Oven Roasted Carrots

I’m always on the hunt for new and fun side dish recipes and since my kids love carrots, they are often the target. I recently tried this great recipe from Food and Wine using lemon laced ricotta cheese over oven charred peppers and lush cucumbers.

close up of whole roasted carrots with ricotta and lemon zest


 

The kids weren’t a fan, but I decided to try it over carrots and low and behold, they become believers! This is an easy recipe great for the wow factor at any dinner party or just a random weeknight. Dare I say it is good enough to eat as an entree? YES!

They are the perfect side dish for nearly any main course from meatloaf to chicken thighs and everything between.

What are Rainbow Carrots?

Rainbow carrots, sometimes called tri-colored carrots, are carrots that are yellow, deep purple (black knight) and the most popular, orange. Other are white and sometimes even red. They are typically picked before being fully mature, which makes them a little smaller and super sweet.

spoon placing dollops of ricotta cheese

We have been enjoying the carrots for a very long time as humans. But the orange carrot we see all the time was not a naturally occurring variety. Dutch farmers in the 17th century created a hybrid from other colors. Enter the orange carrot!

Other than munching on them raw, roasting carrots is a great way to achieve their best flavor and my overall favorite way to prepare them.

Ingredients

What I love about this rainbow carrot recipe is that the ingredient list so darn short! It really takes the natural flavors of deeply roasted carrots and and complements them with a cool, savory sauce. Fresh thyme is optional, but highly encouraged.

  • Rainbow Carrots– These can sometimes be hard to find, but when you do, JACKPOT! If you can’t locate them, just grab bunches of orange carrots. I like to leave a little greenery on top of fresh carrots and it is totally edible. This technique also works with baby carrots, just reduce the roasting time.
  • Olive oil– Just a bit to give fat to the exterior and get that deeply roasted flavor. Any neutral oil, like vegetable or canola oil, can be used. However, if you do use a different oil for roasting, don’t use anything but olive oil or an infused oil for additional drizzling at the end. No one wants carrots smothered in vegetable oil.
  • Coarse Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper– Both are to taste and will help accentuate the natural sweetness. Coarse Kosher salt and white pepper can also be swapped.
  • Whole milk ricotta cheese– Whole milk has the richest flavor and is the thickest, but reduced fat will work too, as will plain Greek yogurt or even small curd cottage cheese.
  • Fresh thyme– We used thyme, but grab whatever you have on hand in the garden. Basil, rosemary and even oregano for a peppery topping are all lovely options. I do really stress fresh herbs for this one, dried just won’t infuse into the topping the same way.
  • Lemon– Since we use both the zest and the juice, please use a fresh lemon and not bottled juice. Zest gives a pure lemony flavor while juice its signature tartness.
overhead of roasted carrots on a serving platter with ricotta cheese dollops

Other variations include a dusting of chili powder or sprinkle of fresh parsley or even honey at the end. Or whisk in fresh garlic or garlic powder to the ricotta mixture. Garlic always pairs nicely with savory carrots and sweet flavor. This recipe also works for nearly any root vegetable, including sweet potatoes, parsnips and rutabagas, and so have fun experimenting!

How to Roast Carrots in the Oven

Roasting carrots in the oven is quite simple, but here are a few tips before we get started.

  1. Use a low sided sheet pan or jelly roll pan. Anything with high sides can create steam, which will prevent that lovely browning and snap on the skin.
  2. Use oil or other fats, but minimally. For this one, we opted for olive oil. Make sure the carrots are coated, but not soaking. Sometimes I even toss them in a large bowl and then transfer to the baking dish.
  3. Give them space! Don’t crowd the pan- giving them space for hot air to circulate around each carrot is key to not having them steam, just like the high sides on a pan. Also aim for a single layer so nothing overlaps.
  4. HOT heat! Make sure to preheat the oven before you pop them in. High heat is the only way to get the roasted result you are looking for and let those natural sugars develop. Try to rotate them once or even twice to get an even browning.

How to Make Rainbow Carrots

Now let’s make this version of oven roasted carrots!

  1. Preheat the oven and grab a large baking sheet. You can line the baking sheet with parchment paper for easier clean up, if you like.
  2. Wash the carrots and trim greens down to 1-2 inches or cut the tops off. Arrange on a baking sheet in an even layer making sure there is room around each carrots. If carrots are super thick, cut them in half lengthwise. If they overlap some, that is fine, just make sure you rotate them during the cooking process.
  3. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat and then season with the salt and black pepper.
step-by-step images showing how to roast carrots
  1. Place them in the hot oven and roast for 25 minutes or until carrots are fork tender, turning once or twice. Roasting time will vary by the size of your carrots- thinner carrots cook faster, which fatter carrots cook longer. Pierce with a fork or cake tester, if soft, they are ready. They should be golden brown and have caramelized edges.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and thyme. Don’t discard the lemon- you need the zest for topping! Refrigerate until ready to serve.
overhead bowl of ricotta lemon topping
  1. Place hot, cooked carrots onto a serving platter, dollop ricotta mixture over top, then zest whole lemon. Drizzle with additional olive oil, freshly cracked pepper and flaky sea salt, if desired.
overhead platter of cooked rainbow carrots

Storage & Make Ahead

Topping can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready to serve. Carrots are best enjoyed freshly roasted. 

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you can store the topping and carrots separately, great, other wise reheat it all in the microwave or the oven at 300°F for 10 minutes.

I do not recommend freezing this roasted carrot recipe.

collage of oven roasted carrots for pinterest

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overhead shot of platter of oven roasted carrots for pinterest
overhead platter of oven roasted whole carrots with white sauce

Rainbow Carrots with Ricotta Topping

5 from 7 votes
Hot roasted rainbow carrots topped with a cool and creamy lemon laced ricotta topping. Perfect as a side or vegetarian entree.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wash baby carrots and trim greens down to 1-2 inches. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. Season generously with the salt and pepper.
  • Roast for 25 minutes or until carrots are fork tender. Cook time will vary by the size of your carrots. Pierce with a fork or cake tester, if soft, they are ready.
  • Meanwhile, combine ricotta cheese with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and thyme. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Place hot, cooked carrots onto a serving platter, dollop ricotta mixture over top, then zest whole lemon. Drizzle with additional olive oil, freshly cracked pepper and flaky sea salt, if desired.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings!

Notes

Topping can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until ready to serve. Carrots are best enjoyed freshly roasted. 

Nutrition

Calories: 142 kcal, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Protein: 4 g, Fat: 11 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Cholesterol: 7 mg, Sodium: 180 mg, Potassium: 167 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Vitamin A: 1095 IU, Vitamin C: 2.7 mg, Calcium: 97 mg, Iron: 0.8 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 142
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked carrots
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

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Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    These roasted rainbow carrots are marvelous on their own but you kicked them up a notch with the lemon ricotta. Delish!