Roasted Baby Carrots are one of the easiest and tastiest side dishes you can make! Five minutes of prep and then they roast away to tender, sweet perfection, ready to serve alongside any meal. Keep it super simple with just olive oil, salt, and pepper, or dress things up with some of the tasty additions suggested below.

Roasted baby carrots on a large sheet pan.

Baby carrots: A love song

Who here keeps a package of baby carrots in the fridge most all of the time? They are amazing to pop into lunch boxes, sure, but with absolutely minimal effort you can take them from snack central right up to quality vegetable side dish material.

There’s positively no cutting required, which is a bonus for anyone still trying to get dinner on the table with needy toddlers underfoot. They pair well with so many delicious meals. And, the process of roasting brings out carrots’ natural sugars, leaving you with a sweet-tasting veggie that tends to be acceptable to even picky eaters.

Roasted carrots are also versatile in that they work well to round out a busy weeknight dinner — I love serving them alongside baked tilapia, Tuscan pasta, or honey glazed chicken for a quick family meal — but also make a lovely, low-maintenance side dish for a holiday.

How to roast baby carrots

This is one of those recipes that hardly needs an actual recipe, but if you’ve never made them before, it helps to have everything spelled out. And, bonus, once you make these a time or two, you’ll have it committed to memory without even trying. It’s just that simple.

  1. Rub carrots dry. This is an often-skipped step but it helps guarantee consistent results, by making it easier for the oil to coat the carrots so they cook quickly and evenly.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat.
  3. Roast on a rimmed sheet pan until tender enough to pierce with a table fork.

Should you wash or peel baby cut carrots?

It’s not necessary to wash or to peel the type of baby cut carrots sold in bags in the grocery store. They have no skin, because they are actually made by cutting the shape out of large carrots, and generally come pre-washed.

If you do prefer to rinse them prior to rubbing dry and tossing with oil and seasoning, there’s no harm, however. Some like to do this because baby cut carrots are typically treated with an extremely diluted chlorine bath as a preservative and cleaning solution prior to packaging and sale.

How long does it take carrots to soften in the oven?

It takes roughly 20 minutes for baby cut carrots to soften in the oven at 400 degrees F. If using particularly stocky or petite cut carrots, of course, this time will vary.

This is also very forgiving if you want to roast them at a slightly higher or lower temperature in order to cook alongside another dish – you can comfortably go as low as 350 degrees or as high as 425 degrees. Simply check on the carrots and plan to adjust the cook time accordingly.

But help! Why are my roasted carrots tough?

Although carrots last longer than many other vegetables in the fridge, one drawback is that old carrots can veer to the tough side when roasted. Also, cooking at a higher temperature can exacerbate this, so if you’re worried, consider roasting them at a lower temperature for longer.

When I have over the hill carrots, my first choice is to toss them into this carrot red pepper soup — so delicious! It works perfectly with any type: regular carrots, baby, or the “baby cut” variety shown here.

Close up of a roasted baby cut carrot.

Variations

  • Add 2 teaspoons of dried herbs — or 1-2 tablespoons fresh — along with the salt and pepper. My favorite pairing with carrots is thyme, but oregano, rosemary, or any Italian herb blend is lovely.
  • Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup after roasting and prior to serving. Toss well. (Don’t add this before roasting, or it will make a terrible mess sticking to the pan and possibly scorching, depending on how hot your oven runs.)
  • Add some color by tossing the carrots with 1/4 cup of basil pesto (or this healthier swap) after roasting.
  • Elevate the dish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and sea salt. Again, add these just prior to serving.
Close up of a fork piercing a tender, slightly wrinkled baby carrot.

What’s the difference between baby carrots and “baby cut” carrots?

Of course, the tiny “baby cut” carrots shown here are very popular, especially for lunch boxes and quick snacking purposes. It is true, however, that they are artificial in a sense: they are made by cutting up and repackaging broken pieces of mature orange carrots.

There is another type of baby carrot, more genuine in a sense: simply a carrot harvested prior to its full maturity. They are typically 3-4 inches in length, and often available in the produce section in small bunches, frequently in a variety of colors. And yes, you can roast “real” baby carrots using the exact same times and technique described here.

Are baby carrots as healthy as regular carrots?

As noted on WebMD, baby cut carrots have very similar nutrients and health benefits as do mature carrots and their “genuine” baby brethren. All have a huge amount of vitamin A, good amounts of fiber and vitamin C, and are a good source of other antioxidants and minerals, too. These contribute to healthy eyes, skin, and digestion.

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Roasted baby carrots on a large sheet pan.
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Roasted Baby Carrots

Roasted Baby Carrots are one of the easiest and tastiest side dishes you can make! Five minutes of prep and then they roast away to tender, sweet perfection, ready to serve alongside any meal. Keep it super simple with just olive oil, salt, and pepper, or dress things up with some of the tasty additions suggested below.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12-15 cranks fresh-ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place carrots in a clean kitchen towel and rub gently to dry them. (This helps the oil adhere so they cook more quickly and evenly.)
  • Place carrots on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss well to combine, then spread out into a single layer.
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, giving them a quick stir halfway through, until carrots are tender enough to be easily pierced by a fork. Serve right away, with a garnish of fresh herbs, if desired.

Notes

  • Variations:
    • Add 2 teaspoons of dried herbs — or 1-2 tablespoons fresh — along with the salt and pepper. My favorite pairing with carrots is thyme, but oregano, rosemary, or any Italian herb blend is lovely.
    • Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup after roasting and prior to serving. Toss well. (Don’t add this before roasting, or it will make a terrible mess sticking to the pan and possibly scorching, depending on how hot your oven runs.)
    • Add some color by tossing the carrots with 1/4 cup of basil pesto (or this healthier swap) after roasting.
    • Elevate the dish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and sea salt. Again, add these just prior to serving.
  • Oven Temperature: This is also very forgiving if you want to roast them at a slightly higher or lower temperature in order to cook alongside another dish – you can comfortably go as low as 350 degrees or as high as 425 degrees. Simply check on the carrots and plan to adjust the cook time accordingly.
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