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How to Cook Carrots: The Best Methods + Tips & Tricks

If you are not sure how to cook carrots, you are not alone. Many people think that carrots are only good for snacking or adding to salads and vegetable trays. Although raw carrots are crunchy and satisfying, cooked carrots are delicious and can be a great addition to a healthy diet.

Roasted carrots on a baking sheet.

In this complete guide to cooking carrots, you will learn how to prepare carrots for cooking as well as how to cook carrots on the stovetop, in the oven, and in the Instant Pot.

Are Cooked Carrots Nutritious?

Yes, cooked carrots are very nutritious. They contain beneficial nutrients and fiber.

Although cooking can reduce the vitamin content in many foods, cooking carrots actually improves the bioavailability of carotenoids, which act as antioxidants in the human body.

What is the Glycemic Index of Cooked Carrots?

The glycemic index of cooked carrots ranges from 33 to 49. The glycemic load of cooked carrots is 2 (source www.glycemicindex.com).

Three raw unpeeled carrots on a marble background.

How to Prep Carrots for Cooking

To prepare carrots for cooking, wash them thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom of the carrot.

If there is a pale-green rim at the top portion of the carrot, make sure to remove it because it might have an unpleasant taste.

Do You Need to Peel Carrots Before Cooking Them?

Carrot skin is edible. If you have fresh young carrots just out of the garden, there is no need to peel them. Just wash and scrub them to remove dirt and any debris.

However, the skin on large older carrots might have an unpleasant mouthfeel, so it’s better to peel them.

Do You Need to Slice Carrots to Cook Them?

Carrots are dense vegetable and take a relatively long time to cook. That’s why, depending on the cooking method you choose, you may have to cut them.

But carrots can also be cooked whole. In fact, when carrots are cooked whole, they taste better and may also retain more nutrients.

Below you will find a variety of cooking methods, including two ways of cooking whole carrots.

How to Slice Carrots for Cooking

When slicing carrots for cooking, make sure to cut them into uniformly sized pieces so that they cook through at the same time.

The easiest way to slice carrots is to cut them into rounds 1/4 of an inch thick.

If one end of the carrot is much thicker than the other, cut the carrot crosswise in half. Slice the thin part into rounds. Then slice the thick part in half lengthwise and cut each half into half-moons.

Close up shot of carrot slices.

How Do You Make Cooked Carrots Taste Better?

Carrots are naturally sweet and taste great with just a little bit of butter or olive oil. But you can also kick it up a notch by adding some spices, herbs, or other aromatics to the carrots.

Spices that go well with carrots include sweet winter spices such as cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger, as well as coriander and cumin.

Other aromatics include herbs such as thyme, mint, chives, rosemary, as well as garlic, and onion.

Another popular way to improve the flavor of cooked carrots is by adding some sweeteners such as brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, and honey.

When adding sweeteners to carrots, remember that a little goes a long way, and you may only need about one tablespoon for a pound of carrots.

If you watch your sugar intake, it may be a good idea to skip the sweetener altogether.

How to Cook Carrots – The Best Methods

Below you will find six easy methods of cooking carrots on the stovetop, in the Instant Pot, and in the oven. You will also find out how to parboil carrots for meal-prep.

1. How to Boil Carrots

This method requires a minimum of prep work. All you have to do is to rinse the carrots to make sure they are clean, put them in a pot with water and let them cook.

The disadvantage of this method is that depending on the size of the carrots, they can take a long time to cook. If your carrots are very big, you can cut them crosswise into two or three chunks.

Boiled carrots keep well in the fridge and are very easy to peel and slice.

They can be eaten as a snack or added to salads, grain bowls, and soups. Boiled carrots can also be used for baking. You can also slice boiled carrots and reheat them in a pan with some olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium carrots
  • water

Method:

  1. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom of the carrot.
  2. Place the carrots into a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover the carrots by at least 2 inches.
  3. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, cover the saucepan and cook the carrots until cooked through. Depending on the size of the carrots, it can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. To check for doneness, pierce each carrot with a fork at the thicker end of the carrot. The fork should easily slide in and out.
  5. When the carrots are done cooking, carefully take them out of the water and place onto a plate.
  6. Let the carrots cool until they are cool enough to handle. Peel and slice the carrots as desired.

