Roasted Carrots Recipe with Creamy Pesto Sauce

As the holidays roll around each year, I start craving my favorite easy roasted vegetable recipes that work both as perfect additions to festive meals like Christmas dinner, as well as simple weeknight healthy side dishes. This roasted carrots with fresh presto recipe is a great way to turn regular carrots into the perfect side dish using very simple ingredients and methods. It’s a simple healthy recipe that my whole family loves, so I make it every year for our Christmas dinner alongside the beef tenderloin as the perfect, easy way to feed a crowd without spending the whole day in the kitchen.  We also sometimes make these for Easter, because carrots just belong on the Easter menu.

No matter if it’s the holiday rush or just another weekday, roasted carrots with pesto always makes for a perfect side dish to a variety of main dishes.  It’s so easy to make and pesto adds the perfect balance of fresh flavors.  The aromatic basil brightens up sweet roasted carrots for a simple yet flavorful combination we never get tired of. Try out this easy healthy recipe the next time you cook up beef tenderloin or any main course that could use a vegetable boost.  This is such an easy healthy side dish that is such a crowd pleaser.

Simple and Delicious Side Dish

Roasting is one of the best ways to transform basic vegetables like carrots into something special with very little effort. Unlike some more complex holiday dishes, this carrot recipe comes together with just some simple prep work chopping the carrots, garlic, and basil. Then you simply toss everything together in a baking dish and let the oven do the hard work while you relax. With just a quick toss in olive oil, salt, pepper, and the fresh basil, the carrots caramelize beautifully to bring out their natural sweetness.

While roasting carrots with basil makes the perfect simple addition to balance out a rich holiday dinner main course, this easy roasted vegetable side is also weeknight dinner approved in my household. With such few ingredients required and using pantry staples I almost always have on hand like olive oil and garlic, it’s an easy healthy side we enjoy all year long. Whenever I’m looking for healthy recipes for quick and simple sides to make on busy evenings, this carrots recipe comes to mind as a great way to incorporate more vegetables into family meals.

Easy Swaps and Substitutions

The great thing about easy roasted side dish recipes like this one is that you can truly customize them to suit your tastes. Don’t like basil? Omit it or swap it out for another fresh herb like parsley or cilantro. Want to spice it up? Add some cayenne or chili powder. You could even toss in garlic, onions, or other veggies like Brussels sprouts, asparagus spears, or parsnips to roast alongside the carrots to get a medley of roasted vegetables. Simple ingredient swaps make this very simple recipe totally adaptable while still keeping prep work and cook time quick.

What you need to make Roasted Carrots & Pesto


Heirloom carrots – I love using the tri-color baby heirloom carrots for this recipe. Not only are they beautiful, but they usually come peeled, washed and fully prepped ready to cook. I grab the tri color blend whenever it’s available since the various colors are so pretty, however any type of carrots will work well – regular oranges carrots, or even a bag of baby carrots. Just be sure that whichever carrots you use, slice the thick carrots in half lengthwise to ensure all the carrot pieces are approximately the same width, which helps them cook evenly. The extra thin heirloom carrot halves get nice and crispy, almost like carrot fries. If you’re in a rush, you can use a pre-packaged bag of baby carrots instead since they are already peeled, washed and trimmed.

Extra virgin olive oil  – This recipe calls for olive oil, and I love the added flavor it provides.  However, avocado oil is a good substitution.  Coconut oil will work too, but will add a subtle sweetness to the dish.

Salt and black pepper – You can add additional salt or pepper to your liking. If you aren’t going to make the pesto recipe for these carrots, add some other seasoning for flavor: lemon zest, garlic powder, onion powder, fresh parsley, or any other fresh herbs. Any of these would be the perfect addition. 

Pesto – Dairy Free + Nut Free

Basil – I love the bright lemony flavor of basil and think it’s the perfect compliment to this dish.  However, you could substitute in some fresh parsley or cilantro for a different flavor profile,

Pumpkin seeds – I used pumpkin seeds to keep this pesto nut free. Pine nuts, walnuts or sunflower seeds make great substitutions.  

Garlic cloves – There really is no substitution for fresh garlic when it comes to flavor. The pungent, sweet bite truly can’t be replicated. However, if you are following a low FODMAP diet or just prefer to substitute the garlic, shallots would work wonderfully instead. While they have their own flavor profile, shallots would provide a nice savory depth and aroma to the carrots without the high FODMAP compounds found in garlic. But for those who can tolerate it, fresh garlic really is best!

Fresh lemon juice – When it comes to citrus, fresh is always best.  I recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice if possible.  

Nutritional yeast – To keep this recipe dairy free, I used nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese.  However you can use parmesan cheese if preferred and Pecorino cheese is another great option.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – For the pesto, I wouldn’t recommend anything other than extra virgin olive oil.  It’s part of what makes the pesto so fabulous, fragrant and fresh.

How to make Roasted Carrots & Pesto

Roasted Carrots: There is minimal prep work for this recipe. Drizzle olive oil on top of the carrots. You can line the sheet pan with parchment paper first or use a nonstick tray. Spread out the carrots in a single layer and roast for 15-20 minutes and then stir to provide for even cooking. Roast for an additional 5-10 minutes stir and repeat until cooked to your desired liking. In my opinion, the best roasted carrots have nice little bits of char on them on the outside and are tender and juicy in the inside. The little bits of char just mean tons of added flavor. One of the easiest ways to roast carrots is on a baking sheet in the oven. You don’t have to stand over the stove while keeping a careful eye. However you could sauté these carrots in a pan over medium heat if you prefer.

Pesto: Mix all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender except for water.  I find that mini food processor works best for this recipe.  Scrape the sides of the food processor down and add 1 TBS of water. Continue this process until you reach your desired consistency.

Yummy roasted carrots topped with pesto

Roasted Carrots Recipe with Creamy Pesto Sauce

Sarah Erickson
The best roasted carrots with a gluten free and dairy free pesto sauce
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 1-12 ounce package baby mixed heirloom carrots*
  • 2 TBS avocado or extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper plus more to taste

Pesto – Dairy Free + Nut Free

  • 2 cups basil
  • 3 TBS pumpkin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 3-4 TBS nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2-3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3-6 TBS water


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Pour bag of carrots onto large baking sheet or 9×13 pan.
  • Drizzle oil top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix with hands or tongs to fully combine.
  • Roast in oven until roasted to your liking. Note: I like my carrots with a little char in a few places, so this is 25-30 minutes for me.
  • Remove from oven and immediately drizzle pesto on top (recipe below).
  • Add all ingredients except the water to the food processor. Pulse several times until mostly combined.
  • Scrape the sides of the food processor down and add 1 TBS of water. Pulse several times. Repeat (scrape side, add water, pulse) until desired consistency achieved.


Note: Any left-over pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days to be used on/in: soups, salad dressings, baked potatoes, pasta, omelets, pizza. This pesto also freezes well for future uses. I freeze mine in muffin silicone cups, which is the perfect portion to use for the previously mentioned.
Storage – Allow the roasted carrots to cool to room temperature, then store leftover carrots in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Cutting board 
Sharp knife 
Small bowl
Food processor or blender
Large rimmed baking sheet
Keyword carrots, dairy free, dinner, gluten free, pesto, pesto sauce, Roasted carrots, side dish

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