Pop quiz – how do you elevate the humble carrot into culinary greatness? With honey and cumin and a vibrant pesto dipping sauce for funsies. A+ for you! Get a standing ovation for your side dish game this holiday season with this recipe for cumin and honey roasted carrots.
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My mother loves carrots, and she insists on having them at every holiday meal. I did not inherit her carrot loving gene, unless they’re simmered in soup or baked into carrot cake. Plain ol’ steamed baby carrots with butter and salt? It turns out butter does not make everything better.
But these cumin and honey roasted carrots have ch-ch-ch-changed me! Is is the nutty caramelization and honey sweetness? Maybe. Is it the savory, spiced cumin kick? Perhaps. Maybe it’s the earthy carrot top pistachio pesto? Or the fact that I can pick up these guys and dip ’em like fries?
It’s the whole package.
Bottom line? These sweet and spiced cumin honey roasted carrots will make you a believer in the power of the humble carrot!
How to Make Cumin Honey Roasted Carrots
It’s worth seeking out tricolor baby carrots with their greens still attached to get the most of out this easy but elegant side dish. Most grocery stores stock them this time of year, and markets like Whole Food’s and Mom’s Organic Market are a sure bet. Smaller baby carrots are a bit sweeter, with younger skin that needn’t be peeled. Reserve the freshest greens to make a vibrant pesto for dressing the honey roasted carrots.
Step one – obtain some baby carrots with greens still attached. Tricolor are prettiest! Wash them well, then trim the tops. Slice the thickest carrots in half lengthwise, and keep smaller ones intact. You just want to ensure that most of the carrots spears are roughly the same width so they roast evenly.
Whisk together a tablespoon of melted butter with a few tablespoons of honey and and some whole cumin seeds. Pour the honey butter over the carrots and toss using your clean hands.
Spread the carrots onto a parchment lined baking sheet, then sprinkle with salt. Pro-tip for presentation: keep the purple carrots separate from the others; they bleed as they roast and will discolor lighter carrots (although they’ll still taste super delish).
Bake in a 425°F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots are soft and starting to caramelize. Flip ’em once to ensure even roasting.
How to Make Carrot Top Pesto
While the carrots are roasting, make the pesto. If you can’t find carrots with greens still attached but you still want to make this pesto, simply use all parsley.
Reserve the freshest, greenest carrot tops for the pesto. You’ll want about a cup. Combine those with an equal amount of fresh parsley, as well as some pistachios, pecorino cheese, and garlic. Pulse all of that yumminess up in a food processor, then add enough extra virgin olive oil and process until the sauce comes together. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
Spread the roasted carrots onto a platter, and drizzle with carrot green pesto. Or serve the pesto on the side and dip spears into it like fries. SO FUN.
Dietary Accommodations and Variations
- Naturally vegetarian and gluten free
- If you can’t find tricolor baby carrots, opt for tricolor mature carrots sliced into spears or 1″ rounds.
- If you can’t find carrots with their greens still attached, make the pesto using all parsley.
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Bacon Brussels Sprouts with Maple Bourbon Glaze
- Garlicky Green Beans with Crispy Shallots
- Baked Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Fritters
- Sausage, Rye Bread, and Cranberry Stuffing
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Cumin Honey Roasted Carrots
- 1.5 lb baby tri-color carrots
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp sea or kosher salt
- Place in rack in the lower third of the oven, and heat to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Prepare the carrots. Trim the greens, then wash and scrub the carrots. Slice thicker carrots in halve lengthwise, and leave smaller carrots whole, to ensure all carrot pieces are roughly the same width.
- Place the butter into an 8-oz measuring cup or small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, or until melted. Add the honey and cumin seeds and whisk until throughly combined.
- Spread the carrots onto a baking sheet and drizzle with the cumin honey butter. Using your clean hands, rub the honey butter into the carrots, ensuring every piece is evenly coated. Arrange the carrots so that they are evenly spaced on the baking sheet, then sprinkle with salt.
- Transfer the carrots to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, flip the carrots, then return to the oven and roasted an additional 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness, until soft and caramelized.
- While the carrots are roasting, prepare the carrot top pesto. Place the pistachios, carrot greens, parsley, pecorino, garlic, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 10-15 seconds until the ingredients are pulverized. Switch the motor to continuous and pour the extra virgin olive oil through the feed in a continuous stream. Continue to process until oil is incorporated and the pesto is smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
- Arrange the roasted carrots on a platter or portion onto individual plates and drizzle with pesto. You'll likely have additional pesto leftover, and it can be used in any way you'd use traditional pesto, such as over roasted potatoes or tossed with pasta. The pesto keeps in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. The honey roasted carrots are best consumed immediately.
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