Boiled carrots on a marble background.

2. How to Cook Carrots in the Instant Pot

If you own an Instant Pot, I highly recommend using it for cooking carrots. It’s very easy and much faster than boiling carrots.

It’s also a great way to preserve the most nutrients in the carrots because whole unpeeled carrots are basically steamed inside the Instant Pot.

Just like boiled carrots, Instant Pot carrots keep well in the fridge and are very easy to peel and slice.

Eat them as a snack or add to salads, grain bowls, and soups. Cooked whole carrots can also be used for baking. You can also slice and reheat them in a pan with some olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium carrots
  • 2 cups of water

Method:

  1. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom of the carrot.
  2. Place the steam rack in the Instant Pot. Place the carrots on the steam rack. If you don’t have a steam rack, place the carrots directly in the Instant Pot.
  3. Add the water. You might need more or less water depending on the size and model of the Instant Pot, so consult the User Manual. I use 2 cups of water for mine.
  4. Close and lock the lid. Make sure the steam release handle is in the sealing position. Select Pressure Cook and then set 10 minutes for slender carrots or 11 minutes for thicker carrots of pressure cooking time. Press the Keep Warm button.
  5. Let the pressure cooker go into the “Keep Warm” mode for 10 minutes. Then press “Cancel” and carefully position the steam release valve on the lid to the “Venting” position.

Cooked carrots inside the Instant Pot.

3. How to Parboil Carrots

Parboiling is a method of precooking or partially cooking food in boiling water just until it’s soft. The food is then fully cooked at a later time. 

Parboiling carrots is perfect for meal-prep because you can parboil them on the weekend, freeze them or keep in the fridge, and then quickly cook for dinner on a weeknight.

Parboiled carrots can be roasted, sauteed, or added to soups.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium carrots
  • water
  • salt, optional

Method:

  1. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom, and peel the carrots.
  2. Slice the carrots into rounds 1/4 of an inch thick. If one end of the carrot is much thicker than the other, cut the carrot crosswise in half. Slice the thin part into rounds. Then slice the thick part in half lengthwise and cut each half into half-moons.
  3. Fill up a medium saucepan 3/4 of the way with water. Bring the water to a boil. Add salt if using.
  4. Add the carrots and boil them for 3 to 4 minutes until they are soft but still crunchy.
  5. Drain the water and let the carrots cool.
  6. Freeze the parboiled carrots or keep them in the refrigerator in a glass container with a tight lid.

Parboiled carrots inside a colander.

4. How to Saute Carrots

Sauteing is another great way to cook carrots on the stovetop. It results in aromatic carrots that are crispy and caramelized on the outside and tender inside.

You can saute parboiled and even fully cooked carrots. Just skip cooking the carrots in water and go directly to Step 6.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 4-5 carrots
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom, and peel the carrots.
  2. Slice the carrots into rounds 1/4 of an inch thick. If one end of the carrot is much thicker than the other, cut the carrot crosswise in half. Slice the thin part into rounds. Then slice the thick part in half lengthwise and cut each half into half-moons.
  3. Add 1/3 cup of water or vegetable broth to a skillet. Add the carrots.
  4. Bring the water to simmer. Reduce the heat, close the lid, and cook the carrots until cooked through for about 10 to 12 minutes. Check on the carrots every so often to ensure that there is still enough water in the skillet.
  5. Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high.
  6. Add the oil and season with salt. Mix the carrots and wait until almost all the water has evaporated. Reduce the heat to medium. Close the lid and cook the carrots for another 5 minutes or until the carrots are completely cooked through and started to caramelize. Make sure to open the lid and stir the carrots every minute or so to make sure the carrots don’t burn.

