How To Cook Beets (4 Easy Methods)

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Learn how to cook beets with four easy methods like steam, boil, and two ways to roast them. Healthy dishes can be created using this incredible ingredient and I’m going to cover the basic techniques to maximize flavor.

Learn how to cook beets with four easy methods like steam, boil, and two ways to roast them. Healthy dishes can be created using this incredible ingredient and I'm going to cover the basic techniques to maximize flavor

I wasn’t always a fan of beets until I learned how to cook them properly. My first experience with this root vegetable was from a can, an incredibly underwhelming experience. When I finally had my first taste of fresh and properly prepared beets, I realized that this root vegetable is delicious!

This earthy, and yet sweet ingredient is unique in that almost the entire beet, from the roots, stems, and leaves are edible. The root bulb is most often consumed, while the red beet and golden beets are easiest to find at the market.

The nutritional benefits are extraordinary, especially from B vitamins, minerals and fiber found in the bulb. They are also loaded with nitrates which help to lower blood pressure and boost endurance performance for athletes. Don’t forget to eat the beet greens! The dark leafy greens are high in calcium, vitamins, and iron.

How to Cook Beets

Now that you know that beets are not only tasty but pack a healthy punch too, let’s learn how to cook them with this step-by-step guide.

1) Boil

Spoon lowering a beet into boiling water

Boiling tenderizes the beets by submerging the vegetable in hot water and cook until tender. You may notice that for red beets the color leaks into the cooking liquid. Some methods suggest to keep at least 2 inches of the stem intact, and adding vinegar to the water to prevent this from occurring.

I tried doing both, and although I did not see it entirely preventing color seepage, it was minimized. Cooking the beets with the peel on is the most effective way to reduce the loss of pigment. This method takes about 30 minutes, depending on the size.

2) Steam

Two beets in a steamer basket

Steaming involves heating the water in a closed vessel until it becomes superheated vapor. The high temperature 100°C (212 °F) and pressure in the pot allow the beets to cook with ease using minimal water. I like this method because the nutrients stay in the vegetable, and not get lost in the water.

Do not allow the water to touch the steamer basket because you want the steam to be able to circulate under and around the beets as it cooks. The beets should be cooked until tender, and the skin easily releases from the peel, about 30 minutes depending on the size.

3) Whole Roasting

whole roasting purple and gold beets in aluminum foil

The whole roast method involves coating the beet’s skin with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then wrapping them in foil pouches. This technique allows you to infuse more flavors on the surface and creates more vibrant flavor characteristics.

This method takes about 40 to 60 minutes at a high temperature of 204°C (400°F) and requires more peeking and checking of the beets to test for doneness.

4) Cut and Roast

Sliced purple and gold beets on a roasting pan

If you’re looking for a quicker roasting method that adds the most flavor, peeling and cutting the beets into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wedges is the way to go. The high temperatures in the oven at 204°C (400°F) encourages Maillard browning, creating deeper flavors for each slice.

If you’re cooking red and yellow beets, as shown above, I like to section off the vegetables with aluminum foil as a divider on the baking sheet. Because the beets are peeled, the red beets will lose some of its juice as it cooks; the foil partition will prevent the other vegetables from staining. This method takes about 25 to 30 minutes.

Cook Tip: Peeling Beets

Wiping the skin off a beet with paper towel

The reason the skin is left on the whole beets is that it makes it easier for peeling. Once the beets are cooked by steam, boil, or roast, and cool enough to handle, the peel can be removed using a paper towel to wipe the skin off.

By cradling the beet in a paper towel, the skin can be gently rubbed off, reducing the stains on hands and towels. If you do get the inevitable stain on a cutting board, scrub salt on the surface before washing to help lift the pigment.

Don’t Waste Beet Greens!

Pan frying beet greens

The nutritious beet greens are often discarded when they should be saved and eaten. They have a slight bitterness, similar to kale or collard greens. The hearty greens are perfect for sauteeing with a little bit of oil and seasonings, making for a healthy side dish!

Now that you know easy ways to prepare and cook beets, it’s time to add them to a meal! Don’t forget that beets eaten raw are crisp and sweet, and can also be pressed for its juice. No matter how you like them, they can be enjoyed in so many versatile ways!

