Perfect Roasted Vegetables

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but usually when I post a main dish recipe, I include a little What to Serve feature right above the recipe. It looks like this:
What To Serve

If you are like me, sometimes the idea of getting dinner on the table is daunting enough without trying to plan out all the details of what on earth to serve with it (and yes, we’ve been known to, at times, have a plate with spaghetti and that.is.it).

One of our most favorite side dishes is roasted vegetables. I refer to them a lot in the little What to Serve thing but haven’t ever posted an official recipe (a very, very loose term for these babies). They are a simple, fast, perfect side dish solution + the leftovers refrigerate great so you can pull them out another night (hint: make extra). The sky’s the limit with roasted vegetables! The most oft-roasted veggies in my kitchen are by far: broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, and butternut squash.

My 7-year old announced last week at dinner that roasted broccoli was his favorite food and that it’s the only thing he wanted for his birthday dinner. I finally talked him into homemade pizza, too, but I couldn’t really blame him for his initial request. Roasted vegetables have a flavor all their own – even with just a touch of oil, salt and pepper. They are special and delicious and it’s no exaggeration to say that especially in the fall and winter months, I’m roasting vegetables several times a week.

Perfect Roasted Vegetables

Here are a couple tips to ensure the best success with those veggies.

1) Go high. Low oven temperatures are not ideal. I always roast our every day vegetables at 425 degrees F. That’s the sweet spot for my oven – gives perfect caramelly and golden spots without burning (and cooks those vegetables pretty darn quickly).

2) Coarse is best. This is a personal preference, but I’ve found the less spices and seasonings I throw on those vegetables the better. Sure, every now and then curry roasted cauliflower is amazing, but on my average Tuesday? Coarsely ground black and coarse kosher salt rules the day. I think using coarsely ground pepper and salt is key – it is more evenly distributed than the really finely ground pepper and salt and the veggies pop with flavor. Sometimes we get all crazy and throw a little freshly grated Parmesan on top when the veggies come out of the oven. Yum.

3) Stay single. Depending on the size and type of vegetable, they’ll take up a different amount of room on the baking sheet; if you remember to keep them in a single layer, they’ll be delicious every time. The can be close together but don’t heap them on top of each other. They’ll take longer to cook if that happens and will tend to steam more than they will roast. And it’s the roasting we are after here.

4) Stir once. That’s it. Those vegetables need time to sit on that hot pan to get the proper amount of yumminess infused into each bite. In most cases, I cook for 10-12 minutes. Stir once and cook for about 10 more minutes (the exact time depends on the vegetable and how tender you want them). One of the only times I’m going to encourage you to be an underachiever. Resist the temptation to over stir and then praise the fact you aren’t having to babysit your side dish.

5) Same size forever. I’m not perfect at this because I’m usually hurrying and scrambling and giving up perfectionism on all levels, but if you can, try to cut the vegetables in about the same size pieces so they’ll cook more evenly and you won’t end up with some tender and some crunchy.

That’s it! Start experimenting with roasted vegetables. I’ve include a general guideline below in recipe form but really, you can tailor this however you like with different vegetables, altering cooking times and seasonings, and on and on. Go crazy.

Perfect Roasted Vegetables

Yield: Serves 6

Perfect Roasted Vegetables

Dark, nonstick baking sheets will cook the vegetables more quickly so if you use that type of pan instead of a light colored aluminum pan, please watch closely and vary the time accordingly.

Make sure the vegetables are in an even layer - you don't want them on top of each other (a few tiny overlaps are fine but no double layering) or they won't roast properly.

