Maybe rabbits don’t mind, but most people prefer eating carrots that are tender as opposed to crunching into a hard, raw, thick chunk. But, how do you soften this vitamin-packed root vegetable quickly so it’s ready to eat or add to a recipe?
There are five ways to soften carrots fast using only water. These methods include blanching, steaming, boiling, microwaving, or baking. If you want to soften them by partially cooking them with oil or seasoning, you could also quick or easy pickle them, roast, or cook them with a quick sauté in a skillet.
8 ways to soften carrots easily and quickly
Start with proper preparation
The trick to how fast your carrots will soften is going to start with the preparation. Always wash the carrots before getting them ready to eat. You won’t have to peel them, but cutting off both ends and slicing them into either coin-like pieces, small chunks, long slices, or peelings will make a difference as to how long it will take them to get soft. The smaller the pieces, the easier and faster the softening process.
Don’t salt the water because salt will cause the carrots to shrivel up. While softening the carrots, you still want them to remain plump and healthy-looking.
Now let’s break down each method.
Here is a quick video about all the methods if you feel like watching a video and learning about how to soften carrots in 8 different ways.
In a way, blanching is another way of saying partially boiling. Only blanching also involves a quick cooling process.
To blanch carrots, bring a pot of unsalted water to a full boil before placing the carrots into the pot. You’re not going to keep the carrots in there long enough to fully cook. Just a few minutes will do the trick to make the carrots soft enough to easily cut with a knife or fork-tender.
Before putting the carrots into the rapidly boiling pot, rinse them off with cool running water. Let them boil up to 5 minutes. Sometimes, 2 or 3 minutes is all you will need. Start counting the boiling time as soon as the water returns to a rapid boil. Drain the hot water, and immediately run cold water over the carrots for 4 or 5 minutes.
Some prefer to remove the carrots from the boil and immediately dip the carrots quickly into a bowl filled with ice water and let them sit for up to 3 to 5 minutes before draining and drying them.
Pat the carrots dry or shake off the water, and they are softened and ready to cut.
Soften them by fully boiling them. This method is best if you want to turn them into a pureé since it’s really easy to over-boil and make them mushy. Let them boil for between 4 and 10 minutes, depending on whether you cut them into small pieces or boiled them whole.
Another way to soften carrots is to put them in the microwave. Put whole carrots or carrot slices into a microwave-safe container, add a few tablespoons of water, and cover the dish. Microwave for 3 or 4 minutes. Stir the carrots, and then microwave for another 3 minutes on high.
Fill a pot with about 2-inches of water, and put a steamer basket in it. Bring the water to a boil, and then put the carrots into the steamer basket. Cover the pot, and turn down the heat to a medium-high. Keep steaming until they are soft, or between 5 and 11 minutes.
You could also use a rice cooker to steam the carrots. Follow the instructions on your specific model. Except for the carrots to be tender in about 12 to 15 minutes in a rice cooker.
Soften your carrots by baking them for a short time. Add water to a deep baking dish, and place the carrots in the water. Bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 C), turning or stirring them halfway through. Depending on how much water you add, your carrots will either be soft as if you boiled them on the stovetop or slightly browned and crispy on the edges.
Additional methods to soften carrots quickly involve adding oil, seasoning, or other ingredients that will change the flavor. These methods include quick pickling, also called easy pickling, roasting, or pan sauté.
Quick or easy pickling
One fast and easy method of softening carrots is called quick pickling. When you add acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar to a hard carrot and let it sit, the carrot will soften. Quick pickling works best with carrots that are cut into smaller pieces. A carrot that has been prepared and cut into small pieces will take about a half hour to get soft through quick or easy pickling.
How to make quick pickling carrots
Cut the carrot into coin slices or stick strips. Put them in a bowl, and add lemon juice or vinegar till the carrots are covered. Toss the carrots to make sure the juice is equally distributed over all the carrots and leave them to sit for about 15 to 20 minutes. The carrot pieces will be soft with a bit of crunch. They will also take on the tangy flavor of the acidic ingredient you use. So, only use this method if you are using carrots in a recipe like a salad that calls for this kind of taste bud punch.
Roasting your carrots in the oven is very similar to baking. Although, roasting usually includes adding oil or butter and seasonings or glaze like honey.
Heat oil in a pan on the stovetop, and then add sliced carrot pieces to the oil. Season with your choice of herbs and spices.
How long does it take to soften carrots
Generally speaking, getting carrots to be soft enough to cut will take as little as 3 or 4 minutes to as long as 12 minutes or longer. The time it takes to get a carrot soft enough to use it in a recipe is going to depend on a few things:
- The size of the carrot – Baby carrots are going to soften quickly. Whereas a large, thick carrot is going to take more time.
- Whether the carrot is whole or cut into pieces – A whole carrot is going to take more time to fully soften. When you cut them into pieces, it will make the softening process go faster. Cut them into small chunks, 1/4″ coin slices, or spear-like long-sliced sticks. Carrot peelings soften fastest but also turn mushy quickly too.
- The softening method used – Time will vary depending on which method, but most will only take about 4 to 5 minutes for carrot slices and up to 10 minutes for a whole carrot.
Also, consider the preparation time. At the very least, you will want to wash and peel the carrots and then cut off the ends. If you choose not to peel them, make sure you scrub them clean with a vegetable brush.
Will soaking carrots soften them
No soaking carrots in water won’t soften them! To soften a carrot by soaking in very salty water, it would take several days before it would be soft enough to use. If there is no salt in the water, it will actually make it plumper. Soaking a carrot in freshwater is often suggested for reviving a carrot that has gone limp.
Why won’t my carrots soften
Of course, there is a scientific explanation as to why a carrot won’t get soft. It goes something like this. Vegetables, like carrots, usually get softer as they cook because they are held together with a special carbohydrate called hemicelluloses which dissolve in the heat and weaken the cell walls.
Here’s the kicker. Hemicelluloses-rich vegetables are not soluble in acid, so they won’t dissolve if they are cooked in an acidic environment.
Soften carrots separately until they are soft before adding them to other ingredients that require them to be soft. Or, wait until the end of the cooking time to add the acidic ingredient.
Can you soften carrots in the microwave?
Yes. Using a microwave to soften carrots is one of the best ways to get them tender.
Although, you may be hesitant to try because you are worried the carrot will start sparking in the microwave.
It is true that dense vegetables like carrots contain higher amounts of minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and selenium, that act like tiny pieces of metal which sometimes create the spark. Thankfully, this doesn’t cause any damage to the food but can prevent the carrots from being thoroughly heated.
How to soften carrots for soup
Choose one of the methods of softening hard, raw carrots to make sure it’s tender before adding it to the soup, or throw in carrot pieces and let them cook slowly in a crockpot or a simmering stovetop pot for hours. Peel it, and cut it up into slices to make the process go a lot quicker.
Choose from the 8 methods of softening carrots quickly. Boil, blanch, steam, microwave, or bake, carrots to get them ready to add to other recipes or to prepare them for easier eating. Enjoy the tasty results of a soft, vitamin-packed vegetable that is easy to cut and bite into.