If you have more carrots than you can use right now, you’re probably looking for a way to preserve them. The easiest way to store most vegetables for a prolonged period is to freeze them. And so it is for carrots. So, if you came across this article with the question “can you freeze carrots?”, you now know the answer is “yes, you can”.
Before we get into specific ways of freezing carrots, there’s one thing to keep in mind: frozen and defrosted carrots work best in cooked dishes. Freezing carrots changes their texture. It’s especially noticeable in recipes that use raw carrots. In other words, shredded defrosted carrots won’t work in a salad nearly as well as shredded fresh carrots do. That change in structure isn’t that big of a deal in cooked dishes. Hence, it’s recommended to use frozen carrots only in cooked dishes.
How to Freeze Roasted Carrots
Roasting is a great pre-prep for freezing the carrots. This is what I do in my meal prep routine. The amount of work is similar to freezing blanched carrots and the carrots just need reheating to be ready to eat. Here’s how it goes:
- Preparation. Wash the carrots, remove the ends and peel them. Now it’s time to decide how you want to freeze the carrots. Whole carrots take longer to defrost and are more difficult to reheat evenly, especially the large ones. I recommend either slicing the carrots into inch-long slices or cutting into lengthwise strips.
- Coat carrots with olive oil and spices. Here’s where you season the carrots to your taste. Take a big bowl and add a tablespoon of olive oil, or more, depending on how many carrots you want to freeze. Now add your favorite spices. I usually go with salt and a pinch of pepper, but feel free to experiment with other spices. Now it’s time to throw in the carrots and give them a good stir. Make sure each carrot is coated with olive oil and the spices.
- Roasting time. Preheat your oven to 430 degrees F (or 220 C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup) and transfer the carrots onto the sheet. Lay the carrots in a flat, even layer. Once the oven reaches the right temperature, stick the baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes. Use a toothpick or a fork to check if the carrots are done.
- Cooldown. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Since the vegetables are cut and spread in a flat layer, they should cool down quickly.
- Transfer the carrots into freezer bags or meal prep containers. Label the bags or containers with a name and a date if needed.
- Throw the veggies into the freezer.
The easiest way to reheat frozen roasted carrots is on the stove. Use a nonstick pan on low heat to defrost the carrots and then turn up the heat a bit more to warm them up. Once warm, they are ready to eat.
How to Freeze Blanched Carrots
Freezing blanched vegetables is the most popular and universal way of freezing veggies. Here’s how to do it:
- Preparation. Wash, cut the ends, and peel the carrots. If needed, cut them into lengthwise strips or slices.
- (Recommended) Blanching. Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath for the blanched carrots. The ice bath is simply a bowl of cold water and some ice cubes. Now it’s time to blanch carrots. Blanch whole carrots for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on size. Stripped or sliced carrots require 1 to 2 minutes of blanching. Once the time passes, take a slotted spoon and transfer the vegetables from the boiling water to the ice bath for a few minutes. The ice bath stops the cooking process. After a few minutes, drain the water.
- Drying. Now we need to make sure the carrots are as dry as possible before packing. Leaving water droplets will result in a lot of ice/snow in the freezer bag or container. Spread the veggies onto a dish towel and leave them on it for 20 to 30 minutes. After that, pat the carrots dry with paper towels.
- (Recommended) Pre-freezing. If you want the carrots to freeze individually (i.e. not clumped together), pre-freeze them. Take a cookie sheet and transfer the carrots onto it, making sure individual pieces don’t touch each other. Put the sheet into the freezer for 1 to 2 hours, until the veggies are frozen. Take the cookie sheet out of the freezer.
- Transfer the carrots into freezer bags or containers. Label the bags with a name and a date if needed.
- Put the bags into the freezer.
How to Defrost Frozen Carrots
- Overnight in the fridge. Throwing frozen food into the fridge the night before you need them is the golden standard. Works for carrots too. Defrosted carrots take less time to cook than frozen ones. This is a good option to try if you want to reduce a dish’s cooking time.
- On the stove. Use a nonstick pan on a low heat to defrost the veggie. Gradually increase the heat to cook the vegetables. A few tablespoons of water might be helpful with reheating. If the carrots were frozen blanched, they need more time to cook than if they were roasted beforehand. Also, you might want to add some olive oil when cooking blanched carrots.
- Throw the carrots directly into the meal you’re cooking. If it’s a soup or a stew, usually there’s little to no downside to adding frozen carrots while cooking the meal. Make sure you add a few minutes of cooking time to account for defrosting and warming up of the carrots.