The most common mistakes when roasting vegetables

Roasting vegetables seems easy enough, right? Just chop ‘em up, toss ‘em in some kind of fat, put ‘em on a sheet pan, and throw them in the oven.

Basically, yes—but there are some specific things you should keep in mind to get crispy-yet-tender veggies. We asked senior associate editor Alison Roman to enumerate the most common mistakes people make when throwing their winter vegetables in the oven—and to explain how to avoid them.

1. Don't: cut your veggies any which way

whole roasted carrots with tails, food close up


“Cut your veggies the same size so they’ll evenly cook,” Roman advises. When roasting starchy vegetables like potatoes or squash, dicing them into 1 1/2″–2″ pieces will make sure they don’t cook too quickly or too slowly (more on that later). But when possible, Roman likes to roast smaller vegetables whole. “Carrots are so pretty when roasted whole,” she says. “And stalks of broccoli are great just split lengthwise when they’re roasted.”

2. Don't: grease 'em all up the same

olive oil being poured from glass bottle


When you’re finished cutting them, make sure to give your veggies a coat of oil—but don’t assume they all need the same amount. “Vegetables with porous flesh, like mushrooms and eggplant, need a little more oil than, say, root vegetables,” Roman says. As a rule, she likes to use two tablespoons of olive oil per sheet pan of veggies, but add a bit more if you’re including something that sucks up moisture. Just don’t use too much—you don’t want your vegetables to turn out greasy. “Your vegetables should be a just little shiny, and evenly coated,” she says. And, of course: Season, season, season.

3. Don't: use any old oven safe thingamabob

Beets, carrots, potatoes and purple onions roasted with rosemary


Although you can use a baking dish to roast your veggies, Roman suggests that a sheet pan is your best bet. “Vegetables have a high water content,” she explains. “When they cook and that water evaporates, the higher, curved sides of a baking dish will cause your vegetables to steam more than if they were on a flat surface with shallow sides.” Basically, your veggies might come out a bit mushier than you intended if you use a baking dish. Do this at your own risk.

4. Don't: crowd your pan

Root vegetables roasting with thyme, garlic and shallots, in baking pan.  Carrots and parsnip.


“Give your vegetables space!” Roman pleads. It’s the same deal as above: Your vegetables will give off steam while they cook, and they’ll turn out mushier if they’re all up in each other’s grills. Make sure there’s a little space between each piece, and they’ll brown and crisp up a lot better.

Roast your vegetables the right way by not making these common mistakes.

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