~ Need an ultra-easy vegetable side dish that goes with practically any dinner? This Oven Roasted Carrots recipe is for you! Just 1 main ingredient and 2 minutes of hands-on time … plus a surprisingly delicious technique! Try our creative suggestions to quickly adapt this to fit any meal! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Includes Make-Ahead Steps • Vegan (and Vegetarian) • Gluten Free • Paleo •
Are you always rushed at dinnertime? (This is where allllll the parents raise their hands and nod knowingly.)
Yes. It’s a thing. No matter how you plot and plan, by the time the day has wound its way to the dinner hour, things always seem to be derailed, don’t they?
You hardly have enough time to put a main dish on the table, let alone some nutritious side dishes (because … you know … gotta get some veggies in those kiddos).
What you absolutely need are side dishes that pretty much make themselves. Ones that you can count on every.single.time.
A Side Dish Win, Time After Time
This carrot recipe is one of my go-to gems! It’s:
• Perfectly, beautifully simple. Literally 1 ingredient (plus olive oil, salt and pepper, which everybody considers “freebies”).
• So quick and easy. Just 2 minutes of prep, and then you let the oven work its magic.
• And that oven magic? We’re talking caramelization! Roasty brown spots that promise deep, sweet flavors even kids find irresistible (more on that in a moment …).
• Super adaptable – I’ve got lots of ideas for matching this up with practically any main course (more on that in a moment, too …).
Why Oven Roasting Is So Magical
I’ve talked with so many other moms who marvel at the way roasting vegetables somehow gets their kids to eat more veggies. At the way veggies disappear so much faster if they’re oven roasted, instead of boiled or steamed.
I get it! I’ve watched it happen at my own dinner table.
Roasting is a verified veggie win!
As I’ve mentioned with other recipes, like our popular Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Pasta, the magical secret of roasted veggies is all about the caramelization. That’s what happens as those pretty, roasty brown spots develop in the oven.
The caramelization process equals delicious, more complex … and sweeter … flavor.
It basically transforms your vegetables into something altogether more fabulous than where the humble, raw veggies began.
How to Roast Carrots
This is about as simple as simple can possibly get.
No need to buckle up for the ride. No need to take notes.
Blink and you might miss it! Ready?? Here we go …
You’ll notice that I use baby carrots because it’s quick and easy to grab a bag of them at the grocery store, but you could start with whole carrots if you prefer. Go for uniformly sized pieces so they roast at about the same rate.
Pro Tip: If your carrots are damp (like ours in the photo above), be sure to pat them dry before you begin the recipe. That’ll ensure that the oil and spices you’re going to toss your baby carrots with will adhere well. Plus, if your carrots start out wet, they’ll tend to steam more than they’ll roast, which isn’t what we’re shooting for here.
Toss your baby carrots with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.
You can do this in a bowl if you like, but why dirty a bowl if you don’t have to?
I do this right on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
I find it’s easiest to use my hands for this, which actually works better than using a spoon (and hey hey … since we’re all about saving time and dirty dishes … you also save washing a spoon later! 😉 It’s the little things.)
Spread your carrots out on two parchment-lined baking sheets and pop ’em in the oven, stirring them partway through roasting.
It’s that easy!
Walk away … and focus on your main dish. Your side dish is all set!
Pro Tip: You’ll notice that my carrots are really spread out on the baking sheets, instead of being crammed together or piled on top of each other. That’s critical for making sure they roast well. If your carrots are jammed too closely together or heaped onto a too-small roasting tray, they’ll end up being more steamed than roasted. (And again, that’s just not what we’re going for here.)
The Best Temperature for Roasting Carrots
Two words: Fast and Hot.
Which means cranking your oven up to about 475°F.
I’ve seen a wide variety of roasting temperatures being used in roasted vegetable recipes – not only for roasting carrots, but for other veggies, too. Some recipes hardly even count as “roasting” at all – they use an oven temperature that’s so low, it’s really just a slooooow bake.
For me, the magic happens most perfectly when you achieve those glorious roasty spots at the same time as you get a perfect crisp-tender texture. I don’t want mushy, over-cooked veggies. Blech. I want mine to still have a bit of spunk left … but to have nabbed that complex, sweeter caramelization along the way.
So I recommend (say it with me …) Fast and Hot.
I’ve tested and re-tested that 475°F temperature with all sorts of different vegetables, besides carrots. Works like a charm for asparagus, green beans, red potatoes, peppers, cauliflower … even leftover broccoli stalks!
Pro Tip: You can change up the exact roast-iness you achieve by moving your oven rack closer to (or farther away from) your oven’s heating element. For example, I know that my oven’s bottom rack is where the best caramelization happens.
