This simple honey roasted carrots and parsnips recipe makes a wonderful vegetarian side dish for special occasions, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas (it’s make ahead friendly!), and weeknight meals. Roasting the root vegetables in a cast iron pan in the oven makes them exceptionally caramelized and melt-in-your-mouth tender. You won’t want to make vegetables any other way!
Two days until Christmas! Many of you have probably had your Christmas menu planned for weeks, but I’m sure there are some people out there who are still in need of a side dish recipe for dinner this weekend. I’ve been there, and I got you covered!
These honey roasted carrots and parsnips are the PERFECT Christmas side. They look beautiful, taste delicious, are easy to prepare, and totally feel fancy without actually being difficult to make. Plus, the way they are roasted makes them super tender yet caramelized.
Instead of roasting them on a sheet pan, I recommend cooking these beautiful roots in a cast iron pan in the oven. “But Lizzie, won’t they be too crowded? Shouldn’t all roasted veggies be in a single layer? Will they even cook evenly?” I understand why you have these questions, but I can assure you that it’s well worth it to break the cardinal rules of roasting vegetables for this recipe.
I got the idea of roasting carrots and parsnips in a cast iron after visiting my cousin in Arizona when we were there over Thanksgiving. She prepared a brunch for us with roasted potatoes in a cast iron, dripping in olive oil and finished with herbs and salt. I seriously haven’t stopped thinking about them since!
So, I’m really excited to share how to use this method to make the most drool-worthy side dish. Your family and friends will totally be asking for the recipe! If you’re looking for some other recipes using carrots or parsnips, check out the Spiced Carrots and Dates, Raw Parsnip Salad, and Dill and Maple Roasted Carrots.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Carrots and parsnips: You will need about a pound of each, which equated to 3 large carrots and 3 large parsnips for me. You can make this recipe with other root vegetables, such as beets or turnips, but just be sure to cut all the veggies into pieces of about the same size.
- Extra virgin olive oil: My favorite high-quality extra virgin olive oil is Partanna. I buy big tins of it to save money and refill an opaque olive oil pourer from the tin as needed. The key to making this recipe is using a lot of olive oil so that there is a puddle of it in the bottom of the cast iron. This helps the veggies almost “stew” in the liquid while they roast, making them extremely caramelized and tender.
- Honey: You need runny honey for this recipe. I like to use squeezable containers of either Nature Nate’s or Ames (a local MN brand). If you only have honey that’s not very runny/squeezable, warm it in a bowl with hot water until runny. You can also microwave it for increments of 15 to 20 seconds until runny.
- Rosemary and thyme: Fresh herbs taste best in this recipe, but you can substitute dried if needed. A teaspoon of dried herbs equates to a tablespoon of fresh.
- Salt and pepper: Use a coarse salt, like kosher or sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper for best results.
- More herbs and honey, pats of butter, and flaky sea salt: For serving!
As I discussed, I highly recommend making these honey roasted carrots and parsnips in a cast iron skillet. I used a Lodge 12-inch cast iron. It’s one of my favorite pieces of cookware. You can use other types of oven-safe skillets if needed.
The full recipe card with ingredient quantities and instructions is at the end of the post. Here’s a preview of the simple steps with photos.
Scrub the carrots and parsnips clean using a vegetable brush (or just your hands if you don’t have one). Peel if desired, but I choose to leave on the peels. Cut the carrots and parsnips on an angle into ½-inch coins. If your vegetables have very large “heads” and skinny “tails,” cut the large coins in half and the tails into longer pieces, so that all of the pieces are roughly the same size.
Prepare the honey glaze. Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, runny honey, chopped rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper.
Put the carrot and parsnip coins in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Pour the honey glaze on top, and stir well to coat everything. The glaze will cover the vegetables, but there will be some leftover that pools in the bottom of the cast iron. This “puddle” is key to making the vegetables very tender and caramelized.
Roast the vegetables at 425 degrees F until caramelized and browned and fork-tender. Stir at least once during cooking. This will take anywhere from 35 to 50 minutes. I personally like to cook my honey roasted carrots and parsnips for 50 minutes.
Storage and Reheating
Glazed root vegetables taste best when enjoyed right away. However, you can make them ahead of time and reheat when you’re ready to serve them. This comes in handy for holiday meals.
Prepare and fully roast the vegetables. Let them cool before transferring to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to reheat them (up to 2 to 3 days). To reheat, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the root vegetables on a baking sheet, cover with foil, and warm for 10 to 15 minutes.
You do not need to boil carrots or parsnips (or any root vegetable) before roasting, but some people may prefer to boil them for a few minutes so that they get softer. The way the vegetables cook in this specific recipe — on top of each other in a pool of the honey oil glaze — makes them very soft, so boiling is unnecessary.
The skin of carrots and parsnips is edible, so you do not need to peel them. However, some people prefer to take off the skin. It’s entirely up to you. I do not peel carrots and parsnips for this recipe because they get so caramelized and tender that you don’t even notice the skin.
Yes, you can of course make this recipe on a sheet pan instead of roasting them in a cast iron skillet. Toss the vegetables in the glaze, spread them out in a single layer on a lined baking sheet, and roast for 35 to 45 minutes. However, they will not get as caramelized and delicious in my opinion.
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Honey Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
- 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe skillet)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Prepare the carrots and parsnips for roasting. Scrub them clean with a vegetable brush (or your hands) and trim off the tops and ends. Slice each one crosswise on an angle into ½-inch coins. For any that have large tops and skinny bottoms, slice the wider coins you get from the top in half or quarters. Cut longer pieces from the skinny bottoms. Overall, you want the vegetables to be approximately the same size.
- In a measuring cup, combine the olive oil, runny honey, thyme leaves, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth.
- Put the prepared vegetables in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Pour the honey glaze on top and stir well so the vegetables are fully coated. Even after the vegetables are coated, there should be a puddle of the glaze in the bottom of the pan. It won't be a very large amount but it should cover the pan. The vegetables will be on top of each other. This is OK and intended, as they will cook down.
- Place the skillet on the middle rack of the oven and roast for 35 to up to 50 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized on the outside to your liking and fork-tender. Stir the vegetables at least once and preferably twice during the cooking time. This will promote even cooking. I prefer to cook mine for a full 50 minutes.
- When you're ready to serve the vegetables, keep them right in the skillet (just warn your guests that it will be hot!) so they keep their warmth. Top them with pats of butter, some more fresh herbs (if desired), flaky sea salt, and another drizzle of honey (all optional…they're great as is too!). Enjoy!
- Leave a rating or review by tapping the stars on this recipe card (above) or in the comments section (at the end of the post)!
- Make sure the honey you use is runny. If your honey has solidified, place it in a bowl with hot water or spoon honey into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in short increments, stirring in between, until runny.
- You can also roast the vegetables on a lined baking sheet. Spread them out in an even layer and roast for 35 to 45 minutes. However, they will not get as tender or caramelized this way IMO.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Reheat on a baking sheet covered with foil for about 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. They can be made in advance for a holiday meal if you follow these instructions.
Merry Christmas! – Lizzie