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Elevate a simple side dish to gourmet and gorgeous with this Honey Glazed Roasted Rainbow Carrots recipe. A sweet and savory flavor combination, topped with a crunchy and fresh garnish makes it the perfect showstopper side for holidays, special occasions, or making weeknight dinner delicious.
For most of my life the only way I would consume a carrot was raw and dipped in peanut butter (still good, especially with homemade nut butter). As an adult I’ve discovered that carrots are delicious in many ways, especially fresh from the farmer’s market, oven roasted, and then glazed.
If you’ve never purchased rainbow carrots, this is the best time to start. Not only are they delicious, they’re beautiful also, and can transform simple glazed carrots into something really special. This recipe roasts them in whole or in halves, then finishes them with a sweet glaze.
I top them with a super simple (but optional) gremolata that makes sure every part of your palate is satisfying – crunchy, tender, sweet, savory, salty – this recipe has it all.
The Low Down on Rainbow Carrots
What are they? – They’re not modified or dyed or anything strange. They’re simply a collection of heirloom varieties that are sold as a bundle. You can buy and grow multicolored rainbow carrot seeds in your own garden, or some farmers grow specific varieties like atomic reds, white satin, etc, and mix them up after harvest to create beautiful bundles.
How do they taste? – If you get a nice fresh bundle from the farmer’s market and do a raw tasting, you’ll definitely be able to taste a subtle difference between the traditional orange, the slightly spicy purple, and sweeter red and yellow. But once roasted, the flavors mellow out, and they’ll all taste very similar.
Where to find them? – Carrots are in season from spring through fall, and since they keep well, I often find them at local farmers markets for many weeks after. You can also usually find them in the organic section of the grocery store.
How to pick the best ones for roasting? – Find bunches with similarly sized carrots. Look for the same length and thickness for even roasting. If you can’t, simply chop the carrots into similarly sized pieces instead. Also look for those green tops. They’re edible and a good indication of carrot freshness. If the greens are sad, wilted, and brown, the carrots are older. If they’re bright and vibrant, they’re fresher.
How do store them? – Cut the tops off when you get home. The greens will use the carrot to stay vibrant, and you can end up with limp carrots if they’re left on too long. Keep them wrapped in a dampened produce bags and they’ll keep for a week or more.
How do prep them? – We like to roast them whole, or split in half if they’re thicker. They’re gorgeous served that way and it cuts down on some prep. Clean them well, but there is no need to peel them unless you want to. Many like to leave on the top green stem for looks, but make sure they’re scrubbed well, dirt likes to linger there.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Rainbow Carrots – This recipe uses one whole bunch, but can easily be doubled or tripled for a bigger crowd at the holidays.
- Butter – I like unsalted to ensure I can control the level of seasoning.
- Honey – Use your favorite local honey or you can swap in maple syrup.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic is irreplaceable in this, powder simply doesn’t work as well.
- Bay leaves – I love the subtle herb flavor of bay in this and I always have some in my cupboard. But thyme, rosemary, or even sage would be really good too.
- Salt & Pepper – I use coarse kosher salt, and peppercorns freshly cracked with a pepper mill.
- Lemon juice – just a splash for a hint of acid. You can also use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar instead.
Optional Gremolata topping – I like to utilize the carrot tops to make a crunchy, herbaceous chopped topping that plays off the sweet, sticky flavors really well. It’s entirely optional, but worth it if you have a few extra minutes.
- Carrot greens – If you’ve never used the tops of carrots, you should start! They make amazing herb replacements. If you buy carrots without the greens, don’t worry, just swap in flat leaf parsley.
- Lemon juice – This is just enough acid to add zing to sweet glazed rainbow carrots. Fresh is ideal, but bottled will work if you have that.
- Garlic – Just 1 clove very, very finely minced or crushed into paste.
- Almonds – I recommend the hard crunchiness of almonds, but other nuts will work as well. Pecans or pistachios would be tasty.
- Oil – Just a splash of extra virgin olive oil or any neutral flavored oil is needed to bring the topping together.
Cooking Process & Tips
I use a 2 part cooking process for these to extract the best possible flavor. I love those quick ‘throw it in the oven’ kind of recipes too, but when it comes to honey roasted rainbow carrots, I repeatedly found this method yields the tastiest results.
- Wash and cut carrots in half. Lightly oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 450°F. Use a sheet pan not a baking dish, the metal will promote caramelization.
- While they’re getting roasted, make the glaze. Just combine the honey, butter, bay, lemon juice, and garlic and heat until bubbly. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- When the carrots have begun to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes, pull them out and toss with the glaze.
- Drop the temp to 350°F and place back in the oven and roast until desired doneness is reached, tossing every 5 minutes.
- Just use a food processor or a knife to chop the almonds, 1 garlic clove, and carrot greens together, then toss both with lemon juice and oil.
It’s still very simple, but you get that browned, delicious edge to the roasted rainbow carrots and a sweet honey glazed finish. Just top the carrots with the gremolata and serve!
Once glazed, the carrots are best served hot and fresh. But if you’d like to make them in advance I recommend completing the roasting step and making the glaze. Then let them cool and store them separately. When you’re ready to cook, toss them together in a hot pan until the glaze coats the carrots and they’re tender.
There’s not one right way to approach glazed, roasted carrots. I prefer a high heat start that caramelizes the edges of the carrots with oil, then a lower heat finish with the glaze to make sure they get tender without the sugars burning.
Whether you’re serving these honey roasted beauties as a Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish or just want to change up your typical carrot preparation, I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. Let me know how it goes and as always, Happy Eating!
More side dishes to enjoy
Honey Glazed Roasted Rainbow Carrots
- 1.5 pounds rainbow carrots about 6-7 medium sized, 1" width or so
- 1 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Gremolata Topping – optional
- 2 tablespoons carrot greens, finely chopped or parsley
- 2 tablespoons almonds, chopped
- 1 medium garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon oil
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Wash and dry the carrots and split in half if any wider than 1/2" thick.
- Toss with 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Arrange on a metal baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until edges are beginning to caramelize.
- Meanwhile smash and lightly chop the garlic for the glaze.
- Combine the butter, honey, bay leaves, garlic, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until hot, bubbly, and thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the carrots from oven and drop the temp to 350°F.
- Toss with the glaze and return to the oven to roast another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If making the gremolata topping combined finely chopped parsley or carrot greens with a clove of crushed or finely minced garlic and chopped almonds.
- Toss with lemon juice and olive oil. Taste, and add a pinch of salt if needed.
- When carrots are nicely glazed and tender, remove from oven and transfer to a serving dish. Top with gremolata and serve it hot.
Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.