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Roasted rainbow carrots, tossed with savory spiced oil and dusted with fresh cilantro, make a wonderful side dish for the holidays or any day.

roasted rainbow carrots with cumin, mustard seed, and cilantro on a plate
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Why we love this recipe

Roasted carrots show up to the party with a beautiful combination of earthiness and sweetness. Make them rainbow and toss them with toasted cumin, black mustard, and fresh cilantro, and you’ve got something really special. This recipe is:

  • Balanced in flavor and texture
  • Great any time of year, but especially at home in the colder months
  • Plenty interesting on its own, without overwhelming the flavors of other Thanksgiving or winter holiday dishes
  • Naturally vegan and gluten-free
  • Adaptable — see the FAQ section below for serving suggestions

I first published this recipe here back in 2016. I’ve since updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Rainbow carrots contribute a festive color scheme to this dish. The chemical compounds that create their varying colors also yield subtle variations in flavor profile and a wider spectrum of nutritional benefits. They’re sometimes sold as tricolor carrots, even when they come in more than three colors. If you can’t get your hands on them or don’t want to, this recipe also works beautifully with regular orange carrots.
  • Whole cumin seed has a more complex flavor than its ground counterpart, especially when toasted. It adds tons of savoriness and a pleasant crunch to this recipe.
  • Black mustard seed (sometimes called brown) is different from yellow mustard. It has a warmer, more complex flavor profile. Black mustard seed is a frequent ingredient in Indian cooking and is well worth buying if you don’t already have it on hand. (You can type “black mustard seed” into the search bar on this site for some more great ways to use it.)
  • Cilantro adds a pop of fresh flavor and makes a dreamy counterpoint to the cumin and mustard seed. If you’re not a fan, you can substitute flat-leaf parsley.
  • Safflower oil is my high-smoke-point, neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a fabulous batch of roasted rainbow carrots. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll cut the carrots into whatever size and shape you’d like. True baby carrots can be left whole. You can peel them or not, depending on where they’ve come from and what they look like.
  2. Arrange in a single layer and roast until crisp and caramelized outside and tender inside, about 25 minutes depending on size.
  3. While the carrots roast, heat the oil in your smallest frying pan. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and cover loosely with a lid. Cook for just a few minutes, until lots of the seeds have popped and everything is super-fragrant.
  4. When carrots have roasted, pour the oil overtop and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle on the cilantro and serve. That’s it!
Rainbow Roasted Carrots with Mustard and Cumin Seeds

Expert tips and FAQs

How should I serve them?

These roasted rainbow carrots make a lovely side dish for a wide variety of meals. I tend to think of them in the fall and winter months, including at the holidays. Alternatively, you can make them an element of a vegetarian or vegan main dish by tossing in some chickpeas, cubed and pan-fried halloumi, or salt and pepper tofu.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

This recipe is easy, hands-off, and relatively quick to make, and the crisp-outside, tender-inside vibes are best shortly after roasting. I don’t tend to do it in advance. That said, these carrots taste great at room temperature, too, and leftovers keep well in the fridge for a week.

More favorite roasted winter vegetables

roasted rainbow carrots with cumin, mustard seed, and cilantro on a sheet pan

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roasted rainbow carrots with cumin, mustard seed, and cilantro on a plate
5 from 4 votes

Roasted Rainbow Carrots Recipe

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Roasted rainbow carrots, tossed with savory spiced oil and dusted with fresh cilantro, make a wonderful side dish for the holidays or any day.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds (908 grams) rainbow carrots
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) safflower oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F with two racks close to the center.
  • How you prep the carrots will depend on their size, shape, and skin texture. Tender baby carrots can be left whole, with skin on and an inch or so of the green stems attached. Larger ones and those with gnarly texture can be peeled, trimmed, and cut into quarters, halves, chunks, or coins. Try to cut all pieces to a reasonably similar size so they will roast evenly.
  • Place the carrots on one baking sheet and toss with half the oil and the salt and pepper until glistening evenly.
  • Transfer half the carrots to a second baking sheet and arrange each half in a roomy single layer.
  • Roast until tender and lightly browned, about 25 minutes depending on size.
  • While the carrots roast, place the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil and the mustard and cumin seeds into your smallest pan.
  • Cover loosely (to prevent seeds from popping everywhere) and warm over medium heat until the seeds start to pop vigorously, then remove from heat and let sit until ready to serve.
  • When ready to serve, drizzle with the cumin and mustard seed oil over the carrots on baking sheets and carefully toss to coat. Sprinkle with cilantro and toss once more before transferring to a serving platter.

Notes

  1. Rainbow carrots contribute a festive color scheme to this dish. The chemical compounds that create their varying colors also yield subtle variations in flavor profile and a wider spectrum of nutritional benefits. They're sometimes sold as tricolor carrots, even when they come in more than three colors. If you can't get your hands on them or don't want to, this recipe also works beautifully with regular orange carrots.
  2. Whole cumin seed has a more complex flavor than its ground counterpart, especially when toasted. It adds tons of savoriness and a pleasant crunch to this recipe.
  3. Black mustard seed (sometimes called brown) is different from yellow mustard. It has a warmer, more complex flavor profile. Black mustard seed is a frequent ingredient in Indian cooking and is well worth buying if you don’t already have it on hand. (You can type “black mustard seed” into the search bar on this site for some more great ways to use it.)
  4. Cilantro adds a pop of fresh flavor and makes a dreamy counterpoint to the cumin and mustard seed. If you're not a fan, you can substitute flat-leaf parsley.
  5. Safflower oil is my high-smoke-point, neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.
  6. These roasted rainbow carrots make a lovely side dish for a wide variety of meals. I tend to think of them in the fall and winter months, including at the holidays. Alternatively, you can make them an element of a vegetarian or vegan main dish by tossing in some chickpeas, cubed and pan-fried halloumi, or salt and pepper tofu.
  7. This recipe is easy, hands-off, and relatively quick to make, and the crisp-outside, tender-inside vibes are best shortly after roasting. I don't tend to do it in advance. That said, these carrots taste great at room temperature, too, and leftovers keep well in the fridge for a week.

Nutrition

Calories: 85kcal, Carbohydrates: 14.7g, Protein: 1.6g, Fat: 2.8g, Fiber: 4.3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sides
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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