How to Roast Vegetables ♥
22 Tips & A Master Recipe

How to Roast Vegetables, 21 Tips & a Master Recipe ♥ A Veggie Venture
It's Veg Ed time, today the focus is roasting fresh vegetables in the oven, the right temperature, the right length of time, the right oil, the right amount of oil. Armed with knowledge, insight and technique, you'll never again need a "recipe" to roast vegetables.

Fresh & Seasonal. Cold-Weather Classic. Great for Meal Prep. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special.


One Technique vs Many Recipes

Quick! Name the single technique for cooking vegetables that we can use again and again, the same method for every single vegetable, without ever once referring to a “recipe”.

Here's a hint. In part, the attraction to this style of cooking vegetables is seasonal. It begins in the autumn as the air turns cool and our bodies begin to crave hearty food to sustain us through the long dark winter. It’s perfect for winter, when a kitchen is an oasis of warmth and our bodies demand fresh healthy food.

Give up?

Roasting Vegetables: Easy to Cook, Memorable to Eat

It’s roasting vegetables. You’ll never forget again, once you’ve tried roasting vegetables, whether root vegetables like beets, carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips or others like zucchini, kohlrabi and this time of year, winter squash like butternut and acorn squash.

Truth is, roasting transforms vegetables. If vegetables were to write a love letter, the page would begin, “Dear Oven: How we love thee. You coax the sweetness from our earthly forms, you transform our color into golden bites of caramel.”

The technique is dead simple, requiring just vegetables, oil and seasoning – and heat. Still, a few simple tricks will help. So make this your year to get up close and acquainted with roasting vegetables. Start with a vegetable you already like. If you like, check the roasted vegetable recipes for a recipe to eliminate uncertainty about temperature and timing. Soon enough, you’ll be writing your own love letter.

What Is "Roasting" Anyway?

We all understand what it means to bake a cake, right? It's simple: put cake batter in a cake pan, bake in the oven until done.

BAKING = ROASTING Well, much the same process happens with vegetables, we just call it "roasting" instead of "baking". In fact, we nearly always say "bake" when cooking sweet foods in the oven and "roast" when cooking savory foods. But really, baking and roasting are the exact same process: heat applied to food in an enclosed space, usually an oven. So to roast vegetables means to bake vegetables in an oven until they're cooked. It's that simple!

What Causes Vegetables to Brown While Roasting?

In the oven, the exteriors of vegetables turn brown when lightly coated with oil and exposed to high heat; the interiors may change color but will also cook. The term for the browning part is called the "Maillard Reaction". You know how the outer edges of vegetables some times turn golden and or golden brown? That's the Maillard Reaction at work! Some times, we call that color change and flavor enrichment "caramelization" but technically, caramelization is an entirely different process unrelated to the Maillard Reaction. Don't worry, though, whatever you call it, that browning is a good thing for roasted vegetables. And besides, I don't know about you but I prefer the poetry of caramel to the ducky-sounding name of Maillard. [Maillard is a French word, it's pronounced my-YAR.]





How to Roast Vegetables:
Tips & Techniques & A Master Recipe


ROAST ONE VEGETABLE AT A TIME Mostly, we roast one vegetable at a time since it’s hard for more than one kind to finish cooking at the same time. Yes, with experience or a proven recipe, it’s possible to combine vegetables, cooking a more-starchy vegetable a little longer than a less-starchy vegetable, say. But for 100% success 100% of the time, stick to one vegetable.

OVEN TEMPERATURE for ROASTING We roast vegetables at high temperature, 375F on the low end and 500F on the high end but typically 400F or 425F.

SAME SIZE While the oven heats up, prep the vegetables. Wash and trim the vegetables first, cutting off stems and tails, removing any blemishes, removing skins if appropriate. Then cut the vegetables into pieces roughly the same size. The smaller the pieces, the quicker the vegetables will roast; the larger, the longer.

RIGHT SHAPE When cutting up the vegetables, think of your plate first. What will look good with the rest of the meal? Something small and evenly shaped? Maybe coins? irregular chunks? wedges? Do try to maximize the cut size, when the flat sides are roasted flat-side down, they turn brown and crispy first!

SHRINKAGE Vegetables shrink while roasting so you may want to allow for that. Here on A Veggie Venture, the standard is that a pound of vegetables is expected to serve four. But if the vegetables are roasted, a pound of vegetables shrinks to make four kinda-skimpy servings.

COAT EVENLY WITH OIL Toss the cut vegetables with olive oil in a bowl, really getting in there with a spatula or even your hands, making sure the pieces are coated on all sides. Save the uber-expensive, extra-virgin oils for salad dressings and drizzles; for roasting, any good quality oil will do.