The exact cooking time will depend on the type of vegetable and how large/small it is cut and also how tender you like them. Broccoli and cauliflower follow the cooking times below pretty closely in my oven - we like them on the crisp-tender side. I roast asparagus for slightly less time and butternut squash for slightly longer. Squash like zucchini and yellow squash roasted fairly quickly.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 cups fresh vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, butternut squash
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Several pinches of coarse kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper (if you are new to this, go light - you can always season more after they are done cooking)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. On a large, rimmed baking sheet (11X17-inches), drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil and toss with the salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir or flip the vegetables and cook for about 10 minutes more. The exact time will depend on the type of vegetable and how large/small it is cut. Broccoli and cauliflower follow this rule pretty closely. I roast asparagus for slightly less time and butternut squash for slightly longer. Squash like zucchini and yellow squash roasted fairly quickly.
  4. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve immediately.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/perfect-roasted-vegetables/

69 Responses to Perfect Roasted Vegetables {5 Simple Tips}

  1. Cyndi B says:

    Mel, I love roasted vegetabkes too. Last week I roasted radishes. I cut them in quarters and roasted them just like usual. These radishes were so good! Totally sweet, they lose their peppery bite and taste like a root vegetable. It was a surprising find. Thanks for a great blog! (my favorite)

    • Amy says:

      I’m going to try this! Radishes are ‘too tasty’ as my four year old says about spicy food, but maybe she (and admittedly, I) will like them roasted. Thanks for the tip!

    • Mel says:

      No way! I never ever in a million years would have roasted radishes but now I’m going to (and I bet a lot of others will too). Thank you!

  2. Faye says:

    I loooove roasted vegetables!! I roasted carrots and mini new potatoes (I gave the potatoes an extra Yuminess by adding a bit of ramano) last night for me and my daughters tea. My daughter is not an avid roasted veg eater but loved the potatoes, I find that what ever vegetable you roast the flavour is really concentrated, which you can not repllicate in any other way than roasting them!
    I agree with your 7 year old, broccoli roasted is amazing.
    Thanks for the how to, sometimes you forget how a simply seasoned vegetable can taste so good.

  3. NancyV908 says:

    I love to roast vegetables too! I am often asked to bring them to family events. No one ever seems to believe me when I say there’s nothing special about them–I just toss them with oil and salt. But it’s true, the roasting gives them an unbelievable flavor.

    The only downside for me is cleanup. Maybe I use too much oil (I never measure), but it is a huge ordeal to clean a metal pan after I’m done. (I don’t like to line my pans with foil, because it feels wasteful to me–on the other hand, the amount of water I have to use to clean those metal pans is pretty wasteful too….) A few years ago I started using glass pans instead, and they’re easier to clean–but still a pain.

  4. Sheila says:

    We love roasted vegetables, too! Roasted sweet potatoes are our favorite. Cyndi B, thanks for sharing the idea of roasting radishes. Never would have thought to roast radishes but because of your comment, I going to try them.

  5. Amy says:

    My hands-down favourite roasted vegetable is sweet potatoes. I usually toss with oil and a bit of ‘roasted garlic and red pepper’ seasoning mix – I rarely buy seasoning mixes but my MIL uses this one and it’s great. The best part is if there’s leftovers and I can crisp them in a pan for breakfast and add a fried egg on top – I don’t know what it is about sweet potatoes and egg yolk but YUM! Also, both my kids really disliked potatoes in any form until the other day when I roasted them in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat flavored with onion – my thanksgiving turkey had tons of fat around the tail and neck so I trimmed it and used that) and they both went nuts for them!

  6. Liz says:

    Another roast vegetable fan here. About broccoli – saw a post on http://www.thekitchn.com sometime during the summer about broccoli stems. I was shocked at how many commented that the stems were their favorite – had to try for myself. I love the stems! You peel or scrape off if they look bad and slice like medallions to roast (or you can stir fry). Packaged broccoli slaw is made from shredded stems so you can use them that way also.

    THEN – just last week saw a discussion about roasting frozen vegetables particularly broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to. I rarely by frozen because of the watery texture, but would be nice to have frozen for backup use.

    • Mel says:

      Ah, I need to explore the frozen vegetable aspect. Teresa (below in the comments) says she uses frozen to roast – good to know!

