Roasted Carrots

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Roasted carrots are sweet and tender with a caramelized surface that enhances the flavor. Cooking part of the time covered with foil and then exposed to the oven’s heat prevents the carrots from drying out and becoming tough.

roasted carrots lined up nicely in a white serving bowl

There’s always one vegetable that’s constantly stocked in my refrigerator, and that’s carrots! The crunch-factor is super satisfying and they can be cooked in a myriad of ways or simply eaten raw. I’m a big fan of their nutritious qualities and I enjoy eating them as a healthy snack.

When cooking, my method of choice for coaxing out the sweet taste is to oven roast carrots. No need to add in sugar when you can use simple techniques to develop caramel notes with 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.

melted butter being poured over top colorful carrots in a blue bowl

Carrot selection and size

We’ve all grown up with the understanding that carrots are good for you. It’s not a surprise, according to the USDA Food Composition Database, 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.

There is a lot of options to choose from in the market, even different hues. You can buy a whole bunch with the tops still intact, trimmed, petitely sized, or cut into sticks, shreds or slices. The key for perfectly roasted carrots is to keep the size uniform for even cooking. Make sure that they are about 1/2 to 1-inch in width, you don’t want them too small or too large.

For this recipe I used multi-colored petite-sized carrots, they give a more gourmet appearance. If using a larger variety, peel and cut them into similarly sized batons.

seasoned carrots lined up on a foil-lined baking sheet

The seasoning ingredients

  • Unsalted Butter – used to coat the carrots, enhance browning on the surface, and prevent the carrots from sticking to the pan. Ghee or olive oil can be substituted.
  • Kosher Salt – helps to caramelize the carrots by drawing moisture to the surface for quicker evaporation so the sugar can cook. Salt balances the sweetness of the carrot.
  • Black Pepper – adds a slightly spicy kick to the neutral tasting carrots.

How long does it take to roast carrots?

Carrots can dry out if exposed to the oven’s high heat the entire cooking time. To prevent this, I first cover and cook for 15 minutes. This allows the carrots to gradually come up to temperature, and stay moist and tender. The foil is then removed to allow the intense heat at 425ºF, drive off the surface moisture and initiate caramelization, this takes another 15 minutes.

Depending on the size of the carrots, a few additional minutes of roasting may be needed. The goal is to have fork tender, not mushy, interiors and a golden-brown surface. The carrots will taste sweeter this way because some of it’s natural sugars are drawn to the surface then lightly caramelize.

carrots cooked under aluminum foil

Ways to serve roasted carrots

You can’t go wrong with keeping it simple and roasting the carrots with butter, salt, and pepper to intensify the natural sweetness of the root vegetable. However, drizzling on some honey or maple syrup to make glazed carrots can change the sweetness profile, I would add this toward the end of cooking so the sugars don’t burn.

You could even add a little heat with harissa, cayenne pepper, or chili sauce. Toasted with fresh chopped herbs like rosemary, parsley, basil, or thyme adds a nice burst of flavor right before eating. Once you’ve got the basic roasting technique down, it’s easy to experiment with different flavor combinations to switch things up and keep mealtime interesting.

close up photo of roasted carrots seasoned with salt and pepper

More side dish recipes

Keeping the carrots tender

To activate the enzyme that starts the firming reaction, internal temperatures between 120 to 160 degrees need to be maintained as long as possible. Covering the carrots with foil for the first 15 minutes helps to keep the heat low for the conversion to occur. The result is sweet carrots that have a soft yet firm texture. (Source: Cook’s Illustrated)

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Roasted Carrots

Roasted carrots with a caramelized surface that enhances the flavor. Butter, salt, and pepper intensify the natural sweetness of this root vegetable.
Pin Print Review
4.27 from 19 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American


  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley


  • Place oven rack to the center position and preheat to 425ºF (218ºC).
  • If using large carrots instead of petite-sized, cut them into uniform pieces between ½ to 1-inch wide and 3 to 4-inches long. This will depend on the size of the carrots.
  • Toss and combine carrots with melted butter, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. 
  • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  • Evenly spread out the carrots on the baking sheet and cover tightly with foil.
  • Cook carrots for 15 minutes and then remove the top pieces of foil.
  • Roast the carrots for an additional 15 minutes, and then stir.
  • Continue to roast until browned and the widest parts are fork-tender about 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the size.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Recipe Video



  • Carrot Size: I used petite carrots, they are about 4 to 5 inches long and 1/2 to 1-inch wide in size. If these are not available at the store, cut larger whole carrots into large batons to a similar width and desired length. Make sure to cut them to uniform sizes for even cooking.
  • Make it Vegan, Dairy-Free, and Paleo: Use olive oil instead of butter.
  • Make it Whole30: Use ghee or extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter. Use sea salt instead of kosher salt. 

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Nutrition Facts
Roasted Carrots
Amount Per Serving
Calories 46
% Daily Value*
Sodium 296mg12%
Potassium 362mg10%
Carbohydrates 10g3%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 18945IU379%
Vitamin C 6.7mg8%
Calcium 37mg4%
Iron 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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3 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Megan Cromer says

    Yum. Made these for Easter dinner, they were so sweet and full of flavour, with a great texture. Due to oven space issues… I had to roast on a lower temperature to start with but still covered with foil, and then the last 15 mins at the higher temp. Kept the flavourings to just the salt, pepper, butter and fresh parsley.
    A great side dish for any roast dinner.

  2. James Craig says

    My wife and I really enjoyed the roasted carrots with our corn beef & cabbage dinner. I was wondering if I could use the same instructions and cook them in an air fryer.

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