Fresh carrots from the grocery store or farmer’s market are delicious as a snack or a side dish. Canned carrots, on the other hand, can often feel a bit mushy and have a distinct flavor that only comes from being in a can.
But canned carrots don’t have to sit in your pantry for months or years on end before you get around to using them. With a bit of ingenuity and elbow grease, you can make them taste pretty darn good. Today we’re going to discuss the best ways to make canned carrots taste good, from adding sugar to them to putting them in a stew. By the end, you may start adding canned carrots to your weekly shopping list.
How to Make Canned Carrots Taste Good
Before learning how to make canned carrots taste better, it’s important to understand what it tastes like initially. The canning process cooks and steams the carrots, so they’re already good to eat right out of the can. However, because they’re steamed, the carrots will be soft and slightly mushy, so you won’t get the same crunch you would with traditional carrots.
Overall, canned carrots are best as an ingredient in a particular dish or as a side to something else. So, with that in mind, let’s dive in!
Make Them Sweet
If you look up most canned carrot recipes, many of them try to make the carrots into a dessert. Since carrots are already naturally sweet, adding more sugar to complete the process makes sense. One example is to glaze them with honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar after cooking them in butter. By adding such decadent ingredients, canned carrots could turn into your favorite post-dinner dish. The results are similar to what you would expect with a sweet potato pie – sweet, but not sickeningly so. This is why glazed carrots work well for holidays like Thanksgiving.
Roast Them in an Air Fryer
Since canned carrots are already soft, you won’t really be able to get them crisp again. However, using an air fryer can create a somewhat crispy outer layer, giving them a soft and crunchy feel. Also, while an air fryer is the fastest and most convenient roasting option, you can go the traditional route and use an oven instead.
In this case, you can go sweet or savory with your dish. With the latter, you can add olive oil and your favorite spices to the carrots so they have a much more robust flavor. Spice examples can include rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic. If you have other pre-cooked vegetables, you can add them to the mix and create a vegetable medley.
Once again, roasting canned carrots is pretty convenient because they’re already cooked and soft. So, you just need a few minutes to get your desired results. It’s pretty hard to burn canned carrots because they’re so moist.
Use Them as a Side Dish
Sliced carrots work well as a side to many meat dishes. Examples include roast beef, pork loin, roast chicken, duck, and even steak. So, having a few cans of carrots can make dinner much easier and more convenient. All you have to do is pan-fry them on the stove for a few minutes to warm them up and add some flavor; then, they’re ready to go.
As we mentioned with the roasting method, you can add other vegetables to make your main dish even more delicious. Carrots go well with other starchy ingredients like potatoes, corn, peas, green beans, and even broccoli. However, if you’re using fresh veggies, you’ll need to cook those for a lot longer before adding canned carrots at the end.
Add Them to a Soup or Stew
Carrots always make a great addition to most soups and stews. However, since these carrots are already moist, they can break up or disintegrate in your stew if you add them at the beginning. Instead, once the soup is ready, you can toss a can or two into the broth and just let the carrots heat up until they’re nice and warm.
Make a Carrot Cake
Carrot cake is a delicious treat that is relatively easy to make. One of the most time-consuming aspects of baking a carrot cake is making the raw carrots soft enough to shred. Fortunately, canned carrots are already soft, so you can save about an hour’s worth of work. Plus, since they’re slightly mushy, you can just add the carrots to your mixture and blend everything together.
This option doesn’t work if you like to have a little crunch in your carrot cake. However, if you just want the flavor and want to make the process convenient, canned carrots are almost preferable to a fresh batch.
Create a Carrot Pasta
Did you know that you can make fresh pasta from carrots? Even better, you can create a pasta sauce to go with it. Carrot pasta requires soft and mashable carrots, meaning that the canned variety is already ready to go. While the flavor won’t be quite as potent as fresh carrots, the process is much easier with a can.
For a pasta sauce, you just need to add spices, garlic, some fresh herbs, and a base to create a creamy concoction that is both a little sweet and savory. The results are pretty spectacular, and you can have a healthy, veggie-based pasta dish that everyone will love.