Carrots are a kitchen staple, a background player flavoring stocks and sauces and adding color to green salads and stir-fries, but they’re worthy of a starring role on the table too, especially in spring, when baby carrots are at their peak (and we’re not talking about those little nubs that come in plastic bags). There are a world of possibilities for showcasing carrots of any color and stage of life, from spicy dips and salads where they’re the main ingredient to more uncommon dishes like risotto and custard that play up carrots’ natural sweetness.
Classic glazed carrots, pickled carrots, and roasted carrots all still have their (very welcome) place at the table, but we’re picking this bunch of carrot recipes as our favorites for spring—just in time for Easter, too.
Risotto is great for showcasing lots of different ingredients, from mushrooms to seafood, but this carrot-rich vegetarian version really packs in the flavor (and color!) of the bright root vegetable thanks to a carrot broth in place of chicken stock. Oh, and there’s carrot puree stirred in along with grated carrots—plus parmesan cheese, of course. Get our Carrot Risotto recipe.
Using a vegetable peeler to shave long, thin strips of carrot for a curly salad is a neat trick—and the flavors of spicy harissa, earthy cumin and caraway, fresh mint and parsley, and a bright shot of lemon play beautifully off the naturally sweet carrots. The salty feta provides even more flavor, and a nice textural contrast. Basically, you’re gonna be eating this all the time. Get our Shaved Carrot Salad recipe.
Mashed potatoes are awesome and we’re not going to try to pretend otherwise. But carrots can totally give them a run for their money. Okay, maybe this coarse-yet-creamy combo of carrots, leeks, and parsley wouldn’t be the thing you want to eat doused in gravy, but it makes a great base for orange-thyme chicken thighs or roasted pork loin, just for starters. Serve it at a spring dinner and save the new potatoes for simply roasting. Get our Carrot, Leek, and Parsley Mash recipe.
This casserole might not win any beauty contests, but it tastes amazing. The flavor is mostly from the carrots themselves, enhanced with salt, pepper, heavy cream, and a crisp topping of garlic panko breadcrumbs. Get our Creamy Carrot Casserole recipe.
5. Carrot Chips
Healthier, prettier, and just as tasty as plain old potato chips, these delicate carrot chips are also easy to make—just use your oven, no dehydrator required. Get our Carrot Chips recipe.
A smooth puree of carrots, curry powder, and coconut milk makes for a satisfying soup, whether you serve it warm while nights are still chilly, or pop it in the fridge for a refreshing warmer weather lunch. (And if you prefer a chunkier texture, check out our Curried Potato and Carrot Soup instead.) Garnish with those carrot chips for extra oomph. Get our Curried Carrot Soup recipe.
There’s almost nothing you can’t blend into hummus, but chances are you haven’t tried it with carrots yet. You should! They lend not only dynamite flavor and color to the dip, but extra nutrition too. A shot of harissa gives this a nice amount of smoky spice to balance the sweetness. Get our Spicy Carrot Hummus recipe.
Another smooth move: this creamy, light, and airy carrot custard (baked with eggs and cream). You could make it all in one larger baking dish for a simple side, or in individual jars like we did for our picnic-perfect terrines. (The top two layers are French lentils with goat cheese, and sauteed leeks and zucchini with fresh thyme.) Get our French Lentil Terrine with Savory Carrot Custard recipe.
9. Carrot Slaw
You can eat this mustard-kissed carrot slaw as a simple salad alongside grilled or roasted meats, or use it as a flavor-packed condiment with great crunch. Try it on tacos, in rice or grain bowls, or on sandwiches. Get our Carrot Slaw recipe.
Of course we couldn’t forget about carrot cake—which, admittedly, doesn’t seem to star carrots in quite the same way these other recipes do, except in name. There’s definitely a lot of flour, sugar, butter, and cream cheese going on, but still, there’s one and a half pounds of grated carrots present too—not bad for a dessert! (Try a cardamom-spiced variation for a twist.) Get our Easy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.
And if you want to eat carrots for breakfast (or breakfast for dessert), try these carrot cake pancakes with a decadent, drippy cream cheese glaze. They’re packed with grated carrots and plenty of spices for a classically comforting bite, any time of day. Get our Carrot Cake Pancakes recipe.
Celebrate all the best of spring.
Related Video: How to Revive a Dying Carrot
This post was originally published on February 8, 2014 and was updated on April 2, 2019.