When I was growing up, my mother served most of our vegetables hot and moist. That’s because we ate a lot of home-canned veggies. When you open up a Mason jar filled with garden produce, the vegetables are “pre-softened” from the liquid and the canning process. So that was how we ate most vegetables. As a consequence, I grew up disliking the taste of many of them.
As an adult, I have changed my status to vegetable “lover” by utilizing a different cooking method, which is roasting. Hallelujah! What a difference roasting makes to the taste and appearance of a vegetable (mothers out there—take note of this for your picky eaters).
Roasting is a little more time-consuming than boiling or microwaving a vegetable, but the extra minutes are worth the effort. Roasting vegetables in the oven caramelizes the outside of the veggie, giving it a sweet, but crispy, taste.
What Vegetables to Roast?
Root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots are the most common choices, with broccoli, cauliflower, squash, and brussels sprouts coming in a close second. But don’t be afraid to try other vegetables such as summer squash, peppers, green beans, asparagus, onions, or even tomatoes.
If you want, you can mix two or more veggies together. Just make sure they are compatible, time-wise. For example, roast cauliflower with broccoli, or butternut squash with potatoes.
First cut the vegetables down to bite-sized pieces, then toss with your favorite oil or seasoned oil mixture. Generally a tablespoon or two of oil will suffice, unless you have a large amount of veggies to roast. The oil helps the vegetables crisp up in the oven and adds a rich flavor.
I like to use olive oil when roasting vegetables, but any oil will work. Use a couple of large spoons to mix or just stick your (clean) hands into the bowl and combine until everything is evenly coated.
Spread the vegetables onto a baking sheet that’s been lightly coated with cooking spray. They need lots of space, so use two baking sheets if necessary. Crowding will make the vegetables steam instead of roast. Once the veggies are on the baking sheet, sprinkle with a little seasoning—salt, pepper, or other herbs. I like to use sea salt for extra crunch.
Roast Until You See Toast
Make sure the oven is good and hot before you put the vegetables in to roast. 425°F is ideal for roasting most vegetables–if the oven temperature is too low, the vegetables will overcook before they’ve had a chance to brown.
Roast your vegetables until they are tender enough to pierce with a fork. Don’t worry if you see charred bits. Those crispy brown bits are the best part of the vegetable!
General Roasting Times for Vegetables
Cooking times are for roasting vegetables at 425°F.
- Root vegetables (beets, potatoes, carrots): 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how small you cut them
- Winter squash (butternut squash, acorn squash): 20 to 60 minutes, depending on how small you cut them
- Crucifers (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts): 15 to 25 minutes
- Soft vegetables (zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers): 10 to 20 minutes
- Thin vegetables (asparagus, green beans): 10 to 20 minutes
- Onions: 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them
- Tomatoes: 15 to 20 minutes
Written by: Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County
Reviewed by: Melissa Welker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County