Side dish

Carrot soufflé, Texas style

Carrot souffle, Texas style | Homesick Texan

The first time I went to Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue in Tomball, I loaded up on the usual favorites—tender moist brisket, juicy sausage, and pork ribs. The woman behind the counter asked if I wanted any sides, recommending I try the carrot soufflé. “Carrots?” I asked. “That seems strange.” The man behind me joined the conversation, saying he thought it was the finest vegetable dish in Texas. Others in line also shared their approval and with those hearty endorsements, an order was placed.

Now, clearly carrots are not a traditional accompaniment to barbecue and before that trip to Tejas, I can’t recall a time when I’d seen carrots on a barbecue menu, either cooked, in a salad, or pickled. But when enough people insist on trying a certain item then I can’t help but follow suit.

The barbecue arrived in all its pepper-crusted smoky glory, and it was some of the best I’ve ever had. But surprisingly, that slice of carrot soufflé was what I kept returning to. When I cut into it with my fork, it was soft yet firm, like a dense custard or flan. The flavor was a combination of sweet and savory, as you could taste the carrots but there were also hints of spice such as vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It worked well as a side dish, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to serve it for dessert, too. I loved it and ordered another slice to go. It had stolen the show.

Carrot souffle, Texas style | Homesick Texan

I’ve since returned to Tejas on many occasions and one of the things I enjoy about the restaurant is their rotating series of barbecue specials, which I’m always keen to try. But one standard order remains and that’s their carrot soufflé. The last time I was there I brought one back to my mom’s house and spent some time trying to figure out how it was made. (When I’d asked the owner for the recipe, he was pleased I enjoyed it but wouldn’t reveal its secrets.)

Clearly, there was an egg base, which is how all soufflés are prepared. This one, however, wasn’t as light as others and I figured that there may be some flour in it as well, along with the carrots and spices. I began to research carrot soufflé recipes, and the dish has a long history of appearing on Texas tables. One 1939 article from a Denison, Texas newspaper even said that carrot soufflé made a fine accompaniment to beef. I would have to agree.

Up until the 1980s, however, the recipes I saw were always filled with onions and cheese and none matched the flavors I was getting from Tejas’s rendition. Then I read that carrot soufflé was a popular side dish at the Piccadilly Cafeteria in Louisiana. I found its recipe and it had the vanilla, the sugar, and the spices. There were also recipes in Texas Jewish newspapers starting in the 1980s, with the carrot soufflé recommended as an accompaniment to a brisket dinner for Rosh Hashanah. The two recipes were similar, so I tinkered with it and discovered that it was very close to what I had been served.

Carrot souffle, Texas style | Homesick Texan

Now, my thoughts when I had the carrot soufflé for the first time was that this would make a fine addition to my family’s Thanksgiving table. Indeed, I think we’ll have to try it this year. While traditional soufflés require one to separate the eggs, this recipe is quick and easy and you simply throw the ingredients into a blender, puree until smooth and fluffy, pour it into a pan, and bake. It’s a simple technique that yields a comforting yet unusual counterpoint to roasted and smoked meats. And it doesn’t get much better than that.

Carrot souffle, Texas style | Homesick Texan
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Carrot soufflé, Texas style

Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain

Ingredients

  • 1 pound baby carrots or 1 pound peeled carrots, chopped
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, beaten

Instructions

  1. Place the carrots in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the carrots and place half in a blender. Place on top of the carrots the stick of butter then top with the remaining carrots.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish or cast-iron skillet.
  4. When the butter has melted and the carrots have stopped steaming, add to the blender the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, vanilla, and eggs. Puree all the ingredients in the blender until fluffy and smooth, then pour into the prepared dish.

  5. Bake uncovered for 50-55 minutes or until the casserole is puffed and the top is lightly browned. Serve warm, though it’s also good at room temperature or even cold.
  1. Rebecca

    Oh my gosh, thank you!! Did you try their cornbread pudding as well? I’ve been wondering how to make both!

    • Lisa Fain

      Rebecca–I’ve only had the cornbread pudding once, so need to go back and try it again but I recall enjoying it!

  2. baltisraul

    This is so timely. My wife just ask that I make Carrot Souffle for Thanksgiving. I have always used the Piccadilly Cafeteria recipe. At first glance they seem about the same. Checking them now.

    • Lisa Fain

      Baltisraul–They are similar, though I add spices and use two types of sugars.

      • baltisraul

        Like you recipe better!!! The whole family loves the Piccadilly version but I’m not going to tell anyone of the switch. ha ha ha

        • Lisa Fain

          Baltisraul–Your secret is safe with me!

