These glazed carrots with a maple butter sauce are a simple and delicious side dish that shines at the dinner table. Plus, they’re ready to eat in just 15 minutes of cooking time.
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Carrots are healthy root vegetables loaded with nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, vitamin K, potassium, and beta-carotene, making the flesh bright orange. This recipe uses simple ingredients like maple syrup, butter, lemon, and parsley. Even kids love this recipe. I use two methods to achieve a tender texture and syrupy sauce.
The carrots take a brief boiling water plunge to soften the tough root. It’s then tossed in a sweetened citrus sauce and cooked until enough moisture evaporates to make it cling to the surface. Glazes carrots or roasted carrots are perfect for serving with ham, prime rib, or turkey for a complete feast.
You can use any type of carrot to make this dish, like traditional bright orange varieties, or grab a colorful array of purple, red, or white if in season. I like to work with large pieces to make them easier to cut into smaller, uniform sticks.
You can use Baby carrots, petite carrots, or sticks as a pre-cut option. Note the cooking time may need a few more minutes to tenderize.
Cut the carrots
Cut the carrots into bâtonnet stick size pieces, which are about 1/2-inch wide and 2-inches long. Don’t worry if they aren’t all exact lengths. I’d rather you have more yield to enjoy than throw away perfectly good carrots. However, the more uniform the size, the more it helps with even cooking when in hot water.
Par-cook the carrots
The carrot sticks get a quick blanch in hot boiling water to soften the cell walls. This process takes about 5 to 6 minutes. I like to add salt into the liquid to season the interior of the vegetable.
Cooking intensifies the taste of the natural sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose in the carrots. Cook them until fork-tender but sturdy enough to hold their shape when stirred with the glaze.
Make the sauce
You need four common ingredients to make the sauce for these candied carrots; butter, lemon juice, and pure maple syrup. You can use any sweetener such as light or dark brown sugar, honey, coconut sugar, or granulated sugar. They each have their own unique flavor profile. I like maple syrup for its caramel notes.
This recipe can be easily adapted to be Whole30 and Paleo-friendly. Just use homemade ghee to substitute for the butter. That will add butterscotch flavors to the carrot side dish. Olive oil also works for a vegan version.
Reduce the sauce
The tangy maple syrup sauce simmers with the par-cooked carrots until hot and bubbly. In just about 5 minutes, the sauce will reduce, and the sugars will caramelize to create a concentrated coating that clings to the surface of the vegetables.
The glazed carrots get a sprinkle with fresh lemon zest to add a pleasant citrus aroma and Italian parsley to make the colors pop. Salt and pepper are optional. That’s it, super easy. Kids and adults will love this side dish all year long.
Serve this with
Carrots cut into sticks or coins that have been par-cooked. They simmer in a buttery maple syrup sauce or sweetener of choice until a syrupy glaze forms.
Yes! This dish can be made up to 5 days ahead, then reheated before serving. For meal prep, the blanched carrots can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days, then cooked in the sweetened sauce the day of serving.
The most effective way to soften carrots is to boil or steam them until fork tender. These methods are great for preventing overly crunchy interiors. The syrupy glaze will be done sooner than the time needed to cook raw carrots in the sweetened sauce.
Using lemon juice as a flavor enhancer
Adding a little bit of acid to a dish can enhance the natural flavors of foods. Just a little bit of vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice can heighten the flavor of the sweet and salty taste. You don’t have to add as much. Plus, it balances the overall flavor of the dish. A little goes a long way, so use sparingly.
- 1 ½ pound carrots
- 2 quarts water
- 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon minced parsley
- Prepare the Carrots – Wash, peel, and cut the carrots into 2-inch long and ½-inch wide sticks.
- Par-Cook the Carrots – In a medium saucepan, add water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Add the carrots and cook until tender but still hold their shape, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain well.
- Make the Glaze – In a medium saute pan, add the butter, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted.
- Glaze the Carrots – Once the glaze is bubbling, add the carrots. Gently stir to combine. Cook, occasionally stirring, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper, and stir to combine.
- To Serve – Transfer the carrots to a serving dish and garnish with lemon zest and parsley.
- Make it Paleo: Use ghee or olive oil instead of butter.
- Make it Vegan: Substitute olive oil for butter.
- Make it Whole30: Reduce ¼ cup of fresh orange juice to 1 tablespoon over medium-high heat, and then add ghee or olive oil and lemon juice. Add the carrots and cook until the sauce glazes the vegetables. Use sea salt instead of kosher salt.
- Storing: Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheat: Cover and reheat in the microwave in 30-second intervals until hot. Alternatively, heat on the stovetop over medium-low heat, adding some water if needed to prevent the sweetener from burning.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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