How to Get Browner, Crispier Roasted Vegetables

November 24, 2015

The trick to browner roasted vegetables that are anything but limp isn't a secret ingredient or special tool—it's time.

In Sarah's recent piece about the Maillard reaction (a.k.a. that scientific thing responsible for a good sear on a steak, crispy edges of roasted potatoes, and brown edges of fried eggs), she shared a tip from Serious Eats's J. Kenji López-Alt that was so simple yet so helpful, we didn't want you to miss it.

It starts with the fact that high heat + dryer ingredients = better chance of caramelly, browned bits. And it's employed on a cooking technique where caramel-crisp is what we're going for—roasting vegetables:

...Kenji recommends you leave cut vegetables uncovered in the refrigerator overnight; by drying them out, you're ensuring that they'll brown nicely when you roast them the next day.

Left: Vegetables roasted after a night cut and uncovered in the fridge; Right: Vegetables cut then roasted. Photo by James Ransom

That photo above doesn't lie! Leaving cut vegetables uncovered in the fridge overnight is an extra step that involves a little additional planning, but it will give you exactly what you were going for when you decided to slip some vegetables into the hot oven.

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Now if only you had a recipe or two to try this trick out on...

What other tips to you have for perfectly roasty, toasty vegetables? Let us know in the comments!

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jlakind February 24, 2019
Wouldn't cut up potatos turn brown?
Bob Q. March 6, 2018
Here's one for roasted onions with a deep, almost molasses like finish with your roasts? try thie" par boil them before addingthem to your roasting pan, then roll them in the pan juices, amd roast away. This keeps the outer layers from drying out and burning and they get a rich, gark gooey caramel while the insides come out soft and creamy. They also leach out a wonderous brew for your pan juice gravy. Oh, save the onion boilimg water as the base part of your pan gravy and/or for cooking your potaos for mashing.
lacerise March 3, 2016
From the looks of your photos, you folks don't roast your vegetables as long as I do. Neither photo looks brown and roasty enough for me. I like them to be browned and collapsed into themselves a bit (except for root veg which will retain it's shape but be soft inside).
Jim March 2, 2016
This probably explains why brussel sprouts are better roasters than the soggy fennel / onion / orange salad that I tried the other night. Very little moisture in the brussels already, whereas the onion and orange certainly bring some moisture to the oven. Overnight in the fridge, got it!
Donna March 2, 2016
This is confusing. Is this suggesting that no olive oil is added to the vegetables before roasting? Obviously if you leave them overnight to 'dry' then add oil that defeats the whole purpose of this. If you don't add the oil, what are the results in terms of taste, consistency, etc.???? Articles like this should be clear when advising on changing traditional methods.
Lazyretirementgirl March 2, 2016
Donna, it is the water in or on the veggies, both from washing them and from their inherent water content, that you eliminate by the overnight in the fridge. The oil, which you would add just before roasting, won't make them soggy.
EllnMllr November 24, 2015
Are you loosing nutrients to dry them out overnight in the fridge?