Make steamed carrots in the Instant Pot for a super easy side dish, perfect for busy weeknight dinners or elaborate family meals. They’re ready in 10 minutes flat. Serve them sweet with a brown sugar topping or savory with fresh parsley.
There are times when you need a super easy, quick, hands-off vegetable side dish…one that is nutritious and that the whole family will love. And those times call for steamed carrots.
Carrots are perfectly sweet, and steaming them in the Instant Pot makes them perfectly fork-tender each and every time, while freeing some time up for you to prep the rest of the meal, take care of the kiddos, or pour yourself a glass of wine and sit back for a few minutes.
But it won’t be long, because this recipe is really quick.
Baby Carrots or Whole Carrots?
The most important ingredient is, of course, carrots for this steamed carrot recipe. But what kind of carrots? Is it better to use baby carrots or whole carrots for this recipe?
I’m happy to report that either type of carrots will work.
Baby carrots are great for the times when you want zero prep… when you need to throw the ingredients in the Instant Pot and that is it.
Whole carrots are a great option for buying in bulk, as long as you have time to peel and cut them into about 2-inch pieces, similar in size to baby carrots.
Two Flavor Varieties
Included in this steamed carrot recipe are two varieties for finishing the carrots. You know you can’t have carrots without melted butter and salt, but these two varieties are sweet and savory, to meet the needs of everyone around the table and mix-and-match the side dishes for whichever kind of meal you’re having.
Fresh Parsley Carrots
Toss the steamed carrots in melted butter with fresh parsley for a bright, fresh, savory side dish. You can also use dried parsley, or substitute another herb of choice.
Don’t forget the salt, too! Be sure to taste test while assembling to be sure the flavors are spot on, which is why I recommend using unsalted butter in order to control the salt to your preferences.
Cracker Barrel Steamed Carrots
If you’ve had Cracker Barrel carrots, then you know they are a deliciously sweet version of a carrot side dish. Buttery, and brown sugary, and deliciously sweet. Since carrots are inherently sweet, they don’t need much brown sugar to amp up their sweetness.
If you’d like an alternative to brown sugar, you can use maple syrup for deliciously glaze-like results, too. I recommend throwing in a pinch of fresh or dried thyme because the combination is unreal!
Of course, be sure to toss in some salt, even though we’re going a little sweet here because it enhances the flavor and balances out that sweetness.
How To Steam Carrots in the Instant Pot
Ok friends, this truly is so, so easy. You don’t need any special equipment either, apart from your Instant Pot of course. A steamer basket is helpful for this recipe, however, you can absolutely make these without a steamer basket (or any other accessories!).
- Add 1 cup of water into the inner bowl of the Instant Pot .
- Add a steamer basket or steam rack. If you don’t have a steamer basket — no worries!! — place the steam rack that comes with your Instant Pot in the bowl.
- Add the carrots. Place the carrots (baby or prepped whole carrots as discussed above) on top of the steam rack, positioning them to keep them on the track as much as possible, although it’s ok if some fall through.
- Close the lid. Place and close the lid of the Instant Pot , making sure the vent is set to sealing before you turn it on to steam.
How Long to Steam Carrots in the Instant Pot
The most time-consuming part of this entire process is waiting for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, not the actual cooking part. Like I said…it’s SO hands-off.
Set the Instant Pot to cook for 2 minutes on high pressure for perfectly fork-tender carrots. If you like softer carrots, you will want to add one more minute to the cooking time.
Once they have pressure cooked for 2 minutes and the Instant Pot is done, quick pressure release carefully. Remove the carrots from the Instant Pot. I find using tongs to remove them is the easiest method if you’re using the steam rack, otherwise, just remove the steamer basket. Transfer them to a serving dish or bowl to toss with butter.
Finishing the Side Dish
Alright, now that the cooked carrots are ready, it’s time to toss them in whichever butter variety you’ve chosen.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can prepare the butter mixture while the carrots cook, and once they’re done you can toss and enjoy!
Make them classic and toss them in butter, salt, and pepper. Or mix it up and add your own favorite spices and herbs. There’s truly so much variety in this side dish recipe!
Yes, you can steam carrots over a pot of 2 inches of boiling water in a steamer basket. Make sure they are even in size, similar to the pressure cooker recipe, so they cook evenly. Steam for about 4-5 minutes until tender.
Yes, you can substitute dried herbs in place of the fresh herbs as needed, just halve the amount because they are more potent.
Yes, you can easily double this recipe!
More Vegetable Side Dish Recipes
- Roasted Broccolini
- Roasted Root Vegetables
- Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
- Sauteed Green Beans and Mushrooms
- Green Beans Almondine
Instant Pot Steamed Carrots – Two Ways!
- 1 pound carrots baby or whole carrots in 2 inch pieces
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley finely chopped
- Salt to taste
Brown Sugar Carrots
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar or sub maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Salt to taste
- If using whole carrots, peel and slice them into evenly sized pieces, approximately 2 inches in size.
- In the bowl of an Instant Pot, add the water and salt. Place the steam rack or a steamer basket in the Instant Pot, then place in the carrots. Cover and make sure the vent is set to sealing.
- Set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 2 minutes. Once it is complete, quickly release the pressure.
- While the Instant Pot is coming to pressure and cooking, prepare the butter mixture of choice. Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in the parsley or brown sugar and thyme (depending on the recipe using). Toss the cooked carrots in the melted butter mixture and salt to taste.
- Storage: Place any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.