These spicy honey carrots are pan-cooked and come together much more quickly than oven roasted carrots.
Sliced carrot coins tossed in a perfectly balanced, sweet and spicy honey glaze that's lip-smackingly delicious. You just can't go wrong with this simple (but elevated) side dish.
Why you'll love these carrots
A few things about this recipe that I like and you might too!
- Quick cooking – Pan roasting (well technically steaming here) is way faster than oven roasting.
- Simple ingredients – Most of what you need will likely be in your fridge or pantry – no need to make special trip to the grocery store.
- Versatile – Its as good a side dish for weeknight dinners as it is for Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners. Plus your oven stays free for cooking other things.
- Budget friendly – An inexpensive vegetable turned into this unforgettable flavor packed side.
- Picky eater approved – These sweet and spicy carrots will convert carrot haters into fans.
- Nutrition – I'm sure you're aware... carrots are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Customizable – Don't let the words "hot honey" or "spiced honey" scare you. Yes these are moderately spicy carrots, but you can always reduce heat by reducing the amount of some ingredients.
Here are some helpful notes on ingredients you'll need to make these spicy honey glazed carrots. See the recipe card below for exact quantities.
- Carrots – The important thing is to be sure of the weight as carrot sizes can vary a lot. And what's medium carrot for me may be considered large where you live. Also, be sure to cut the carrot in uniform thickness or it will cook unevenly. Not sure how to cut carrots in rounds/coins? See this carrot cutting guide. Keep your round slices about ¼ inch thick (see the ingredients photo above).
- Water – For steaming carrot.
- Bouillon - Use paste, powder, granules, cube, whatever form you have. This adds a nice depth to flavor. Vegetable bouillon keeps it vegetarian friendly. But I prefer chicken bouillon.
- Black pepper – Just some ground pepper to season.
For hot honey glaze
- Olive oil – You can also use any other vegetable cooking oil of your choice. Just not something that's overpowering in taste.
- Garlic – Freshly peeled and minced garlic is always my top choice. But jarred varieties will work too.
- Honey – The star ingredient for the glaze. Use regular, unflavored honey.
- Cayenne pepper – If you're not into spicy stuff, swap out cayenne for the same amount of paprika. Or just leave it out. But if you like a little heat, I totally suggest adding it. I've even added more than what's in the recipe, but I get that not everyone's a fan of that extra kick.
- Paprika – Also adds heat, although much milder than cayenne.
- Chili powder – To give the flavor a bit more depth. But if you don't have it, the glaze still comes out fantastic. Oh and just to be clear – I am talking about the North American spice blend. Not Indian red chili powder (which is just powdered chilies).
- Lime juice – I prefer fresh lime juice. Or lemon juice. I haven't mentioned zest in the ingredient list. But if you happen to have a zester or microplane, adding ½ teaspoon of zest will take your glaze up a notch.
- Salt – Any kind will work – kosher, pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, table salt. Use a little more when using coarse varieties.
- Cilantro/parsley – Some chopped leaves for garnish (optional).
How to make spiced honey carrots
Follow these simple, photo-assisted instructions to prepare hot honey glazed carrots. Check out recipe card below for a printable version that has quantities, instructions and notes in one place.
1. Prepare the glaze – In a saucepan heat olive oil on low heat. Add garlic and saute for few seconds. Be careful.. don't let it burn.
Next add all other glaze ingredients (honey, cayenne, paprika, chili powder, lime juice and salt). Stir for approx 1 minute.
Oh and taste before you turn off the heat. Be careful, it'll be hot. If you'd like it more sweet – add a little more honey. Remove from stovetop and set aside.
2. Cook carrots – In a wide pan/skillet add water, carrots, bouillon and ground black pepper. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Give a stir to ensure the dissolved bouillon is evenly distributed.
Now put the lid on, turn the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes. Or until the carrots are done to your preference.
3. Add the glaze – At this point there shouldn't be more than a tablespoon or two of water in the pan/skillet. If there is more, remove the lid so it can evaporate.
Now pour the prepared glaze over the carrots. Mix well to make sure the carrots get evenly coated.
4. Caramelize and serve – Let the sauce reduce, thicken and caramelize. This will take approx 3 to 5 minutes. But keep a close eye to prevent any burning. Stir frequently.
Remove from stove.
Top it off with a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro, parsley or any herb you prefer (or have). Enjoy!
- When slicing carrot coins, shoot for about ¼ inch thickness. And try to keep it consistent so they cook nice and even.
- Carrot sizes can vary a lot. So it's important to consider the weight of carrots. Don't rely solely on the carrot count I've shared.
- If you prefer carrots more candied and sweet, add more honey. Taste before you make any changes.
- Throw in a little lemon/lime zest into the glaze for an extra layer of bright flavor.
- Check the carrot tenderness at around 8 minute mark of steaming. Then adjust the time based on your preference of doneness.
- Besides the fresh herb topping, there are a bunch of other garnish options. See the variations section below for ideas.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Yes you can. You may have to increase the steaming time a little if using them uncut. And perhaps add a bit more water for that extra time of steaming.
For sure. Season the carrot slices with a little salt and pepper (omit water and bouillon). Spread out evenly on parchment lined baking sheet/tray. Roast at 425°F (220°C) for 20 to 24 minutes. Remember to flip 'em halfway through. You will still have to make the glaze on stovetop. And then combine the roasted carrots and glaze in a pan for reduction and caramelization.
