Carrot Halwa Recipe | Gajar Ka Halwa
Carrot Halwa also known as Gajar ka Halwa or “Gajrela” is a traditional North Indian dessert made by simmering fresh grated carrots with full fat milk, sugar and ghee. This delicious dessert is delicately scented with cardamom powder and garnished with chopped nuts. Make this carrot halwa, the old-fashioned way from scratch using whole milk or follow the shortcut ways using condensed milk, khoya or milk powder. In this post I share the recipes for all these 4 methods along with Instant pot instructions.
Gajar Halwa is immensely popular in India & is most often made in the households during winters when fresh carrots are in season. You will find this served even in buffets, Thali and almost at every feast because it is the Ultimate winner and is the best!
Gulab Jamun, Jalebi, Rasgulla & Kaju katli are some of the other popular Sweets from Indian cuisine.
About Carrot Halwa
This classic dessert gets its name “Gajar Halwa” since carrots are known as “Gajar” in Hindi and Halwa is a pudding like dessert from the Indian Sub-Continent. So gajar halwa is nothing but Indian carrot pudding.
But it’s not the pudding you are probably thinking of ! This neither has an egg nor a thickening agent/ ingredient. Slow cooking the carrots with milk until all of the liquid evaporates, imparts a magical flavor and lovely pudding like texture to the dish.
In India, a special kind of carrots known as Delhi gajar is widely available during the winters. A lot of people especially in the North make carrot halwa with Delhi carrots since these have a sweeter flavor and are much more juicer than the other kinds. However, you can use the regular carrots the same way in my recipe.
4 Methods of Making Carrot Halwa
Traditional carrot halwa is made by slow cooking fine grated carrots with full fat milk which is easy to make but takes some time as all of the moisture and liquid from carrots, milk and sugar has to evaporate and then thicken the halwa.
The traditional method does not use processed ingredients like condensed milk, evaporated milk, khoya/mawa or milk powder. However using one of these ingredients will help you save some time as you don’t need to cook down the ingredients longer.
Depending on the availability of ingredients and the time you can afford, choose one of these methods:
- Traditional method with milk.
- Carrot halwa with condensed milk under 15 mins.
- Gajar halwa with khoya – Make this during festive season when you have surplus khoya/ mawa to use up.
- Gajar ka halwa with milk powder – Make this when you are short of milk or want to use up surplus milk powder.
More Halwa recipes
Moong dal halwa
Lauki ka halwa
How to Make Carrot Halwa (Stepwise Photos)
1. Wash 500 grams carrots (half kg or 1.1 lbs) thoroughly under running water. A little more or less is fine to use, not a lot. Peel and fine grate them. A food processor quickens the process of grating. So if you own one, you can use it.
Make sure you use a heavy bottom large pot or pan for this recipe as it helps to prevent the halwa from sticking to the bottom and burning. However a pressure cooker too works well.
If you do not have cardamom powder, crush 4 green cardamoms in a mortar pestle or a spice jar.
2. On a low heat, roast 10 pistachios, 5 to 6 almonds and 5 cashew nuts until crunchy. Remove them to a chopping board, cool and chop them. OR Alternately chop the nuts first or carefully pulse them in a grinder (only twice or thrice). Fry them in one tablespoon ghee until golden and crunchy. Set aside. If you prefer to use raisins, you may fry about 15 raisins in ghee until plump. Set aside.
3. Next to the same pan, pour 2 cups milk and begin to heat it.
Simmer Carrots with Milk
4. Add grated carrots. (Optional – If using regular carrots and not (Delhi gajar) red carrots then you can saute the carrots in 1 tablespoon ghee until a nice aroma comes out then pour milk. This step helps to get rid of the earthy and strong flavor of some kinds of carrots.)(check video for details).
5. Stir and cook on a medium flame. Keep stirring to prevent burning at the bottom. Since I used a heavy bottom pan, I didn’t have to stir very often. But I suggest consistently keep checking otherwise the halwa will stick at the bottom.
