Packed with sweet and earthy flavors — along with a vibrant color to boot — carrots are one of the most versatile vegetable sides. We all have our go-to methods of cooking this veggie, from roasting to sautéing to steaming them, but surprisingly, there's yet another way to enjoy carrots: air-fried. The air fryer works wonders for turning raw carrots into a soft and caramelized veggie in half the time it takes to roast them. The best part? You don't have to boil the carrots beforehand, saving you a step when you're in a hurry to get dinner on the table. Here's how to make tender and flavorful carrots in your air fryer so they become your new go-to weeknight side dish!
Air frying versus roasting carrots
Cooking carrots in the air fryer and oven will produce similarly delicious results. That's because both methods rely on high heat, which causes the natural sugars in carrots to caramelize so you end up with a sweeter-tasting vegetable. Those high temps also create the perfect firm, yet tender texture that's a far cry from any mushy carrots you might have had.
However, the big difference lies in the timing: Air fryers use circulating heat that distribute the hot air much faster than ovens. Plus, air frying carrots doesn't require parboiling (ie, "partially boiling") them, a five-minute step done before roasting to begin softening the veggie. Instead, you can slice and season the carrots while the air fryer is preheating, then place them in the appliance to cook evenly.
Bonus: Air frying makes cleanup a breeze. Simply line the basket with parchment paper to prevent the carrots from sticking — it eliminates the need to scrub the surface afterwards.
The ideal temperature for air frying vegetables like carrots
To achieve fully browned carrots in a short amount of time, First for Women Food Editor Charles Grayauskie suggests air frying them at 400°F. The exact cook time will vary based on the size of the carrots. However, it typically takes around 12 minutes for baby carrots and whole carrots that are cut into 1½-inch pieces. This is much less than the usual 20- to 30-minute cook time for roasting carrots in the oven, yet it yields equally delicious results.
How to make air-fryer carrots
Charles shares a simple recipe for Air-Fried Carrots that will make them the star of any meal! (Click through for tips on how to reheat roasted vegetables as they can be used to crisp up leftover air fried carrots.)
1 lb. baby carrots or whole, peeled carrots cut into 1½-inch pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 to 3 Tbs. olive or avocado oil
Active: 10 mins
Total time: 26 mins
Yield: 3 to 4 servings
Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
In medium bowl, toss carrots in oil, salt and pepper. Evenly space carrots on parchment-lined air fryer basket in single layer. If basket is too small, cook veggies in batches.
Place in air fryer and cook about 12 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until golden brown and tender. Remove carrots from appliance and cool about 4 minutes. Repeat process with remaining carrots.
Serve with your favorite meat or vegetarian dishes. Enjoy!
4 additional flavor options for air-fried carrots
For mouthwatering air-fried carrots, Charles encourages you to add other seasonings beyond salt and pepper. Start these with four options to maximize the veggie's taste.
For an aromatic taste, sprinkle them with spices. Spices like ground cumin, coriander and even cinnamon add warmth and a slight bitterness to the carrots. Just sprinkle a pinch of your favorite spices onto the carrots before they're roasted, and savor the aromatic flavor they bring to the veggie.
For spice, infuse the carrots with chili. If you're looking to add a zesty kick, coat the veggie in your desired amount of chili flakes or hot sauce like Sriracha. This not only adds a spiced touch to the carrots, but it allows them to char up nicely in the air fryer.
For an extra earthy kick, add herbs. Fresh dill or rosemary are perfect flavor enhancers as the citrusy and woody taste complements the natural sweetness of the carrots. You can roughly chop the herbs and combine them with the carrots, or place the herb sprigs on the top of the veggie pieces before cooking to remove them easily.
For added sweetness, drizzle the carrots with maple syrup or honey. Pantry staples like maple syrup and honey help caramelize the carrot and give them a more intense sweet flavor. All you need is 1 to 2 tablespoons of either sugary ingredient to coat each pound of carrots you're cooking.
Keep reading for more speedy air fryer recipes!