Carrots become beautifully caramelized when coated in honey and olive oil and roasted in a hot oven.
This easy side dish is ready in about 30 minutes and you'll only need five simple ingredients to make it.
I love carrots. 🥕 I enjoy them in their raw state, dipped in a homemade ranch dip or in a tasty Greek yogurt dip. But I especially enjoy them cooked. Cooking takes away their crunch but enhances their delicate sweetness.
These oven-roasted carrots are especially good. The combination of the natural sweetness of the carrots and the deep flavor of the olive oil is wonderful. The small amount of honey works well to highlight the mild sweetness of the carrots, but it's optional.
Why roasting works
It's surprising really, how high-heat roasting turns almost any vegetable into a crispy, caramelized delicacy.
In fact, baking in the oven is the only reliable way to make my Picky Eater eat her vegetables. (Also covering them in cheese sauce!)
You'll only need five simple ingredients to make oven-roasted carrots. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Small firm carrots: The carrots marketed as "baby carrots" will not work as well. I like to use petite carrots - those small carrots that are sold with their green tops still attached.
Olive oil: I love cooking with this flavorful oil. If you're concerned about its relatively low smoke point, you can use melted butter instead.
Honey: As mentioned above, this ingredient is optional, but it helps the carrots caramelize and it also adds wonderful flavor.
To season: I simply use kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Roasting carrots in the oven is easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Toss the carrots with olive oil (or butter), honey, kosher salt, and black pepper.
Spread the coated carrots on a rimmed parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake them for about 15 minutes per side in a 400°F oven. That's it!
Don't attempt to use bagged baby carrots when making this recipe. Their water content is too high for this recipe to succeed. It's not easy to get them caramelized (though it's not impossible either).
You want young, firm, dry carrots. The small, 4-5 inch ones that are usually sold in bunches with their greens still attached are perfect. But you can also use mature carrots if that's all you can find.
Frequently asked questions
You can, especially if you use petite carrots as shown here. If using large carrots, for even results, it's best to cut them in half, then cut the thicker halves lengthwise. Ideally, you want fairly even thickness.
You can, but you'll likely have a harder time getting them caramelized due to their relatively high water content. So I don't recommend it.
Yes, you can. I don't know if it will promote caramelizing the way that real honey does, but in terms of flavor, it should work.
Variations and substitutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- Use melted butter instead of olive oil.
- Use real maple syrup instead of honey. You can also omit the honey altogether, although it does enhance the dish and aids with caramelization.
- Add spices such as dried thyme or garlic powder. Try ½ teaspoon of each.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power.
This is one of those recipes where leftovers taste really good - almost as good as the freshly made dish.
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- 1 lb. small firm carrots
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or melted unsalted butter)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash the carrots and dry them well.
- If using large carrots, halve them crosswise and then halve their thick part lengthwise. Your goal is to have similar-sized carrot chunks. If using small carrots, as shown in the photos, you can leave them whole.
- In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the olive oil, honey, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- Spread the carrots on the prepared baking sheet, in a single layer. Roast until carrots are tender and browned, 10-15 minutes per side.