These Honey Ginger Charred Carrots are lightly charred, sweetly glazed with honey, ginger, soy and a splash of chili garlic sauce - addictively delicious!
I've been making variations of these fabulous Honey Ginger Charred Carrots for a while now and thought it was definitely time to share these delicious little morsels with you!
My only problem was deciding whether to call them "carrots" or "candy". They're honestly, more like a good bag of candy, in that they're almost impossible to stop eating. I find myself serving us a normal size portion but always going back for seconds. Then nibbling on leftovers as I'm cleaning up after dinner. Then there are no leftovers! You'll understand what I mean as soon as you take the first bite of these Honey Ginger Charred Carrots!
They go with just about any entreé and are a wonderful side for Asian dishes on those days when you want to squeeze in a few extra veggies. We have a delicious Coconut Braised Chicken Breasts recipe coming up soon. These Honey Ginger Charred Carrots are the perfect side for it!
In defense of baby carrots
I use baby carrots for this recipe. I like the convenience of baby carrots and feel like carrots sold in this form encourage people to eat more vegetables. Would I rather have carrots grown in my own backyard and pulled from the ground minutes before I cook them?
Oh yes! But in this day and age with busy, jam-packed schedules, that's not often possible. Plus Scott and I live on the side of a mountain and are surrounded by a forest - a thriving vegetable garden is just not an option for us. So let's talk a bit about baby carrots.
There's been a lot of bad rap about baby carrots and all kinds of rumors that have circulated on the internet, in magazine articles, in parent circles, etc. "Baby carrots aren't really carrots". "Baby carrots don't have any nutritional value." "Baby carrots are dyed." "Baby carrots are bleached". "Baby carrots are really old carrots that are tumbled down to disguise them". "Baby carrots are soaked in chemicals." Baby carrots have sugar added to them". And on and on it goes...
Which are myths and which are true? All of the above statements are, for the most part, untrue.
Baby carrots are real carrots however they are not true "baby" (immature) carrots. Baby carrots were introduced back in the early 1980s by a California farmer who couldn't sell many of his carrots because they were twisted, knobby and/or broken. They weren't bad carrots, just misshapen ones. Only 30% of his crop was saleable as "perfect" carrots. So he figured out a way to cut them down and shape them into smaller "baby" carrots. His miniature carrots were super popular locally and their fame quickly spread.
These days, carrots labeled "baby" are specifically bred for sweetness, crunch and uniform orange color. It's true, they don't come out of the ground looking like little two-inch carrots with rounded ends. They're full-grown carrots (sometimes broken carrots) that are cut and polished into the familiar baby carrot shape.
The nutritional value of baby carrots is the same as regular carrots that have been peeled. Baby carrots, like their bigger siblings, are loaded with Vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy eyes, a healthy immune system and healthy skin. A three-ounce serving of baby carrots also contains 2 grams of fiber, no fat and only 35 calories.
Baby carrots are not "soaked" in chemicals however they are rinsed after harvest with a chlorine solution. It's used because carrots are grown in the ground and there's a concern regarding bacteria (including E. coli and Salmonella) that can cause illnesses. But it's the same rinse that's used on all commercial carrots and lots of other fresh produce, both organic and non-organic. The chlorine rinse is within limits set by the EPA and is comparable or lower to levels found in everyday tap drinking water. After the chlorine rinse, the carrots are given a final wash in water.
Do baby carrots contain sugar? Well, yes, if you're talking about natural sugar, the same kind that makes apples, oranges and sugar snap peas tasty and sweet. We're not talking about the kind of sugar that's added by manufacturers, but it is the kind of natural sugar that makes carrots appealing. It's also a factor in what makes these Honey Ginger Charred Carrots so delicious as the natural sugar caramelizes in a hot oven.
(BTW, this is not a sponsored post by some carrot manufacturer, just my own opinion and some interesting facts.)
A super easy recipe that can be prepped ahead
How do you make these Honey Ginger Charred Carrots? Super simple, as there are no carrots to peel since we're using baby carrots. Simply cut the baby carrots in half diagonally (this gives them lots of surface to char and caramelize.) Drizzle them with olive oil and season with garlic salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 500˚F. Yes, 500! The blast of heat is what cooks these carrots quickly, creates a lovely little char and causes those natural sugars to caramelize.
