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Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Orange Brown Sugar Glaze

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Discover a vibrant and delicious side dish for holiday meals or weeknight dinners with this Roasted Rainbow Carrots recipe featuring an orange brown sugar glaze that offers the perfect touch of sweet and tangy flavors.

Colorful Carrots Side Dish for a Holiday Meal or Weeknight Dinner

It’s a no-brainer for me to grab some baby carrots for a snack (mmm…with hummus), but I often forget about roasted carrots as a simple side dish for an easy weeknight meal. Sad, but true. 

Roasting carrots concentrates their natural sweetness, and they’re so good with a touch of caramelization around their edges. I especially love multicolored carrots – the purple ones have an earthier quality that really shines through when roasted – and they make a beautiful and colorful side dish for any dinner table! Carrots are great for picky eaters, too…I mean, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love them.

As for this orange brown sugar glaze situation? Well, I was inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe for lamb chops and carrots that uses orange juice to create a really amazing sticky pan sauce (you gotta try it). I thought something similar would be heavenly in this oven application. 

These delicious roasted rainbow carrots will brighten up your holiday dinner with their vibrant colors and sweet + tangy flavors! They’re the perfect companion for other holiday sides like balsamic vinegar marinated brussels sprouts wrapped in bacon, salad with roasted beets and maple syrup mustard dressing or luscious garlic mascarpone mashed potatoes. Whoa…I’m hungry!

Gather Your Ingredients for Roasted Rainbow Carrots

In addition to pantry staples of olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, you’ll need:

  • Fresh rainbow carrots – these are widely available in grocery stores nowadays and typically come in combination of orange, yellow/white, and purple carrots. You can use all regular orange carrots if that is all that’s available. 
  • Navel orange – you’ll use the sweet tart juice to make a glaze and roast strips of the peel with the carrots.
  • Brown sugar – used in the glaze to balance the tart, acidic notes of the orange juice.
  • Unsalted butter – add just a bit to the glaze for an extra velvety texture.
  • Herbs + spices – garlic, fresh thyme, flat leaf parsley

Steps to Make Roasted Rainbow Carrots

  1. Use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of zest from the orange. 
  2. Toss the orange zest, carrots, garlic and thyme with olive oil on a sheet pan and arrange in a single layer. Season with salt + pepper. Roast in a preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes. (You may line your pan with an oversized sheet of parchment paper to help with clean up.)
  3. Meanwhile, juice the entire orange into a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a bubble then simmer 5 minutes longer. At the end, stir in unsalted butter until melted.
  4. After 20 minutes, drizzle the orange glaze over the carrots and toss together. Roast for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Remove any woody thyme stems. Transfer carrots to a serving dish and garnish with parsley and additional fresh thyme.

Recipe Tips Q+A

Can I use baby rainbow carrots?

Yes! I’ve often gone to the store looking for whole rainbow carrots only to find the baby ones. Since this recipe calls for bite-size cuts of carrots anyway, you can simply use baby carrots without any adjustment to roasting time. 

What size should I cut the carrots?

Whether making straight or bias-cut coins, go for about 1/2-inch thick on the widest part of the carrot. As it gets narrower, you can cut them thicker. Basically, you’re shooting to have similarly sized pieces so they cook at the same rate, but don’t fuss over it too much.

Can I roast the carrots whole?

You can certainly roast whole carrots. Use the same instructions, but increase roasting time by 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the carrots or your desired level of tenderness. Thicker carrots will take longer, so you may want to halve those if you have a mix of sizes. If using carrots that come with their green tops, trim off the tops before roasting. You can use the tops in salads, green sauces or as garnish.

Should I peel the carrots before roasting them?

You don’t have to peel carrots. Give them a good scrub under lukewarm water with a brush to remove any dirt. 

Can I use different fresh herbs?

Certainly! If you’re making this recipe as-is, other great options include fresh rosemary, sage, and oregano. For roasted carrots without the glaze, garnish with herbs like dill, chives, tarragon, cilantro, mint or basil. Consider the time of year and the main dish you’re serving to select the best herb for the job. 

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

For the best flavor, roast the carrots just before serving. However, you can make the orange brown sugar glaze ahead of time. If it’s the same day, cover and store it on your counter until it’s time to glaze; or make it a day ahead and store it in the fridge in an airtight container. If you’re short on oven space, you can certainly roast and glaze the carrots ahead of time and reheat them at 350°F for 10-15 minutes (or in the microwave if needs must).

How should I store leftovers?

Transfer cooled carrots to an airtight container and refrigerate. Enjoy up to three days. Warm them as stated above, but keep in mind their texture and flavor won’t be like just roasted.

More Side Dish Recipes

A round bowl filled with sliced roasted rainbow carrots on a white marble table.

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Orange Brown Sugar Glaze

Linda Feller
Discover a vibrant and delicious side dish for holiday meals or weeknight dinners with this Roasted Rainbow Carrots recipe featuring an orange brown sugar glaze that offers the perfect touch of sweet and tangy flavors.
Prep time.5 minutes
Cook time.25 minutes
Custom time.15 minutes
Total time.45 minutes
Course.Side Dish
Cuisine.American
Number of servings.6
Calories per serving.152 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 navel orange
  • 2 pounds rainbow carrots, peeled and cut into bite size coins (see note 1)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ½ bunch fresh thyme stems, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt + fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley, chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of zest from the orange.
  • Add the orange zest, carrots, garlic and thyme to a sheet pan. Toss with olive oil and season with salt + pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, juice the entire orange into a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a bubble, then simmer 5 minutes longer. At the end, stir in unsalted butter until melted.
  • After 20 minutes, drizzle the orange glaze over the carrots and toss together. Roast for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove and discard woody thyme stems. Transfer carrots to a serving dish and garnish with parsley and additional thyme.

Notes

  1. Carrot size: Whether making straight or bias-cut coins, go for about 1/2-inch thick on the widest part of the carrot. As it gets narrower, you can cut them thicker. Shoot to have similarly sized pieces so they cook at the same rate, but don’t fuss over it too much. You can also use baby rainbow carrots.
  2. Make ahead tips: You can make the orange brown sugar glaze ahead of time. If it’s the same day, cover and store it on your counter until it’s time to glaze; or make it a day ahead and store it in the fridge in an airtight container. If you’re short on oven space, you can roast and glaze the carrots ahead of time and reheat them at 350°F for 10-15 minutes (or in the microwave if needs must). They are best when freshly roasted.
  3. Storing leftovers: Transfer cooled carrots to an airtight container and refrigerate. Enjoy up to three days. Warm them as stated above, but keep in mind their texture and flavor won’t be like just roasted.

Nutrition

Calories: 152kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 121mg | Potassium: 551mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 25487IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords.holidays, oven, thanksgiving
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