How To Keep Candied Carrots From Going Mushy

Just like potatoes, carrots are versatile vegetables that seem to be good any way you make them. From simply steaming the carrots to preparing crispy roasted ones to braising them, there are no bad ways to turn tasty carrots into an easy side dish. While a low prep option, like tossing out a platter of the raw veggie with dip is always tempting, one (nearly as easy) springtime side is candied carrots.

Candied or glazed carrots are simply boiled carrots glazed with melted butter and brown sugar until perfectly caramelized. Paired with a fresh salad and a juicy meat dish, this recipe is ideal for an Easter dinner or a summer garden party. However, while this recipe is easy enough to make, there are a few pitfalls that more novice chefs should be wary of.

If you've made this dish previously and discovered your carrots emerged mushy from the pan, it's likely you overcooked them. Overcooking your carrots is easy to do, but just paying close attention to how long you've boiled your carrots will help you avoid this common error. 

They can become overdone quick

Candied carrots are prepared in two stages, boiling and glazing. When you're boiling your carrots, they should be just slightly tender because when the glazing process commences, the carrots will be heated and cooked again to caramelize. Since they are cooked a second time, they can easily become overdone and mushy.

Admittedly, it is difficult to know exactly when your boiled carrots are done. Unlike broccoli, celery, and other veggies, there's no clear visual signal to let you know your carrots are finished cooking, so the best way to tell is to remove a single carrot from the pot to test. If you think your carrots are ready, poke your test carrot with a fork or other sharp object. It should be easy to pierce the surface, but the center should still be slightly tough. You want to begin the glazing stage at this point, after which it will be tender all the way through.