After 10 minutes, give the carrots a stir and then another 8-minute stint in the hot oven. As the carrots roast, make a sweet and slightly spicy glaze with butter, honey, fresh ginger, soy sauce and a bit of chili garlic sauce. After 18 minutes in the hot oven, it's time to add the glaze. Stir the carrots well to coat with the deliciously fragrant glaze and pop them back in the oven for a few more minutes. Try to not start snitching these beautiful veggies right away, they're HOT!
To prep ahead, prepare the carrots up to adding the glaze. Cover for 30 minutes to an hour. When ready to finish, just add the glaze and return to the oven for a few minutes. This is really nice when serving guests as you almost completely prepare these carrots before guests arrive and have minimal effort at serving time.
I have to share a funny story before closing. I got a comment last week from a reader regarding another popular Café carrot recipe, our Honey Maple Roasted Carrots. This is what it said:
Chris, I took these to a potluck a few weeks ago. What a hit they were! One fellow (75 years old) said he never liked carrots before this. I was surprised he even tried them, but he said if he’d had carrots like this before he would have eaten them all the time. That’s a lot of years to not like carrots only to suddenly change your mind.
I would say to be sure to make enough. They seem to disappear *very* quickly!
Put baby carrots on your shopping list! Lots of them. I think you'll be like me and find yourself making these Honey Ginger Charred Carrots again and again. Don't let any of your family and/or friend go another day thinking they don't like carrots!
Café Tips for making these Honey Ginger Charred Carrots
- Look for larger baby carrots. You want to be able to give them plenty of time in the oven to char but not get overcooked. Sometimes you'll see very slender and small baby carrots. these are good for other recipes but not for these Honey Ginger Charred Carrots. The picture below shows the difference. You want the squat, chubby carrots like in the lower image.
- This recipe calls for fresh ginger. I love the ginger paste that you can find in the produce section of many larger grocery stores (including Super Walmart and Super Target). I always have a tube in the freezer. It only takes a few minutes to thaw enough to squeeze out what I need, then I pop it back in the freezer. It saves lots of peeling and chopping time and I always have fresh ginger on hand. (It's also a great way to keep lemongrass on hand.)
- If your oven doesn't go to 500˚F (260C), just set it to 475˚F (246˚C) and give the carrots a few extra minutes.
- Be careful when opening the oven door to remove the carrots. 500˚F is very hot! Keep your face back a bit when you first open the door. I have singed my eyelashes when opening a hot oven!
- If you want to double this recipe, I would suggest using two sheet pans. You don't want the carrots crowded or they will steam instead of roast.
- Use a good quality, heavy-duty sheet pan for roasting these carrots. I love my OXO Good Grip sheet pans. They are super sturdy, hold up well to high heat and clean up nicely.
- This recipe calls for chili garlic sauce. Chili garlic sauce is a wonderful condiment to have on hand and will last for many months in the refrigerator. It's commonly used in Asian cuisine and has a spicy, salty, garlicky flavor. A little goes a long way and adds delicious, complex flavor to lots of dishes. You will find chili garlic sauce in the Asian section of most larger grocery stores.
- You can also make these Honey Ginger Charred Carrots with regular carrots. Peel or scrub the carrots and cut them diagonally in half-inch slices.
- Although I love using parchment paper (or foil) for easy cleanup, I've found that these carrots are better baked right on the sheet pan. I like to spray it with a little cooking spray to make the cleanup easier.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- For the carrots:
- 1 ½ pounds thick baby carrots cut from end to end on the diagonal.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- To finish:
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons fresh finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon chili garlic sauce
Preheat the oven to 500˚F. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray for easier cleanup.
Combine the melted butter, honey, ginger, soy sauce and chili garlic sauce in a small bowl. Stir well to combine. Set aside
Arrange the carrots on the sheet pan in an even layer.
Drizzle the carrots with the olive oil and toss to coat with a spatula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again.
Roast for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and stir well. Redistribute carrots to an even layer and return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes until tender and charred in places.
Remove from the oven and drizzle with the honey butter mixtures. Stir well to coat and return to the oven for another 3-5 minutes until nicely glazed. Try to wait to start snitching until they have cooled down a bit. Serve warm, garnished with fresh mint or cilantro, if desired.
See Café Tips above in post for more detailed instructions and tips.
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