6. You will have be cautious always towards the end. Especially when the milk has almost evaporated.
7. Cook until the milk completely evaporates.
8. Next add half cup + 2 tablespoons sugar and stir.
9. Sugar melts and carrot halwa turns gooey once again. Stir and cook. When the moisture is half evaporated, add 1 tablespoon ghee and stir well.
10. Stir and cook until the halwa thickens. Just before you finish off, add half teaspoon cardamom powder.
Finally garnish carrot halwa with nuts & raisins. Serve chilled or warm.
Gajar Ka Halwa with Condensed Milk
This method comes handy when you want to make this dessert for an occasion as it is quick to make. Using condensed milk cuts down half the cooking time and the resulting halwa is much richer, flavorful and delicious.
To make this, you can use Delhi gajar or the regular carrots. When I made this I used the regular carrots as Delhi gajar is seasonal and is not available in Singapore throughout the year.
500 grams carrots (tender, young)
½ tin condensed milk (½ cup + 2 tablespoons)
¼ teaspoon cardamom powder or 1 teaspoon rose water
1½ tablespoon ghee (divided – ½ tablespoon + 1)
¼ cup chopped nuts (cashews, pistas,almonds)
2 tablespoons raisins
1.Wash and peel young 500 grams carrots well. Grate them either using a food processor or hand grater. Use the fine grater if you have a food processer.
2. Add ½ tablespoon ghee and heat the pan. This prevents the halwa from sticking to the pan & burning. If you want to you can add the ¼ cup chopped nuts. Fry them until lightly golden. Then add 2 tablespoons raisins. When they become plump, remove to a plate.
3. Add grated carrots & saute for 2 to 3 mins.
4. Pour ½ tin condensed milk (½ cup + 2 tablespoons).
5. Mix well and continue to cook on a medium heat. You will see the carrots begin to release moisture.
6. Cover and cook until gajar turns soft and tender.
7. Add cardamom powder.
8. Adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of ghee enhances the aroma and taste. You can also add more if you like.
9. Mix and saute until a nice aroma comes out.
10. When the milk evaporates turn off. Garnish with chopped cashews, pistachios and almonds.
Serve Gajar ka halwa warm or chilled.
Gajar Halwa With Khoya
This method also takes much less time than the traditional version since the amount of milk used is lesser.
½ kg carrots
½ cup khoya (unsweetened)
1 cup milk
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cardamom powder
Ensure gajar is grated with a medium fine grater. In the method, carrot is not cooked for long time so if the gratings are larger they won’t soft cook quickly.
If you want you can fry the nuts & raisins in 1 tbsps ghee. Then add carrots and milk. Cook on a low heat stirring well until carrot turns tender. If the milk evaporates and the carrot are not soft then cover and cook on a lowest heat for few minutes.
Then add khoya and sugar. Mix and continue to cook. The entire mixture turns gooey. Let it cook until gajar ka halwa thickens.
Add 1 tablespoon ghee and saute for 2 mins. Turn off and garnish with nuts and raisins.
Gajar ka Halwa with Milk Powder
Milk powder is also known as dry milk and is sold in the grocery stores. I use Nestle everyday for this. Depending on the kind you use, adjust the quantity of sugar and milk powder to suit your taste.
½ kg carrots – grated or fine processed
1/3 cup milk
¾ to 1 cup milk powder (dry milk, I use nestle everyday)
2 to 3 tbsps ghee
¼ teaspoon cardamom powder (adjust to taste)
4 to 8 tablespoons sugar (adjust to taste depending on the milk powder)
Chopped nuts as required
- Add grated carrots to a heavy bottom pot or pressure cooker and pour milk. Cook on a medium to low heat until carrots become tender. If using a pressure cooker, pressure cook for 1 whistle on a medium heat. Let the pressure drop naturally.
