Tender, crisp, and sweet, these roasted honey glazed carrots are a delicious addition to any table. Using a variety of rainbow carrots, this dish adds an extra dash of flavor and color to your plate. Easy to prep and simple to roast, these heirloom carrots can be added to a sheet pan dinner or served at your next holiday party. Read on for more, or hit the jump button above to go direct to the recipe.
If you’ve landed here from Pinterest looking for a recipe with baby carrots, you aren’t necessarily in the wrong place. This recipe was elevated to embrace it’s gourmet in May of 2018. The overall method is the same, but the preparation is easier and the ratios in the sauce are slightly different. The biggest change was swapping out those basic baby carrots for their grown up cousins: rainbow carrots, aka heirloom carrots.
Is it just me or do you also find that food with more color tends to have more flavor? In the case of these rainbow carrots, that is definitely true. While standard orange carrots have been bred for years to have consistent color and flavor, the heirloom varieties that are now becoming more readily available not only look different but they taste different too.
Like heirloom tomatoes, heirloom carrots have a richer flavor. The purple carrots had a rich, almost peppery flavor, while the white and yellow ones were more mild and sweet. When served all together their differences become even more noticeable. With heirloom varieties, the rainbow carrots that you get may be different from the ones I get. In fact, the carrots from the farmers market may be a different variety the you find at the market. I encourage you to try them from different sources to see which ones you like best.
Where to Find Rainbow Carrots
First off, rainbow carrots and heirloom carrots are the same thing by two different names. Heirloom carrots refers to the variety, while rainbow carrots is a nickname given based off of their color. I use the two terms interchangeably, as you will notice throughout this post.
My favorite place to pick up heirloom carrots is at the farmer’s market. These carrots are typically available early spring through summer long until the first freeze in the fall. Once picked, they can be kept in a cold location for a few weeks, meaning that we can eat fresh, raw carrots for the majority of the year. At many farmer’s markets you will find different varieties of heirloom carrots at each booth. One farmer may be selling ruby red carrots, the next may have purple ones with orange cores, and the next one may have pale yellow or white carrots. Variety is the spice of life, so try to get a few of each color.
In addition to farmer’s markets, heirloom carrots are becoming more and more available at your standard grocery store. Often I can only find them in the organic section and they typically will have long green tops still attached. On the other hand, I’ve spotted baby rainbow carrots, so look around and see what you can find. You may be able to find them in the frozen section, which is often what I use in my Lamb Shepherd’s Pie, but frozen carrots will not work well for this recipe. You are better off substituting the basic orange carrots from the produce section.
Handling and Storing Carrots
If your carrots still have the tops, make sure to trim them off as soon as you get them home. The job of a carrot is to relay the nutrients from the soil to the greens. If you remove the carrot from the soil, but leave the greens, they will still draw nutrients from the carrot. If you forget and your carrots get sad and limp, don’t worry! Simply chop off the tops (don’t throw them away!) and soak the carrots in cold water. I have never measured the minimum time to do this, but I have left carrots in cold water over night in the fridge and I come back to perfectly crisped carrots the next day.
Carrots, when left whole with their tops removed, have a surprisingly long shelf life. I tend to over estimate my love for carrots, often ending up with half a bag in my crisper drawer for weeks at a time. As long as the carrots are still firm and bright they are good to eat. Once peeled and chopped, store in cold water, where they will keep for about 3 weeks.
To Peel or Not to Peel
It’s personal preference. Most heirloom carrots have a thin skin that isn’t very noticeable once they are cooked. However, I find that a lot of organic carrots are covered with little white roots. They aren’t harmful and don’t affect the taste, but we eat first with our eyes. My personal preference is to quickly peel them with a Y-peeler. Whether you peel yours or not, remember that carrots grow underground. They need a good scrub with a vegetable brush before you start prepping.
Contrary to the myths that flew around in the early 2000s, carrot tops are perfectly healthy to eat and add a bit of herbal, earthiness to a dish. You can use the leafy section of the tops like you would most other herb. Use it as a garnish, stir it into a pasta, or toss it with salad greens. The stems however, can be a bit bitter. When I remember to, I throw them in the freezer with my other vegetable trimmings to make vegetable stock. If you want to try something a bit more adventurous, check out this Carrot Top Pesto from Snacking in Sneakers.
Want a fun experiment in cooking times? Go ask google how long carrots roast at different temperatures. If your search comes up like mine, you’ll see a wide variety of “experts” all quoting different oven temperatures with the same cooking time. While this may seem confusing, it really means that roasting carrots is a very flexible method. You can easily adapt time and temperature to your own personal preference. Essentially, most roasted carrots can be cooked at any temperature. However, don’t expect the same results at each temperature.
For most roasted carrot recipes a higher temperature will cook faster whereas a lower temperature will cook slower. These roasted honey glazed carrots are different however, because of the honey glaze. The sugars in the glaze make it more susceptible to burning, which is not what we want on our plates. At 375 degrees for 35 minutes, the edges of these carrots were golden, the texture was tender and crisp, but the glaze on the pan was starting to burn.
Before making adjustments to the time and temperature, consider how you like your carrots. If you prefer tender and crisp, stick to the suggestions. If you like your carrots soft, try dropping the temperature 25 – 50 degrees and cook a little longer. The lower temperature will still allow the sugar to caramelize into a glaze, while also preventing the glaze from burning.
Roasted Honey Glazed Carrots Method
Often honey glazed carrots are made in a pan on the stove top. Typically, you sweat the carrots in fat, simmer in a sugar and stock liquid, then reduce the liquid to a glaze. I, however, was looking for a way to simplify things. I wanted a recipe for days when my oven was already on. Days that I wanted a more hands off method that still embraced the honey glaze. Through trial and error, the roasted honey glazed carrot was born. I found that by basting the carrots as they roast I could create the outcome I wanted without having to dirty another sauce pan.
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Roasted Honey Glazed Carrots Recipe
With the gorgeous colors and rich flavors of heirloom carrots, these roasted honey glazed carrots elevate your basic side dish into something a bit more gourmet. An uncomplicated approach to a delicious side, these carrots are welcome at your holiday table or for a Tuesday night dinner.
As a year round vegetable they can be paired with your Christmas dinner or served at an Easter brunch. In the fall try them with my Garlic Herb Pork and Potatoes or in the summer pair them with my Bacon Avocado Burger at a BBQ.
If you happen to have leftovers, they will keep in the fridge for 3 – 5 days. Once chilled, they taste great tossed in a green salad with a simple vinaigrette. For best flavor, use the same vinegar for the dressing as you used for the carrots. You can also toss them into a rice bowl or puree them with some vegetable broth for a simple soup.
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Roasted Honey Glazed Carrots
- 2 TBSP butter - melted
- 1 TBSP champagne vinegar
- 1 TBSP honey
- pinch of kosher salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 1 dozen heirloom rainbow carrots
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a small saucepan melt the butter, then stir in the champagne vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.
- Clean the carrots. Peel and remove tops and tails if desired. Carrots thicker than 3/4" at the top should be sliced in half vertically to ensure even cooking time.
- Line a rimmed baking tray with a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Arrange carrots spaced out in a single layer. Baste with the honey butter glaze.
- Place the veggies in the heated oven and roast for 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from oven, turn carrots over and baste again.
- Cook veggies an additional 15 - 20 minutes or until desired tenderness. Remove from oven. Baste and sprinkle with fresh thyme.