Abstract The carotenoids from palm oil were recovered through a process involving neutralization and transesterification of palm oil followed by molecular distillation of the ester. The distillate obtained contains more than 30000 ppm of carotenoids. The experimental data were obtained from falling film and centrifugal molecular distillators. It can be seen that each one has its own characteristic, observed in function of the operating temperatures and material thermal decomposition tendencies. The experimental results were compared to the ones from simulations using the mathematical modeling for the falling film and centrifugal distillators developed.