HOW MUCH OIL IS NEEDED? To roast vegetables, I allow a tablespoon of olive oil per pound of vegetables, it’s plenty. But some times splurge on a couple of tablespoons. More oil shortens the cooking time and encourages those coveted crusty edges. Obviously, it also adds calories.

DO YOU HAVE TO USE OLIVE OIL? No! It's fun to experiment with oils. Olive oil is the standard, it's easy to grab, relatively affordable and reliable. But for flavors, experiment a little. Add a touch of toasted sesame oil. Use peanut oil or safflower oil. Just make sure the oil is fresh, if it tastes musty or stale, choose something else.

HOW TO APPLY THE OIL Some cooks use dribble oil directly over vegetables already in the baking pan, some even oil the pan! These are shortcuts I don't recommend. They do work but you use more oil and much of it will be wasted and can burn onto the baking sheet, imparting a bitter burn taste to the vegetables. Besides, there’s something sensual about using your hands to rub oil over raw vegetables!

HOW TO SEASON ROASTED VEGETABLES A vegetable’s own natural and unadorned flavor will emerge when seasoned with just salt and pepper. For gentleness, use kosher salt or sea salt; for sharpness, use freshly ground pepper. But experiment with other seasonings too. Carrot is deepened with thyme, zucchini is brightened by lemon. Dried herbs are fine, preferable even. If you want to use fresh herbs, toss them in after roasting, the contrast of roasted and freshness is wonderful.

CAN YOU ROAST VEGGIES + FRUIT? Again, play a little, adding in new textures, sweetness, shape, etc. I love to roast butternut squash with apples, either with fruity spices and maple syrup or plain with onion (scroll to the end of the photos for the "recipe").

WHAT BAKING PAN TO USE Find a baking pan, preferably one with low sides so the heat can envelop the vegetables from three sides. Metal is best: if you put a cold glass or ceramic dish straight into a hot oven, it can shatter. If you only have glass or ceramic pan, place it in the oven while it preheats so that it warms up slowly.

FOR EASY CLEAN-UP For easy clean-up, line the baking pan with foil or parchment (my favorite for crispy caramelized edges) or a silicone mat. The sugar in some vegetables will really make a mess of bare pans, a clean-up mess.

AVOID CROWDING Arrange the oiled vegetables on the baking sheet, leaving space between the pieces so the oven’s heat can weave its way between. For four to six servings, a single baking sheet will do. For more servings, spread the vegetables between two baking sheets and bake at the same time, one in the upper third of the oven, one in the lower third. Two sheets take longer to roast than one; also be sure to swap the sheets' positions about halfway through.

SET THE CLOCK Roasted vegetables can be done as quickly as 20 minutes but larger and/or denser pieces may take an hour or more.

CHECK & TOSS About halfway through the roasting time, give the vegetables a quick toss, redistributing the pieces. After that, check and toss every five minutes or so, until they’re done.

GOLDEN DONE The vegetables are done when their centers are soft and creamy, their outside edges almost crisp and beginning to caramelize. Allow from 20 – 90 minutes, depending on the vegetable, how large it’s been cut and the oven temperature.

CAN FROZEN VEGETABLES BE ROASTED? It depends. For the best results, roast frozen vegetables especially packaged for roasting. Typically, the vegetables have been partially cooked before freezing, this cuts down on the time in your oven. Trader Joe's has several offerings, we like nearly all of them. Supermarkets carry special frozen vegetables products for roasting too, just watch the labels, they often have tons of sodium and added calories.

CAN ROASTED VEGETABLES BE PREPARED AHEAD OF TIME? Well ... not really. Roasted vegetables are best served hot-hot straight from the oven. That said, I often roast a tray of cauliflower or green beans or Brussels sprouts to "meal prep" for salads and quick veggies during the week. They're not as good but they're very handy to have on hand.

HOW TO SERVE ROASTED VEGETABLES TO A CROWD Again ... at least in my experience, there are so many other dishes that do work for a crowd, I'd never choose roasted vegetables. First, the vegetables need lots of space and time in the oven. It would be hard to produce enough roasted vegetables for so many people, so many trays, so many ovens, etc..

I WANT TO TAKE ROASTED VEGETABLES TO A DINNER PARTY, HOW WOULD I DO THAT? Well ... will you let me talk you out of that idea? If you do decide to do it, do coordinate with the host to make sure there's oven space. Do all the recipe prep at home, packing the vegetables into freezer bags. Bring your own baking sheets, unless you and the host have an agreement otherwise. Arrive at the party in time for the oven to heat up and the vegetables to roast, matching the start of the meal. See? Roasted vegetables are just a little complicated for someone else's kitchen.

MORE QUESTIONS? So many people flock to this page looking for answers to their questions about roasting vegetables. Surely I've missed one?! Hit me up!





