Why It Works
- At 183°F (84°C), carrots will soften but not turn mushy.
- The sous-vide method means that the carrots cook in their own juices, packing them with intense carrot flavor.
- Tossing the carrots in the skillet for a couple minutes after cooking glazes them in their reduced juices, enhancing their flavor and appearance.
I'm the first to admit that sous vide is not the best way to cook everything, and that goes for the majority of my favorite vegetables. Peas, asparagus, ramps—all those delicious, fresh spring flavors do better with a quick blanch or a sauté.
That said, there are some vegetables for which sous-vide cooking can't be beat. For me, carrots top that list. When cooked in a sealed bag with a little bit of butter, sugar, and salt, the natural flavor of the carrot intensifies into a sweeter, stronger, and downright better version of itself. It's one of the few cooking methods where the end result is a vegetable that tastes more like itself than when you started.
Unlike meat proteins, which are fully cooked anywhere between 140 and 165°F (60 to 74°C) or so, vegetables contain pectin, a kind of glue that holds their cells together and keeps them firm. Pectin doesn't break down until 183°F (84°C), which means that no matter what vegetable you cook sous vide, you have to set your water oven to at least 183°F if you would like the end results to be tender. This means that vegetables are one of the cases where the beer cooler hack just won't cut it since it can't maintain a temperature that high for long enough.
Carrots not your thing? The following vegetables will do equally well with the exact same recipe:
- Small onions (like cipollini or pearl onions), peeled
- Small radishes, scrubbed of dirt and stems trimmed to 1/4 inch, or large radishes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Small turnips, peeled and stems trimmed to 1/4 inch, or large turnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Baby artichokes, trimmed and quartered
If you are just getting started with sous vide, read our essential sous vide guide to get familiar with the basics.
1 pound (454g) baby whole small carrots, peeled or well-scrubbed, or 1 pound (454g) medium to large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (12g) granulated sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (15ml) chopped parsley (optional)
Use a sous vide immersion circulator to preheat a water bath to 183°F (84°C). Place carrots, butter, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a vacuum bag and seal according to manufacturer's instructions. Cook carrots in the water bath until fully tender, about 1 hour. At this point, carrots can be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Empty entire contents of bag into a 12-inch, heavy-bottomed skillet and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until liquid has reduced to a shiny glaze, about 2 minutes. If glaze breaks and turns greasy, add water a teaspoon at a time, shaking pan to re-form glaze. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in parsley, and serve.