      • Liz says:

        I happened to remember … after reading the cheese comment… I don’t do it very often as I usually enjoy the veg as a side, but it is easy to make a cashew “cheese” sauce. I throw some rinsed cashews, water to cover, roast red pepper, nutritional yeast (this is the “cheese”), S&P in my VitaMix – whiz until smooth and then you can keep the blender running to heat it or move it to a sauce pan to further heat. You don’t save any calories but you get a different nutritional profile and served over rice or grain, it is a complete meal (vegan, I think)

  7. Sarah says:

    Mel, have you ever tried yellow squash or zucchini roasted with olive oil and Italian herbs? Now cover that with cheddar cheese and let it melt…..it is Heaven I tell you. We eat a meal of this one thing w/ a piece of buttered bread all summer long! Low carb & low budget. 🙂

  8. Amy says:

    My daughter and I stumbled across something when roasting broccoli that is actually delicious…..burned broccoli! Yes, it’s true. We left it in too long and burned it but decided to try it anyway. Deliciousness. The other day, I had my grandchildren over and cooked some steamed broccoli. My grandson would not eat it! He told me the only way he liked his broccoli was burned! No kidding….you have to try it and experiment with how ‘burned’ you like it.

  9. Ruth says:

    I roast a ton of veggies as well…I’m convinced it’s the tastiest way to eat them, especially on those occasions when I whip up a little cheese sauce to drizzle over the top…my kids will eat an entire pan full then!

    Two things that we do to produce the best results are:
    1. I use one of those (admittedly expensive) stoneware baking sheets – somehow these produce a slightly different texture/flavour in the roasted veggies.
    2. I always pop the baking sheet into the oven as soon as I’ve turned the oven on…while, or before, I’m chopping the veggies. I then mix the veggies with a tiny bit of avocado oil and S&P in a bowl. Then, when I’m ready to pop the veggies into the oven, I take out the already-hot baking sheet out of the oven and enjoy the sizzle of the uncooked veggies when they first hit the pan. This seems to add a wee bit extra caramelization to the process.

    Our favourites roasted veggie combinations are:
    – onions mixed with carrots and sweet potatoes (THE best around here!)
    – cauliflower & broccoli together
    – brussel sprouts and cloves of fresh garlic

    Thanks Mel. I’m off to chop up some veggies for roasting for tonight’s dinner!

    Ruth

  10. Jean says:

    Love roasted vegetables of any kind! I usually add a splash of vinegar with the s&p and olive oil – sherry vinegar works really well with asparagus.

  11. Laurel says:

    My 4 yr old loves broccoli too! When the movie, inside out, put broccoli on pizza he said, that’s not gross, that would be yummy! Haha!

  12. Shannon says:

    I agree with the sentiments that roasted brings out the best flavor in veggies. Brussel sprouts and cabbage are delish when roasted, but I am not sure I would say that if cooked another way. It really is a perfect side dish with endless options.

  13. Teresa R. says:

    I love roasted vegetables too. Our favorites are broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes and onions. Brussels sprouts and potatoes are good too. When I use frozen vegetables I let them drain after thawing. I actually do buy frozen vegetables often because they have more nutritional value since they are usually flash frozen soon after picking. They are also picked at the peak of ripeness which allows them to be more nutrient dense. Our fresh produce is often picked way before they are actually ripe so they won’t become overly ripe by the time they hit the stores. At least that what I’ve read.

  14. klutzymama says:

    The recommended side dish is one of my favorite things about your blog – I always come here first when I’m planning out meals for the week. Love it! Thank you!

  15. Kim says:

    I love roasted vegetables. I teach FACS (aka Home Ec) classes and my students are always so skeptical…..until they try them! I usually win them over or should I say the veggies win them over!!

  16. Kat says:

    My favorite thing to roast is sweet potatoes! I could eat roasted sweet potatoes every dinner of my life. You’re right that just olive oil and salt do the trick. I do have a good recipe for garlic and rosemary roasted veggies which is amazing also. It’s funny, I roast vegetables for recipes, but never think of roasting then up for a side dish (except the aforementioned sweet potatoes). Thanks for bringing roasted veggie side dishes to the surface!

