Oven Roasted Rainbow Carrots with sweet maple syrup, tangy fresh orange juice, earthy cumin, and herby thyme. It’s all a perfect combo to make these veggies tender and flavorful. Topped with crunchy toasted walnuts, it’s a stunner of a side dish fit for your Thanksgiving table. It’s also easy enough to accompany any weeknight meal!
These easy roasted rainbow carrots make a delicious quick side dish. With just a few spices and crunchy toasted walnuts, this ordinary vegetable is transformed into a dish worthy of a holiday table.
Carrots tend to be a kid-friendly vegetable. Roasting them and adding some pure maple syrup kicks up the sweetness factor, which kids will enjoy. But, don’t worry, the flavors are balanced beautifully with cumin and thyme, so they’re adult approved, too. If your kids turn up their noses at nuts and green herbs, simply place some on their plate before adding the garnishes.
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Carrots ~ Rainbow carrots come in many different colors, such as purple, red, white, yellow, and of course, orange.
Different colored carrots have varying amounts of certain nutrients. For example, red hued carrots, like red tomatoes, are high in lycopene.
My favorite are the deep purple colored carrots. They have an orange core and are just gorgeous when cut in half lengthwise. I also find them to be a bit sweeter than traditional orange carrots.
You can use all orange carrots instead of rainbow carrots and everything will turn out perfectly. I do this often for our everyday meals, but I happen to love the look of the rainbow carrots, especially for a holiday.
You can also use these same flavors for roasting other hearty vegetables, like sweet potatoes, parsnips, radishes, or cauliflower.
Walnuts ~ I love the buttery flavor of walnuts. But, pecans, slivered almonds, or even pistachios could work here, as well. Use your favorite.
Herbs ~ Thyme is an herb that pairs well with so many ingredients. It’s often found in classic Thanksgiving dishes, which is why I chose it here. Other good choices would be rosemary, oregano, or marjoram.
If your substituting dried herbs for fresh, use ⅓ of the amount, which in this case would be ½ teaspoon dried.
Spices ~ Salt and pepper are a given on roasted veggies. I also chose cumin because the earthiness pairs so well with the sweetness of the carrots and the floral notes of the herbs.
Oil free ~ Are you oil-free? Use a splash of veggie broth instead to help the spices stick to the carrots and line the baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking. They may take a bit longer to get those perfect char marks, but they will eventually brown nicely.
How to make the recipe
Cut any thicker carrots in half lengthwise so they cook evenly.
Toss them with a drizzle of oil and the seasonings.
Lay the carrots out on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer with a bit of space between each one. This ensures they get nice and caramelized. If the pan is too crowded, they will steam instead of roast, which will still be delicious, but you won’t get those lovely char marks.
Carrots take just 20 to 25 minutes at high heat to roast until tender. With about 5 to 10 minutes left in roasting, drizzle the maple orange mixture on the rainbow carrots and toss well to coat. Spread them back out on the pan evenly in one layer and continue to cook until nicely browned and caramelized.
I like to turn the carrots over halfway through to ensure even cooking and caramelization on both sides.
Store any leftover veggies in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. I do not recommending freezing them.
To reheat, place in a 425°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes until warmed through. You can also warm them in a microwave for 30 seconds or so. Stir and heat another 15 to 20 seconds, if needed.
My absolute favorite way to use these leftover roasted carrots is chopped up on toast slathered with hummus. Don’t forget to put some of the toasted walnuts on there, too. It’s soooo good!
Pro tips for success
~ Slice the thicker carrots in half so they are all the same size and cook evenly.
~ Season the carrots before roasting, including salt!
~ Wait to add the maple syrup and orange juice until the last 5 to 10 minutes of roasting. The high sugar content of these ingredients can burn easily if you add them too soon.
~ Don’t crowd the pan! Not enough space in between will steam the veggies and make them soggy instead of roasting them to caramelized perfection. Use two pans if necessary.
~ Toast the walnuts for a deeper flavor.
Yes, they sure are!
Carrots are high in vitamins A, K, C, several B vitamins, fiber, potassium, folate, and more!
They contain lots of antioxidants and have been shown to have benefits for eye health, liver health, and cancer protection.
Nope! The different colors are naturally occurring variations. In fact, original carrot crops were purple!
Carrots don’t need to be peeled, just scrubbed well. However, unless they are organic, I always peel them just to lesson our exposure to pesticides.
The kids prefer them peeled, too, organic or not, so I usually do peel them.
The taste different between colors is subtle. White or yellow carrots have the most mild flavor and may be a bit sweet than other colors, like orange, purple or red.
Complete the meal
This easy carrot recipe is quick enough to serve with any weeknight meal. It’s also a perfect vegetable side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
Try serving it with with holiday favorites like:
- Vegan Chicken Cutlets
- Vegan Stuffing
- Easy Cornbread
- Brussels Sprouts
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
More vegan carrot recipes
- Vegan Carrot Soup
- Roasted Carrot White Bean Dip
- Carrot Pineapple Salad
- Vegan Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
- Vegan Carrot Cake Pancakes
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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For even more easy family recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook!
Oven Roasted Rainbow Carrots
- 2 pounds long rainbow carrots peeled, if desired; thicker ones halved lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons high-heat oil olive oil or grapeseed oil work well
- 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves plus extra for garnish, if desired
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- juice of ½ naval orange
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ½ cup raw walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the carrots on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the oil over the carrots and sprinkle on the thyme, cumin, salt, and pepper. Toss the carrots well so they are evenly coated. Spread them out into one even layer with space between each carrot. Roast for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the orange juice and maple syrup. After the carrots have roasted for 15 minutes, pour the orange maple mixture over the carrots, toss well, and spread back out evenly in one even layer. Roast for another 5 to 10 minutes until the carrots start to brown and caramelize and are tender when pierced with a fork or knife.
- While the carrots are roasting for the final time, toast the walnuts. Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add the walnuts and toast, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until fragrant and starting to darken. This should take about 3 to 5 minutes. Watch them closely so they don't burn. Once toasted, pour them out onto a plate in one even layer to cool down. They will continue to crisp up as they sit.
- To serve, place the carrots on a plate or platter, sprinkle over the toasted walnuts and extra thyme, if desired.