Roasted Fennel is an easy and delicious staple for healthy eating, and it can be added to a variety of salads and meals, or simply enjoyed as an amazing side dish. All you need is 4 simple ingredients and 45 minutes! I particularly love this with Italian meals like Chicken Saltimbocca and Easy Chicken Marsala.
If you need a little convincing when it comes to getting onboard with fennel, roasting is hands down the best way how to cook it.
If you’ve tried fennel bulb before, then you’re certainly familiar with its bold flavor. Or maybe you recognize the assertive flavor of fennel seed in mild Italian sausages.
This root vegetable is not shy, and anise flavor can have some negative associations tied to it (raise your hand if you hated black licorice as a kid). This is why how you prepare fennel is so important.
My two favorite ways to prepare it are thinly shaved and enjoyed raw in a salad (like in this Fennel, Orange, and Beet Salad) so I can enjoy its crunchy texture, or roasted in the oven. Roasting the fennel caramelizes its natural sweetness, and makes it very tender.
Much like Roasted Cauliflower, it’s one of my favorite ingredients for jazzing up salads on the fly.
Tips for Best Results
Select the best fennel at the store – When you’re at the grocery store, look for fresh and perky fennel fronds on the stalks, and bright white bulbs. The bulbs will start to become brown and discolored as they age, so try to avoid any brown bulbs. Also avoid any bulbs that feel soft or look shriveled at all.
Roast in single layers – Just as with all roasted vegetables, you want to make sure you do not overcrowd the pan, or the fennel will have a harder time browning and caramelizing. Do multiple trays if you’re making a big batch.
Flip at the end – We’ll roast the fennel for 3/4 of the time on the first side, to develop deep browning and caramelization, but you’ll want to flip the pieces over for the final 10 minutes so that color develops on the other side too. It’s worth the effort!
How to Cut Fennel Bulb:
First trim the bottom and tops from the fennel bulb, and also remove any old and discolored outer layers as necessary.
You can see I have a pretty white bulb that’s firm and fresh, so I did not remove any layers.
Can you eat the stalks?
While technically edible, fennel stalks are usually extremely tough and fibrous, so I discard them. If you wish to save them, toss them in the freezer to use for vegetable stock.
Once the bottom is removed, prop the fennel bulb on its flat bottom side, and cut straight down into 1/4″ thick slices:
It’s okay that you can see little bits of green fronds in the center, but keep this minimal.
These pieces are now ready to roast!
How to Cook It:
Place the cut fennel in a large mixing bowl, and toss with oil, sea salt, and black pepper:
Olive oil is a great choice, or you can try more flavorful fats like duck fat, lard, or even tallow. Any high heat cooking fat works here.
Spread the fennel slices out directly onto a half sheet pan, in an even layer. I find that the fennel cooks better right on the pan instead of on aluminum foil or parchment paper.
The spacing above is a little bit more crowded than I’d like, but it’s passable, as the pieces shrink quickly. Just make sure to use a rimmed baking sheet so no oil drips off the edges.
Roast the fennel until it’s tender and golden on the edges, flipping the pieces over toward the end:
How to Serve
This Roasted Fennel is delicious enough to be eaten as a side, with a drizzle of top-notch extra virgin olive oil on top, but I also love making a salad with leftover Roasted Pork Tenderloin, quinoa, this roasted fennel, and Lemon Vinaigrette. It’s a wonderful hearty salad.
This dish pairs nicely with meats like Chicken Milanese, steaks like Grilled Ribeye or even Reverse Sear Prime Rib, and Glazed Spiral Ham. It also goes well with a roast chicken, and you can try Spatchcock Chicken to have a similar roasting time as here.
Though I love the simplicity here and find it allows you to best enjoy the subtle anise flavor, this roasted fennel recipe can be flavored in many different ways.
Lemon – Try squeezing over some fresh lemon juice, or even drizzling Lemon Vinaigrette.
Balsamic – Drizzle over some balsamic vinaigrette after roasting, and a really fresh and peppery extra virgin olive oil. I recommend using aged balsamic vinegars that have a more thick and syrupy consistency.
Cheese – Zest some parmesan cheese on top after spooning the roasted fennel on a serving platter. I particularly recommend a true 24-month parmigiano reggiano. Adding some red pepper flakes along with the cheese is a nice combination.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Because we cook out most of the moisture in the oven, the texture actually handles freezing pretty well. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To thaw, leave in the fridge overnight.
The microwave or the oven are fine options. For the microwave, reheat in 30 second intervals until warmed through. For the oven, try 300F for 10 minutes, until warmed through.
While edible, the stalks are pretty tough and fibrous, so I discard them. You may save them for vegetable broths or stocks if you prefer.
- 1.25 lbs fennel bulb (about 2 bulbs)
- 2 tbsp olive oil *
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Cut the bottom and tops off each fennel bulb. Save the scraps for vegetable stock, or discard.
- Prop the bulb up on its flat bottom side that you just cut, then cut straight down in 1/4" thick slices (see photo if necessary).
- Place the pieces into a bowl, then toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Scrape the fennel out onto a sheet pan, including any leftover oil in the bowl, and spread in a single layer.
- Roast for 30 minutes, until tender and slightly golden on the edges.
- Flip all the pieces over, and roast for another 10 minutes, to caramelize further. Serve and enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.