  17. Mary P says:

    I love roasted veggies, and squirting a little fresh lemon juice on top after they’re done roasting takes it over the top!

  18. Micole says:

    How do you like to reheat the leftovers?

    • Mel says:

      Often I’m throwing them into a dish that’s already warm and they heat up that way (like a pasta dish) but if not, I just reheat on low in the microwave or in a 250 degree oven.

  19. Shannon says:

    Love this simple idea! You mention in your post that you roast green beans too. Is it for the same time…10 minutes, stir and another 10?

  20. Paige says:

    These veggies look amazing! I’m definitely going to use these tips the next time we find ourselves roasting some up!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  21. Mollie says:

    Yes, you do need to try roasted brussel sprouts! They are a huge hit with my kids. I always feel like dinner is a major success when the kids gobble their veggies, and roasting them is usually the way to go!

  22. Paula says:

    I love roasted veggies! I’ve never met one I didn’t like.

  23. Amanda says:

    when you roast your sweet potatoes how do you cut them?

    • Anna K. says:

      My two cents: I roast sweet potatoes a lot. It starts with a super sharp knife. Then I hack off the pointy ends (you can save any trimmings for vegetable stock) and cut lengthwise into slabs about 3/4 inch thick. Then strips, then cubes, with the same thickness on all sides. I’m with Mel in mostly not getting fancy with seasonings but I often do sweet potatoes with olive oil, a little honey, ground cinnamon and salt. Alternately, smoky spices like smoked paprika or ground chipotle chiles work well too. They’re great and my toddler can’t get enough.

  24. Brooke says:

    I will have to try this. I’ve tried before but I think my oven wasn’t at a high enough temp because they were terrible! I’ll try again

  25. Ellen Renee says:

    I had a very “Mel” day in the kitchen today…made your Mom’s chili and the peanut butter cup cheesecake. Have not enjoyed them yet…I love to make chili a day or 2 before I am planning on serving. I wanted to share a spice recipe I made this past year from another blog I follow – I think you would love it. This is what I use on my roasted veggies…a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of this mix. Perfect. You take kosher salt and a head of garlic and put it in the food processor and make a wet sand of it. Bake it in the oven for an hour. Then after the bake you put back in the processor and add freshly ground black pepper…you do this according to your preference…I use 1 cup salt to 1 cup pepper (I prefer pepper to salt). I made several batches and gave as Christmas presents. Garlic pepper is my very favorite seasoning…this is like that except it would be roasted garlic pepper. Found recipe….The Yummy Life – sweet lady who does nicely detailed blog posts. http://www.theyummylife.com/Garlic_Salt

  26. Tiffany says:

    So timely. I have a bag of veggies my kids have been avoiding and just tonight thought I should check your site for a way to cook them. Can’t wait! We seriously love all of your posts and recommend it to everyone. Thanks for all the time you put into it!

  27. Annette says:

    Roasted Brussel sprouts, with a drizzle of quality balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese, are amazing.

  28. Jina says:

    Mel, if you haven’t yet tried roasting/smoking vegetables on your traeger, you need to do that immediately! They. Are. Out. Of. This. World! Seriously, triggered broccoli? Incredible. Thanks for all your great recipes!

  29. Sharon says:

    My kids eat more roasted veggies than any other type of veggie – I think they like the crunch and sweetness compared to the softness and blandness of steamed vegetables. I’m just happy they eat veggies 🙂

  30. Amy says:

    We love eggplant, green pepper, zuch chunks, mushrooms halved & onion wedges coated w/olive oil, S&P and Italian herb mix, roast hot (450) on sheet tray til beginning to brown (usually 15-20 mins.) Add a can of drained diced toms, chopped garlic, stir & roast another 10 mins or so, then throw on fresh basil if we have it and top w/fresh Parm & mozzarella cheese & back in oven til melts. Careful not to crowd veg, I usually use two big sheet pans. We call it Pizza Veggies, and folks who don’t think they like eggplant usually really like this!

