Last week, the conclusions of my highly scientific study proved that roasting vegetables below 400° F is, in most cases, suboptimal.
Unless you're going for a very low and slow roast (200° and 250° F for upwards of an hour, so that your vegetables are silken through and through), the goal is to cook the outsides before the insides, so that you get crispy outer edges before inners get mushy—and this takes place at higher temperatures.
When we asked the audience their go-to roasting number, 48% said 400° F.
What temperature do you roast vegetables at? Vote and then read this https://t.co/1Ql1N79zsN— Food52 (@Food52) February 26, 2016
But the recipes for commonly roasted vegetables on our site suggest that we should have listed 425° F as an option, too. It may be the most common roasting temperature (though, as you'll see below, there are a few recipes that thwart the rule and go for 375° or 500° F).
Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto and Burrata: 500° F, 8 to 12 minutes (small carrots, left whole)
- Pomegranate Roasted Carrots: 425° F, 30 minutes (carrots halved or quartered lengthwise)
Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Cilantro: 425° F, 30 minutes
Roasted, Spiced, Almond-y Cauliflower: 425° F, 30 minutes
Spice-Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Tahini Drizzle: 425° F, 40 minutes
- Mustard-Roasted Cauliflower: 425° F, 25 to 30 minutes
Sweet Potatoes Roasted in Coconut Oil: 400° F, 30 to 40 minutes (cut into 1-inch chunks)
- Sautéed Kale, Roasted Sweet Potato and Poached Egg Holiday Toast: 375° F, 45 minutes (instructions specify only "peel and cube")
Quinoa with Roasted Beets and Pear: 400° F, 40 to 50 minutes (whole beets, wrapped individually in foil)
- Spiced Beet Salad with Citrus-Ginger Dressing: 400° F, 30 minutes (beets peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks)
So with all this variation—in recipe method and opinion—what's a person to do?
Consider your vegetables and group like with like.
Vegetables are individuals. Treat them as such. ChefSteps recommends sorting your lot: Group squash, roots, tubers, and alliums together (on the same baking sheet, if you want!). They require a longer cooking time (ChefSteps recommends 45 minutes). Brassicas (cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli) and mushrooms can be baking sheet buddies (they need only about 25 minutes). For both groups, ChefSteps suggests—you guessed it—425° F.
Cut the vegetable pieces so that they're more or less the same size.
Otherwise, the 1/2-inch cubes will be done long before the 2-inch ones.
Don't crowd the pan.
On a too-full baking sheet, your vegetables will steam each other, resulting in sog rather than crisp.
Use enough oil.
The oil moistens the vegetables (to prevent them from sticking to the pan) and it helps to transfer the heat from the baking sheet to the food.
Flip halfway through.
Give both sides of the pieces a chance to interact with the direct heat of the baking sheet.
Or go above and beyond.
Some commenters on the last vegetable roasting post advised blanching and shocking vegetables before roasting. By starting with almost-cooked veg, the oven has one job: crisping up the outer edges.
This article originally appeared on March 1, 2016. We're re-running it because Thanksgiving's right around the corner (really!).