Vegan Carrot Halwa

Next in my quest to veganize Indian sweets, especially the ones I miss the most, is the gorgeous, almost healthy carrot halwa.
Carrot Halwa
The period roughly between August and November is festival season in India. Mind you, there are many many Hindu festivals scattered through the year, but some of the biggest ones happen during this period, including Ganesh Chaturthi, Dassera, and Diwali, the mother of all Hindu celebrations.

This is the time to cook and eat all sorts of delicious sweets, and each region has their own favorites for each festival. Growing up, my family always took care to match the sweets with the festival. Me, I cannot be bothered to remember, so I just cook whatever sweet I have a mind to if I feel like it, if I have the time, and if Desi lobbies me hard enough.

Last Friday, after reading about the wonderful Dassera celebrations on the Indian food blogs, I just had to make a sweet dish. I had a bag of carrots in the refrigerator, so carrot halwa it was.

Carrot halwa is a popular sweet in Indian kitchens, and it’s easy to see why. The carrots are boiled in milk until they are melt-in-your-mouth tender and sweet, and then they are fried in ghee. Of course, all that milk and ghee adds a bazillion calories, but who cares when the end result is as mindblowing as it is?

Well, I do, and besides, I don’t cook with milk nor ghee. For my vegan carrot halwa, I used almond milk which, at 40 calories a cup, has almost a third of the calories of whole milk and less than half those in skim milk. And trust me, you would never taste the difference. I adapted this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, and it called for three cups of milk. So right there I lopped off nearly 200 calories.

Next I used 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to fry the halwa instead of the 5 tablespoons of ghee in the original recipe.

I used turbinado sugar, which gave the halwa a really rich red color, but you can always use regular sugar. Feel free to use less: the carrots themselves are very sweet and you really only need a little to your taste.

So here it is, my vegan carrot halwa. Easy, delicious and, heck, even good for you. Believe me, you won’t feel a tug in your waistline after eating this, but you might feel a tad beatific.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Carrot Halwa
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A dairyfree version of the classic Indian dessert, Gajar Halwa or Carrot Halwa, made with almond milk.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
  • 1 pound carrots, finely grated
  • 3 cups almond milk
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 3-5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • A handful of cashews and raisins
  1. Put the carrots, cardamom pods and almond milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has evaporated. This took me about 45-50 minutes.
  2. In another saucepan, heat the vegetable oil. Add the carrots and fry, stirring, until the carrots turn a rich red. This will take around 15-20 minutes.
  3. Now add the sugar and stir until it's well mixed. Add the cashews and raisins and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes.
  4. Take off the heat. The halwa can be eaten warm or at room temperature or even cold. Any which way, it's quite delicious.
  5. Enjoy!


My carrot halwa goes to Sweet Vegan!, the event I’m hosting through Oct. 31

I also want to send this treat on to the lovely Pallavi of All Thingz Yummy for her Yummy Festival Feast: Diwali event.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.


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  1. says


    I’m always on the lookout for vegan versions of Indian sweets as I have a lactose intolerant boss. Would you know what I could substitute for almond milk? I doubt we get that here.

    The halwa looks very nice. The colour the sugar has given it is indeed lovely :-)

  2. says

    Wow..such a guilty free recipe..though i am still wondering whether it tasted same or not,but going with your verdict,i can take a plunge,considering winter season is round the corner,markets are bound to be flooded with juicy red carrots,an apt season to eat halwa
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. says

    Hey, stop tempting us like this! Just kidding. What a vibrant color for a halwa! Looks so delicious and guilt-free! BTW, reg. almond milk can you tell me how much calcium is there in it and is it good for coffees, and for kids too? I’ve been searching ways to cut down calories!:)

  4. says

    What a co-incidence! I have a post for carrot halwa languishing in my draft folder too 😀 Made it for Dussera too! Love the sound of almond milk in halwa … the photo looks fabulous, Vaishali!!

  5. says

    Gajar halwa is one of my favs…..and i am kind of partial to the whole milk, ghee sauteed halwa that my mom makes:) the use of almond milk is pretty cool…may be i will give it a try with one of the other halwas that i make

  6. Chic Chef says

    I adore Indian food, and gajar ka halwa has always been one of my favorites, though it is nearly impossible to find in vegan form!

    I just made this recipe using light soy milk, 2 Tbs brown sugar and 1 Tbs maple syrup for sweetener. I put in 5 whole cardamom pods and 1/4 tsp ground cardamom. I also added a pinch of safron threads, which made the color lovely, and I added a few drops of rose water to make up for the taste lost by switching from almond to soy milk.

    Your proportions were ideal; it turned out perfect!

  7. Emu says

    Just made. Gorgeous.
    I used sultanas, pistachio and a few cashews as the trimming at the end. It took me ages, I will experiment turning the heat up a bit next time!

  8. yehadut says

    I made this and it was quite good. However, note that it only makes enough for one person!

    The carrots did not turn a rich red on frying. I used 4 Tbsp sugar and it was very sweet, I’d recommend using less.

  9. Chessie says

    I made this yesterday–good stuff. Halwa at restaurants is always overpoweringly over-sweetened, but this was great. I used a scant 1/4 cup of sugar, and a little Earth Balance to give it a buttery flavor. I must make this again. Can a person overdose on carrots?

    Bless you for the vegan Indian sweets. I found a vegan dessert made with chickpeas, I think, ONCE in an Indian grocery, but I never saw it again after that.

    Next on my list: Kaju Katli. I don’t have a nonstick pan, so it may get messy!

    • says

      Hi Catherine, so glad you tried it! Carrot halwa is truly a near-guilt-free snack. There are lots of Indian desserts with chickpeas, but I am guessing you’re thinking of Soan Papdi– they come in squares and are rather brittle and very sweet?
      Hope you try the Kaju Katli. You can also use a cast-iron pan, if you have one of those and if it’s well-seasoned. I use cast-iron pans for nearly all of my “non-stick” cooking.

  10. Dizzzle says

    Vaishali, my husbands doctor recently made him switch to an all vegan diet for his health so I made this today and it turned out wonderful! I used coconut oil instead of vegetable however I will try the Earth Balance butter substitute spread as someone mentioned above for a little more of the buttery flavor. Thanks for posting, looking forward to trying your other recipes!

  11. says

    I finally made this last weekend. I was a little skeptical about this ever tasting like the real thing.. but I have to say this version tastes better than the original. The carrots are wonderfully caramelized and you can’t really tell that this has not been made with oodles of ghee and milk. Thank you.

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