This Cheesy Carrot Casserole is a fantastic side dish made with carrots, a seasoned cream sauce, cheddar cheese, and topped with buttery breadcrumbs.
Serve it with your favorite protein and a simple side salad for a complete meal. It would also be a delicious option for any holiday dinner.
Easy Carrot Side Dish
We love carrots, especially roasted carrots and could fill up on them like candy. More often than not though, they serve more as a mirepoix (that French flavor base combo of onion, carrots, and celery) and not really the star of a dish.
But they definitely take front and center stage in this creamy cheesy carrot casserole – say that 10 times fast! Ha. Even if you don’t like carrots, this recipe might change your mind. Because how can something with butter, cream, and cheese ever be bad?
It’s rich and creamy with a slight crunch from the buttery-bread crumbs in every bite. You only need a handful of common ingredients and it pairs well with just about any meal.
Carrot Casserole Recipe
Besides the fresh carrots, this casserole requires only a handful of other ingredients and seasonings. Here’s what you’ll need:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for measurements and details.)
- Carrots: Purchase fresh carrots that are relatively the same size.
- Unsalted Butter: We used unsalted butter to control the saltiness of the dish. You can use salted butter for extra flavor and if that’s all you have, but I recommend omitting the additional salt listed in the seasonings.
- Panko bread crumbs: We prefer these over standard Italian bread crumbs for their light, crispy texture.
- Flour: Simple all-purpose flour helps thicken the sauce.
- Half and half: This is equal parts heavy cream and whole milk.
- Dry mustard: For added flavor.
- Sharp cheddar cheese: For optimal flavor and results, use fresh cheddar cheese off the block, not pre-shredded.
- Seasonings: Onion powder, ground coriander, salt, and pepper.
- Try sweet potatoes instead of carrots. This can also be made with sweet potatoes or a combination of the two.
- Use canned carrots. In a real pinch for time? Use canned (and drained) carrots and reduce the cooking time.
- Switch up the cheese. While I love the sharp flavor of cheddar in this recipe, you could also use smoked Gouda or Colby jack. A bit of parmesan is also a great addition.
- Double for a crowd. If you need more than 6 servings, you can easily double this recipe and bake it in a bigger dish. You may need to slightly adjust the cooking time but otherwise, everything will stay the same.
Use a Mandolin to Slice the Carrots
This baked carrot casserole is great served as a side dish to a flavorful protein, like Salisbury Steak, beef brisket, baked chicken breasts or Thanksgiving turkey or Easter ham. It also pairs nicely with a simple side salad, which adds a pop of color to your plate and balances the richness of the cheesy casserole.
Make Ahead and Storing Leftovers
- Make ahead: This casserole can be prepared up to 1 day in advance, covered tightly and store in the refrigerator. We recommend keeping the bread crumb mixture in its own container and then sprinkling that on top right before baking, otherwise they will absorb too much moisture and get mushy.
- Storing leftovers: If you have leftovers, cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. (Freezing is not recommended. The cream sauce tends to separate and get grainy once thawed.)
More Vegetable Casserole Recipes:
Cheesy Carrot Casserole
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter , divided
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 3 large carrots , peeled, ends trimmed, and sliced thin
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 8×8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
- In a small fry pan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat and sauté the panko crumbs until just golden brown, stirring constantly, careful not to let them burn, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add in flour and whisk to make your roux; immediately after it’s combined, add in your half and half, whisking constantly until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt, pepper, onion powder, coriander, and dry mustard.
- Evenly distribute half of the sliced carrots in the prepared baking dish; pour half of the white sauce over them, spreading to coat. Repeat layers one more time.
- Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top, followed by the golden bread crumbs.
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until carrots are tender.
- Let stand 5 minutes before serving.