Cooking Basics

How to cook carrots

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Turn raw carrots into a delicious side dish
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Simple, delicious methods of how to cook carrots

Ever since we were little, we've been told that carrots are healthy.  But those nasty carrots in a can are mushy and tasteless.  And frozen ones taste, well, frozen. But with a few simple tips and recipes you can learn how to cook carrots that are worlds away from the canned or frozen tasteless orange chunks.

Picking Your Carrots

No, I am not talking about going out Bugs Bunny-style and picking carrots from your neighbor's garden (although just-picked carrots are incredibly tasty!)  These are tips for picking the right carrots at the farmer's market or grocery store so your cooked carrot recipes will come out right.

Bigger is Not Better When it Comes to Carrots

In general, those gigantic carrots you see sometimes (the ones that look more like orange baseball bats) are not your best choice.  Sure, you get more carrot, but bigger carrots were often left too long in the ground before picking and can be bitter.

Baby carrots are the most tender, and generally the sweetest, but they can be pricy. The super skinny long ones are sometimes dry, so skip carrots that are pencil-thin. Look for a medium sizes carrot, about as big around as a quarter.

Appearances Count

With people, no, but with carrots, appearances are a good hint to flavor.  Look for a nice orange color, with little green on the main carrot. Avoid carrots with splits in them -- they're old and probably won't taste very good. And any carrot with soft or dark areas should be avoided...odds are they got wet after they were picked, and are starting to mold.

To Peel or Not to Peel

Pre-peeled carrots can be a major time saver, but you'll pay for the convenience.  Select water-peeled over chemically peeled for your safety and health.

If you select healthy-looking carrots, especially if they're organic, a good scrubbing is all they'll need before you cook them.  Peeling may remove significant nutrients, so avoid it if you can.  (Some recipes call for peeled carrots for appearances sake -- it's your choice.)

Time to Cook Some Carrots

Carrots are delicious baked, grilled, roasted, steamed or even boiled (as long as they aren't boiled until they turn to mush.)  Their sweet flavor comes out best with slow cooking.  Here are a few recipes that showcase some of the best ways to cook carrots.

Easy Roasted Carrots

The Barefoot Contessa has a wonderful recipe for roasted carrots.  Roasting brings out the natural sweetness.  And these carrots can cook in the oven while you're making the rest of the meal.


12 medium to large carrots
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole.
  • Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink while cooking so make the slices big.)
  • Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned and tender.
  • Toss the carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.
These carrots are delicious with fresh seafood, lobster or shellfish.  Just add rice, a salad and crusty rolls for a complete meal.

Healthy Maple-Glazed Carrots

The people at Whole Foods suggest this delicious maple-glazed carrot recipe for beginner cooks and experienced kitchen-mavens alike.


1 (16-ounce) bag baby carrots (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon canola oil or melted butter
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup -- you need the real thing for this recipe)
Sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Pinches of nutmeg and cinnamon


  • Steam carrots over boiling water until just tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pour oil or butter and maple syrup into a sauté pan.
  • When carrots are done, drain and sauté them for just a couple of minutes in the oil and maple syrup over medium-high heat
  • Serve hot

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