How To Cook Carrots

Learn how to cook carrots with our thorough guide. We'll show you how to make your own recipes with flavors you love. Plus, the best cooking techniques.

When I was a tiny tot, there was one vegetable I would actually eat anytime -- carrots. Same with you? It seems just about everyone loves carrots. They're one of the most popular veggies you'll find. They're fantastic on their own, or mixed in with other veggies to make carrot dishes that make you swoon.

In fact, they're so versatile, you can try them in just about any dish, including tofu quiche and carrot loaf. Add some to your favorite muffins to make delicious carrot muffins, or to your favorite cake batter to make a moist carrot cake.

How To Select Carrots

Look for carrots that are firm, nicely shaped, and brightly colored. The more slender they are, the better.

Avoid those that look sad, including any that are dry, splitting open, shriveling up, or are wilted and bendable -- they should be nice and crisp.

If the tops are still attached, look for fresh, green leaves (think of how fresh parsley looks -- they ARE related!!). The greens tend to deteriorate quickly, so the fresher looking the leaves, the fresher the carrots.

Carrots can often be found prepackaged in bags, which means they've already been trimmed of their greens. Be sure to follow the same rules as above for choosing. You can usually tell if a carrot is crisp by just trying to bend it from the outside of the bag -- if they bend easily, pass on that batch.

By the way, have you ever seen those pre-bagged baby carrots in the store? Surprise! They're not usually baby carrots at all, but larger carrots that have been cleaned and cut to the size of baby carrots. They make a fantastic snack right out of the bag and can be used in any recipe that calls for baby carrots.

True baby carrots have their greens still attached. The same general rules of selection apply as their big brothers and sisters.

No matter if you're using pre-bagged or true baby carrots, use the Vegan Flavor Matches (below) to create your own recipes. No need to chop or slice -- the beauty of the baby carrots are their fun size.

How To Clean and Prep Carrots

Simply scrub your carrots with a vegetable brush under running water.

So many people seem to think they have to peel their carrots before cooking. I used to as well. But when I learned how many nutrients I was actually peeling away I stopped doing it. And you know what? The carrots tasted just as good, if not better (!), than they did when peeled. So my recommendation is to NOT peel your carrots before cooking.

When cutting into chunks or slicing, be sure to cut on the diagonal -- this will expose more of the surface of the carrot so it cooks up much faster. Always cut the veggie to approximately the same size so all pieces cook up in the same amount of time.

To make:
Carrot Rounds (Slices): Cut straight across the carrot.
Carrot Ovals: Cut on the diagonal
Carrot Half-Rounds: Cut in half lengthwise. Then lay flat side on cutting board and cut across the carrot.
Carrot Triangles: Cut in half lengthwise. Then cut each half lengthwise once (or twice) again to form long wedges. Then cut across the carrot to form triangles.
Diced Carrots: Cut large carrots into chunks, and then cut edges of the chunks off (lengthwise) so each chunk has 4 sides. Cut each "squarish" carrot across the middle of the length, and repeat to form 4 even slices. Cut across the carrot to create even little dice.

Whether you're using the greens or not, be sure to remove them from the larger carrots as soon as possible since they tend to leach moisture from the vegetable itself.

To clean baby carrots: The same general rules apply to them as to their larger counterparts. Although pre-bagged "baby carrots" have usually been cleaned and are ready to be used straight out of the bag.

How To Cook Carrots

Here are the cooking techniques we use and recommend for carrots.

Click the one you'd like to learn more about for complete cooking instructions.

A red oven
A ceramic-coated saute pan with a lid
A collapsible steamer

Eat Them Raw!
Cut raw carrots into sticks for use with dips.
Grate for use in salads or coleslaws.)

Carrot Vegan Flavor Matches

Create your carrot recipe with some of your favorite ingredients from this list of foods that match perfectly.

(What are Flavor Matches?)

  • Almonds
  • Apricots
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Brandy
  • Butter, non-dairy
  • Cabbage
  • Cayenne
  • Celery
  • Cheeses, non-dairy (Cheddar, Parmesan)
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coconut Nectar
  • Coriander
  • Cream, organic and non-dairy (I like Silk Soy Cream)
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Dill
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Leeks
  • Lemon
  • Maple Syrup
  • Marjoram
  • Marsala
  • Mayonnaise, dairy-free, egg-free (I like Vegenaise)
  • Mint
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Nuts, especially hazelnuts and walnuts
  • Olives
  • Onions
  • Oranges
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Pine nuts
  • Potatoes
  • Raisins
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Shallots
  • Sucanat, or other dry sweetener
  • Tamari, organic
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Veggie stock
  • Zucchini

Continued below...

Carrot Helpful Hints

  • Carrots are available year-round, but they are most delicious during the cooler months, approximately September through April. Unwashed, they will keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days;

  • Larger carrots tend to be sweeter than the smaller varieties;

  • Carrots can be used in a variety of ways. Use in soups and stews, casseroles, pasta dishes, marinara, and even desserts!

  • Carrots can be enjoyed raw, but are actually more nutritious if cooked for up to 5 minutes first. Plus, cooking will bring out their natural sweetness.

Happy cooking!

If You Like Carrots Try...

Photo of potatoes and sweet potatoes
Photo of beets
Photo of a turnip
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