Harissa Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Fries

An easy gluten-free and lower-carb side dish, roast carrots and parsnips are naturally elevated in the oven due to carmelization. The addition of harissa, an African chilli spice blend, adds heat to give what could be otherwise a bland vegetable.

Parsnips have always been one of those vegetable items that I avoided. Not that I didn’t like it, of course, but more so that I simply never quite knew what to do with one. Why on earth would you use a parsnip when a potato would do? Since we normally avoid potatoes now, I’ve found that the parsnip is a handy substitute. It works in soups and stews. I have to try it mashed, but that might be another adventure for another day…

I love the parsnip roasted, especially with something to give it a little heat. The parsnip, closely related to the carrot, is sweet, but overall a little lacking. The addition of the harissa really adds some necessary oomph. This plays nicely off the carrot, offering differing textures and flavors: after roasting, the parsnip will be a bit softer than its orange cousin.

Tips, Tricks, and Take-aways:

matchstick parsnips and carrots
Be sure to cut parsnips and carrots into large matchsticks, approximately the size of a french fry. Skinny and long is best, but a larger wedge works too.
  • The oven heat really should be 450 degrees. I know that sounds a bit daunting, but you want the blistered skin and carmelization to happen. Anything lower may not give you that same experience.
  • Make sure you have a uniform matchstick size. Thin and long is best, though, parsnips are not always easy to cut like a carrot. Do your best. If they are a bit misshapen, it should not be a problem in the end. I just find that the larger the matchstick, the harder it is to get that crispy texture after roasting.
  • Salt and pepper these bad boys to your liking. This will enhance the other spices. Under salted veggies are always terrible anyhow. I sometimes add a bit extra just after these are out of the oven if I may have been a bit light-handed before putting this in.
  • Don’t skip the parmesan cheese, and furthermore, do not use shredded or grated fresh parmesan. Your fries will not crisp up. I tried that with zucchini fries once. Never again.
roasted parsnip and carrot fries
A finished baking tray full of beautifully caramelized roasted carrots and parsnips.
Harissa Carrot & Parsnip Fries
Yield: 4 people

Harissa Carrot & Parsnip Fries

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

African harissa spice gives this veggie alternative to french fries a nice kick.


  • 2 parnips, large
  • 3 carrots, large
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated desiccated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 1 tsp roasted garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Peel parsnips and carrots. Cut into large matchsticks (french fry size). Set aside in medium mixing bowl.
  3. Toss with olive oil to coat.
  4. Add parmesan, spices, cilantro, salt, pepper. Mix to coat.
  5. Arrange carrots and parsnips on a parchment lined baking tray. Avoid overlap.
  6. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes until nicely browned. Let cool briefly and serve.

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