Looking for a quick and easy side dish? You can microwave carrots if you are short on time. The trick to getting them perfect is to steam them, not boil them. Check out this super simple recipe for how to steam carrots in the microwave the next time you need a quick and easy side dish!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Steaming carrots in the microwave is super quick and easy, and a great option if you are extra short on time (like if you forgot to cook a side dish and dinner is almost ready 🤦♀️)
- It’s hassle-free, it’s fast, and it’s good for people who like to eat healthy
- Steamed carrots go with many different types of cuisine, making them a perfect side dish for almost any meal
The best option when cooking carrots in the microwave is to steam them. Boiling carrots in the microwave will almost always lead to soggy overcooked carrots, and the nutrients can leach out into the boiling water much more easily than if they are steamed.
You can also steam carrots very quickly and easily in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker. Check out my recipe for more details: Instant Pot steamed carrots. Or, if you have an air fryer, try air fryer carrots.
Scroll down for the printable recipe card for microwaving carrots, or read on for all the details.
What do you need?
Carrots or baby carrots
You can use baby carrots, or regular carrots cut into ~2-inch sticks, or rounds.
You need around a cup of water in the bottom of the bowl, around one inch depth.
There needs to be enough water to fill the interior of the bowl with steam once it gets heated enough (i.e. boiled), but you don’t want to boil the carrots along with the water.
Microwave safe dish
To steam carrots in your microwave you will need a microwave safe container with a well-fitting lid.
You could also use plastic wrap or a plate on top, but make sure it is close-fitting so the steam can’t escape during cooking (though be sure to pierce the plastic wrap, you don’t want it to be air-tight).
Optional microwave steamer or microwave-safe trivet
The carrots in the bottom of the bowl will be sitting in the water and may get a little overcooked. They will still taste delicious but may be a little soft and look a little wilted.
You can avoid this by raising the carrots up out of the water before cooking using a microwave trivet or steamer basket, like this Joie silicone vegetable steamer*, or a microwave steamer.
How to steam carrots in the microwave
Step 1: Prep the carrot pieces. Wash and scrub the raw carrots (or peel if preferred). Chop the tops and ends off, and cut into 1-2 inch pieces.
Step 2: Place carrots in microwave-safe bowl. Add fresh water to microwave bowl (~1 inch depth), add trivet (if using), and place the sliced carrots into the bowl/trivet.
Step 3: Microwave carrots. Microwave the carrots on high for 3-6 minutes (refer to table below, as the time needed depends on the power of your microwave). They will be bright orange when they are cooked.
Step 4: Leave carrots to steam. When the microwave time is up, leave the bowl with the lid on for an additional two minutes to allow the carrots to steam.
How long to steam carrots in microwave
You will need to microwave the bowl of carrot slices until the water is boiling and the bowl has filled with steam. It needs to boil continuously for around a minute, and then should be left for at least 2 minutes with the lid on to allow the carrots to finish cooking in the steam.
However, the total length of time you will need to microwave the carrots depends on the power of your microwave.
The cook times in the recipe card below are perfect for my 1000W microwave, so if you have a different wattage you may need to increase or decrease the times a little.
You can estimate cooking time for different wattage microwave ovens using the chart below:
|Wattage||Cook time||Steam time|
|400W||6 min||2 min|
|500W||5 min 40s||2 min|
|600W||5 min 20s||2 min|
|700W||5 min||2 min|
|800W||4 min 40s||2 min|
|900W||4 min 20s||2 min|
|1000W||4 min||2 min|
|1100W||3 min 40s||2 min|
|1200W||3 min 20s||2 min|
You may need to use a little trial and error to get perfectly cooked carrots, but don’t give up!
I like to steam baby carrots for a slightly shorter time to retain more of the crunch. If you like softer carrots you might like to steam them for longer.
I would recommend printing off the recipe card below and making a note of how long worked for your microwave to make it easier next time!
I serve these microwave steamed carrots as a side dish to many types of meal, some of my favorites are air fryer roast pork, air fryer rack of lamb, or air fryer steak.
To serve them, I usually top them with melted butter, but here are some other fun ideas to try:
- Make a maple syrup or honey glaze and drizzle over the cooked carrots
- Top with garlic or herb butter
- A simple sprinkle of sea salt or kosher salt and pepper
- Dress them with a mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil
- Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon
FAQs & Tips
Yes you can. However, the cook times will likely be a little longer than if you are cooking fresh carrots. Try adding one minute to the cook times initially and simply cook for another minute or two if needed.
Blanching carrots means quickly heating and then cooling to destroy enzymes. It is often done before freezing. You can blanch carrot pieces in the microwave by following this recipe, but plunging them into iced water once the cooking time has finished (do not leave them to steam). Leave them in the iced water for 5 minutes, then dry and freeze.
How to steam carrots in the microwave
- 4 medium carrots or 16 baby carrots
- ½ cup water
- A sprinkle of kosher salt to serve
- Butter to serve
- Scrub or peel carrots.
- If using full sized carrots, cut into 2 inch long sticks or rounds. Baby carrots do not need to be cut.
- Place steamer basket or trivet into a microwave safe bowl. Add the water. Add the carrot pieces.
- Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap (pierced with a fork), and place in the microwave.
- Microwave carrots on high for 3-6 minutes [Note 1], then leave to steam for a further 2 minutes until they are tender. Check carrots for doneness with a fork.
- If they require additional cooking, microwave for further 1 minute intervals until they are tender enough for your liking.
- Take care when removing carrots from the microwave, the bowl and the steam will be very hot. Carefully remove the cooked carrots from the bowl using tongs or a fork.
- Serve microwave steamed carrots topped with butter and seasoned with salt.
- Refer to table in recipe post for estimated times for wattage-specific cook times.
You may also like:
- How to steam broccoli in the microwave
- Microwave steamed green beans
- Microwave steamed edamame
- Instant Pot mashed potato
- How to steam cauliflower in the microwave
- Air fryer honey glazed parsnips