How to Cut and Grill Carrots for Deep, Sweet Flavor

Carrots cut on the bias make slices large enough to grill easily—they become sweet and tender with a caramelized crust during a long roast over indirect heat. Joshua Bousel

There's something about sweet orange vegetables that are just so comforting in the fall. To be honest, carrots are probably my third choice in this category behind sweet potatoes and butternut squash, but over a long roast they develop such a nice sweetness and tender flesh that I can't help but find appealing as the days grow shorter and cooler. It's exactly the fact that it can take such a long time to get a carrot into this desirable state that I seldom grill them‐it can easily take an entire batch of charcoal for one roast. But of all the times I've convinced myself to take the time to do it right, I've never once regretted it. These days, if I have extra room on the grill, I don't shy away from using it to roast a batch of carrots as an excellent side.

Size presents the biggest challenge to bringing carrots to a grill—small carrots can easily fall through the grates—but this can be overcome by choosing large ones and then cutting them on the bias into 3/4-inch slices to create pieces that are less likely to fall through the grates.

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Because large carrot chunks like this take a long time to roast, and because they can handle the heat, I like to place my oiled and seasoned slices near, but not directly over, the coals of a medium-high two-zone indirect fire. Being close to the coals lets the carrots get the maximum amount of heat without the fear of burning that accompanies grilling over direct heat.

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Even with maximum heat, it still takes a good 45-60 minutes‐with flipping a few times for even cooking‐for the carrots to soften completely. During this time, they developed some nice caramelization around the edges that are like little pockets of intense sweetness that give way to a more mild, tender inside. This makes the carrots incredible on their own, but you can also add an extra layer of flavor to them.

For this recipe, I made a glaze made up of honey, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper, and brushed it on for the last minute of cooking. The sauce baked down into a glistening coating that added a salty depth along with a mild ginger and garlic bite that made them all the better.