MASTER RECIPE for ROASTING VEGETABLES

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound vegetables
1 tablespoon olive oil (or more, to taste)
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Wash the vegetables well under running water. Trim the vegetables, cutting away stems and roots and any rough edges. If needed, peel. Cut the vegetables into pieces of even size, smaller pieces for faster cooking, larger pieces for longer cooking. As they're cut into pieces, collect in a big bowl. Add the oil and with your hands or a spatula, turn the vegetables several to many times to evenly coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper and turn again.

Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment or line with a silicone mat. Arrange the vegetables in a single even layer, separating the pieces to allow for airflow between.

Place in the oven, even if it's not fully reheated. Roast for 20 - 60 minutes, checking halfway through to toss and check on doneness, after that checking every 5 minutes until done. The vegetables are done when they are cooked through, the centers soft and creamy and the outer edges golden and crispy.

Serve hot as a side dish. Save the leftovers for topping salads and tossing into soups.





Special Roasting Techniques & Recipes for Specific Vegetables

MASTER LIST More Roasted Vegetable Recipes

BEETS My Favorite Way to Roast Beets My favorite way to cook beets to have on hand for making salads and snacking is to roast them in a covered Dutch oven. But to roast and eat right away, just peel the beets and cut into pieces.

BELL PEPPERS How to Roast Peppers To roast a pile of peppers or even a mess of chilis, use the oven.

BROCCOLI Roasted Broccoli with Lemon & Garlic Surprisingly, roasted broccoli isn't that good, that is, until it's splashed with lemon juice after roasting.

CAULIFLOWER While cauliflower florets can be roasted (Roasted Cauliflower was A Veggie Venture's very first recipe!), for a stunning appearance, try Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Vinaigrette.

DELICATA SQUASH Roasted Delicata Squash A delicata squash needn't be peeled before roasting!

GARLIC How to Roast Garlic For garlic, you roast whole heads, not the individual cloves.

GREEN BEANS Roasted Green Beans with Rosemary & Walnuts It took many years to find roasted green beans that I like!

POTATOES How to Roast Potatoes to Perfection It’s possible to just throw chunks of potato in the oven and they’ll be great. But for perfection, an extra step makes all the difference.

TOMATOES Slow-Roasted Tomatoes 200F is the perfect temperature for slow-roasting tomatoes.

WHOLE VEGETABLES How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin and How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash show how to roast whole vegetables although without the crispy edges and usually for mashing or cooking with.



Still Hungry?



More Favorite Vegetables for Roasting

~ Roasted Cauliflower ~
~ Roasted Kohlrabi ~
~ Roasted Brussels Sprouts ~
~ more roasted vegetable recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple ~
~ Roasted Salmon & Asparagus ~
~ Baked Chicken with Herb-Roasted Potatoes ~
~ more vegetable recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column




Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2012 & 2019


Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

Comments

  1. Great master recipe. Roast veggies are one of my favorite things - their flavor becomes concentrated and many become somewhat sweeter. What you say about putting the oil on the vegetables after they're in the baking pan is right-on. It seems like it should be easier, but it's actually more trouble than it's worth (and I have one of those spots on a pan where the oil burned on a proof!). I always use my hands to mix the oil with the vegetables. You can also do it by putting the vegetables in a fairly large bowl, and tossing them (same motion you'd use to flip a pan cake without using a spatula), but you can break up some of the vegetable pieces if you do that. Better to get your hands dirty. Anyway, great post - thanks.

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  2. Fabulous post!

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  3. I love roasted vegetables! I usually oil the pan, but I'm going to take your suggestion to oil the vegetables instead -- messier but more fun and I can see how it would work better, too.

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  4. I tried the roasted whole califlower it was the best I've ever had. Thank you for the recipe this will become a staple at my house!!

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  5. You're giving me the urge to get out my recipe for roasted carrots and parsnips.

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  6. Love these tips! I roasted bell peppers recently and loved them. High temps are awesome.

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  7. My roommate just roasted some butternut squash last night and it was quite delicious. Roasted vegetables are just so good, and once the preparation stage is done it is so easy. Plus, they just feel like they have so much more dimension in flavor when they have that soft center and slightly crisp outer layer. It is so easy to just roast some squash, zucchini, and potatoes to go with chicken and have such a rounded, delicious meal. But I'm always a little sad when I remember that roasted broccoli isn't very good since it is one of my favorite vegetables.

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  8. I just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying your site. I am about a third of the way through a fitness program called the Peak Condition Project that lasts for 90 days. One of the big things is lots of veggies. I used to eat a decent amount but small enough that I was happy to just steam or stir-fry a bit. Now that I'm getting over a pound a day of veggies I need to mix things up a bit! My husband is joining me in this...so as you can imagine we are cooking a lot of veggies!