Sautéed carrots in a skillet being mixed with a wooden spoon.

5. How to Roast Carrots

Roasting is a popular way to cook root vegetables in the oven.

Roasted carrots are crispy and caramelized on the outside and soft and satisfying on the inside. They make a great side dish for everyday meals and holiday dinners.

You can roast parboiled carrots if you have some on hand. They will be done faster than the fresh carrots and taste just as delicious.

To help intensify the flavor of the roasted carrots, sprinkle them with some apple cider vinegar before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 7-8 medium carrots
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom, and peel the carrots.
  3. Slice the carrots into rounds 1/4 of an inch thick. If one end of the carrot is much thicker than the other, cut the carrot crosswise in half. Slice the thin part into rounds. Then slice the thick part in half lengthwise and cut each half into half-moons.
  4. Place the sliced carrots into a bowl. Add olive oil and mix until all carrot sliced are covered in oil. Spread the carrots over a baking sheet. Season with salt.
  5. Place the baking sheet into the oven. Roast the carrots for about 25 minutes or until the carrots are cooked through and started to caramelize. Toss the carrots a couple of times during cooking to prevent burning and sticking to the baking sheet.

Roasted carrots on a baking sheet.

6. How to Steam Carrots

Steaming carrots is an easy way to prepare sliced carrots. It’s also relatively quick compared to the other method.

In addition, steaming helps to preserve the nutrients and is a much better method compared to boiling sliced carrots.

Steaming is a popular way to cook carrots for babies and toddlers.

If you find steamed carrots a bit boring, you can jazz them up by adding some spices, herbs, or other aromatics mentioned above.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 carrots
  • water

Method:

  1. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom, and peel the carrots.
  2. Slice the carrots into rounds 1/4 of an inch thick. If one end of the carrot is much thicker than the other, cut the carrot crosswise in half. Slice the thin part into rounds. Then slice the thick part in half lengthwise and cut each half into half-moons.
  3. Add water to your steamer, and place the carrot slices into the steamer basket.
  4. If using a stovetop steamer, bring the water to a boil and cover, making sure to leave a small opening for the steam to escape. Always keep an eye on the water level to make sure it doesn’t evaporate. Add more water if needed.
  5. Steam the carrots for about 12 to 15 minutes until fork tender.

Steamed carrots inside a steam basket.

Now It’s Your Turn

And what about you? Do you like cooked carrots? Which cooking method do you prefer? Please share it with us in the comments below.

And If you found this article helpful, please give it a five-star rating!

How to Cook Carrots

How to Cook Carrots

Yield: 4 portions
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Cooked carrots are nutritious and budget-friendly. They can be used to prepare delicious soups, salads, side dishes, and even appetizers. Learn how you can easily cook carrots on the stovetop, in the oven, and in the Instant Pot.

Ingredients

For the Boiled Carrots:

  • 4-5 medium carrots
  • water

For the Instant Pot Carrots:

  • 4-5 medium carrots
  • 2 cups of water (more or less depending on the Instant Pot model)

For the Parboiled Carrots:

  • 4-5 medium carrots
  • water
  • salt (optional)

For the Sauteed Carrots:

  • 1/3 cup of water or vegetable broth
  • 4-5 carrots
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

For the Roasted Carrots:

  • 7-8 medium carrots
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

For the Steamed Carrots:

  • 4-5 medium carrots
  • water

Instructions

Boiled Carrots

1. Wash the carrots thoroughly under cool running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom of the carrots.
2. Place the carrots into a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover the carrots by at least 2 inches.
3. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, cover the saucepan and cook the carrots until cooked through. Depending on the size of the carrots, it can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.
4. To check for doneness, pierce each carrot with a fork at the thicker end of the carrot. The fork should easily slide in and out.
5. When the carrots are done cooking, carefully take them out of the water and place onto a plate.
6. Let the carrots cool until they are cool enough to handle. Peel and slice the carrots as desired.

