I'm referring to vegetables like baby carrots, baby spinach, baby cucumber, etc. Supermarkets sell quite a few "baby" varieties of vegetables and they seem to be priced more expensive per ounce than their "regular" counterparts.

Am I naive thinking that (for instance) baby carrots are simply carrots harvested early? Or are they a different kind of carrot, just small?

I'm looking for nutritional as well as culinary differences. For instance, if a recipe calls for a "baby" vegetable, can you substitute it for a finely chopped regular vegetable?

  • 4
    Eating babies..oh the humanity!
    – rfusca
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 4:26

2 Answers 2


Talking about nutritional value on here can be tricky, because this site about cooking

Are baby carrots are simply carrots harvested early? Or are they a different kind of carrot, just small?

Yes they are harvested earlier, or even grown more closely. However nowadays they have developed miniature strains which are mature when small in stature. This page contains lot of information about baby carrots, an even a video, so you can try growing this in your garden.

Baby carrots are not as nutritious as full whole carrots, because a lot of the goodness in carrots is contained in the skin and just below it. This is removed in the baby carrot making process. A pack of baby carrots look more aesthetic and they are more tender/sweeter, that is a selling point.

  • 5
    Your answer does a great job at explaining botanical differences and similarities, but I'd like to add some more culinary information: In the cases where "baby" does actually refer to younger versions of the same plant, you often have a more tender structure / texture (e.g. in baby spinach the stems are less hard, because they have had less time to harden out) and a milder flavour (see again baby spinach, where the flavours have had less time to become sharp over time).
    – Erik P.
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 4:23
  • 1
    Sure @ErikP you can edit your contribution, or if it is lot of content, you can post it as your own answer :)
    – Reno
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 4:50
  • Actually that was all I had as additional content - which I felt was a little thin to serve as a full answer... :)
    – Erik P.
    Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 15:54

Baby carrots are not young carrots, but rather small pieces of carrots that are chopped and whittled down to look like small carrots.

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