    We live in Hong Kong, so are getting familiar with what is grown here. Even though lots of familiar imports are available they are a bit tough on the pocketbook! I have never roasted vegetables before but came across your site when searching for info on that. I'm trying the cauliflower today.

    If you have any particular recommendations for recipes that are low salt, low sugar, low oil...basically just veggies and herbs/spices...please point me to them!

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  9. Awesome awesome post. How refreshing for tips to actually be helpful! I opened five tabs about roasting veggies and this is the only one I needed. Can't wait to go through the rest of your posts.

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  10. I wonder how the roasted veggies are when prepared the day before Christmas and then traveling to the Holiday meal to be served the day after they are prepared?

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  11. Hi Anonymous ~ Roasted veggies aren't a great make-ahead choice, they really are best fresh from the oven. That said, you could prep the vegetables at home, then roast them on site, just be sure to check with your host about oven availability because roasted vegetables take a long time in the oven and if you're feeding a crowd, then it can take several trays since the vegetables shrink considerably.

    Instead, you might want to consider one of the many make-ahead dishes in this collection of Thanksgiving recipes, Favorite Recipes for Thanksgiving's Favorite Vegetables. Nearly all are make-ahead and include very specific make-ahead tips in the recipes.

    Good luck!

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  12. I have been taught that olive oil should not be heated to high temps., that it has a low "flash point" and is not healthy once heated beyond that point. So what other oils would you suggest.

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  13. Thank you for this explanation. I was looking for a good roasted vegetable dish I can master that will be my go to recipe. I am not the kind of person that has thousands of recipes, I have few and they work and I cook it when need to. Until your explanation I was afraid to do roasted vegetable, but now, I feel empowered. Thank you.

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  14. Anonymous ~ Truly, you couldn’t have said anything nicer, more appreciated. Thank YOU.

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  15. AnonymousJune 11, 2016

    Having a progressive dinner and don't know how to time the potatoes if I'm not there to cook them. I am responsible for the main course & plan on serving roasted potatoes and carrots as the vegetable.
    Can I roast them at 425 for 40 min before I leave my house to go to the "appetizer house" and reheat them after I get home?
    How long would I reheat them for? Covered? Will they get soggy or be too over cooked?
    Or perhaps I should just leave the appetizer course early to go home & get them in the oven.

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  16. Great tips and recipe--thank you. I precook carrots, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes in the microwave so all the vegetables are done at the same time. I use zucchini, yellow squash, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes all together. Delicious and one of my very favorite winter recipes.

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  17. Alanna--Would love to know the answer to the person who was doing the progressive dinner whose comment is just above mine yesterday--she's asking if she can do the vegetables ahead and how to reheat. I don't think I'd cover them--they could get soggy, but would be nice to know how far in advance you can do them even if you're having company and not doing the progressive dinner.

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  18. Anonymous/Progressive Dinner ~ Oh my, I did so miss answering your question. My apologies! So let’s see, roasting ahead of time. My take on this is that roasted vegetables are not a great choice for a progressive dinner because, yeah, timing. Roasted vegetables are so wonderful straight from the oven but after a few minutes, really go soft and even mushy, to say nothing of getting cold. But two ideas, both of which would require a cooperation/coordination with the household doing the main course. Option One, “par roast” (or par cook in some other way, steaming, boiling, etc) the vegetables until 80% or 90% done; then give them a blast of heat for 15-20 minutes in the main-course household. Option Two, do all the prep work for the roasted vegetables, then see if the main-course household would just do the roasting for you; two ovens are likely necessary. This assumes that you’re doing a single tray of roasted vegetables, that’s enough for six or eight people, if your group is bigger than that, so sorry, once again, roasted vegetables just aren’t “make ahead” or “take somewhere” friendly.

    Anonymous/Winter Combo ~ Thanks for the combo, I wouldn’t think of it as a winter option but yes, nice!

    Anonymous/Winter Combo/Patient Cook ~ Thanks for your patience and encouragement to answer a long-old question, I’m still “offline for the holidays” still but, hey, your question got me to thinking ... that is, about which roasted vegetable recipes of mine that “might” work for you. The first that comes to mind is Moroccan Onions, they’re good warm and at room temperature, and work beautifully with beef, chicken and seafood. The other is a Brussels Sprouts Gratin, I learned by accident that Brussels sprouts are very forgiving time-wise, this one isn’t “exactly” roasted vegetables but it would fill that spot in your menu quite easily. Also, my Thanksgiving page has TONS of make-ahead vegetable recipes (all with detailed make-ahead tips) and I suspect you’d be happy with any one of those if one fits the rest of your menu. Happy New Year!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. (So sorry, as of 4/23/22, I’ve had to turn comments off to prevent hundreds of spam comments a day. Stupid Spammers.) ~ Alanna