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Carrots Au Gratin with Spicy Crumb Topping

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Carrots au Gratin with a spicy, crumbly topping is terrific! I know, carrots and cheese? Rather than drown these carrots in cheese, tender carrots are enveloped in a silky sauce and are topped with a cheesy horseradish crumb topping – and they’re delish!

Carrots au gratin in a black oval serving dish.

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I’m in love with these carrots. I bought a fancy pack of baby carrots – not the whittled-down baby carrots that you put in your kids’ lunches, but real baby carrots, as in thin, young carrots. I got them at Costco, and they were already peeled with just a cute nub on the end.

I didn’t want to just boil the carrots, or glaze them, or eat them raw. These special carrots needed special treatment, so I made a veloute sauce (that’s a thickened sauce made with chicken broth) and topped them with a crispy horseradish and cheese crumb topping.

Wowsers, are they good! I’ve made them a bunch of times since then, and they always get gobbled up. I love that I can make this dish ahead of time, too, and just pop it in the oven to finish cooking just before serving. It’s also a great potluck dish, and it’s fancy enough to go with special meals like an expensive tomahawk steak or rib roast. Don’t forget about this as a Thanksgiving side dish or Christmas dish!

Do your vegetables differently and make this delicious and elegant Carrots au Gratin recipe for your next special occasion meal.

A top-down shot of Carrots au Gratin in a baking dish.

What you’ll love about Carrots Au Gratin


  • Tender carrots, a lush sauce, and a crumbly topping give this dish color and texture.
  • It’s a great make-ahead dish.
  • Elevate humble carrots into something amazing and different!

What Does Au Gratin Mean?

Au gratin is French and means “with cheese”. So anytime you see au gratin (like potatoes au gratin), you know they’ve got cheese on them or in them. Au gratin dishes are usually smothered in cheese, but a deft hand and quality ingredients mean the cheese accents the flavor of the vegetable, not smother it.

Fresh baby carrots on a white background.

Ingredients

  • Baby carrots – Not the peeled sold in a bag baby carrots. You want young carrots with the tops still on them.
  • Butter – I use salted butter.
  • Shallot – 1 small shallot, finely diced.
  • All-purpose flour
  • Chicken stock – Or vegetable broth if you want to make these Carrots au Gratin vegetarian.
  • Lemon juice – From a fresh lemon.
  • Dijon mustard
  • Sliced white bread – About 3 slices.
  • Parmesan cheese – Freshly shredded/grated; use the good stuff.
  • Prepared horseradish – Not creamed horseradish.
  • Fresh thyme – Or dried thyme.
  • Salt and pepper
Labeled ingredients to make Carrots Au Gratin.

How To Make The Best Carrots Au Gratin With Spicy Crumb Topping

For a full list of ingredients and instructions, please scroll down to the recipe near the bottom of this page.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375-F and butter the insides of a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the carrots stacked 2-3 high.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and parboil the carrots for 3-4 minutes or until they are still quite firm but nearly tender-crisp.
  3. Drain the carrots, cool them under cold running water, and then transfer them to the prepared baking dish.
  4. Make the sauce by melting butter in a saucepan and saute the shallots until they’re softened. Add the flour, cook for another minute, and then whisk in the chicken or vegetable broth. Return to a simmer until thickened. Whisk in the lemon juice and Dijon mustard, strain the sauce and discard the shallots.
  5. Pour the sauce over the carrots.
  6. Break the sliced bread apart with your fingers into large crumbs.
  7. Melt the butter and stir in the remaining Dijon mustard, horseradish, shredded Parmesan cheese, thyme, salt and pepper.
  8. Toss the butter mixture with the crumbled bread, then sprinkle the bread topping over the carrots.
  9. Bake the Carrots au Gratin at 375-F for about 15-20 minutes or until it is hot and bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • You can parboil the carrots and make the sauce up to 2 days in advance. Then, just warm the sauce, assemble the dish, and bake. Don’t put the crumb topping on until you’re ready to bake so that it doesn’t get soggy.
  • You can use asiago, Manchego, or any other firm, aged cheese.
  • There’s a fair bit of crumb topping – feel free to use as little or as much as you like.

Recommended

Make It A Meal

I love Carrots au Gratin with a holiday turkey at Thanksgiving, but I will also serve this stunning side dish with slow cooker pork roast, braised short ribs, and grilled steaks.

Storage

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Warm it up in the microwave or in a low oven until heated through.

Step By Step Process

Carrots au gratin in a black oval serving dish.
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Carrots au Gratin with Spicy Crumb Topping

A velvety sauce envelops tender carrots and the cheesy-spicy crumb topping makes these Carrots au Gratin a show-stopping dish! Serve with your favorite roasts or make this your new favorite holiday side dish.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, French
Keyword au gratin, carrots, carrots au gratin, easy side dish, holiday, parmesan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 197kcal
Author Chef Jenn

Equipment

  • shallow baking dish

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds baby carrots peeled and tops removed

For the veloute sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter salted
  • 1 shallot finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1.5 cups low or no sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

For the crumb topping

  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 3 slices white bread coarsely crumbled

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375-F and butter the insides of a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the carrots stacked 2-3 high.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and parboil the peeled and trimmed carrots for 3-4 minutes or until they are still quite firm but nearly tender-crisp.
  • Drain the carrots, cool them under cold running water, and then transfer them to the prepared baking dish.

To make the sauce

  • Make the sauce by melting butter in a saucepan and saute the shallots until they're softened; 3-4 minutess. Add the flour, cook for another minute, and then whisk in the chicken or vegetable broth. Return to a simmer until thickened. Whisk in the lemon juice and Dijon mustard, strain the sauce and discard the shallots.
  • Season the sauce with salt and pepper and pour the sauce over the carrots.

To make the crumb topping

  • Break the sliced bread apart with your fingers into large crumbs.
  • Melt the butter and stir in the remaining Dijon mustard, horseradish, shredded Parmesan cheese, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Toss the butter mixture with the crumbled bread, then sprinkle the bread topping over the carrots.
  • Bake the Carrots au Gratin at 375-F for about 15-20 minutes or until it is hot and bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • You can parboil the carrots and make the sauce up to 2 days in advance. Then, just warm the sauce, assemble the dish, and bake. Don’t put the crumb topping on until you’re ready to bake so that it doesn’t get soggy.
  • You can use asiago, Manchego, or any other firm, aged cheese.
  • There’s a fair bit of crumb topping – feel free to use as little or as much as you like.

Nutrition

Serving: 4carrots | Calories: 197kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 580mg | Potassium: 370mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 15940IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 172mg | Iron: 2mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

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