When you’re roasting two sheet pans of veggies at once, it’s a good idea to rotate the pans partway through (typically when you stir the veggies), so that each pan gets a chance to be closer to the prime spot near the heat source.
Also, if your oven runs really hot (a reliable oven thermometer can help you check this to be sure), you can ratchet the temp down accordingly, of course.
A side benefit? On those crazy-busy nights, you don’t need 45 minutes or an hour to make your side dish, letting it slooooooowly bake in a cooler oven. Crank that baby up, and your perfectly oven roasted carrots will be ready in a jiffy!
How Long to Roast Carrots?
Precisely how long to roast carrots depends on their thickness.
A good rule of thumb for baby carrots or similarly sized hand-cut carrots is that they’ll need to roast for about 20-24 minutes (at the preferred oven temperature of 475°F).
But, if they’re really, really thick, you may have to let them go for a few minutes longer.
If you aren’t sure if your carrots are done, test them with a fork to see if they’re tender throughout, without being mushy.
Serving Suggestions (How to Adapt These Carrots for Practically ANY Meal!)
This recipe is such a no-brainer. A perfect companion for nearly any main dish. Great alongside:
- Roasted meats
- Rotisserie Chicken
Seriously … I serve these Oven Roasted Baby Carrots alongside practically any main!
They’re delicious just as the recipe’s written, but also a wonderful blank canvas that allows you to transform them based on the other flavors in your meal.
Feel free to experiment, or try some of these suggestions:
√ Toss your carrots with other dried herbs and spices before roasting. Start with ones you’re using in your main dish, and riff from there.
√ Or, sprinkle your roasted carrots with fresh herbs after you pull them from the oven. (I used parsley in my photos, for a pretty final flourish.)
√ Drizzle them with extra EVOO or a lovely flavored olive oil. (You’re only using a little bit of olive oil in the roasting process, so you won’t feel guilty adding a few more calories with a high-quality oil for serving).
√ If your main dish includes a sauce, gravy or vinaigrette … spoon some of that on top of your roasted baby carrots, to marry the carrots to the main.
√ For even more of a change-up, swap out some of the carrots for other similar root vegetables (like parsnips or potatoes), kind of like I do in my Roasted Root Vegetables recipe.
√ Ok … and here’s a really craaaa-zy idea for ya: If I have a few leftover roasted baby carrots, I LOVE to eat them cold, straight out of the fridge, dipped in a lemony hummus. It might sound weird, but I promise, the tangy-nuttiness of the hummus is soooooo good with the sweet carrots!
Adjusting Your Yield
Roasting two pounds of carrots may sound like a lot, but for my family of four, roasting just one pound wouldn’t be nearly enough. They’re just too good!
If you prefer, though, for smaller families, it’s easy to cut the recipe in half. The roasting time and temp stay the same – simply adjust your ingredient amounts and scale back to using one sheet pan instead of two.
Other Super-Simple Side Dishes
If you’re like me, and always looking for easy side dishes that I know I can throw together with virtually no effort, then you’ll love these ideas, too:
- 5-Minute Easy Rice and Beans
- Easy Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
- Blistered Green Beans
- Roasted Root Vegetables with Honey-Dijon Drizzle
- 5-Minute Asian Sugar Snap Peas
- Parmesan Roasted Broccoli Stalks
Because really, when time is tight, dinner doesn’t have to be late to the table just because you want to round out your meal with some veggies.
Don’t compromise! Tomorrow night, fire up your oven and toss together these Oven Roasted Carrots!
With adaptable, I-can-make-this-in-my-sleep recipes like this in your cooking arsenal, you’ll never have to compromise on busy-night side dishes again!
- 2 pounds bagged baby carrots, or similarly sized carrots (patted dry, if needed)
- 1 tablepoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- minced fresh parsley for garnish, if desired (see post for other suggestions on varying the herbs, spices, and flavorings)
Preheat oven to 475°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Toss baby carrots with oil, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. (You can do this in a bowl before spreading the carrots on the baking sheets, or you can do it directly on the lined baking sheets. Either way, just be sure that all the carrots are evenly coated in oil, and that the salt and pepper are evenly distributed.)
Arrange carrots in a single layer on the baking sheets. (Don't over-crowd them, or they won't roast properly.)
Roast carrots for about 12 minutes (until some browned, blistered spots are beginning to form), and then stir them, spreading them back out evenly across the baking sheets.
Return carrots to the oven, rotating the position of the baking sheets, and continue roasting for about another 8-12 minutes (the exact timing will depend on how thick your carrots are), until the carrots are roasted to your liking.
Serve immediately, garnished with minced fresh parsley (if desired, to add a pop of color).