          • baltisraul

            I know we just met but I really believe I can trust you!

  3. Lisa, thank you for this recipe but do I only puree 1/2 of the carrots? Do the remaining 1/2 carrots just stay whole and go on top or the bottom of the pureed carrots?

    • Lisa Fain

      Marie–No, you puree all the ingredients together in the blender. I just have you put the butter in between the hot carrots so it will melt.

  4. Sherlock

    This sounds really good, but I’m a little surprised there is no sauce/gravy.
    Is it so moist that it doesn’t need it?

    • Lisa Fain

      Sherlock–It’s doesn’t need any gravy or sauce–it’s like flan or custard.

  5. Celeste

    This sounds absolutely amazing, and I think I’m going to make it very soon.

  6. Oh my goodness this sounds so good! I will be adding this to our family Thanksgiving, Thank you!

  7. Carolyn Kiesel

    I love Picadilly’s carrot souffle and have eaten it for years. However, you do not cut or slice it. It is a wonderful creamy mixture much like mashed potatoes with a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top – absolutely wonderful. At least that’s the way they make it here In Memphis, TN.

    • Lisa Fain

      Carolyn–Interesting! The one at Tejas is sliced so I presume it’s more firm than Piccadilly’s.

  8. Hi Lisa! I’m a homesick Texan living in New Hampshire and this recipe sounds spectacular! I’m going to make it for Thanksgiving this year! 🙂 Don’t know if my picky grandkids will like it but I sure will. 😀

    • Lisa Fain

      Aislinn–Well, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t enjoy it so your picky grandkids may enjoy it, too!

    • Side note-I’m also a misplaced Texan living near Exeter, NH! What town are you in?
      NHarmadillo

  9. Over here in New Orleans the ladies in my husband’s office were always dieting, and when they were introduced to Picadilly’s carrot souffle, they flocked there for lunch. Because, of course carrots were vegetables, and therefore, had few calories!

    • Lisa Fain

      KH–Yep, if it’s got carrots it definitely counts as low calorie! Ha!

  10. what size cast iron skillet did you use?

  11. My grandmother (who was from Beaumont but lived in Pasadena when I was growing up) made this every year for thanksgiving. My brother and I still make it. We love it!

    • Lisa Fain

      Annie–Isn’t it so good? I’m looking forward to making it a part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition, too!

  12. The simplicity and timeliness of this recipe make it the perfect item for a holiday potluck tomorrow! Can’t wait to try it!

  13. Sounds delish! Almost like a sweet potato pie made with carrots?

  14. baltisraul

    If the kids like sweet potatoes they will like this soufflé. Not one person who did not know what it was ever guessed that it was not sweet potato. Can’t remember anyone saying that it tasted like carrots.

  15. Lynn, a Texsippian

    Hi Lisa — I’m wondering how to change the recipe to fit a 12-inch skillet (currently holding your grandmother’s apple cake!). Or maybe it’s not even a good idea to increase the recipe; would it cook through properly? I do have an 8-inch skillet, but don’t think it will feed my holiday crew. What is your thinking?

    • Lisa Fain

      Lynn–This recipe makes about 2 quarts and a 12-inch skillet has a 5-quart capacity, so you could double it and then keep an eye on it for time.

  16. Lisa, I can’t wait to add this to our Thanksgiving table. Thank you for sharing the recipe. Do you think any part could be made in advance, or is this one of those recipes that need to be put together on the day?

    • Lisa Fain

      Sydney–It’s best the day of but it’s also good cold if you want to make it ahead of time. I reckon you can also reheat in a microwave.

  17. Can you make this ahead of time and refrigerate it?

    • Lisa Fain

      Stacey–Yes, you can. It’s good cold or you can reheat it in the microwave.

  18. A tiny backstory I hope you enjoy. My son’s beautiful 28 y/o girlfriend is American born of Mexican descent. Holidays for her have always been about traditional Mexican dishes. Yesterday was her first traditional American Thanksgiving meal. She’d never before eaten a deviled egg. (Thumbs up) At the end of the meal, I asked her what she thought. Mostly praise, but she really really doesn’t like carrots. She pointed to her plate. She had skipped eating the potato gratin because of the orange sweet potatoes. When I showed her the carrot souffle, we all laughed. Apparently, she ate a huge serving of that and loved it. So there you go. Thank you. It was delicious!

    • Lisa Fain

      Sydney–What a wonderful story! It’s true that even the most reluctant vegetable eaters love this soufflé.

  19. Made this for Thanksgiving. Delicious! Everyone agreed that this souffle should become a Thanksgiving tradition. Thanks for the recipe.

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