Peas and carrots are a nostalgic side dish that you can easily make in one pan and serve with practically any meal.
This delicious, colorful dish comes together quickly with no-frills ingredients, so it’s perfect for everyday dinners and special occasions.
True to tradition, this recipe for peas and carrots transforms a time-honored vegetable pairing into a crowd-pleasing side dish with simple ingredients, including fresh carrots and frozen peas.
This easy recipe, however, starts with sauteéing succulent onions and garlic in rich, fragrant olive oil instead of butter, so it’s a bit lighter and an excellent dairy-free and vegan variation of classic peas and carrots.
This vibrant vegetable duo is customary on many Easter, Thanksgiving, and Sunday night dinner tables, but peas and carrots also make weeknight dinners so much simpler.
Carrots and peas are typically veggies that kids and parents can agree on. So, this simple side dish is the ultimate comfort food your whole family will love.
They are easy to make, budget-friendly, and pair well with basically any main course, so don’t forget to add them to your grocery list this week!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Here are five reasons why this recipe is a keeper:
- The ease. This vegetable side dish is effortless to make and perfect for beginner home cooks.
- The ingredients. They’re inherently dairy-free and vegan staples you may already have in your kitchen.
- The nutrition. Peas and carrots are a nutrient powerhouse packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- The convenience. It’s made in one pan, so there are no extra dishes to clean up.
- The versatility. This easy side dish is perfect for the holidays, served with various meat, chicken, and fish entrees and added to healthy grain and rice bowls.
Fresh Peas vs. Frozen Peas
I highly recommend using frozen peas as there are a couple of caveats to consider when cooking with fresh peas.
First, fresh peas begin losing their vitamin content as soon as they’re picked; second, you must consume them within 3-4 days; and third, they’re hard to source out of season.
Frozen peas, on the other hand, are picked and flash-frozen at their prime, so they retain all of their nutrients, are guaranteed to taste great, and are always available.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe:
- Extra virgin olive oil – With so few ingredients, each one influences the final flavor of the dish, so use good quality olive oil for sauteing. Likewise, you can use unsalted grass-fed butter or ghee here if the dairy is okay.
- Onion and garlic – This aromatic duo provides a solid foundation of mouthwatering, savory flavors that make these peas and carrots so delicious.
- Carrots – Go with an orange variety, as they’re generally sweeter and juicier than the other colors. Steer clear of dry, wrinkled, and wobbly carrots, and stick with the freshest carrots you can find.
- Vegetable broth – This is the braising liquid for carrots. Low-sodium chicken broth also works.
- Coriander – This popular spice works well with carrots. You can also add a small pinch of ground thyme or sage.
- Frozen peas – There are typically two types of frozen peas in grocery stores to choose from: regular peas and small or petite peas, aka “baby sweet peas.” You can use either type; just know regular peas are larger and starchier with tougher skin, whereas sweet peas are harvested before maturity, so they’re softer, creamier, and sweeter.
- Salt – For the best flavor, use coarse kosher or sea salt.
How to Make Classic Peas and Carrots with Frozen Peas
Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make this delicious side dish:
- Prep the ingredients: Wash and peel the fresh produce. Then, thinly slice the onion, mince the garlic cloves, and chop the carrots into ½” pieces. Keep separate and set aside.
- Sauté the onion and garlic: Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to caramelize (about 3-4 minutes). Add the garlic, and cook, constantly stirring, for another 30 seconds. Remove the mixture from the skillet and set aside on a plate.
- Braise the carrots: In the same skillet, combine the carrots, vegetable broth, and coriander and heat to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the carrots are soft (about 10 minutes).
- Add the peas: When the carrots are tender, add the frozen peas and return the sauteed onion-garlic mixture to the skillet. Cover, and cook on medium heat until the peas are heated (about 2-3 minutes). Season with salt, and enjoy!
This one-pot vegetable side dish is very easy to make. Even if you are a beginner cook, you will most likely end up with a delicious dish.
But there are still a few tips that will help you take it from good to great:
- Cut the carrots into uniform pieces. You don’t have to dice the carrots into perfect cubes (unless you want to), but do chop the carrots in uniform size, so everything cooks evenly.
- Don’t burn the aromatics. To prevent overcooking the onion and garlic, keep the skillet over medium heat and keep stirring constantly as they soften.
- Don’t overcook the carrots. The time needed to cook carrots depends on the size of the carrot slices, so check on the carrots every so often to make sure that they are as perfect as you want them to be.
- Keep an eye on the liquid content. While the carrots simmer, periodically remove the lid to make sure there is still enough liquid in the skillet. If the liquid absorbs before the carrots are soft, add more broth and continue cooking.
- Remove chunks of ice from the frozen peas. When bags of frozen peas sit in the freezer for a long time, they can accumulate ice. If this is what happened to your peas, make sure to remove the ice as much as possible to avoid cooling the skillet and adding extra liquid to the dish.
- Don’t overcook the peas. Peas are usually flash-steamed before frozen, so you don’t need to cook them for too long. Just make sure they are heated through, and then cook them for a minute or two.
Variations and Serving
Adding extra veggies to peas and carrots, like pearl onions, mushrooms, and corn, is always a good idea.
To make it a full meal, truly anything goes! Just remember that carrots and peas are packed with fiber, and peas are a good source of plant protein, so this side is quite filling.
Here are just a few of the many entrees to choose from:
- Chicken and Green Lentil Casserole
- Roasted Salmon
- Pan Fried Rainbow Trout
- Meatballs without Breadcrumbs
- Baked Rainbow Trout
- Roast Chicken
- Roast Turkey
- Pork Chops
Storing and Reheating
Storing: This side dish tastes best when freshly prepared, but you can store leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.
Reheating: Reheat leftovers in a saucepan over medium heat or the microwave. If the carrots seem dry, add a splash of broth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this with a bag of frozen peas and carrots?
Yes. You can simmer frozen peas and carrots in vegetable broth just until thawed and heated through, and then toss the cooked vegetables with onion, garlic, and seasoning.
Can I use canned peas?
I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s no way to disguise the distinct difference between crisp-tender frozen green peas and mushy canned green peas.
More Vegetable Side Dishes
Here are a few other healthy side dish recipes for you to try:
- Instant Pot Steamed Vegetables
- Sauteed Beets
- Sauteed Zucchini
- Roasted Root Vegetables
- Braised German Red Cabbage
- Oven Roasted Cauliflower
- 4-5 medium carrots
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 3 cups frozen peas
- salt to taste
- Wash and peel the carrots. Slice the carrots into bite-size pieces and set aside.
- In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook stirring occasionally until the onion starts to caramelize, for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant for about 30 seconds. Make sure to constantly stir to prevent the garlic from burning.
- Remove the onion from the skillet onto a plate and set aside.
- Add the carrots, vegetable broth, and coriander to the skillet. Bring the vegetable broth to a simmer. Reduce heat and cover the skillet.
- Cook the carrots until soft for about 10 minutes. Check on the carrots every so often to make sure there is still enough liquid in the skillet. The time needed to cook the carrots will depend on the size of the carrot slices.
- When the carrots are cooked through, add the peas and the fried onions. Mix to combine. Set the heat to medium. Cover the skillet and cook until the peas are heated through, for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Season with salt to taste.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 189Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 0mgSodium 180mgCarbohydrates 25gFiber 8gSugar 9gProtein 7g
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.