Sweet and salty, buttery and tender, these Maple Roasted Carrots are a guaranteed crowdpleaser for the holidays.
Carrots are roasted, then coated in a maple-butter glaze and briefly returned to the oven until glistening and caramelized with sticky bits!
With just a handful of ingredients, these roasted carrots are simple to make but nothing short of addictive. Plus, they pair well with just about everything, making them an incredibly versatile side dish staple.
Why this recipe works
Sticky, caramelized goodness.
Roasted carrots are already pretty good on their own, but these maple roasted carrots are fantastic for a few reasons.
- Using unpeeled carrots lends more textural dimension than peeled carrots (and saves time).
- Roasting skinny carrots whole, without cutting them, maximizes caramelization and sticky bits.
- Roasting the carrots across two pans without stirring allows them to caramelize and develop crispy edges (if you overlap them, they just steam).
- Roasting at a relatively high temperature (425ºF) allows the carrots to brown more readily.
- Maple syrup and brown sugar coax out the natural sweetness from carrots, taking carrots from good to straight up addictive.
Pairs well with almost anything.
The ingredients are simple enough that they allow the carrots to really shine. Plus, the flavor profile is neutral enough that you can serve these maple roasted carrots on the side of virtually anything.
Whether you’re hosting a traditional holiday dinner with family or a fancy dinner party for friends, these carrots will fit right in.
Plus, this recipe is allergen-friendly so everyone can enjoy it! Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free!
A simple but crowd pleasing side dish.
With 10ish ingredients and very little prep work, this is a dish that even beginner cooks can make. No peeling necessary, and using skinny carrots allows you to leave them whole (no slicing either!).
But no one will guess how easy these are to make because each bite of sticky, caramelized, buttery goodness is a party for the taste buds. And if the holidays are out of sight, these are a great addition to weeknight dinners.
Carrots. If you can find skinny carrots, please use those. Compared to larger carrots, they get more caramelized. It also requires less prep, as you can leave them whole and don’t need to chop them.
Maple Syrup. It’s in the title! Maple syrup draws out the natural sweetness in carrots and also adds a subtle caramel-ish flavor. Just be sure to use 100% pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup!
Organic brown sugar. In our tests, adding just a bit of brown sugar instead of using all maple syrup made for a more viscous, less runny, glaze.
Vegan butter. The maple glaze has a little (vegan) butter because some amount of richness is warranted in this holiday side dish.
Substitute: If you don’t have access to vegan butter, use extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch more salt.
Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar. A subtle tang is necessary to balance the sweetness.
Garlic. Grating fresh garlic into the maple butter glaze does some heavy flavor lifting in this very simple vegan side dish.
Arrowroot powder. Sounds a little strange, but it helps the glaze thicken up and adhere to the carrots. Only a tiny amount (1/2 teaspoon) is needed.
Substitute: You can likely use cornstarch, though we haven’t tested it.
Flaky sea salt. The salt not only balances the sweetness but also makes the sweetness pop more. Sweet-salty heaven!
Scrub your carrots very well (they be dirty!) but don’t peel. Pat them dry.
For skinny carrots like in photo #1, leave them whole.
If some or all of your carrots are thicker, (1) cut them in half crosswise. Then (2) quarter the thicker top halves lengthwise; (3) for the thinner bottoms, leave them whole if they’re thin enough, or cut them in half lengthwise (see photo #2 below).
Spread the carrots out between two sheet pans lined with parchment paper.
Toss the carrots with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out on the pans without overlap.
Roast the carrots in the oven at 425ºF/218ºC for 30 to 35 minutes, without tossing, until browned in spots and tender.
Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the maple butter glaze.
When the carrots come out of the oven, drizzle on the maple butter glaze.
Gently toss with a spatula to ensure carrots are well coated.
Return to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes, until carrots are caramelized in spots. Finish with flaky sea salt.
Tips for making this recipe
Opt for skinny, slender carrots.
In our tests, skinny carrots were superior to medium carrots (and certainly to fat carrots) flavor- and texture-wise.
When the carrots are left whole, they caramelize better in the oven and develop those sticky, slightly crunchy bits (so good!). But the only kind of carrots you can leave whole are skinny carrots.
Medium-width and fatter carrots need to be cut into pieces. With the latter, the flavor is still great, but you don’t get very many crunchy, caramelized pieces.