- Stir the carrots as they cook until tender. Then add sugar and continue to cook on a low heat. Sugar melts and carrot halwa becomes slightly gooey. At stage sprinkle milk powder all over and mix well to incorporate the milk powder.
- Stir and continue to cook until most of the moisture if evaporated. Taste test and add more milk powder or sugar to adjust the sweetness levels.
- Add cardamom powder and turn off the heat. Serve with chopped nuts.
Instant pot Carrot Halwa
I have been using instant pot for quite some time for all my cooking. Making carrot halwa in an instant pot is a breeze as you don’t need to stir the pudding like we do for the traditional method.
Instant pot needs lesser liquids to cook the foods so I use only a cup of milk for 500 grams of carrot. I have included the instructions below in the recipe card for IP.
Choosing carrots: Always use fresh, tender and young carrots that are less fibrous. If needed taste them before cooking. Carrots that are too old or mature are more fibrous & have a different flavour & texture which do not go well for the halwa. Young carrots are sweeter in flavour & yield a mouth melting carrot halwa.
Milk: Use full fat a.k.a whole milk to get a tasty carrot halwa. For a low fat version just reduce the amount of milk in the recipe or use low fat milk. You can also skip or reduce the amount of ghee. If you are a vegan you can make this halwa with coconut or almond milk. You can also use homemade almond milk following my faq section below.
Grating carrots: Grate the carrots with a hand held grater or food processor. I always use a food processor. You can grate to thick or thin shreds depending on how you like your carrot halwa to be. My kids like them to be very fine as the halwa just melts off in the mouth. But for this post I have used larger gratings.
Sautéing carrots: My mom makes this by first sautéing the grated carrot in ghee for 5 mins. Then pours the milk. However I do not do this just to save time. Adding ghee at a later time, once the halwa is cooked gives a more intense flavour. So you can do either ways.
Cooking: Be cautious & do not leave the carrot halwa on the stove unattended as the milk will get scorched and burnt. You will need to constantly stir the gajar halwa as it cooks through.
Soak 20 to 25 almonds or cashews overnight. Peel them and blend to a super smooth paste with ½ cup water. Pour 1 ½ cups more water and blend. Use this in place of regular milk in the recipe. Also skip ghee or replace it with flavourless virgin coconut oil.
Carrot halwa made with traditional way can be refrigerated for upto 3 to 4 days after which the taste begins to deteriorate. So to store it longer for about 3 to 4 weeks freeze it.
Cool it immediately after cooking and transfer to an air tight glass container. Either refrigerate or freeze it. Make sure you use freezer safe container if freezing.
Reheat it directly on the stovetop on a low heat stirring often or in the microwave stirring every 30 seconds. You can also reheat it in the Instant pot on a high pressure for 0 to 2 mins depending on the quantity of halwa.
Carrot Halwa Recipe | Gajar ka Halwa
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ½ kg carrot (gajar)(500 grams) (prefer young carrots)
- 2 cups milk (1 cup for Instant pot)
- ½ cup sugar (+ 2 tbsp optional) (prefer organic)
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder (or 4 pods skinned & powdered)
- 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
- 20 mixed nuts 10 pista, 5 cashew & 5 almonds
- 2 tablespoons raisins optional
- Wash carrots under running water & peel them.
- Grate them in a food processor or with a hand grater.
- Dry roast nuts on a low heat until crunchy, cool & chop them. OR Alternately chop the nuts first & fry them in 1 tbsp ghee until slightly golden. Then add raisins & fry until they plump up. Remove to a plate.
How to Make Carrot Halwa
- Next bring milk to a boil in a heavy bottom pot or deep pan.
- Add grated carrots and cook on a medium heat stirring often. Do not leave the pot unattended as the milk will get scorched.
- When the milk has completely evaporated add sugar and stir well. Sugar will release lot of moisture & will make the entire carrot halwa gooey.
- Cook until half of the moisture evaporates, then stir in the ghee.
- Saute the carrot halwa well in ghee until the moisture evaporates completely.
