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These bourbon glazed carrots are an incredible, special occasion side dish. Lightly steamed carrots are finished in a maple bourbon glaze and then sprinkled with salty pistachios. It's an easy yet very delicious recipe that's ready in just 20 minutes!
Table of contents
These bourbon glazed carrots are sweet and smoky with a subtle hint of spice. They're an easy and healthy holiday favorite, but they're so delicious that we always wonder why we don't make them year-round.
Bourbon and maple are really the stars of the show in this recipe. Don't worry, although they're sometimes called drunken carrots, you won't taste the bite of the bourbon. You'll just get the subtle smoky aftertaste.
We start by steaming the carrots in a splash of water. Then, keeping the carrots in the same pan, we add all the glaze ingredients. Simmer the carrots until the glaze starts to thicken, and that's it!
If you want to take the recipe up a delicious notch, there's an optional step to caramelize the glaze. Just be warned, this step happens quickly so make sure to hover by the stove so they don't burn.
These maple bourbon carrots are a must-make for the holidays, or any special occasion dinner alongside mains like steak, chicken, or pork chops.
Bourbon glazed carrots ingredients
Here's everything you need to make these glazed bourbon carrots:
- Carrots – carrots are an incredibly versatile, yet often under-appreciated vegetable. They keep their shape and texture and take to the bourbon glaze beautifully.
- Bourbon – using bourbon in the glaze gives the carrots just a hint of boozy flavor.
- Maple syrup – instead of brown sugar, we use maple syrup to add sweetness. It brings out the carrots' natural sweetness, too!
- Butter – gives the glaze richness and makes it velvety smooth.
- Sea salt – to enhance all the amazing flavors!
- Cayenne powder – for a tiny bit of heat. This is optional, but it complements the sweetness nicely.
- Pistachios – look for shelled salty green pistachios to add just the right amount of crunch.
How to make bourbon carrots
These easy-to-make glazed bourbon carrots are the perfect side dish for the holidays, but they taste great any time of year. Here's how we make them in a few simple steps:
- To start, steam the carrots in a couple of tablespoons of water.
- Once the water evaporates, add the bourbon, maple syrup, sea salt, and cayenne (if using) to the pan and simmer until the liquid reduces to a glaze that coats the carrots.
- If you'd like to caramelize the glaze (totally optional), cook the carrots for a few minutes more until the glaze begins to darken.
- To serve, sprinkle the carrots with crushed pistachios.
Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.
Tips for making the best bourbon glazed carrots
Making these glazed bourbon carrots couldn't be easier, but here are a few tips to help them turnout excellent every time:
- Slice the carrots on a diagonal to maximize their surface area. More surface area equals more glaze-y goodness!
- When you steam them for a few minutes, they will still seem too firm but they'll continue cooking in the glaze.
- If you decide to caramelize the glaze, make sure to watch it really closely because it can go from caramelized to burned in a matter of seconds.
- Don't skip the pistachios! They add a really wonderful salty crunch that really compliments the glazed carrots.
Can I make them dairy free?
Definitely, simply swap the butter for a non-dairy alternative.
Can I use a different type of nut in place of the pistachios?
Pistachios have a unique taste and texture, but if you want to swap them, your best bets are pine nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews.
What does caramelizing the glaze do?
Caramelizing food takes it up a notch. When sugars caramelize, the flavor develops beyond just sweetness and becomes nutty, bitter, toasty, and even a bit buttery.
Can I use whiskey instead of bourbon?
You can, but make sure to opt for an unpeated whiskey. Peated whiskey has a very strong flavor that would be too much for this recipe.
What's the best bourbon to use?
Save your expensive stuff, because any bourbon will work for this recipe.
Cooking with bourbon
Keep in mind that some of the alcohol in bourbon will burn off when it's cooked, but much of it will remain. It takes upwards of three hours of cooking for the alcohol to disappear completely. If you're concerned about the alcohol in the recipe, you can simmer a larger quantity of the bourbon separately to remove more of the alcohol. A 30-minute simmer will remove about half of the alcohol.
Here are a few other delicious bourbon recipes:
What to serve with bourbon carrots
No celebration is complete without a side of glazed carrots! While these glazed bourbon carrots are a must-make for holiday dinners like Christmas and Thanksgiving, they're also a super versatile side dish you can make for date night, birthday dinners, or even on an average weeknight.
Mains that taste great with maple bourbon carrots
More carrot sides
- 10 medium carrots (cut into diagonal pieces)
- ¼ cup EACH: bourbon and maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon butter (or sub vegan butter, if needed)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
- ⅓ cup shelled pistachios (chopped)
- Add the carrots to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water and bring it to a boil. Cook the carrots with the lid off until the water has evaporated and the pan is dry, about 5 minutes.10 medium carrots
- Add the bourbon, maple syrup, butter, sea salt, and (if using) the cayenne to the pan and bring to a boil. Let the carrots cook, stirring gently several times, until the maple syrup and bourbon reduce to become a glaze that coats the carrots.¼ cup EACH: bourbon and maple syrup, 1 tablespoon butter, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
- Optional step: continue to cook the carrots for 3-4 minutes more. Watch the pan closely as it is very easy to burn the glaze at this point. Stir the carrots every 15-20 seconds and remove the pan from the heat as soon as you see the glaze begin to darken.
- Serve the bourbon maple glazed carrots with the pistachios sprinkled on top.⅓ cup shelled pistachios
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.