Are you looking for an easy-to-make side dish? Delicious roasted carrots pair well with just about any type of entree. Simply cover the root vegetables to tenderize the fibrous texture, then remove the foil to caramelize the surface.
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Crunchy carrots are eaten raw as a snack or appetizer paired with a savory dip. However, oven roasting them transforms the taste and texture with little effort and basic seasonings. It’s great to serve as a simple side dish with slices of chicken, turkey, ham, or prime rib for a hearty feast.
I use a two-step oven roasting method to prevent the carrots from drying out in high heat. The process is simple, cover with aluminum foil in a pre-cook stage to tenderize the centers, then finish off with high heat exposure to lightly brown the surface. There is no need to add sugar when using simple techniques to develop caramel notes with heat.
Carrot selection and size
There are different types of carrots available at the market, ranging from orange, yellow, and purple. I use multi-colored petite-sized carrots for this recipe, giving a more gourmet appearance. If using a larger variety, peel and cut them into similar-sized batons. Make sure they are about ½ to 1-inch in width.
The key to perfectly roasted carrots is to keep the size uniform for cooking. You can also use peeled and trimmed baby carrots that are much smaller or sticks to cut down on prep. However, they will cook quicker, so adjust the roasting time as needed.
Season the carrots
Keep it simple with just three ingredients. Coat the carrots in fat like unsalted butter to enhance browning on the surface and prevent the carrots from sticking to the pan. A high smoke point fat like Ghee, olive oil, or avocado oil can be substituted.
Kosher salt helps to caramelize the carrots. The sodium draws the moisture to the surface for quicker evaporation so the natural sugars can cook. Salt also balances the sweetness. Black pepper adds a slightly spicy kick to the neutral-tasting carrots.
How to roast carrots
The carrots roast at a high of 425ºF (218ºC). This temperature can dry out the vegetables if exposed to this intensity of heat the entire time. To prevent this, spread the carrots in a single layer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. This method allows the carrots to gradually come up to temperature, then steam and stay moist and tender.
The foil is eventually removed to roast uncovered. The intense heat will drive off the surface moisture, drawing the sugars to the surface and initiating caramelization. This process takes another 15 minutes for color change and sweetness. Depending on the size of the carrots, a few additional minutes of roasting may be needed.
Additional flavor options
- Sprinkle with brown sugar, or drizzle on honey or maple syrup to make glazed carrots. Add towards the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking so the sugars don’t burn.
- For heat, toss with harissa, cayenne pepper, or chili sauce.
- Toss with freshly chopped herbs like rosemary, parsley, basil, or thyme to boost the aromatics right before serving.
Serve this with
It’s not required. Peeling gives a more even surface and removes any dirt and debris. If you decide not to peel, just make sure to wash and scrub, then dry well before roasting.
Yes, roasted carrots are good for you! According to the USDA, just 1 cup of sliced carrots contains 50 calories, 1.13 gram of protein, 3.4 grams of fiber, 0.3 grams of fat, and 5.78 grams of sugar. Not to mention an impressive amount of Vitamin A which has been linked to eye health, plus potassium and calcium. You can easily adjust the seasoning level and use olive oil instead of butter for a monounsaturated fat option.
The high fiber content and low moisture help carrots hold up well after cooking and freezing. You can reheat them in the microwave or pop them on a sheet pan straight from the freezer to reheat a large batch.
Preventing the carrots from turning mushy
The goal is to have fork tender, not mushy, interiors and a golden-brown surface. To activate the enzyme that starts the firming reaction in the fibrous carrots, maintain an internal temperature between 120 to 160ºF (49 to 71ºC) as long as possible. Covering the carrots with foil for the first 15 minutes keeps the heat low for the conversion to occur. Then you can expose it to high heat for color change and flavor development.
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- 2 pounds carrots, large or petite
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- Pre-Heat Oven – Set the oven rack to the center position and the temperature to 425ºF (218ºC).
- Prepare the Carrots – For petite-sized carrots about 4 to 5 inches long and ½ to 1-inch wide, peel but do not cut. For large carrots, peel and cut into uniform pieces, between ½ to 1-inch wide and 3 to 4-inches long.
- Season – In a large bowl, combine the carrots with melted butter, salt, and pepper.
- Roast – Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Evenly spread out the carrots and cover them tightly with foil. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the top piece of foil.
- Roast Uncovered – Cook for an additional 15 minutes, and then stir. Continue to roast until golden brown and the widest parts are fork-tender, about 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the size.
- To Serve – Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve warm.
- Make it Vegan, Dairy-Free, and Paleo: Use olive oil or avocado oil instead of butter.
- Make it Whole30: Use ghee, avocado oil, or extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter. Use sea salt instead of kosher salt.
- Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Freeze for up to 9 months. Reheat in the microwave, covered, on high in 30-second intervals until hot. Alternatively, cook in a 350ºF (177ºC) oven from frozen until hot.
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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