Have you heard of sous vide? Why do we want to cook this way? And why carrots?
These are all excellent questions, dear reader.
How Does Sous Vide Cooking Work?
How does sous vide work, exactly? Well, an immersion circulator immersed in water creates an environment with a consistent temperature, which ensures consistent cooking results. It’s the equivalent to a slow, gentle poach that helps food retain its moisture, too.
There’s a little bit of a learning curve with using this style of cooking, but it’s nothing to be too wary of. It’s mostly a hands-off process, not unlike cooking in a slow cooker.
New to sous vide cooking? Start here!
- Everything You've Been Wondering About Sous Vide Cooking at Home
- How to Use Your New Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
- How to Seal Foods Without Using a Vacuum Sealer
- Sous Vide and Food Safety: What to Know
What's Special About Sous Vide Carrots?
The carrots in today's recipe not only become nicely tender when cooked sous vide, but also become intensely flavorful—it’s as though cooking sous vide concentrates the flavors, turning them into the most premier specimens of carrot. They become sweeter and snappier, while also tasting earthy and distinctly carroty—and in a way that you can’t achieve from roasting or steaming.
The low, slow method of cooking sous vide is well suited to many vegetables and carrots are no exception. Steamed carrots sometimes get mushy or just feel too waterlogged, and they lose their snap really quickly if you don’t keep an eye on them. Oven-roasted carrots can also easily become overcooked and mushy as their tough fibers soften.
In sous vide cooking, because the carrots are enclosed in a tightly sealed plastic bag and then gently cooked in precisely-controlled hot water, they are protected from both water absorption and moisture loss, and aren't at nearly as much risk of overcooking.
How Long to Cook Carrots Sous Vide?
In comparison to a lot of other sous vide recipes, carrots cook fairly quickly. A big cut of meat, like a bottom round roast, can take up to 24 hours to become tender, but carrots are ready within 15 to 20 minutes, which makes them an easy dinner side dish.
Exact timing will depend on the size and thickness of your carrots (for example, skinny, slender spring carrots verses thicker, knobbier supermarket carrots). I’d recommend checking your carrots at about 15 minutes, and then re-sealing the bag and cooking for longer if needed. When you can stick a fork in the thick part of the carrots and remove it easily, they're done.
- Cooking Tip! If you find that the carrots float when you add them to the sous vide bath, carefully remove the bag from the water and add several servings spoons, which will weigh down the bag and keep the carrots submerged during cooking.
Make-Ahead Carrots for the Week
One of the biggest advantages to cooking sous vide is that you can make meal components, such as these carrots, ahead of time and quickly reheat them when you need them.
Once cooked, let the carrots cool in their bag, then throw them in the fridge for later. You can then reheat them as needed for a quick side dish, or add them to other dishes, like quick pastas, salads, soups, or quesadillas.
I cooked these carrots and ate some of them right away while I was testing them because they were irresistible. I put the rest in the fridge and then later browned them in a cast iron skillet with some sous vide baby red potatoes that I had also cooked earlier in the week.
More Sous Vide Recipes to Try!
- Sous Vide Potatoes
- Sous Vide Pork Chops
- Sous Vide Teriyaki Salmon
- Sous Vide French Dip Sandwiches
- Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Port Wine and Garlic
How to Cook Carrots Sous Vide
- 1 bunch carrots, about 1 pound
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, plus more for serving if desired
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat the water:
Fill a pot with water and place your immersion circulator inside. Set your immersion circulator to 194°F and let the water come up to temperature.
Prep the carrots:
Meanwhile, wash the carrots and peel them. Cut off and reserve the green leafy tops for another use (like Carrot Top Pesto!). Slice off the tops and bottoms, if you like.
Add the carrots to a zip-top gallon-size plastic freezer bag along with the tarragon, salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Toss together in the bag to distribute the ingredients.
Seal the bag:
Seal the bag as tightly as possible using water-displacement method to help press out all the air: Put the food in the bag and slowly lower it into the water, letting the pressure of the water press the air through the top of the bag. Once the air is out of the bag, seal it just above the water line. You can do this in the pot of water as it heats (just be careful if the water is already steaming!). (Read more here.)
If the carrots float in the water, add a few heavy soup spoons from your cutlery drawer, which will help weigh down the bag and keep the carrots submerged. The carrots will need to be completely submerged to cook evenly.
Cook the carrots:
Submerge the bag of carrots in the pot once the circulator has come to the proper temperature.
Cook for 15 minutes for thinner carrots, and up to 25 for very thick ones. If you’re at all in doubt, pull them out after 15, open the bag carefully, and use a fork to determine how tender they are. If they’re getting stuck in the carrot, they aren’t ready; reseal the bag and return the carrots to the water.
Remove from the water, turn off the circulator, and serve immediately. Sprinkle some additional fresh chopped tarragon on top, if desired, and sea salt. You can also drizzle the cooking oil over the plated carrots.