Learn how to saute carrots perfectly with these step-by-step instructions. If you want the delicious flavors of seared carrots in half the time of roasting, then break out the skillet and turn up the heat.
I love the sweetness that carrots deliver as their natural sugars caramelize! You can get adventurous with herbs, or eat them with just salt and pepper. Either way, leftovers won’t be a problem!
Want to know how to cook perfect carrots? Keep these tips in mind:
First, clean, peel, and cut the carrots into uniform pieces. Because we’re going to be cooking at relatively high heat, you’ll want them small. To sauté larger pieces, you will need to blanch them first.
For a visually spectacular side dish, consider julienning them (slicing them length-wise to make matchstick carrots).
Second, heat the pan before putting in the oil. Use an oil with a higher smoking point instead of butter.
Third, if you tend them too frequently, they won’t sear properly. You will miss out on the flavors and texture that make this technique worth the extra effort.
Let the carrots sit in the pan long enough to brown on one side before tossing them. Those crisp edges really are the best part!
How to Saute Carrots
Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to sauté carrots:
Prep the carrots: Peel and trim the ends, then cut into small uniform slices. Pat them dry. Any excess water will result in steaming the carrots.
Prep the pan: Get out your largest skillet (with sloping sides) or sauté pan (with vertical walls). For me, this Misen pan is the perfect skillet for sauteeing. Put the pan on a burner set to medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes.
Toss frequently: Sauté comes from the French word for “jump” because of the way this cooking technique moves the food around. Many cooks use the pan itself to toss their carrots.
If you’re risk averse like me, you can use a utensil to stir the carrots or tongs to turn them. Either way, let them sit only long enough to brown a bit before you toss them.
How Long to Saute Carrots
Wondering how long to saute carrots? It will depend on how small the pieces are, how seared you want them to be, etc.
It should take 1/4″ slices approximately 5 to 6 minutes in a hot pan to reach tender crisp. Sautéing requires that you check them often.
You can poke them with a fork or knife to check tenderness, but the tastier solution is to simply eat one. This method also lets you notice the flavor profile changing as they cook.
I can’t overstate the importance of testing with a fork and also tasting the vegetables when trying new cooking methods.
We prefer our vegetables more firm than soft, with a solid bite to them. If you prefer your vegetables to be a bit more cooked, just add a minute or two to the provided cooking times. It’s always better to err on the side of undercooked versus overdone.
Keep in mind that cooking times are estimates and adjust them to be exactly what you like best.
Stir-fry vs. sauté: These two cooking techniques are very similar. Stir-frying uses very high heat and requires constant tossing. Sautéing uses moderately high heat and does not keep the food in constant motion.
How to Saute Carrots
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound carrots cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt adjust to taste
- ¼ tablespoon pepper adjust to taste
- Warm a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Add oil and carrots to the skillet and toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon of water and cover with a lid. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Uncover and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking uncovered, stirring occasionally to allow the carrots to develop browned caramelized edges, for an additional 2-3 minutes to the desired doneness.
- When carrots are caramelized, remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.