I'd say stick with fresh carrots. Frozen ones just don't have the same texture after cooking.
Gently press a fork or edge of a knife into a slice. If it goes through smoothly with a little resistance – your carrots are likely cooked to a crisp but tender texture. If the fork goes through easily with no resistance they are soft and more thoroughly cooked. You can also take a bite to check texture and flavor. But be careful - the carrots will be very hot.
I'd say these carrots are moderate to medium hot. But it's sweet heat. That said, we all have different heat tolerance, so what's medium for me might not match your medium.
But what is hot/spiced honey?
In case you've never heard of hot honey sauce – let me tell you it's not unique to just this recipe.
Its a sticky sauce/glaze/condiment/dip that combines sweetness of honey with a spicy kick.
And usually made by mixing honey with hot/spicy ingredients like chili peppers, cayenne, paprika, pepper flakes or even hot sauces like sriracha. So you'll see many variations.
It adds a very dynamic and delightful mix of sweetness and heat to dishes and can be used in so many ways.
Making ahead, storage and reheating
- Prepping ahead – You can wash, peel and cut carrots up to 2 days prior. Keep in a sealed container or plastic bag lined with kitchen paper towel in the fridge. Plus you can make and refrigerate the glaze upto 1 week in advance. I won't recommend cooking these spicy carrots beforehand. While they might hold up fine in fridge, the taste and texture won't be a match to a fresh batch.
- Storage – Once cooled, transfer cooked carrots to an airtight container and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days. Avoid freezing, as thawed texture isn't great.
- Reheating – Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave in 30 second intervals until warmed through. Or reheat in a skillet/pan over medium low heat – stirring almost constantly until heated through. If they start to stick to bottom add a tablespoon or two of water. You can also reheat in oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10 to 15 minutes.
Substitutions and variations
- Try different types of carrots. Orange, red, purple, yellow – all kinds work. I love how rainbow carrots add a visual sparkle.
- You can omit water and bouillon and use broth or stock instead. Keep the quantity same as water.
- Use crushed red pepper flakes instead of black pepper if you enjoy spicy food. I often do.
- Substitute olive oil with butter, unsalted preferably – so you can control salt content better.
- Honey can be replaced with maple syrup, agave or even brown sugar. The sauce is very customization-friendly that way.
- You can also use smoked paprika instead of regular one.
- If you don't have fresh lime/lemon – use equal quantity of distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- Adjust spice level according to preference by increasing or decreasing the amount of cayenne and/or paprika. You can also switch them out for hot sauce.
- Make the glaze a little more citrusy by adding lime, lemon or orange zest. But no more than ½ to 1 teaspoon.
- Top with chopped fresh herbs of your choice. Or sprinkle some grated parmesan, chopped scallions, crushed peanuts/walnuts/pecans/almonds or toasted sesame seeds.
Remember: When you swap or change something, it will influence how long these carrots stay good in the fridge. And of course, it'll affect the taste too.
What to serve with hot honey carrots
These spicy glazed carrots make for a yumtastic side that pairs great with a variety of dishes. I can't list them all but here are some ideas:
Just so you know
- These honey glazed carrots are vegetarian-friendly plus naturally gluten free.
- While I have used the pan steaming method for cooking carrots, you can also roast them in oven (see FAQs) or use instant pot, air fryer or slow cooker. The glaze will still need to be made on the stovetop. And then you'll combine the carrots and glaze in a pan and cook them together for some caramelization.
- Cooking for more people than this recipe serves? Use the "+" sign on the recipe card below to increase the servings. The ingredient quantities will adjust automatically.
- 1 pound (454 g) carrot - cut into round slices/coins ¼ inch thick. Around 2 large or 3 medium carrots. (Note A)
- ½ cup (118 ml) water
- 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon - or chicken bouillon. Paste, powder, granules or cube (Note B)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Hot Honey Glaze
- 1 tablespoon olive oil - or butter
- 2 cloves garlic - finely minced or grated
- 2 tablespoons honey - (Note C)
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper - (Note D)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder - (Note E)
- 1.5 tablespoons lime juice - or lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt - any kind
- some chopped cilantro or parsley
- Heat olive oil in a small saucepan on low heat. Add minced garlic then saute for few seconds.
- Next add remaining ingredients for glaze (honey, cayenne, paprika, chili powder, lime juice, salt). Stir 1 minute then remove from stove.
- Now in a pan/skillet, add water, carrots, bouillon and ground black pepper. Let it come to a boil over medium high heat. Give a quick stir to ensure the dissolved bouillon is evenly distributed.
- Cover with a lid, turn down the heat to medium low and leave to simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Or until the carrots are done to your liking.
- At this point there should not be more than a tablespoon or two of water left in skillet/pan. If there is more, let it evaporate with the lid removed.
- Now pour the prepared glaze over the carrots. Mix well to make sure the carrots get evenly coated.
- Then let the sauce reduce, thicken and caramelize on the carrots. This will take roughly 3 to 5 minutes. But keep a close eye to prevent burning. Then turn the heat off.
- Serve with a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro or parsley – or any herb you like or have. Enjoy!
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