The best sauteed carrots with honey, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and butter. Easy enough for a weeknight but special enough for any holiday table.
When you think of carrots, you probably think of them raw: carrot sticks, baby carrots, carrots in a veggie platter, etc. Or maybe you can picture some carrot coins floating in a chicken noodle soup or scattered about a stir-fry.
All of that is my long-winded way of saying, you probably don't think much about cooking carrots on their own as a hot veggie side, do you? If you do, great! But I have to say I almost never considered eating sauteed carrots on their own as a side until a bag of carrots was literally the only thing left in my veggie drawer. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?
The only question I had about the carrots was how to cook them? Then I thought, well, if I can saute them in a stir fry with other veggies, then certainly I can saute them on their own. I grabbed some butter and a few pantry ingredients, plus some yummy herbs and went to work. And, sure enough, Just 10 tiny little minutes later, I had the best sauteed carrots ever.
Buttery, garlicky, and with just the right amount of balsamic, honey, and herbs, I realized I was on to something — these were no ordinary carrots! Hopefully, I've convinced you to give them a try!
What is the healthiest way to cook carrots?
Believe it or not, one of the healthiest ways to cook carrots is to saute them, like I did in this recipe. Sauteeing is good because you only need a tiny little bit of butter to give them that butter flavor and a little bit of water to soften the carrots as they cook.
After that, the rest of the flavorings/seasonings are up to your discretion. I used balsamic here for a bit of tart, honey for a bit of sweet, and then garlic and all the herbs because I just can't get enough of either.
Carrots have a natural sweetness on their own, so you could leave out the honey if you wanted.
How do you saute carrots?
First, peel and slice all of your carrots into ¼ inch pieces. Then, add the carrots to a large pan or skillet along with the water, salt, and pepper. Bring this mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium low.
Cook with the lid on for about 6-7 minutes or until a fork inserted into a carrot reveals they are just tender (so you can stick the fork in easily, but they shouldn't be mushy).
Then, take the lid off and add in the butter and garlic, cooking for another minute till all that water evaporates.
Finally, drizzle on the balsamic vinegar and honey, stirring together and cooking just another minute or two before adding the fresh herbs and any other seasonings you like.
Ways to Customize Sauteed Carrots
Want your carrots a, um, cut above? (I tried, not sure if that joke landed or not.)
- Try drizzling them in maple syrup (same 2 teaspoons) instead of honey for a lovely autumnal flavor.
- Add a dollop (okay, a tiny spoonful) of sour cream or creme fraiche to the top of your carrot serving for a little bit of creaminess.
- Add mushroom slices if you want a little more earthiness, texture, and variety.
- Chop and toast a couple of teaspoons of pistachios and add to the carrots at the end for some nuttiness and crunch.
- Finish the carrots off with some pesto. (You can skip adding the butter if you're adding pesto because pesto has some oil/fat in it already).
- Cook whole baby carrots instead of peeling and slicing large carrots.
Are canned carrots already cooked?
In a rush and want to substitute canned carrots for fresh? This won't work, unfortunately, because canned carrots are already processed and cooked right in the can. If you were to cook them again they would be super mushy.
But, you could still add some seasonings to canned carrots and heat them up just a little if you're in a rush. Just be sure to only heat them for about 3-4 minutes.
What to Serve with Sauteed Carrots
Let's start by saying that these Sauteed Carrots would be the hit of any holiday meal. Think Thanksgiving and all the winter holidays. These will fly off the table. They pair great with turkey, lamb, prime rib, ham, and pork roasts. They are also easy enough to make for a weeknight meal. They would be delicious with this Parmesan Crusted Chicken, this Honey Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, or this Broiled Flank Steak.
More healthy vegetable recipes
Best Sauteed Carrots
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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