The natural sweetness of carrots is appealing even when said carrots are enjoyed raw, but the addition of heat allows those subtly sugared flavor notes to truly shine.

A simple roasting process caramelizes these pan-roasted carrots while also retaining some toothsome texture. Herbs infuse the dish with aromatics, and a light drizzle of honey and vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper helps the flavors deepen and balance.

The end result is an ideal side dish for any roasted protein that you prefer, and its all-season taste profile works equally well for summer gatherings, autumn meals, winter holiday feasts, and spring suppers. 

Why Roast Carrots In A Skillet? 

Contrary to what its name might suggest, skillet roasting—also known as “pan roasting”—isn’t a technique that necessarily involves an oven. Instead, the “roasting” happens on the stovetop, and thanks to its heat-conducting powers, a skillet proves ideal for getting that deep (but not too deep) sear and for amplifying the carrots’ sweetness.

For the ultimate crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside texture, choose a cast-iron skillet for this cooking project. The heat level in a cast-iron pan remains fairly constant. This is a deal for roasting foods like, carrots and other vegetables, that need some browning and caramelization.

If you’re nervous about burning your carrots in a standard cast-iron skillet, try swapping that pan out for an enameled version. Enameled cast iron heats more evenly than materials like aluminum and carbon steel, but it doesn’t get as hot as “naked” cast iron, so you’ll be able to cook your carrots gently and safely.

Skillet-Roasted Carrots Ingredients

This recipe for skillet-roasted carrots packs serious flavor levels without an extensive ingredient list. To make this goes-with-everything veggie side, you’ll need just 10 minutes of cooking time and the following items from the market:

  • Rainbow carrots: While any type of carrots will technically work for this dish, small rainbow carrots cook quickly, deliver the carroty sweetness that we all love, and make for a beautiful on-plate display. Bunches of rainbow carrots are easy to find at farmers’ markets all year long, but the versions available during the fall harvest season are often the most flavorful.
  • Olive oil: A light slick of olive oil on the skillet will give the carrots a perfect base for a thorough outer sear. Olive oil offers its own aromatic and slightly vegetal flavor, and because it shouldn’t get as hot as more neutral oils like vegetable and canola, it will allow the carrots to brown without burning. 
  • Salt and pepper: These classic seasonings will emphasize the natural taste of the cooked carrots and will help create harmony between said carrots and the other flavor additions in the recipe.
  • Apple cider vinegar: The zingy acidity of vinegar contrasts brilliantly with the carrots’ sweetness, and apple cider vinegar also lends a delicate fruitiness that gives the recipe an appealing je ne sais quoi.
  • Honey: Carrots may be sweet on their own, but honey boosts that flavor while staying within the of-the-earth theme represented by the recipe’s vegetal core ingredient and its herbal accents.
  • Thyme: Thyme’s slightly woodsy and citrusy taste makes it a perfect seasoning for Thanksgiving turkey, but its appeal has a far wider reach. In this recipe, it grounds the flavors of the carrots, vinegar, and honey and gives the entire dish a garden-fresh flair.

How To Make Skillet-Roasted Carrots

Before we launch into the full recipe for skillet-roasted carrots, let’s go over the basic steps and how to execute them to perfection:

  1. Ready the oil: Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium. Olive oil has a lower smoke point than many other forms of oil, so it’s best to avoid cranking up the stove temperature when working with this flavorful liquid. 
  2. Trim and bias-cut the rainbow carrots. After trimming the ends of the carrots, you’ll want to slice them on a bias to provide an even surface for cooking. This means that you’ll use a sharp knife to cut sections of carrot at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Add the carrots to the skillet. A simple seasoning of freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt allows the natural flavor of the carrots to sing. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the carrots start to brown and take on a crispy exterior and a tender interior.
  4. Add apple cider vinegar and honey. The sweetness and tang of the finished dish happen thanks to these flavor-boosting ingredients. Cook for 1 minute, or until the vinegar and honey develop a syrupy texture. Be sure to stir continuously to prevent said syrup from sticking to the skillet.
  5. Remove from heat and garnish with thyme leaves. The residual heat in the skillet will warm through the thyme, giving the herb the chance to infuse the carrots with its woodsy flavor. Serve while still hot. 

Cooking Tips for the Best Skillet-Roasted Carrots

  • Keep the carrots moving. The high sugar content of carrots makes them easy to burn, so you’ll want to stir the contents of the skillet regularly to prevent the carrots from staying in one place for too long.
  • Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. The recipe calls for kosher salt and black pepper to be added during the cooking process, but you’re welcome to add more salt and pepper before serving. For this post-cook seasoning, replace the strongly flavored kosher salt with more delicate sea salt. 
  • Play around with herbs and spices. While thyme is a well-established herbal partner for carrots, you can certainly experiment with other aromatics in your fridge or spice rack (or in your home garden). Try citrusy and piney rosemary, smoky cumin, sweet-hot curry powder, or earthy sage.

How To Store Skillet-Roasted Carrots

After they’ve had a chance to cool all the way, skillet-roasted carrots can be transferred to a glass or plastic storage container with a sealable lid and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Editorial contributions by Taylor Tobin.


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. small rainbow carrots, trimmed and cut on a bias (halved if large)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add rainbow carrots. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are browned in spots and tender-crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add apple cider vinegar and honey to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, until liquid is syrupy and carrots are evenly coated about 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. Serve immediately.

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