is I’m so short I get bad leverage on the counter; perhaps I should go cut on the table for matchsticks.)

It worked quite well with carrot “coins.” They weren’t as pretty or as fun to eat as the matchsticks, but it only took me a couple minutes to cut up four carrots for a double recipe. And since this is my husband’s new favorite dish, time is of the essence!

Thanks so much for this! I

Thanks so much for this! I tried this last night and it was wonderful! I omitted the hot spicy stuff because I have no tolerance for it, but sprinkled a little black pepper on for flavor. it was really nice. I even left some to cool down so I could try it at room temperature and it was just as good. Definitely going in my cookbook binder.


Hi Maki,

Thanks for another winner. I just made the carrot kinpira this morning for part of hubby’s lunch and part of my dinner tonight. I just had a small bite and liked it. Can’t wait to get my hands on it for dinner tonight.

don't like carrots

but carrot kinpira is awesome. I could eat carrots like this every day - well almost. Definitely needed this cause I was getting a little tired of the standby veggies that I pack day in and day out…

I didn’t have the sesame seeds and I added a little more of the red pepper flakes - fantastic.

One problem!

This recipe is so yummy that when I make it for dinner, there’s never any left over for my bento the next day. I keep doubling and doubling the recipe and still no leftovers :)

This was the first recipe I tried from your website and it made me believe in my cooking abilities. Thank you!!

I am hooked on this. Very

I am hooked on this. Very simple and fast, but oh-so-tasty! Thanks for the recipe Maki!

P.S. I take the cheater’s way and use pre-shredded carrots.

Love This!

WOW! This was the first recipe I tried from your website (I just found it, love it!) and it is so wonderful! Thanks so much!


Thanks Maki for this recipe, it’s awesome. What a great way to use those parts of the vegetables that normally are discarded. Tonight I cooked de Broccoli Kinpira and it was delicious, love it. I was wondering how to take care of the toasted white sesame seeds for not turning “old taste” Maybe storaging in the refrigerator or in the freezer? Any tips? Thank you!!


Maki, this recipe is ANOTHER winner!! I swear; your record is better than any cookbook I have. Easy, portable, and always really delicious. You have a gift!

Thanks so much for this!

Thanks so much for this! What a great way to start—and it’s so quick! My husband will be impressed.

Made it, Loved it

I couldn’t sleep last night, so at 2:30am I got up and decided to flex my cooking ability with this simple recipe. I made it a little spicy, and it was awesome!

I was planning on chilling it and eating it with lunch, but I couldn’t wait. A half hour later, I was back in the fridge and eating it all up!

Thank you so much. I plan on making this a standard in my home.

i made this last night for

i made this last night for my bento without the red pepper because i forgot it…haven’t tried it yet but it looks yummy. my boyfriend is starting to eye my lunches enviously, so next time i make a bento i might just make one for him, too! guess i can’t really use my cute containers, though.

definitely going to use the wok next time

Not only because then my Hubby will make it, but it's the only thing big enough to make as much as we need. これはとてもおいしいですよ! I notoriously do not eat veg, but this I don't want to share. Thank you thank you thank you!

Oh, and to play with the spiciness, I added a few drops of LaYu.

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

Made this recipe this morning, with a bit of adjustments. I'm out of sesame oil, unfortunately, so I just used olive oil. I also added some ginger as I love it's sweet-spicyness. Tasted amazing, and I am definitely making it again as we always seem to have carrots in the fridge.

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

This has to be my all time favorite Bento recipe - I have never eaten so many carrots in my life, nor did I think I would enjoy them so much. Thank you Maki!

