Gochujang (pronounced go-choo-jang) is a thick, sticky fermented condiment that is a staple in Korean cuisine. With notes of sweetness, umami, and heat, gochujang packs a flavor punch that takes roasted vegetables like carrots from basic to bold.
This gochujang carrots recipe turns plain roasted carrots into an explosion of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors inspired by Korean banchan (small side dishes). The carrots are first roasted in the oven until tender and caramelized. Then, they get tossed in a sweet and spicy gochujang glaze made with honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and gochujang chili paste.
Burn the Honey for Balance
To keep the honey glaze from becoming overly sweet, start by cooking the honey over medium-high heat until it darkens in color and takes on notes of molasses. This "burnt" honey has a pleasant bitterness that balances out the sweetness.
Blooming the honey to a dark caramel color before making the glaze is an easy cooking technique that allows you to use just the right amount of honey for flavor without going overboard on sweetness. The deeper flavor from burnt honey also stands up well to the gochujang.
Steam Then Roast for Perfect Carrots
Getting tender, creamy carrots while also achieving caramelized crispy edges can be tricky when roasting. The solution is a two-step roasting method.
First, the carrot batons are steamed right in the roasting pan. This initial steaming step cooks the carrots through so they become perfectly tender.
Then, the foil cover is removed and the carrots roast uncovered for a second stage. This allows the exterior to dry out and caramelize without the interior overcooking.
Toss in Gochujang Glaze for Kick
While the carrots roast, make the quick gochujang glaze. Whisk together the burnt honey, gochujang, soy sauce, rice vinegar, oils, garlic and ginger.
Once the carrots are ready, toss them right in the baking pan with the glaze to coat. Roast them briefly just until the glaze bubbles and thickens.
The gochujang chili paste adds sweetness and fermented umami along with a slow spicy burn. Toasted sesame oil and fresh ginger and garlic keep the flavors bright. The savory glaze perfectly balances the natural sweetness of the carrots.
Garnish with Scallions and Sesame Seeds
These fiery carrots are delicious on their own, but a garnish of sliced scallions and sesame seeds adds extra flavor and crunch. The green onions provide a fresh oniony bite while the sesame seeds toast up to a nutty aroma.
A sprinkle of the garnish right before serving prevents the scallions and seeds from burning in the hot pan yet adds great texture and flavor when eating the carrots.
Adapt the Spice Level to Your Taste
Gochujang varies in its spiciness depending on the brand, so taste your glaze before tossing the carrots to check the heat level. For more mild carrots, use less gochujang in the glaze or add a teaspoon of honey to tone it down.
If you want an extra spicy kick, add more gochujang to the mix or a pinch of red pepper flakes. Tailor the glaze to your personal spice preferences for best results.
Serving Suggestions for Gochujang Carrots
These sweet, savory, and spicy carrots are extremely versatile. They pair well with a variety of meals:
- Serve as a fiery side with grilled meats like chicken, beef or pork.
- Add color and crunch to fried rice or bibimbap bowls.
- Toss into a grain bowl with quinoa or farro.
- Use as a topping for salads or lettuce wraps.
- Enjoy as an appetizer or snack with ranch dip.
- Add to a cheese board platter for a spicy-sweet component.
No matter how you serve them, these caramelized gochujang carrots are sure to bring a new dimension to any dish with their audaciously addictive Korean-inspired flavors. Keep a batch in your fridge to jazz up meals all week long.
What type of carrots work best?
Look for smaller, narrow carrots about 1/2 inch thick. Larger carrots can be quartered lengthwise into batons. Go for multi-colored carrots if you can find them!
Can I make the glaze ahead?
Yes! The gochujang glaze can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use.
What if my glaze breaks?
If the glaze emulsifies and breaks while cooking, just add 1 tablespoon of water or broth at a time and stir constantly to bring it back together.
Can I use regular chili paste instead of gochujang?
How long do the cooked carrots keep?
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat gently with a splash of water to loosen the glaze.
This easy gochujang carrots recipe takes humble roasted carrots to new heights of flavor. With just a few ingredients like gochujang, honey, ginger, and garlic, you can make an incredible Korean-inspired side dish.
The two-step roasting method ensures tender, creamy centers and caramelized edges. Then a quick sear in the sweet, savory, and spicy gochujang glaze coats each carrot in deliciousness.
Bright, bold, and beautifully caramelized, these gochujang carrots will literally spice up any meal. The garnish of scallions and sesame seeds adds extra flavor and crunch. Make this recipe on repeat to enjoy with everything from weeknight dinners to holiday meals.
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch batons
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1-2 tablespoons water or vegetable broth
- Sliced scallions and sesame seeds for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add honey to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until honey darkens in color, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Place carrot batons on prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the gochujang, soy sauce, burnt honey, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, sesame oil, ginger and garlic.
- Pour glaze over carrots and toss to coat evenly.
- Cover baking sheet tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for 15 minutes, until carrots are fork tender.
- Remove foil and roast for 10-15 more minutes, tossing halfway, until carrots are caramelized at the edges.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of water or broth to loosen glaze if it gets too thick.
- Transfer carrots to a serving platter. Drizzle with any glaze left in pan.
- Garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds. Serve warm.