Why Roasted Vegetables Are Better at Room Temperature

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Just like there are people who don’t like their food touching and people who want it all tossed together in a bowl (me!), there are people who like their food hot and people who don’t mind eating it at room temperature (me, again!). Now of course we’re talking about these things in terms of black and white, so while you might waffle one way or the other, truth is, we all have our preferences.

Come fall, when roasted vegetables become a standard side on your plate, I urge you to skip eating them hot out of the oven, and embrace the joy that is room-temperature roasted vegetables. Here’s why.

On Tasting Every Single Flavor

Recently I had a meal at Asha Gomez’s Spice to Table in Atlanta and it made me weep. I’m a crier — almost anything can make me tear up — but now I can add really good roasted vegetables to the list.

Beyond being expertly seasoned, these roasted vegetables — in this case, a plate of sweet potato, red cabbage, and carrots — just tasted better than any I’ve ever had, and I think that’s because they were served at room temperature.

Later, at home, I roasted vegetables in the same manner as Asha. I had a few pieces of sweet potatoes and carrots while they were still hot. While tasty, they didn’t have the intensity of flavor I remembered from that day at Spice to Table. I tried them again after they had cooled to room temperature and it was like eating a whole different vegetable. I could taste the effect of roasting on the vegetables very clearly. They were sweeter, the charred bits infusing them with a smoky essence. Overall, it was like tasting a more intense version of each vegetable.

Get the recipe: How To Roast Any Vegetable

As it turns out, eating certain foods at room temperature will affect their flavor. Some research points to higher temperatures changing the way we perceive flavor. It’s why coffee is better hot, cheese is better at room temperature, and beer is better chilled. To that list, add roasted vegetables being better at room temperature.

All I can offer you as evidence is my anecdotal experience, so you’ll have to try it yourself to see if you agree, but now when I make roasted vegetables, I wait until they’ve cooled to room temperature before digging in.

Are you a fan of room-temperature food? Do you think some foods taste better at room temperature? Let us know!