These easy Honey Balsamic Carrots will be the star side dish at any holiday meal. Trust me, roasted and caramelized carrots is the only way to go!
These simple Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots with Thyme are sweet, savory, and perfectly caramelized for one delicious carrot dish.
As we head full force into Thanksgiving week, I find that people fall into one of two camps. Camp one has had their menu planned for weeks and did all their grocery shopping over the weekend. Camp two is just starting to plan, or panic, about their menu. I wholly fall into group two and never seem to get things planned out in advance, even though I spend hours perusing recipes. It’s a character flaw that I literally need a mountain of pressure and impending doom to get anything done. I just work better under pressure, or at least that’s what I tell myself.
However this year I was forced to get my act together a little early since we hosted our first ever Friendsgiving. I was responsible for the turkey (I made this dry brined version and it came out amazing), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, these carrots, and a dessert. The carrots were a bit of an after-thought when I realized we didn’t have enough veggies on the menu and they ended up being one of my favorite things. The sweetness of the carrot makes it the perfect thing to roast until it is nicely browned and caramelized. Then tossed with a flavorful honey, savory balsamic, and earthy thyme – they are delicious.
What’s the best way to roast carrots?
There are a few important steps to take to make sure your roasted carrots come out caramelized and delicious. The most important is giving your carrots some space on the baking sheet. When they overlap or are too close together, they will steam instead of cook. Giving them some room on the baking sheet is critical to getting a good outcome. Additionally, you want to make sure your carrots are a uniform size. This ensures that they cook in the same amount of time and you don’t get some burnt carrots and some crunchy, undercooked carrots.
For a shortcut, you can use baby carrots for this recipe. Baby carrots take about 35-30 minutes to roast. However, baby carrots won’t get the same caramelized outside as sliced carrots since they don’t have a lot of surface area that touches the pan. If you want the caramelized, browned pieces, you need to cut the baby carrots in half.
- Try different herbs: The options are endless when it comes to herbs and you use rosemary, oregano, or sage. You could also add fresh cilantro, basil, parsley, chives, or dill to the roasted carrots when they come out of the oven. Dried herbs will work as well, you will just want to use less since they are more pungent.
- Swap in another vinegar: Although I love the punch of balsamic vinegar, this recipe will work will apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or sherry vinegar.
- Sweetener: The combination of honey and carrots is dreamy but maple syrup is also really delicious in this recipe. Just make sure to use real maple syrup not the sugary fake syrup.
- Heat: If you like things spicy, this recipe works great with some added heat. You can use red pepper flakes or for a smoky option, use a touch of chipotle chili powder. Speaking of smoke, if you want smoky without heat you can use cumin or smoked paprika.
- Spices: If herbs aren’t your thing, spices work with this recipe as well. Try Cajun seasoning, poultry seasoning, steak seasoning, or just a liberal amount of salt and pepper.
Ideas for Leftovers
If you are making these for a holiday meal, chances are you could end up with some leftovers. Although, these were such a hit at our meal, there sadly weren’t any left. If you are lucky enough to end up with some leftovers, here are some great ways to use them:
- Quesadillas: Carrots make an incredible quesadilla filling since they are sweet and counteract the spice. I like to make mine with chopped leftover salsa, jack cheese, and a spicy chipotle salsa.
- Salads: Not surprisingly, finding these little nuggets in a big green salad is always a treat. Add leftover turkey for a complete meal.
- Hummus: Believe it or not, you can make a really delicious hummus with roasted carrots. Follow this simple hummus recipe, using 1 cup of chopped roasted carrots in place of the artichokes.
- Pasta: During the winter months, there is nothing better than a warm bowl of pasta. Grab a container of garlic marinara sauce and add leftover honey balsamic carrots and roasted or cooked ground turkey. Serve over pasta with lots of Parmesan.