Roasting vegetables is a chance to try new spices and rediscover flavors you’ve been missing since childhood.
Vegetables are versatile. They can be the star attraction of lunch at your office, or the side dish you crave weekly. You’ll never look at Brussels sprouts the same way once you’ve crisped them up in a sheet pan with maple syrup and red pepper flakes.
Whether you’re making a roasted root vegetable salad or creamy roasted spaghetti squash, this guide transforms weeknight dinners. Learn how to prepare vegetables, pick the right oil and temperature, and time everything properly so your entire meal arrives at the table together. Then go ahead and try some of the tasty recipes we’ve included below.
Getting started: preparing vegetables for roasting
The good news with roasting is that most of the work happens up front, and your oven takes over the rest of the way.
Whether or not you’re chopping your vegetables, always start with a good wash. Preheat your oven (see our temperature guide below) before rinsing and patting dry your vegetables with a towel. Onions or potatoes might also need a good, hard scrub with a bristled brush to remove dirt.
Next, slice off fibrous ends, which can be tough or bitter. Save any greens – like the kind attached to radishes – for a small side salad. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds you’ll find inside a pepper or squash.
A note on skins: While you can cook carrots with the skins on, a vegetable peeler makes short work of carrot or squash skin. Slice an onion in half lengthwise before you try and remove the papery outer layer.
To cut or not to cut? You can roast vegetables whole, in slices, or in chunks. Keep your pieces roughly the same size (when in doubt, consider what will fit on a fork easily) so they’ll roast evenly.
The final prep step is to toss your vegetables with oil and spices in a bowl or right on the sheet pan. Use enough oil, typically one to two tablespoons, to leave a faint sheen on the veggies; but try not to drown them.
Roasting brings out latent, deep flavors in vegetables, so you may not have to use more than a light dusting of salt and some freshly ground pepper. This is also where you can play with complementary or contrasting spices to do things like add heat to green beans and sweetness to squash.
What oils are good for roasting vegetables
When it comes to picking the right oil for roasting, consider flavor and the smoke point (the temperature where the oil will smoke, lending a bitter, unpleasant note to your veggies).
Light olive oil or virgin olive oil is a good place to start. A neutral oil – you could also use canola or vegetable oil (up to 400℉) – has enough fat to keep vegetables from drying out without overshadowing delicate flavors.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for an alternative to oil, opt for ghee, a clarified butter that lends a silky touch to potatoes. When roasting at lower temperatures, grab coconut oil, which has a smoke point of 350℉, to give a light, fragrant note to sweet potatoes.On the other end of the oven dial, avocado oil is a great choice for flash roasting (high heat for a short amount of time) vegetables. It has a high smoke point, nearly 520℉, and a mild temperament suited to green beans and cauliflower alike.
A note on finishing oils: Love the flavor of toasted sesame or flaxseed oil? Use boldly flavored or infused oils for a finishing drizzle, instead of in the pan, as many react strongly to heat.
Setting your oven temperature to roast vegetables
While many vegetables will be fine roasting at 400℉ for between 20 minutes (asparagus) and 60 minutes (beets); you’ll want to check in frequently to ensure you don’t go past caramelized to burnt. Let’s consider what to roast – and what you can roast in the same pan – from lowest to highest temperatures. Below are some of our favorite vegetables to roast, and the best oven temperature to use by type.
Roast greens, kale and collards, in a single layer on a sheet pan. Strip the leaves from the ribs and coat generously in oil. Start checking after 15 minutes. You want the edges to be barely brown and crispy.
Roast whole garlic for between 45 and 60 minutes. Place the head, cut side up, on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with light olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Close the ends of the foil around the garlic. The cloves should be soft enough to spread on crusty bread. Mushrooms, brushed with oil and salt, get silky after only 20 to 25 minutes in the oven.
Slice bell peppers in half. Remove the seeds and ribs. Toss with olive oil and salt. Roast with the insides down for 30 to 40 minutes.
Roast carrots and parsnips sliced on the diagonal in 1-inch chunks for 30 minutes, whole onions for roughly 45 minutes, and whole beets and halved winter squash for 50 to 60 minutes.
Slice broccoli florets into ½” to 1” inch size pieces. Drizzle on oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Crisp up chickpeas for 30 minutes and give whole potatoes (pierce the skin with a fork first) a full hour.
Brussels sprouts get a bad name. Try cutting them in half and let those oil-glistened sprouts caramelize for 20 to 30 minutes. If you can, flip them halfway through cooking to ensure all sides get browned.
Try radishes sliced in half and summer squash cut into chunks, oiled and laid cut side down, for 20 and 30 minutes, respectively. If the squash’s flesh isn’t easy to pierce with a fork, keep roasting and checking every 10 minutes.
Green beans, with the ends trimmed, a splash of avocado oil and fresh cracked pepper, are delectable after 15 to 20 minutes of high heat. You can also cook celery, sliced eggplant or cauliflower florets for roughly 25 minutes at the same temperature.
Pro tip: Remember to let whole vegetables like beets or onions cool before peeling and chopping.
When to start roasting vegetables for dinner
Once your oven is preheated, place the veggies in a single layer in a sheet pan. Then, stage your cooking. Begin with the vegetables that require the most time at the highest temperature. When your beets or squash come out of the oven to cool, drop the temperature and add your kale or collard greens.
If you’re making a medley of root vegetables that cook at the same temperature, feel free to mix them together. You can also purchase silicone dividers for your sheet pans to keep vegetables and different seasonings separate.