And then there are times when you’re looking for a quick and easy carrot side dish to get you through busy weeknight dinners that take things up a notch – a recipe that’s elevated, full of flavor, and can easily become the main star or the meal.
That, my friends, is what these oven-roasted cumin-spiced carrots are. They are main-star worthy. They are flavorful. They have got texture with a capital T. They are easy to make, and so completely elevated they can find their place on even the fanciest holiday tables. So regardless of which meal you’re serving these carrots with, they fit.
Ingredients You’ll Need
I love the variety of ingredients in this recipe, each offering added flavor or texture to the dish, and you can easily mix and match depending on you your preferences.
Here’s what you’ll need to make cumin oven-roasted carrots:
- Whole Carrots: when I’m feeling fancy, I like to get whole carrots with the stems on to roast then present beautifully. Carrots bought whole, with the stems on, tend to be the perfect size in my experience, too. They are often not too thick. Find carrots that are equal in size, and not too large, or they will take longer to cook, unless sliced.
- Olive Oil: helps the carrots to roast up beautifully.
- Cumin: our main flavor driver is ground cumin with its warm, earthy flavor that’s slightly sweet with a hint of spice.
- Dried Thyme: thyme and carrots is a timeless combination, and it pairs beautifully with the cumin! You can use fresh if you have it on hand already, just double the amount.
- Ground Ginger: another flavor enhancer here… slightly sweet, peppery, and with a hint of citrus, it balances out the flavors so well.
- Salt and Pepper
In addition to the carrots, we have the toppings and the yogurt sauce that will complete this recipe. Here’s what else you’ll need:
- Plain Greek Yogurt: the base of the yogurt sauce, it’s combined with fresh lemon juice, honey, and salt for a tangy, slightly sweet sauce that compliments the flavorful, naturally sweet, spice-forward carrots.
- Pomegranate: the crunchy, the juciness, and the sweetness are a delicious pariing and contrast of texture and flavor in this recipe.
- Pecans: what a crunch! I love using pecans for their slight buttery flavor, but you could really substitute any nut you’d like. The crunch adds the texture! Pistachios are another great option!
- Green Onions: aka scallions add a bright, savory component to the toppings. Thinly slice them and use both the white and green parts for variety.
- Parsley or Cilantro: I use whichever I have on hand…the parsley adds a bright, earthy addition and cilantro compliments the cumin flavors. Both are delicious!
How to Roast Carrots
Roasting carrots in the oven is really quite easy. The only variable will be the size of your carrots, which will determine how much time you will really need to cook them for, and will be easy to determine with some context clues. In no time you’ll have perfectly caramelized, melt-in-your-mouth, fork-tender roasted carrots.
First, make sure your carrots are relatively similar-sized. If you are using stem-on carrots, trim it back and reserve the carrot tops to add in pesto or an herb sauce. You can also freeze them to add to homemade vegetable stock later on.
Carrots with stem-on tend to be similarly sized and will roast up well without cutting. If you have very large whole carrots, be sure to cut them into equally sized pieces. You can also use baby carrots for this recipe, just be sure to reduce the cooking time as likely they won’t need as long.
Drizzle the carrots with olive oil and the spices, then toss until they are completely coated. Because I like to take the lazy route and reduce dishes, I assemble the carrots right on the baking sheet.
Spread the carrots evenly across the pan. Leaving enough space between each carrot ensures perfect roasting. If they are too close together they run the risk of ‘steaming’ instead of roast.
How long do carrots need to roast for?
For this recipe, our carrots roast at 425F for about 20 minutes in total. Keep in mind the total time it takes for the carrots to reach the point where they are fork-tender, meaning a fork can be easily inserted but they are not overly soft, will vary depending on the size of the carrots.
Be sure to check them at the halfway point to see how they are progressing, noting the bits of caramelization, and adjust from there.
Making Yogurt Sauce
While the carrots are roasting, prepare the yogurt sauce simply by combining Greek yogurt, lemon juice, honey, and a pinch of salt.
The honey brings out the sweetness in the carrots, however, you can omit it if you prefer.
Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
Set aside the prepared yogurt sauce until you’re ready to serve.
How to Serve the Carrots
Now, with perfectly roasted carrots and a prepared yogurt sauce, it’s time to assemble!
Two options for serving the yogurt sauce: drizzle or spread.
Spread the yogurt sauce on the bottom of a serving platter, as shown here, as the base for the carrots. Then, when serving, each carrot can be scooped up with the yogurt sauce. Alternatively, you can drizzle the sauce on top of the carrots. If you choose to drizzle the sauce, I recommend adding a little more lemon juice to make it a thinner consistency.
Top the yogurt sauce with carrots, or simply plate them if drizzling. Then, assemble with the green onions, pomegranate arils, chopped pecans (or nut of choice), and fresh herbs.
When it’s time to serve, plate the carrots with the yogurt sauce and toppings, scooping all of it up, and provide additional garnishes for your guests to add more as desired.
I also recommend adding some flaky sea salt as a finishing touch. For a cheesy addition, feta crumbles are delicious and add another salty kick, too, while sticking with this Mediterranean-vibe we’ve got going on.
What to Serve with Roasted Carrots
As with many vegetable side dishes, you can’t go wrong in the serving department. With the flavors of these cumin roasted carrots specifically, I love serving them with a Mediterranean-themed dinner, although they pair well with vegetarian entrees like whole roasted cauliflower or cauliflower steaks.
Yes, you can! Depending on the thickness of the baby carrots, you may need to adjust the cooking time. If they are quite skinny baby carrots, start checking them for doneness around 12-15 minutes. If they are about the thickness of a smaller whole carrot, the cooking time should be fine. Use your best judgment and just be sure to check them.
Cut the whole carrots into about 2-inch pieces. Make sure they are about the same size for even cooking, and similar to the baby carrot suggestion, just be sure to watch the cooking time as you would with any roasted vegetable.
Yes, you can use another nut (pistachios are great!) or simply omit them if there is a nut allergy.
Yes, this recipe is gluten-free. Be sure to check any specific ingredients you are using, just to be certain.
Get the Recipe Cumin Roasted Carrots with Yogurt Sauce
- Carrots: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Wash and peel carrots as needed, trimming any excess tops off. Roast the carrots whole, or if they are thick, chop them into equally sized pieces, around 3 inches. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with spices until coated. Spread evenly across a baking sheet. Cook for 7-10 minutes, toss, and cook for an additional 7-10 minutes until caramelized and tender. Cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your carrots.
- Yogurt Sauce: while the carrots are cooking, in a small bowl combine yogurt, lemon juice, honey, and a pinch of salt, to taste. Spread on a serving platter or reserve to drizzle on top of the carrots.
- Assembly: once the carrots are cooked, layer them on top of the yogurt or add them to a serving tray. Top with pomegranate, pecans, green onion, and parsley/cilantro. Drizzle with yogurt sauce if you didn't spread it on the tray.