How to Cook Carrots to Tender, Non-Mushy Perfection

Need to how to cook carrots on the stove, in the microwave, or in the slow cooker? Check out our Test Kitchen's expert tips on how to cook carrots.

Carrots are inexpensive, colorful, and delicious. What more could you want? How about a windfall of nutrients? They're a great source of fiber and vitamin A in particular. In fact, carrots are an amazing source of beta-carotene (a compound form of vitamin A that's full of antioxidant properties). Bonus: Carrots are also low in calories, with a ½ cup of steamed carrots only banking 27 calories. And of course, carrots are extremely easy to cook and very versatile (meaning they go with pretty much everything). Read on for our favorite ways to cook carrots.

cooked carrots on white plate

BHG / Crystal Hughes

How to Prepare Carrots for Cooking

The first step in learning how to cook carrots in the oven, stove top, or slow cooker is knowing how to prep them. For four servings of carrots, start with 1 pound of fresh carrots.

Test Kitchen Tip: If your recipe calls for cooking carrots whole, you can leave some of the stems intact for a pretty presentation. Trim stems to 1 inch and scrub stems thoroughly.

  • Cut standard-size carrots into ¼-inch-thick slices or into strips that are about 2 inches long and ¼-inch thick. (Note that 1 pound makes about 2½ cups slices or strips.)

Time-Saving Tip: If you're wondering how to cook carrots fast, start with packaged peeled baby-cut carrots. There's no prep needed. Simply measure 3½ cups packaged peeled baby carrots for four servings. Each method below shows you how to cook baby carrots, including the correct timings for these little gems.

raw carrots in a pot and steamer ready to be cooked

BHG / Crystal Hughes

How to Cook Carrots on the Stove Top: Boiling and Steaming

Boiling carrots and steaming carrots are likely the cooking methods that first come to mind when you think of cooking carrots. Here's how to successfully do both.

How to Boil Carrots

Cook 1 pound carrots, covered, in a small amount of boiling salted water until crisp-tender. Here's how long to cook carrots on the stove top depending on how they're cut:

  • 7 to 9 minutes for ¼-inch slices
  • 4 to 6 minutes for strips
  • 8 to 10 minutes for baby carrots

Drain carrots and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you wish, add some butter and honey to the cooked carrots; stir until the butter is melted and carrots are glazed. Try boiling carrots in this glazed carrots with pistachios recipe.

How to Steam Carrots

Steaming carrots on the stove top using a steamer basket is just as speedy as boiling carrots.

  • Place a steamer basket ($23, Target) in a saucepan. Add water to just below the bottom of the basket.
  • Bring water to boiling. Add 1 pound of prepped carrots to steamer basket. Cover and reduce heat.
  • Cook the carrots until crisp-tender. Here's how long to cook the carrots depending on how they're cut:
    • 8 to 10 minutes for ¼-inch slices
    • 5 to 7 minutes for ¼-inch strips
    • 8 to 10 minutes for baby carrots
cut carrots in casserole dish ready to be microwaved

BHG / Crystal Hughes

How to Cook Carrots in the Microwave

Wanting to cook carrots fast? The microwave is the ticket! Plus, you can save valuable space in your oven while dinner cooks. Here's how to cook carrots in the microwave:

  • Place 1 pound carrots in a microwave-safe casserole dish ($15, Crate & Barrel) with 2 Tbsp. water.
  • Microwave, covered, on 100% power (high) until crisp-tender, stirring once. Here's how long to cook carrots in the microwave depending on how they're cut:
    • 6 to 9 minutes for ¼-inch slices
    • 5 to 7 minutes for ¼-inch strips
    • 7 to 9 minutes for baby carrots
Honey-Cumin Roasted Carrots
Andy Lyons
roasted carrots overhead on sheet pan

BHG / Crystal Hughes

How to Roast Carrots

Bring out the natural sugars in carrots by roasting them. The caramelized flavors make the vegetables taste like a treat even picky eaters will enjoy. Here's how to cook carrots in the oven:

  • Use 1 pound packaged peeled baby carrots or peel, wash, and trim 1 pound carrots and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Arrange cut carrots or baby carrots on a large baking sheet or shallow baking pan.
  • Toss carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, and, if desired, other seasonings.
  • If directed by your recipe, cover pan with foil.
  • How long to cook carrots in the oven: Bake in a 425°F oven 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil if covered; stir carrots. Bake, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes more or until carrots are tender.
seasoned and cut carrots in a slow cooker

BHG / Crystal Hughes

How to Make Carrots in a Slow Cooker

When your oven and stove top are jammed at the holidays or other family gatherings, you can cook carrots in your slow cooker. Try these orange-cardamon slow cooker carrots or use this easy basic recipe for inspiration:

  • Start with 2 pounds packaged peeled baby carrots, halved lengthwise. In a 3½- or 4-quart slow cooker ($35, Target) combine carrots with ¾ cup chopped onion, ½ cup chicken broth, and ½ tsp. salt.
  • Cover and cook on low 5 to 6 hours or on high 2½ to 3 hours.
  • If using low heat, turn to high. In a small bowl stir together ½ cup apple juice or cider, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, and ¼ to ½ tsp. ground cinnamon or ½ tsp. ground ginger. Cover and cook 45 minutes more or until thickened and bubbly. Sprinkle with snipped fresh chives before serving.

We're not done yet. You can make a simple side of carrots using your Instant Pot, too. Try this easy recipe for pressure cooker braised carrots. If you'd rather make a one-dish meal than separate recipes, keep your cooked carrot craze going by adding prepped carrots to your pot roast or roast chicken. (If your recipe doesn't already have directions for when to add them, the last 45 to 60 minutes of cooking time should do the trick.)

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