Recipe: Spice-Roasted Carrots

By America’s Test Kitchen | September 15th, 2021

You'll love these sweet and savory roasted carrots a whole bunch!

Spice-roasted carrots Image

These spice-roasted carrots can be tricky! Cooking whole carrots requires only a tiny bit of prep (just peel and go!), but they take longer to cook through than smaller chopped carrots, especially on their thicker ends.

If you roast whole carrots uncovered, the dry heat inside your oven will turn the carrots’ outsides dry and leathery before the insides are tender and cooked through. Plus, the spices on the outside of the carrots will burn and taste bitter. The solution? A two-step cooking technique.

Step 1: Steam

Carrots contain a lot of water. When the carrots heat up in the oven, some of that water turns to steam. Covering the baking sheet tightly with foil traps the steam and the moist heat helps the carrots cook evenly — and won’t dry them out.

Step 2: Brown

Removing the aluminum foil after 15 minutes lets the steam escape and dries the outside of the carrots a little bit. Once the surface of the carrots is dry, it starts to turn golden brown in the hot oven, creating lots of new (delicious!) flavor molecules.

Spice-Roasted Carrots

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 pounds medium carrots with tops
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh carrot tops, cilantro, mint or parsley (optional)

1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Trim green tops from carrots, leaving about 1 inch of greens attached; set greens aside and save for garnish or another use. Peel carrots and transfer to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, combine oil, salt, paprika, pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder and cayenne (if using). Stir mixture until combined.

4. Drizzle oil mixture over carrots. Use your hands to toss and rub carrots until evenly coated. Spread carrots into an even layer on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet tightly with aluminum foil.

5. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Remove foil. Use tongs to flip carrots over.

6. Return the baking sheet to the oven and continue to roast, uncovered, until the thick ends of the carrots are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack and let carrots cool for 5 minutes.

7. Transfer carrots to a serving platter. Sprinkle with chopped carrot tops or herbs (if using). Serve.

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