Easy Grilled Carrots
Grilled carrots are easy to make, packed with natural sweetness and smoky grilled flavor, and may just become your new favorite grilled vegetable.
Many people would never think to put carrots on the grill but they should move right to the top of the list. Grilling carrots creates this delicious char on the outside with a tender, sweet inside. They are so so good. If you are new to grilling vegetables, you'll also want to try grilled broccoli and grilled Brussels sprouts, trust me.
After seeing someone grilling carrots last week, I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. The idea of sweet carrots paired with all that delicious grill flavor sounded too delicious to resist. After a few failed attempts resulting in crunchy carrots, this is the best way to cook carrots on the grill.
The key to making these carrots is using a combination of direct and indirect heat. While this may sound scary, it actually couldn't be easier. All it means is turning on the burners on one side of the grill and turning them off on the other side That's it, super easy. This method allows you to cook the carrots on high heat to get some char and grill marks and then finish them in the indirect, low, heat so they are cooked through.
Now let's talk about flavors. Carrots are a great vegetable since they have some sweetness and work with almost any combination of herbs and spices. For a classic option, just use olive oil, salt, and pepper. They will be some of the best carrots you have ever had. You can also get fancy and add dried herbs, aromatics, seasoning blends, and more. This recipe uses simple spices for cooking but is jazzed up with a quick combination of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and thyme to finish the carrots when they come off the grill.
How to grill carrots?
After experimenting with lots of different ways to grill carrots, the easiest option turned out the best in my opinion. Start by cutting small to medium sized carrots in half. If they seem larger, cut them in quarters. You want the carrot around 1/2 inch thick at the widest point so it cooks through quickly without burning.
The best carrots for the grill are the kind that come in bunches with the stems and leaves attached. These usually have small to medium size carrots. In my store, these are usually organic carrots, but not always.
The simply toss the carrots with oil and seasoning and grill for 4-5 minutes per side. This adds enough char on the outside and ensures they are cooked through. If for some reason they aren't not cooked all the way through after this time, you can let them finish on the upper rack of the gas grill or in indirect heat.
Tips for Larger carrots
When grilling larger carrots, a two step approach is needed to ensure the carrots get slightly charred on the outside and tender on the inside. Start by cleaning and peeling the carrots. Cut them in half or into quarters so they cook more quickly.
Now it's time to add flavor to the carrots. Start with olive oil and then add salt, pepper, and any spices you like. Other options include adding balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, citrus, or dressings/marinade to enhance the flavors. You can let the carrots marinate as well for about 15-20 minutes before grilling.
When you are ready to grill, you need to set up the grill to have both direct and indirect heat. On a gas grill, this just means preheating the whole grill and then when it is time to cook, turn off half the burners (1-2 row of burners, depending on the size of the grill.) On a charcoal grill, it would mean raking the coals to one half of the grill.
Start by cooking the carrots on the hot side of the grill, rotating them every 2-3 minutes until they are lightly charred on the outside. This gives it the delicious grilled flavor. Then move them to the indirect heat and cook for 14-18 minutes until they are fork tender.
Quick note, if you are using a grill pan, you would just want to heat one side of the grill pan or using two grill pans - one on high heat and one on lower heat. Another option is to use the grill pan to char the outside and then finish the carrots in a 400 degree oven to get the inside tender.
What size of carrots are best for the grill?
Medium sized carrots, like the ones you see in the farmer's market, are best for grilling for two reasons. First off, they aren't as thick and therefore will cook through without burning. Really large carrots sometimes burn on the outside before the inside has time to get tender. Secondly, smaller carrots easily fall through the grill grates and sometimes burn.
If you only have larger carrots, just halve or even quarter them before grilling so that they can get nice and tender on the inside without burning.
Can I grill baby carrots?
Baby carrots can actually work great on the grill but you will need a way to stop them from falling through the grates. My favorite option for this is using a grill pan or grill basket. These get nice and hot and create the same charred bits you would get if the carrots were cooked directly on the grill.
Another option is just to use a piece of heavy duty foil right on the grill. Don't wrap the carrots up in the foil because we don't want them to steam. Just lay down the foil or create a "baking sheet" with the foil for them to cook.
Baby carrots will cook more quickly since they tend to be smaller and not as thick. Cut any really thick baby carrots in half before grilling so they cook evenly. Plan on cooking them for 14-18 minutes or until they are tender on the inside.
Do I have to peel carrots before grilling them?
For the most part, it is always a good idea to peel carrots before grilling them since the peels can be tough and fibrous. The only exception to this is with younger carrots, normally fresh from the farmer's market or garden, that have very thin skin and tend to be very bright in color. If you choose not to peel the carrot, make sure to scrub the carrot well to remove any dirt or debris.
What if they are still crunchy?
If you notice that your carrots are starting to burn or cook too quickly, there are a few options to make sure they get tender inside. One important note, this usually happens because the grill is too hot. You may need to turn down the heat.
First, you can grab a piece of foil and wrap the carrots in foil. Place them over the indirect heat and let them continue to cook. The trapped heat will help the carrots to slightly steam and cook on the inside. Another option is to throw the carrots in the oven and roast them at 400 degrees until they are tender on the inside.
What to serve with grilled carrots?
If you are making grilled vegetables, the best option is to make the entire meal on the grill. Here are some yummy options to throw on the grill with the carrots and serving ideas for the carrots themselves.
- Use the carrots to make an amazing salad by adding sliced avocado, fresh herbs, thinly sliced red onion, and a simple vinaigrette. Make this a vegetarian meal by adding cooked grains or chickpeas.
- Consider making grilled pork chops, grilled lemon chicken, or another grilled protein. Add some grilled corn as well to make a complete meal.
- Burgers are always a great option for the grill and no one will miss the fries if you serve these carrots on the side. Serve them with one of your favorite dipping sauces.
More grilled vegetable recipes
Easy Grilled Carrots
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- 1.5 lbs carrots (ideally small to medium size)
- 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp honey (optional)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
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Preheat the grill to medium high heat. When ready to cook, place the carrots directly on the grill grates. Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side. Note: If you are grilling thicker carrots, you will need to use a combination of direct and indirect heat. For thicker carrots, start by cooking the carrots on the hot side of the grill, rotating them every 2-3 minutes until they are lightly charred on the outside. Then move them to the indirect heat and cook for 14-18 minutes until they are fork tender.
* 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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