Why You Should Always Have Canned Carrots In Your Pantry

Canned vegetables often get a bad rap for their assumed high sodium content and lack of nutrients, but the reality is they are a must-have pantry item. Not only do they deserve a spot as a staple, their presumed lack of nutrition is unwarranted. Canned vegetables have comparable amounts of minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, protein, fats, and carbs to their fresh counterparts, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Canned produce is picked right at the peak of ripeness and immediately preserved. Alternately, fresh produce often spends large amounts of time traveling on the back of a truck before making it to your market. In the time spent from harvest to shelf, nutritional value and quality may degrade.

So why are canned carrots in particular a must? Some vegetables release more antioxidants when heated in the canning process, per Healthline, and carrots are one of them. A comparative study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that a substantially larger amount of beta-carotene is absorbed by the body when we consume cooked carrots over raw ones. Beta-carotene supports eye health and skin health, and has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and improve memory and cognitive function, per WebMD.

Incorporating canned carrots into your culinary repertoire is easy. They're versatile and make an excellent side dish or main event.

What to make with canned carrots

The simplest ways to prepare canned carrots are to roast them in the oven, pop them in the air fryer to crisp them up, or simply sauté them. The cook time will be cut significantly as they're already pre-cooked. Another easy option is to toss a can of carrots in a stew toward the end so they don't get too mushy. A carrot mash is another flavorful option; quickly heat them and then give them a whirl in the food processor with butter and salt for an easy side dish.

Canned carrots make an easy one-to-one swap with any recipe that calls for cooked carrots. Cut down the prep time on a simple puréed carrot soup by eliminating the need to peel, chop, and cook the carrots. They can go straight from can to pot, or you can add an extra level of flavor to the soup by quickly roasting them to get some caramelization.

Thanks to their inherent sweetness, canned carrots can also go the treat route. A carrot smoothie makes a great snack. Add a sugary fruit such as banana, apple, or frozen mango; a little milk or yogurt for creaminess; and cinnamon or ground ginger for some spice. Carrot cookies or energy bites are also an option, as is carrot bread. A recipe that calls for solely grated carrot will not work, but canned carrots are an easy sub-in for anything that requires the puréed version.