- When it is done gajar halwa turns aromatic & thickens. It will still be moist. If you overcook your halwa turns dry. Sprinkle cardamom powder.
- Garnish carrot halwa with nuts. Serve warm or chilled with Ice cream.
Instant Pot Gajar ka Halwa
- Press the saute button and add 1 tbsp ghee to the steel insert of the IP.
- When it is hot fry the nuts until light golden. Then add in raisins if using. When they plump up remove to a plate.
- Then add in the carrots & saute for 2 to 3 mins stirring well.
- Pour 1 cup milk and mix well. Deglaze by scrubbing the bottom of the pot with a spatula.
- Secure the instant pot & position the steam release handle to sealing. Press the pressure cook (manual) button & set the timing to 3 mins.
- When the instant pot beeps and finishes, do a manual pressure release carefully.
- Stir in the sugar, ghee & cardamom powder. Press the saute button & saute until the milk evaporates completely.
- Garnish gajar halwa with chopped nuts & raisins.
- Choose Carrots that are young, tender and freshly harvested. Avoid using carrots that are fibrous as this kind taste more woody.
- Chopped Nuts and raisins can be fried in ghee and set aside for garnishing.
- Grated carrot can also be sautéed in ghee for 2 to 3 mins before cooking it with milk. But avoid this if using Delhi Carrots.
- To add protein to the recipe & fasten the cooking, you may add 4 tablespoons of almond flour right at the beginning. This helps to thicken your halwa faster. Also this makes the dish much more delicious.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Carrot Halwa Recipe aka Gajar Halwa Recipe, first published in June 2013, Republished in Oct 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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Hi Swasthi. I love your carrot Halwa recipe and I tried yours without onion and garlic paneer recipes . It’s turned out so well. I am big fan of your recipes. I made bookmark of your web. Thank you so much for your Amazing recipes.
Thank you so much! So happy to hear that!
I am unable to send the recipe of jagar halwa or any other recipe to my email address. There is no icon of envelope which means email Kindly help.
There is a + symbol near the social share icons, below the title. If you click on that you will find the provision to email. Also you may simply tap on the url in your browser, select and copy. Paste it in the email you want to send. Hope this helps
I want to try any new recipe my go to is always SWATI’s Recipe. Also for any other dishes which I have been cooking over the years , I prefer to follow again SWATI’s for any ingredients proportions and Tips for cooking
A BIG THANK YOU 👍👍👍
Thank you so much for the trust. So glad to know!!
I made the recipe ditto except I added a bit of milk powder along with ghee. This imparted a khoya flavor to the gajar halwa. Thank you for the amazing recipe.
Glad to know Hari Priya
Thank you for trying the recipe.
Your all recipes are very good. I have made this Gajar Halva with your recipe in Iskcon temple for 100 people for prasadam and it turn out so well, everybody liked it so much. Thank you very much for sharing.
Keep doing the good work.
Hi Rakhi, is it possible for you to share the proportion you used for 100 people. I have to prepare it for langar for 100 people. Swasthi, can you help me with this?
I have never made such large quantity but I guess 12 kg gajar, 12½ ltrs milk, , 2 to 2.5 kgs sugar (lesser is better) should be good enough. However I would saute the gajar first in ghee until a bit dry before adding the milk. This reduces the chances of milk getting scorched at the bottom and also cuts down the simmering time after adding milk. Hope this helps.
Thank you so much Rakhi. Appreciate your efforts and share. So happy to know!
Being a Punjabi, for me gajrela was always gajar with khoya and nuts. After moving to the western world, I looked up for a good recipe that can replicate the same taste without using khoya. Your gajar ka halwa with condensed milk worked in a better way and it tastes delicious. But nothing can replace the red gajar & it is available only till late Jan here. So I made a large batch to freeze during Jan which my family is enjoying now. Thank you for the easy recipe.
Thank you so much Amrit for trying and sharing back your experience.
