Steaming accentuates the natural sweetness in carrots, and it is a simple preparation that can be done quickly and easily. While the steamer basket method is the most classic, there is more than one way to steam a carrot, including using the microwave and a pan on the stove.
Microwaving is probably the most popular technique, but there is a strong argument to be made for simply steaming carrots in a pan with a bit of water as there is minimal clean-up afterward and no special equipment needed. Regardless, all three methods lead to deliciously simply steamed carrots, so you can choose one with confidence.
Small carrots can be left whole, but most often you'll want to chop them before steaming. Evenly steamed carrots will depend on all the carrots or carrot pieces being the same size, so trim and chop accordingly. Keep in mind that larger pieces of carrot will need more time to cook.
How to Steam Carrots In a Frying Pan
Bring a scant 1/2 inch of salted water to boil in a large frying pan or saute pan. Add the peeled and trimmed and/or chopped carrots, cover, and cook until the carrots are tender to the bite and the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes. If you want your carrots a bit more tender, simply cook them a little longer.
This method does require that you know your pan and your stove (and how they interact) fairly well to make sure the carrots are steaming and not browning.
Watch Now: Simple Steamed Carrots With Butter Recipe
How to Steam Carrots In a Steamer Basket
The classic method of steaming uses a steamer basket or insert. Bring about an inch of water to a boil in the bottom of a pot into which your steamer basket or insert fits. Put the peeled and trimmed and/or chopped carrots in the steamer basket, set over the boiling water, and cover. Steam until tender to the bite, about 5 minutes for crisp-tender and up to 10 minutes for full-size carrots.
How to Steam Carrots In a Microwave
Steaming carrots in a microwave is certainly quick and convenient. It must be noted, however, that it is more difficult to get any vegetable steamed to a precise and even level of doneness in a microwave than it is in a pan or steamer basket.
Rinse the carrots and trim, peel, and cut to the desired size. Place in a large microwave-safe bowl with the water still clinging to them; a small pool of water should form in the bottom of the bowl quite quickly. If you don't see water in the bottom of the bowl, add a tablespoon of water. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or plate (avoid plastic wrap in microwaves) and cook on high power for 1 minute. Test for tenderness and repeat at 30-second intervals until the carrots are steamed to your liking. Carrots steamed in a microwave may require a bit of draining or drying depending on how much liquid you used and how powerful your microwave is.
How to Serve Steamed Carrots
How ever you cook them, keep things classic and serve the steamed carrots simply with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt (and freshly ground black pepper, if you like). They're also good cooled and served with a classic garlicky aioli.