No skinny carrots? Cut accordingly.
If you can’t find skinny carrots, you’ll need to cut the carrots.
First, cut the carrots in half crosswise, separating the thicker top from the skinnier bottom. Now quarter the thicker top halves lengthwise; for the thinner bottoms, leave them whole if they’re thin enough, or cut them in half lengthwise.
Leave the peel on.
The carrot peel adds added texture and dimension. Just be sure to rinse and scrub the carrots well.
Don’t forget to line your pans with parchment paper.
When the carrots are coated in maple syrup, it will make your sheet pans sticky so parchment paper makes cleanup much, much easier.
Feel free to change up the garnish.
I kept the garnish for these carrots super simple—just a handful of chopped parsley and flaky sea salt—because I think that’s all they need. But feel free to customize.
Toasted and chopped pistachios or almonds would be nice, as would toasted sesame seeds. You can swap the parsley with chives, dill or even mint, or make a gremolata out of finely minced parsley, lemon zest, and garlic.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re making these for a holiday dinner like Thanksgiving or Christmas, serve them alongside classic dishes like vegan cornbread, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, and stuffing.
For some main dish options, the sweetness of the carrots would be lovely a lovely contrast with the meatiness of this Mushroom Wellington or Greek Moussaka.
If you’re making this outside of holiday season, they’re great on the side of a wild rice dish, like this Wild Rice Mushroom Soup or Creamy White Beans with Kale.
You can do most of the prep ahead of time. Scrub the carrots and toss with with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can leave at room temp for a couple hours, or refrigerate for a day.
You can also make the maple butter glaze ahead of time and store it in your fridge. Warm it slightly before using, or let it sit on the counter.
When ready, transfer the carrots to sheet pans and roast.
Once cooled, store carrots in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Reheat in the oven at 350°F/175ºC for 20 minutes, or until warmed through. You can also reheat in the microwave, but the oven reheat gives you a better texture.
Yes! Once carrots roast, they shrink quite a bit. This will yield enough for 8 as a side dish.
If you love these Maple Roasted Carrots as much as we do, please rate and review the recipe with your feedback below! It’s always very much appreciated :)
- 3 pounds (1.4 kg) of skinny carrots (about 5 bunches of skinny carrots)*
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter, melted**
- 1 ½ tablespoons organic brown sugar
- ¼ cup (72g) maple syrup
- 1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard (regular or coarse ground)
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 6 garlic cloves grated
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, for a kick)***
- ½ teaspoon arrowroot powder
- 1 large handful Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Flaky sea salt for finishing
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF/218ºC and arrange two racks in the oven, one on the bottom and one in the upper third of the oven. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper (important for easy cleanup).
- Wash and scrub the carrots well (they're dirty!), but don't peel them. Pat dry the carrots. If the carrots are skinny throughout, leave them whole for the best texture. If they’re fatter on the top, slice in half crosswise; keep the bottom skinny part whole; and cut the fatter tops lengthwise into quarters.
- Divide the carrots across the two pans. Drizzle with the olive oil and season well with salt and lots of black pepper (if carrots feel dry, add a bit more oil). Rub the carrots with your hands, ensuring they’re all evenly coated. Spread out in a single layer and roast in the oven 30 minutes (35 minutes for medium-sized carrots), until browned in spots and tender, without tossing or stirring.
- While carrots are roasting, make the maple butter glaze. Melt the butter in a medium bowl in the microwave, then add the brown sugar and heat for 20 seconds to help dissolve the sugar a bit (or you can do this in a small saucepan on the stove). Whisk the sugar and butter well, then add in the maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, grated garlic, and red pepper flakes if using. Whisk until well combined. Stir in the arrowroot powder and whisk well again.
- Remove the carrots from the oven. Whisk the glaze again to ensure the sugar is mixed well, then pour it over the carrots. Use a silicone spatula to toss and coat the carrots in the glaze. Roast for another 10 minutes, or until caramelized in spots.
- Remove from the oven. If there’s a fair amount of glaze on the pan, gently toss the carrots in it. Sprinkle on a few pinches of flaky sea salt. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with parsley, if desired.
Recipe: Nisha Vora / Rainbow Plant Life | Photography: Megan Morello and Nisha Vora