My first time at making gajar ka halwa today, and it was delicious! Thank you for the various versions… I tried the classic milk and sugar and yummmmm.
Happy to know Radhika. Thank you for sharing how it turned out for you.
Made this for new year dinner party. Turns out delicious with just milk sugar and ghee. Thank you
Glad to know Karvi. Thank you so much!
I once ate carrot halwa at a friend’s place & loved it. Last week I was suddenly craving for it & found your recipe. Turned out delicious. Going to make this again and again. Thank you!!
This Gajar ka Halwa turned out amazing. I sautéed the carrots in ghee & that enhanced the flavor. Thank you
Glad to know Vidya
Thank you so much!
Thank you. Tried the milk version. Turned out delicious
So glad it turned out delicious!
My gajar halwa turned out awesome. I followed the recipe exactly with milk except I blanched the nuts to soften them. I am a 15 years old and this was my first recipe trying out from a food blog. Thank you.
Thank you Rachana
So glad to know!
How nice of a 15yr old to try sweets, God bless you Rachna
Swasthi, Thank you for the recipe. I have been using your basic recipe for a few years now and every time it turns out fantastic. I have a question regarding your tip on not to saute the Delhi carrots. Is there any specific reason for that? Because I did that a few times and had no problems. But I would like to know before I make a big batch this weekend. TIA.
Glad to know! Sometimes sautéing Delhi carrots can turn the halwa dark blue/black. I guess it has something to do with the soil profile. I insist not to do that especially if making a large batch. Hope this helps.
Hello I tried your condensed milk gajar halwa and I now understand why you guys love it— it tastes divine!
Thank you! Glad you like it!
I bought carrots to make a stew, but my girlfriend and our friend wanted something sweet, and I brought up Carrot Halwa.
They are both Chinese, and were a bit skeptical of eating an Indian dessert (made by a French 😂), but I was able to convince them by telling them it’s both healthy and delicious.
It turns out it was a huge hit!!! I had it for the very first time around Christmas time from an Indian friend, and told myself it’s one of the simplest and most delicious desserts I’ve had. The cardamom gives a lot of amazing flavors! However, I used olive oil (I hope you will find the strength to forgive me as I have sinned), and it was still delicious.
Do you reckon that some singer powder could make the dish even more amazing? I’ll definitely add more cardamom next time.
That’s awesome! Happy to know it turned out delicious. Actually you can use butter in place of ghee. I am going to update that in the recipe.
Though not authentic but yes you can use some ginger powder. Spices like ginger, nutmeg and cloves are added to many Indian desserts. Thank you so much for sharing how you made it.
Thank you Swati tu sharing such a Very delicious receipee method. Tried using condensed milk and it’s yummy. And we enjoyed eating gajar halwa.
Also provided step by step method is very good to understand receipee method.
Glad to know Mrudula
Thank you Swasthi for sharing such a delicious recipe. I tried making it today as per your recipe and it came out to very delicious,my family really enjoyed it🙂
This sounds delicious!
Is it possibile to make this a day in advance? What would be the best way to reheat it the following day? I’d like to serve this warm with some icecream.
Thanks a lot for Your help.
Thank you. Yes you can make this 2 to 3 days in advance and refrigerate. You can reheat carrot halwa on the stovetop or in an instant pot for 0 to 2 mins on high pressure depending on the quantity. It can also be reheated in a microwave. Hope you enjoy it.
Thank you very much!
I prepared this one day in advance, reheated it in the microwave and served it yesterday with some cinnamon ice-cream. Everybody loved it!
Thank you for this perfect recipe and your kind advice.
Wow! That’s great
Amazing receipe it’s really wonderful to be associated with you
Thank you so much Suhana
Lovely recipe thank you. My husband and my father both thoroughly enjoyed it
Hi. I want to know if I can use condensed milk in place of sugar for the milk method since I have toned milk?
Yes you can. Start with half cup and add more if required