Roasted Carrots are proof that you can take the most humble of vegetables, add hot oven roasting and spices, and end up with something wildly delicious. They’re a wonderful side dish for meats like Prime Rib and Roasted Pork Tenderloin.
People are always shocked by how good these are.
We make this roasted carrots recipe once a week for our family dinners, but I also serve them when we have friends or family over.
The response is always the same. They had no idea that the “boring carrot” could be so delicious, and they decide that they want to start making it themselves.
Like many other roasted vegetables, the high and dry heat of the oven does some pretty amazing things to this humble root vegetable, bringing out the natural sugars. Blog readers comment all the time that my Butternut Squash Soup is the best they’ve ever had, and it’s all from incorporating Roasted Butternut Squash into the mix, bringing all those caramelized flavors in. Roasting is the best!
For this recipe, I like to accentuate the flavor with a handful of spices, but even those can be omitted or changed to other flavor profiles.
What’s Great About This Recipe
Simple – This recipe’s deliciousness is more about the method than adding a million ingredients to it. It’s just carrots, oil, salt, and spices.
Versatile – I recommend spices to use here, but this is one of those great recipes where you can flavor the carrots however you want. Try other spice mixes or herbs.
Batch Size Is Adjustable – The cook time is the same no matter if you’re cooking for one or cooking for a family, so make as little or as much as you want to. Just make sure you do not overcrowd the baking sheet, and use multiple trays as necessary.
Visually appealing – I recommend roasted rainbow carrots for the most pretty presentation. The deep purple, orange, and cream colored pieces look nice together. If you want to add variation in flavor, you can also make roasted carrots and parsnips, just cut the parsnips into the same size pieces.
Make Ahead Option
If you’d like to prep the carrots in advance, you can cut them up ahead of time and whisk up the spiced olive oil in advance, so all I have to do is mix the two together, toss them on a sheet pan, and put the tray in the oven.
What Kind of Carrots to Use
I highly recommend you buy whole carrots that have the green tops on, and even better, to buy organic ones so you can keep the skins on without worry of pesticides (more on this later).
Fortunately this “fancy variety” is still only $1.50/bunch at my grocery store, so even on a budget, they’re very affordable (and SO worth it, believe me). Buying these gorgeous fresh carrots is my favorite way to make this dish feel more special.
Should you peel or not?
I recommend you that do not peel the carrots. Just cut the tops off and wash them well.
Here’s why leaving the skin on is so great:
- Unpeeled oven roasted carrots have an amazing texture. The skin gets a bit wrinkled and has the most subtle chewiness to contrast the tender inside of the carrot stick.
- The best flavor is right underneath the skin, and peeling can remove that.
- Peeling removes vitamins and nutrients from the carrot, so leaving the peel is more nutritious.
- And the best part…you’re not peeling a million carrots!!! Major time saver.
I’ve read some people complain of a bitter taste with unpeeled carrots, but I have never noticed this with the thin specialty variety. I’m guessing it’s more of an issue with the really large ones.
Step by Step Overview:
All we need to do is trim and cut the carrots, toss them in oil, salt, and spices, and then roast until tender!
Trim and Cut
Begin by cutting off any scraggly ends from the bottoms with a knife:
Then cut each one into sticks, about 3″ long and 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.
What I do is cut long carrots into 3 sections, then cut the narrowest end in half (or if it’s really thin, sometimes not at all), the middle section in half or into quarters (depending on the diameter of the carrot), then cut the thickest top portion in half, then each half into thirds:
Aim for the pieces to be relatively close in size.
Do you have to cut it?
Note that you can also make whole roasted carrots here, or even use baby carrots, but there will be less surface area and browning per piece, and the carrots will need to be similar in size. I find the cut pieces to be more consistent and delicious, but both options work.
Once you’ve cut up all the pieces, place them into a mixing bowl:
Make the Spiced Oil
In a separate bowl, combine olive oil with paprika, ginger, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, and kosher salt. You may also use other seasoning mixes like Cajun Seasoning or Sazon Seasoning, or add black pepper and red pepper flakes to make it spicy.
If you wish to add fresh herbs of your choice, like chopped rosemary or fresh thyme leaves, add them here to the oil.
Note that I do not bother adding any brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or other sweeteners here because I think there’s enough natural sweetness in the carrots. Roasting brings out their natural sweet flavor. But if you wish to add sugar, do it here as well.
Adding the spices, and any other desired flavorings, directly to the oil helps the flavors to disperse more evenly over the carrots.
Pour the spiced olive oil all over the carrot sticks:
Spread It Out On a Tray
Spread the pieces out on a sheet pan, in a single even layer:
For the best roasted carrots, what’s pictured above is about as crowded as you want the pieces to be. If you have too many, it’s better to split them between two sheet pans.
Also, I do not use parchment paper or aluminum foil, as roasting on an uncoated pan is the best way to maximize those golden brown caramelized edges.
How Long to Roast in the Oven
Roast the carrots for 30-35 minutes at a high temperature of 425F, tossing the pieces around halfway through the roasting process. They will shrink down quite a bit:
They should also be caramelized on the edges, and if you look closely, the skin should be wrinkled, with a tender interior.
What to Serve With This Dish
I love to serve these oven-roasted carrots with main course meats of all kinds, whether it’s for a special occasion holiday dinner, or just regular dinner time on a busy weeknight. It’s the perfect easy side dish for most most beef, lamb, and chicken dishes. Even picky eaters love these!
Recipe FAQ and Tips
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Yes, store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
In addition to olive oil, you can try coconut oil, ghee, tallow, lard, and avocado oil.
- 3 bunches organic carrots with the tops on* (24 total carrots)**
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Trim the carrot tops off all the carrots, then wash them well. Do not peel the skin.
- Cut the carrots into sticks, about 3" long and 1/4 to 1/2" thick. See blog post pictures for reference.
- Place the cut pieces into a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine the olive oil, salt, paprika, ginger, garlic powder, cumin, and coriander.
- Pour the spiced olive oil all over the carrots, then toss well to coat.
- Spread the carrots on a sheet pan in a single layer (do not overcrowd them, use two sheet pans if necessary).
- Roast for about 30 minutes***, tossing halfway through, until the carrots are caramelized on the edges, the skins are wrinkled, and the inside is fork tender. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.