Carrots can be divisive, especially when it comes to the Thanksgiving table.
I know this from experience. Though Phoebe will happily pull a foot-long raw carrot out of the fridge and munch away, skin and all, she regularly turns her nose up at my efforts to cook them. “Too mushy.” Adam also claims to not be a fan of cooked carrots due to the mush factor, though in recent years I’ve converted him to high heat honey roasted carrots with crispy golden edges. Honestly, I’m totally fine with them leaving allll the roasted carrots to me – I love the way that cooking this veg on a high heat brings out all its natural sweetness and, when you cook it with this technique, there’s not mushiness in site.
This is my current favorite technique and topping combo for cooked carrots, and one that will definitely be making it to Thankgiving this year at Casa Styles-Moore. Halved carrots are tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasted at 425 until just cooked through and crispy on the edges. Meanwhile, I make the secret sauce on the stovetop: a deliciously syrupy mixture of orange zest and juice, rice vinegar for a burst of acidity, a big squeeze of honey, heat in the form of sliced jalapeno or a shake of red pepper flakes (I go back and forth), and the key addition of fresh sage, which perfumes the entire dish with autumn vibes. When the carrots are done, I pour it all over, giving them a sweet, spice-y herbaceous bath that takes these to the next level.
No matter where you fall in the carrots debate, this pan sauce is one to bookmark for any fall veggie. I’ve made this exact combo to pour over delicata squash, whole roasted sweet potatoes, and sautéed brussels sprouts. The marriage of sweet – spicy – citrus – sage is such a crowd-pleaser, and it’s an easy way to take any side dish to the next level and make it feel holiday worthy. Feel free to swap pecans for pumpkin seeds, or maple syrup for honey, based on what you’ve got in your pantry.
Scroll on for the recipe for these Honey Roasted Carrots with Spicy Citrus, Sage & Pepitas, and hop right over here for our guide to Thanksgiving – we’ve got tons of recipes and hosting tips to make this year’s celebration one for the books, even if it’s a bit smaller than usual.
dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian
- 1 pound carrots, washed and peeled
- extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large orange
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- big pinch of red pepper flakes (or 1/2 sliced jalapeño)
- 6 fresh sage leaves, torn
- 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- for garnish: flaky sea salt and a few fresh sage leaves
- Preheat oven to 425. Halve carrots lengthwise, then spread them out on big foil-lined baking sheet in an even layer. If they're too crowded, use two sheet pans. Toss with olive oil just to coat, then sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for 15 - 20 minutes, just until cooked through and getting crispy on the edges. Toss them around halfway through to ensure even cooking.
- Meanwhile, add the following ingredients to a small saucepan: zest and juice of your orange, rice wine vinegar, honey, red pepper flakes, and sage leaves. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then turn down to medium-low and let simmer for about 5 minutes until mixture becomes thick and syrupy. If it reduces down too much, add a splash of water or vinegar to loosen up the mixture. Turn off the heat, then stir in the pumpkin seeds.
- Arrange carrots on a serving plate, then pour the citrus mixture evenly over the top, evenly distributing the sage and pumpkin seeds. Finish with a big pinch of flaky salt and a few fresh sage leaves for garnish. Eat!