  31. Robin E. says:

    Brussel Sprouts! My kids LOVE oven roasted brussel sprouts. Just cut them in half, toss them lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them. There is NEVER any leftovers.

  32. Christine says:

    Vegetarian here so I do lots of veggie roasting. We don’t do too many side dishes here because the veggies are the star so I like to roast veggies and throw them in things. I roast two big pans of onions, bell peppers, carrots and broccoli and make enchiladas with Monterey Jack or pepper jack cheese, I throw them in pastas (or do make your own pasta where everything is separate on the table and then everyone gets to make a bowl to their liking, and to take homemade pizza completely over the top roast the veggies first then put them on the pizza and bake (preferably with fresh mozzarella). Amazing.

    My other trick is that I lightly spray my pans with regular cooking spray first and then drizzle with olive oil. It keeps everything from sticking but I still get good flavor. I also like to throw on some minced garlic from the giant jar in my fridge.

  33. Alaena says:

    Have to say I REALLY appreciate your what to serve suggestions. Coming up with side dishes is the hardest part of menu planning for me and I find the suggestions helpful for ideas and as inspiration.

    Roasted veggies are my fallback “recipe” because they’re so simple. I use the same method as you but I typically add granulated garlic and thyme as seasoning (I’m addicted to thyme). My fav veg to roast is actually sugar snap peas – they’re delicious roasted and they cook in a snap (pun totally intended).

  34. Becky says:

    Roasted vegetables are da bomb! Roasted beets however take it a whole new level! ABSOLUTELY delicious!!

    • Sheree L says:

      Oh, yeah! They are my favorite. I tell my hubby it’s like eating candy. I even like them better cold, so I make plenty for leftovers.

  35. Diane says:

    This is exactly how I roast mine, except for the squash which I usually cook for an hour at 400 because I like it more caramely. I also roast potatoes for about that long bc I like them crispier. Roasted veggies for the win!

  36. Sarah says:

    Fennel. Roasted fennel. I normally can’t stand it but roasted is delish!!

  37. Abby says:

    We love a little splash of fresh lemon juice on our roasted broccoli – it takes it over the top! I also do a combination of roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and carrots with a garlic bulb roasted with them. Pull out the garlic pieces and mix it in with the veggies when you’re done…great, now I’m craving roasted vegetables!

  38. Sara says:

    My family are vegetable haters (including me!) My husband and I wish we liked veggies but they just don’t taste good! We still serve them though and choke them down so that we can be “good parents” buts it’s always a fight with the kids. I saw this post and thought I’d give it a try; roasted broccoli and carrots. Holy cow! My 9 year old daughter declared that she actually LOVES broccoli now and my 7 year old always wants seconds! I have made your roasted veggies a few times now and they’re always a hit. Thank you Mel!!

  39. Emily says:

    Yum! I like your technique and the photos look amazing. Nice job. We just made a video about roasting veggies with fresh ricotta, check it out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EOMxxwbNbE

  40. Sheree L says:

    I am so glad you reminded me of how much I love roasted veggies. I hadn’t made them in forever, but since this post, I’m making them all them time. I could eat pounds and pounds of any roasted veggies. I make a big batch, stick the leftovers in the fridge, then eat them cold for a few days. I love cold, roasted veggies!

  41. Diane says:

    Hi Mel: Thinking of making a boatload of your roasted veggies for my daughter’s engagement party (60 guests or so) to be served along w/a catered chicken dish, among other things. Do you think I could make these a day ahead, refrigerate them for a day, then put them in a big roaster and reheat them just before serving them? Would they be too mushy? Thank-you for your reply .

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hey Diane – Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. Mel will probably respond when she gets back, but in my experience roasted veggies have never boded as well the next day. They are always a little mushier. They just don’t retain that crisp deliciousness after they have been refrigerated and reheated.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Diane – Emily’s response is along the lines of what I would thing; roasted vegetables never taste quite the same when reheated but having said that, I think this could work if you undercook them by a few minutes on the first day and finish them up when reheating.

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