How to Make Perfect Roast Vegetables

I really can’t think of a single vegetable that isn’t more delicious when roasted. Ok, I didn’t think about that very hard, so I’m sure there’s at least one out there, but roasting is a great trick to have up your sleeve to feed your herbivorous side.

Here’s how to roast vegetables: Preheat the oven. Cut up the food. Drizzle olive oil over it and season with salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet. Cook, flipping once.

Doesn’t get much easier, hey?

Roasting is done with high, dry heat, and as the food cooks, the sugars caramelize providing a crunchy browning around the outer edges. It really is a versatile cooking method, and works well for everything but leafy greens, like spinach or lettuce. (Though kale is thick enough to hold up to the heat, and crispy kale chips are pretty delicious ☺).

After your veggies come out of the oven, customize them with toppers and add-ons. Think: fresh chopped herbs, lemon or lime juice, grated cheese, or balsamic vinegar reduction. Dip ‘em in ranch, or use the room-temperature roasted veggies for a lovely hor d’oeuvre platter with some yummy dip or spread. Or, toss some bacon bits on there, because everything tastes better topped with bacon.

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Here are my Top Ten I Heart Roasted Vegetables tips for success:

  • Roasting is done with high, dry heat. So make sure your oven is pre-heated. I usually preheat the oven high, like 425, then leave it there or even turn it down a little for cooking.
  • Use a baking sheet or shallow dish. Roasting needs circulating heat to cook, so if you try to roast in a big pot, the heat can’t really move very well around the vegetable pieces.
  • Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. It makes cleanup a snap, saves your baking sheet from that impossible-to-wash-off-gunk, and promotes browning (more so than aluminum foil).
  • Cut the vegetables as close to uniform in size as you can – if they’re the same size, they’ll cook at the same speed.
  • Don’t over crowd your sheet pan – if the vegetable pieces are close together, they will steam instead of roast. Meaning, they’ll be mushy instead of having that great crispy browning.
  • Make sure your vegetables are dry (water will turn to steam, leading to wet heat), then drizzle a little oil over the cut vegetables and toss to coat. The oil actually helps distribute the heat, which will promote even, all-over browning. You can also experiment with dried herbs and spices, and of course don’t forget to season with salt and pepper.
  • Flip the vegetable pieces at least once during cooking to help get that good all-over browning.
  • Consider where you place the baking sheet in the oven. In traditional ovens, the heating element is usually in the floor of the oven, so if you place the baking sheet on a bottom rack, the vegetables will brown faster. This may be a good thing, but can also burn if you don’t watch it. Sometimes if my vegetables aren’t browning up enough, I’ll put it on the bottom rack of the oven for the last few minutes.
  • If you have a convection oven, use it. Roasting works by circulating high heat around the food pieces. Convection helps speed this process along.
  • If you’re roasting a few different kinds of veggies at once, cut the pieces to sizes that reflect how quickly they will cook – i.e. if you have potatoes and bell peppers, cut the potatoes in small pieces and the peppers in much larger pieces since same-sized piece potatoes will take much longer to cook.

roast broccoli recipe
Here are some time guidelines for my favorite veggies to roast. Keep in mind they are just estimates for 1” pieces at 400 degrees, flipping once:

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash: 40 minutes
Beets, onions: 30 minutes
Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes (seed and pulp removed): 25 minutes
Eggplant, zucchini, summer squash: 20 minutes
Bell peppers: 15 minutes
Asparagus and kale chips: 8 minutes

Now go roast some vegetables! Enjoy!