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Everyone seems to love glazed carrots — they are so delicious served as a side dish or as a complement to any number of simple dinners. This foolproof glazed carrots recipe makes tender, sweet, perfectly cooked carrots in a glossy, buttery sauce. The carrots cook in less than 15 minutes on the stovetop and could not be easier to make. Serve them up on a platter with a squeeze of lemon and some chopped herbs.
Carrots are basic — so much that they can almost seem boring. But you have to give them credit for being versatile, inexpensive and readily available, any time of year. Just think of all the ways you can cook them! Among our favorite carrot recipes are roasted carrots (dozens of ways), fresh carrot salads and velvety carrot soup.
It turns out that one of the very best ways to cook carrots is to simmer them in a skillet on the stovetop for a few minutes, along with butter, water and a little bit of sugar that thickens to a light glaze. Sometimes keeping it simple is the key!
About the ingredients
- Carrots: If you can find bunches of carrots with their green tops attached, grab those for this recipe — they will be the freshest. The greens are proof that they have recently been pulled from the ground, not sitting in storage. Plus you can use them as a garnish to finish the dish. Carrots that come in a bag (not trimmed baby carrots) also work perfectly and will still taste great!
- Butter: I usually cook with unsalted butter, but salted high butterfat butter has an amazing rich, nutty flavor that is especially delicious for glazed carrots.
- Sugar: Combined with butter, sugar is the secret to a glaze and it enhances the naturally sweet taste of the carrots. As the water in the pan reduces, dissolved sugar molecules concentrate to form a light syrup that binds with the melted fat, creating a delicious pan sauce. You can use regular white granulated sugar, light brown sugar, honey or maple syrup.
- Lemon juice: A squeeze of lemon adds a tangy counterpoint that really pleases the taste buds. Use fresh lime instead, or try a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.
- Fresh herbs: As an option, garnish the glazed carrots with chopped fresh parsley, tarragon, thyme or rosemary.
How to prepare glazed carrots, step by step
Make ahead directions
- To make glazed carrots a day or two before, don’t reduce the pan liquid. Cool and store in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, heat the carrots in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced and the glaze forms (step 5).
Sweet and Buttery Glazed Carrots
- 1 pound (450 g) carrots, preferably with greens attached
- ¾ cup (175 ml) water
- 4 tablespoons (56 g) butter
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) granulated sugar, or light brown sugar, honey or maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- ½ fresh lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, carrot top greens, or other soft herbs such as chives or tarragon
- Peel the carrots, if you like. (My mom would say that's where the vitamins are :). Trim off the tops and tapered bottom tips of the carrots. Reserve a few sprigs of the greens for garnish if they look fresh and not slimy (give them a quick rinse to remove any sand or grit, then pat dry).
- Cut the carrots into pieces about 1-½-inches long by ½-inch diameter — this will ensure they cook quickly and evenly.
- Put the carrots in a large (12-inch) skillet, preferably nonstick for easy clean-up. Pour in the water, and add the butter, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Place the skillet over medium-high heat. As soon as the water begins to simmer, cover the pan and lower the heat to medium. Cook 8 minutes. The carrots should feel firm-tender when poked with the tip of a knife.
- Turn the heat up to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook the carrots, uncovered, until the sauce reduces by about half, about 5 minutes. Once large bubbles begin to form, that's a sign the sauce has reduced enough and the glaze is done. Remove the pan from the heat before the liquid totally evaporates or the butter will begin to brown (or burn).
- Transfer the carrots and pan sauce to a platter or large bowl. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the carrots, scatter the herbs or carrot top greens on top and serve.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Make ahead: To make glazed carrots a day or two before, prepare to Step 4. Cool and refrigerate. When ready to serve, heat the carrots in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced and the glaze forms (step 5).
- To make brown sugar or honey glazed carrots, simply substitute an equal amount for the granulated sugar.
- A squeeze of lemon adds a tangy counterpoint that really pleases the taste buds. Use fresh squeezed lime juice instead, or try a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.
Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.