Instant Pot Carrots

1. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom of the carrots.
2. Place the steam rack in the Instant Pot. Place the carrots on the steam rack. If you don’t have a steam rack, place the carrots directly in the Instant Pot.
3. Add the water. You might need more or less water depending on the size and model of the Instant Pot, so consult the User Manual. I use 2 cups of water for mine.
4. Close and lock the lid. Make sure the steam release handle is in the sealing position. Select Pressure Cook and then set 10 minutes for slender carrots or 11 minutes for thicker carrots of pressure cooking time. Press the Keep Warm button.
5. Let the pressure cooker go into the “Keep Warm” mode for 10 minutes. Press “Cancel” and carefully position the steam release valve on the lid to the “Venting” position.

Parboiled Carrots

1. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom, and peel the carrots.
2. Slice the carrots into rounds 1/4 of an inch thick. If one end of the carrot is much thicker than the other, cut the carrot crosswise in half. Slice the thin part into rounds. Then slice the thick part in half lengthwise and cut each half into half-moons.
3. Fill up a medium saucepan 3/4 of the way with water. Bring the water to a boil. Add salt if using.
4. Add the carrots and boil them for 3 to 4 minutes until they are soft but still crunchy.
5. Drain the water and let the carrots cool.
6. Freeze the parboiled carrots or keep them in the refrigerator in a glass container with a tight lid for the later use.

Sauteed Carrots

1. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom, and peel the carrots.
2. Slice the carrots into rounds 1/4 of an inch thick. If one end of the carrot is much thicker than the other, cut the carrot crosswise in half. Slice the thin part into rounds. Then slice the thick part in half lengthwise and cut each half into half-moons.
3. Add 1/3 cup of water or vegetable broth to a skillet. Add the carrots.
4. Bring the water to simmer. Reduce the heat, close the lid, and cook the carrots until cooked through for about 10 to 12 minutes. Check on the carrots every so often to ensure that there is still enough water in the skillet.
5. Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high.
6. Add the oil and season with salt. Mix the carrots and wait until almost all the water has evaporated. Reduce the heat to medium. Close the lid and cook the carrots for another 5 minutes or until the carrots are completely cooked through and started to caramelize. Make sure to open the lid and stir the carrots every minute or so to make sure the carrots don’t burn.

Roasted Carrots

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom, and peel the carrots.
3. Slice the carrots into rounds 1/4 of an inch thick. If one end of the carrot is much thicker than the other, cut the carrot crosswise in half. Slice the thin part into rounds. Then slice the thick part in half lengthwise and cut each half into half-moons.
4. Place the sliced carrots into a bowl. Add olive oil and mix until all carrot sliced are covered in oil. Spread the carrots over a baking sheet. Season with salt.
5. Place the baking sheet into the oven. Roast the carrots for about 25 minutes or until the carrots are cooked through and started to caramelize. Mix the carrots once or twice during cooking to prevent burning.

Steamed Carrots

1. Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Cut off the top and the bottom, and peel the carrots.
2. Slice the carrots into rounds 1/4 of an inch thick. If one end of the carrot is much thicker than the other, cut the carrot crosswise in half. Slice the thin part into rounds. Then slice the thick part in half lengthwise and cut each half into half-moons.
3. Add water to your steamer and place the carrot slices into the steamer basket.
4. If using a stovetop steamer, bring the water to a boil and cover, making sure to leave a small opening for the steam to escape. Always keep an eye on the water level to make sure it doesn’t evaporate. Add more water if needed.
5. Steam the carrots for about 12 to 15 minutes until fork tender.

Notes

Nutrition information is for one cooked carrot without any additions.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 20Total Fat 0.1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0.1gCholesterol 0mgSodium 33mgCarbohydrates 4.6gFiber 1.7gSugar 1.9gProtein 0.4g

Nutrition facts provided on this website are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a qualified health care provider for personalized diet advice and make sure that each of the ingredients is allowed in your diet.

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