I confess, I’m not a huge fan of cooked carrots. But knowing the transformative power of cooking vegetables sous vide, I was eager to see if this method would turn the carrot into something magically palatable. I was looking forward to something tender, but not sickly sweet, and bursting with fresh carrot flavor (I like fresh carrots!).
After reading up on a few different approaches to cooking carrots sous vide, I decided to test out two different methods and contrast and compare the results.
First I nabbed some gorgeous rainbow carrots. I’m convinced in a blind taste test that I would be able to tell which carrot was which color – orange, yellow, red, or purple. And I was right! So the next challenge was to find the cooking method that would showcase their unique flavors to maximum effect.
I separated the carrots by color so they wouldn’t bleed into each other and turn out a bag of brownish carrots so unappealing that I wouldn’t even venture to try eating them (I’m not positive this would have happened, but in the end, the colors did bleed, and I wasn’t taking any chances). Then I added a bit of butter because, well, butter, and separated them into two batches.
The first batch I cooked at 194F (90C) for 18 minutes, as recommended by ChefSteps. Their range was 15-25 minutes.
The second batch I cooked at 183F (84C) for 1 hour, as suggested by my personal idol, Kenji, at Serious Eats. This is a pretty traditional time/temp combo for most vegetables, so I had more confidence in this method.
They both finished their recipes by caramelizing in a pan with butter and various seasonings, but I needed to taste these carrots straight out of the bath.
The ChefSteps carrots were hard. Not really crunchy, crispy, just kinda like they got cooked a little on the outside but the insides were still raw. The flavor was somewhat like a muted fresh carrot taste, but that could have been more of my perception being confused by the texture.
The Serious Eats carrots tasted like traditional cooked carrots to me. I didn’t get anything exciting or new from them, but maybe I need someone who actually likes eating cooked carrots to weigh in here. To me, this seems like a convenient way to cook them if you’re also cooking a bunch of other veg, but otherwise kind of a waste of time.
If you’re a carrot lover, or even carrot-curious, I highly recommend doing the same experiment to see which method you prefer. Since the ChefSteps recipe only takes up to 25 minutes (and next time I’ll definitely try the entire 25), and it’s quick enough to drop the temp for the Serious Eats method immediately following, it’s still an extremely simple project.
- Salt + Pepper
- Preheat water bath in the range of 183-194°F (84-90°C).
- Peel carrots and separate by color.
- Seal in bags with dab of butter.
- Cook for 25-60 minutes depending on desired doneness.
- If not serving immediately, chill bag in ice bath and store in fridge for up to one week.
- Remove carrots from bag and caramelize in hot pan with butter for 2 minutes.
- Add salt + pepper, and fresh parsley, and serve.