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

I settled for a more, um, localised version of this, replacing sesame oil with olive oil (quite expensive, but still 3 times cheaper than sesame oil here in Romania) and red pepper flakes with black pepper powder and a bit of savory (Satureja Hortensis, widely used as an aromatiser around here), works just great; oh, and I also add canned mushrooms to the mix :)

I started with the cheater's way (pre-shredded carrots), now I chop them by hand (and find the larger pieces better, since the carrots keep more of their native sweetness). The only problem I find with chopping carrots by hand is I must start with 3 of them in order to get to cook 2, I eat one along thee way :))

thanks for the inspiration :)

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

Next time I make this, I might use a different kind of oil, because the sesame oil flavor is really overpowering, and I used a WHOLE BAG of matchstick carrots to just one tbs sesame oil!

I think the overpowering flavor is what made mom & b reject it, but then B doesn't much like carrots. I probably should have given them way less of it than I did, too.

But here's hoping the people at work like it. For my part, I only tried one piece, and I thought it was good. Nice spicy little kick to it.

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

Not a big fan of carrot the dish in the photo looks delicious. whether I can make it look like that is another matter. nice post, I have recently started a raw veggie diet and will try this.

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

I made this Sunday and even my teenage son who does not like carrots was eating it! I agree about the tedium of chopping the carrots; next time I think we'll get the pre-shredded carrots. It is really delicious, thanks for the recipe!

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

This was delicious, we both loved it! Making it again for lunches this week...

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

Yum! I've never been a fan of gobo, but was intrigued with the idea of carrot kinpira. I had some organic baby carrots languishing in the frig, and thought this might be a way to save them. And I was right. (Thank you, Maki!) The carrots were slightly bitter tasting so I added a splash of mirin and that made all the difference.

This is a new basic for our bento! Even DH, who doesn't like cooked carrots, sat up and took notice. Next time I might add a few slivers of red capsicum for an Autumnal look.

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

omg, this was the best way i have ever eaten carrots, it was great in my bento! (not to mention it looked pretty nice!) How many calories do you think would be in this?

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

This was awesome. Amazingly, I was out of plain red pepper, but I used a mixed spice that had a great deal. Still turned out great. I can't wait to try in my bento tomorrow!

can this be freezed?

hi :) has anyone ever tried to freeze this before?
i want to make a big batch of this to eat during the week, but not sure whether this can be freezed or not.
Thanks! :D

Easier and faster way to thinly slice the carrot

I just made this recipe today...and I look forward to taste it at lunch time ^_^
What I did with the carrot, after I peel the skin with the peeler, I continue "peeling" the carrot using the peeler. You will end up with a long thinly sliced carrot. After it's done, what you need to do is just cut the sliced bits to the lenght you wish using a knife.

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

I tried this recipe with Japanese Chilli Pepper powder and loved it!
Finished 2 whole carrots in an afternoon! I just can't stop munching on them

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

I've just made this with beetroot and Japanese 7 spice powder and it is absolutely delicious! I think I might try a beetroot and carrot version next time. Thank you for this recipe.

It's good!

I love this recipe. I'm a cashier and don't like to be away from my station long. This is perfect for a bento side or snacking through the day. I especially like that the carrot itself is the only sweetener. I've just made my first batch at home and have had to hide in my bedroom to prevent poaching.

Fresh Chili

Is fresh chili an okay substitute for the red pepper flakes? I don't buy red pepper flakes bu I have lots of fresh chili... Just wondering, thanks. :]

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

Just yesterday I bought sesame seeds and sesame oil for an egg drop soup I planned on making for dinner, and last night I stumbled upon this amazing recipe. Of course, I had to make it!
I found this site a while ago, but in the midst of finals I completely forgot about it (shame shame). Recently, however, I went to a wonderful japanese cafe nearby, and got to thinking more about japanese cuisine--And that's when I remembered Just Bento! And I'm so glad I did! [:
This recipe is great! I just made (and already ate) it, and my mouth is still tingling with flavor.
Making my way to check out some other recipes!

Re: Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

Just tried this with half carrots and half shredded beets -- came out very good. In retrospect, I might have added the beets a little after the carrots (they got softer faster) but I'll definitely be making it again!

Thanks for the recipe!

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