My Family's Not-So-Secret Carrot Soufflé

Don’t let the word soufflé deter you—it’s far more like a comforting casserole.

Carrot Souffle

Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Growing up, no matter if my dad was cooking an elaborate dinner for guests or just a Sunday night family supper, he always asked me or one of my four younger siblings to be his sous chef. While many of the meals we prepared alongside him growing up were not the most kid-friendly of recipes, his carrot soufflé was. As a kid, I remember he used to give me the “easy” tasks: crushing the saltine crackers or grating the cheese. But now I see just how easy the whole recipe is.

This recipe has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. We love it year-round, but it always feels particularly special at Thanksgiving. When I asked my grandmother about its origin, she said the first time she had the dish was sitting around a friend’s dining table in Thomasville, Georgia. She remembers it fondly because it was the first time she ever tried lady peas as well. Thanks to her friend, with the recipe in tow, she went home, made the soufflé, and served it to my dad. “At first I was afraid he wouldn’t like it, but to my surprise he loved it!” she said. 

Turns out, my dad loved it so much that he developed his own recipe of the beloved carrot soufflé for his first cookbook—The Blackberry Farm Cookbook: Four Seasons of Great Food and the Good Life. Ever since, without fail, it makes its seasonal debut at our Thanksgiving table each year. It’s the perfect light and comforting side for your feast, but tastes just as good anytime of the year accompanied by a salad. Bonus: It makes the BEST leftovers (though we rarely have any left). It travels well and is easy to reheat.

You probably hear the word soufflé and think it's a fancy dish that requires a lot of work—but I assure you, this is no traditional soufflé. While soufflés typically start by separating the egg whites from yolk and beating the whites until stiff, this dish doesn’t call for separating them which gives it a more casserole-like characteristic.

The steps are relatively simple and easy for teaching. Plus, kids generally like it because they don’t realize they’re eating carrots when they’re mixed in with cheese and trusty saltines. It is also very easy to make gluten free by just substituting the saltine crackers with your choice of gluten-free ones. But my dad’s favorite thing about the dish is the color it brings to your plate—a vibrant, cheery orange. So, I might be a bit biased, but this dish is one worthy of being part of your winter lineup.

Carrot Souffle

Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

A Few Tips for the Perfect Carrot Soufflé

Be sure to always use the sweetest carrots you can find. Growing up, this meant digging them up in the garden, but nowadays I buy mine at the farmers' market when I can or grocery store. 

Speaking from personal experience, if you double the recipe, process the carrots in two batches. If you overload the food processor, you’ll end up with some pureed carrots and a lot of chunks. If you don’t have a food processor, a blender will do. 

If you don’t feel confident with your knife skills for mincing the onion, you can grate it instead using the same grater as the cheese.

I always double the recipe because it might say it serves eight…but it’s so good everyone will want seconds, even when they’re stuffed with turkey and rolls on Thanksgiving.

Carrot Souffle

Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

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