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How to Make Roasted Vegetables

10 Tips for the Best Roast Vegetables

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Making roasted vegetables is as easy as putting them in the oven, but making the best roasted vegetables - soft and tender, browned and caramelized, full of intensified flavor - involves a few tricks. Make roasted vegetables as delicious as possible by following the ten tips below.

You may also want to see recipes for specific roasted vegetables.

1. Preheat the Oven

Photo © Molly Watson

Yes, seriously, this is an important step. You want the oven nice and hot when you go to put the vegetables in. A less-than-hot oven will turn out less-than-browned vegetables. The exact temperature doesn't matter too much. I tend to set the oven to 375°F, but anything in the 350°F to 425°F range will work.

2. Cut Vegetables Into Even Pieces

Photo © Molly Watson

Smaller vegetables can be roasted whole... as long as they are of even sizes. You want even peices so the vegetables cook at an even rate. In general, vegetables need to be trimmed and cut – larger pieces will make a more dramatic presentation whereas smaller, bite-size pieces are easier to eat.

3. Toss Vegetables With Oil

Roasted Broccoli With Chiles and Lemon
Photo © Molly Watson

Either in the roasting pan or a large bowl, toss vegetables with a tablespoon or two of olive oil or the oil of your choice. Oil helps the vegetables brown, so don't skip this step. Drizzle vegetables with the oil, then toss then to coat them as evenly as possible. You can add coarsely chopped garlic, slices of chiles or pepper flakes, or other seasonings at this point, too.

4. Don't Crowd the Vegetables

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Photo © Molly Watson

You want plenty of hot air to be around the vegetables, all around. The less the vegetables touch each other, the more area on them will brown.

5. Sprinkle Vegetables With Salt

Photo © Molly Watson

The reason roasted vegetables at restaurants always taste so great? They are seasoned in layers. A bit of salt at the beginning and another small dose of salt when they're done. Give the vegetables a sprinkle of salt before you pop them in the oven. You can give a final, finishing sprinkle of salt at the end, so just add a little bit here.

6. Roast Vegetables At the Top

Roasted Fennel
Photo © Molly Watson

Roasting the vegetables in the top third of the oven will help the vegetables brown the best.

7. Shake or Turn Vegetables

Photo © Molly Watson

When the vegetables start to brown, give the pan a good shake or use a spatula to turn the vegetables to move them around a bit to brown evenly.

8. Roast Vegetables Thoroughly

Photo © Molly Watson

You want roasted vegetables to be two things: brown and tender. Keep the vegetables in a hot oven until they are both. If they start to get too dark, cover them with foil until tender, then cook for a final 5 minutes or so with the foil off. If they aren't browning, raise the heat in the oven and move the pan to the top of the oven.

9. "Finish" the Vegetables

Photo © Molly Watson

Roasted vegetables are best with a final drizzle of good quality olive oil and a little sprinkle of salt. Other final hits of flavor can include:

  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Minced herbs (mint, parsley, thyme, or just a wee bit of rosemary are great choices)
  • Balsamic vinegar

10. Serve Vegetables Warm or Let Them Cool

Photo © Molly Watson

Roasted vegetables are great while still warm, obviously, but can also be served at room temperature to great effect. If you want to serve room temperature roasted vegetables, however, be sure to let them cool in a single layer, uncovered or very loosely covered, so the vegetables don't start to steam each other and get soggy or sad.

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