The perfect side dish does not need to be difficult, nor does it need to contain a bunch of different ingredients. Maple roasted carrots include just maple syrup, butter, parsley, and carrots, require minimal effort, and can even be made ahead of time. And because carrots themselves are inherently sweet, especially when roasted, even picky eaters will enjoy these.
Maple roasted carrots are one of my favorite side dishes.
When roasted and combined with maple syrup and butter, the carrots caramelize and take on a sticky-sweet flavor that leaves you wondering if these should be saved for dessert.
What to serve with maple roasted carrots
But where these carrots really shine (literally, and figuratively) is on the Thanksgiving, or other holiday dinner table alongside a turkey breast, some roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and honey balsamic Brussels sprouts.
Oh, and don't forget the gravy!
How to make maple roasted carrots
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Preheat the oven to 425f and set the rack to the middle level. Clean and scrub the carrots, then dry. Trim the carrot tops and slice in half or quarter any very large carrots. All the carrots should be roughly the same thickness to achieve even cooking.
- Line a baking sheet (use 2 if necessary) with foil. Use enough foil (parchment paper works well too) to prevent any leaks and for easy clean up. Spread the carrots out onto the sheet and evenly distribute the cubed butter. Drizzle the maple syrup and sprinkle the salt and pepper onto the carrots. Roast for 45-50 minutes.
- Every 10-15 minutes remove the baking sheet(s) and coat the carrots with the baking sheet liquid by turning them with a spatula or spoon.
- After 45 minutes the carrots will be tender and thoroughly coated with the maple syrup and butter glaze. If you would like some more color on the carrots, broil for 60-90 seconds but watch carefully. Plate the carrots and sprinkle with the minced parsley.
Substitutions and variations
I'm often asked if other herbs can be used in place of parsley in this particular dish.
Since parsley is mainly being used just for color and texture, it's not necessarily an integral part of the dish.
That being said, parsley has a fairly mild flavor, so adding in a different herb such as thyme, sage, or rosemary, whose flavors are much stronger, will change the overall flavor of the dish and may detract from its simplicity.
If you do not have maple syrup, you can use brown sugar instead, or even honey.
I prefer using maple syrup here because it has a great maple flavor that is perfect for the Fall.
The important thing to note with any of these sweeteners is that you really don't need a whole lot. Carrots are inherently sweet and therefore require very little added sugar if any.
Another question I've been asked is whether you can cut or slice the carrots.
Yes, you absolutely can. But I prefer to keep them whole as I find whole carrots make for a more beautiful presentation.
Just make sure they are all the same thickness so they all roast at the same rate.
And speaking of presentation, feel free to experiment with multi-colored carrots, like purple carrots, or even parsnips. A combination of these three colors would make for a stunning presentation!
Another variation to consider is drizzling a balsamic glaze over the carrots at the end. This would add an additional layer of flavor and color.
Other great holiday sides
In addition to the Thanksgiving or holiday fare mentioned above, here are a few other recipes we think you'll love!
- Italian stuffed mushrooms - Mushrooms piled high with garlicky breadcrumbs that have been sauteed in white wine and lemon.
- Sage and onion stuffing - Classic stick to your ribs bread-based stuffing with celery, onion, and sage.
- Roasted butternut squash - With brown sugar and pumpkin seeds.
- Baked artichoke hearts with seasoned breadcrumbs - Like a stuffed artichoke, but so much easier!
After that, transition to our white wine sangria with pears and apples which pairs perfectly with main courses.
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- 2 ½ pounds medium carrots scrubbed and trimmed, see notes below
- 4 tablespoons butter cubed
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons parsley minced
- Preheat oven to 425f and set rack to the middle level.
- Trim top ends of carrots. Cut thick carrots into thinner strips and leave the thinner carrots whole.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and spread carrots and butter around. Drizzle carrots with maple syrup and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast carrots for approximately 45 minutes or until tender. Every 10-15 minutes mix carrots with the melted butter and maple syrup to evenly coat.
- For more color, the carrots can be broiled for the last 60-90 seconds but watch very carefully to not burn. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Enjoy!
- Makes 4 large or 6 moderate-sized servings.
- Large thick carrots should be cut lengthwise in half or quartered. All the carrots should be roughly the same thickness for uniform cooking.
- Use multiple pieces of foil if necessary. The goal is to allow easy clean-up and to prevent losing any of the syrup and butter.
- Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the oven at 325f until warm or with a microwave.