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How to Cook Beets

Learn how to cook beets with four easy methods like steam, boil, and roast. Healthy dishes can be created using these basic techniques to maximize flavor.
Pin Print Review
3.84 from 148 votes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients

Boiled Beets

  • 1 pound beets, 2.5 to 3 inches in size
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Steamed Beets

  • 1 pound beets, 2.5 to 3 inches in size

Whole Roasted Beets

  • 1 pound beets, 2.5 to 3 inches in size
  • olive oil, as needed for drizzling
  • kosher salt, as needed for seasoning
  • black pepper, as needed for seasoning

Sliced Roasted Beets

  • 1 pound beets, 2.5 to 3 inches in size
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

Boiled Beets

  • Trim the tops off the beets, leaving 2-inches of the stem. Wash and dry beets.
  • In a large pot add water, vinegar, and salt. Add beets, bring water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
  • Cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Peel once cooled.

Steamed Beets

  • Trim the tops off the beets. Wash and srub dirt from the beets and dry well.
  • Add enough water to the bottom of a pot so that it does not rise above the steamer basket. Add basket and beets into the pot. Cover and cook on high, water should be steaming.
  • Steam until beets are fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Allow beets to cool and peel. Beets can also be peeled before steaming if desired.

Whole Roasted Beets

  • Set the oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400°F. Trim the tops off the beets, leaving 1/2-inch of the stem. Wash and scrub dirt from the beets and dry well.
  • Place beets on a piece of foil large enough to make a pouch. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the beets then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the beets tightly in the foil and place on a sheet tray.
  • Roast until fork-tender, about 40 to 60 minutes, time will vary depending on the size of the beets. Check every 20 minutes for doneness. Allow beets to cool and peel.

Sliced Roasted Beets

  • Set the oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Wash and peel beets. Cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick wedges.
  • In a medium-sized bowl toss together the beets, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a foil-lined sheet pan. Roast until beets are fork-tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

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Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Beets
Amount Per Serving
Calories 24 Calories from Fat 1
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.1g0%
Saturated Fat 0.02g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.03g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.02g
Sodium 44mg2%
Potassium 184mg5%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 20IU0%
Vitamin C 4.1mg5%
Calcium 10mg1%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

96 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Holley says

    I had rather small beets and followed the directions to a tee. The skins didn’t peel off and they were not done nor tender.

    • Gerry says

      The length of time required can be affected by the type of water in your area – hard or soft determines it – harder water takes longer and the added boil time could be lengthy depending on the mineral contents of the water as well.

  2. Dee Graber says

    I have never cooked beets just 30 minutes! It usually takes a least 4-5 hours for them to been done. And that is medium size beets in a 5 quart pan. I have been canning beets for over 40 years. Learn from my sweet momma.

  3. Terri says

    I boiled my small to medium sized beets for 30 minutes in their skins, let them cool and used kitchen towel to slide the ski off easily and quickly as suggested. Thank you.

  4. Kim Boshier says

    If I boil or steam beetroot, how long will it last for and what is the best way to store it please. I don’t like pickled Beetroot!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Canned beets have a similar nutritional profile to fresh. However, during thermal processing, some micronutrients are reduced. Fresh beets have about double the potassium, folate, and phosphorus. If the pickling process is prolonged, there can be additional probiotic health benefits if it becomes and fermented food.

  5. Wizzy says

    Why oil salt and pepper if am gonna peel off the skin? Does the salt and pepper dip through the skin while roasting?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I do feel that the seasonings, mostly the salt can flavor the flesh of the beet and the pepper adds nice aromatics. Also when you peel some of the seasonings do transfer to the vegetable. You can skip that step if you’d like.

  6. Joe says

    After boiling, then cooling, then skin, I want to slice my beets, then add vinegar and a little salt. What else should I add? How much vinegar (according to taste) and salt should be added? Looking for a good receipe

    • Jessica Gavin says

      When pickling, I like to use a 2:1 ratio of vinegar and sweetener (like sugar, honey, maple syrup). So you could use 1 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup sweetener. You could omit the sweetener or reduce the amount if you want it less sweet. I would add about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon table or pickling salt to every 1/4 cup of vinegar. This is for quick pickling, enjoying the same day or within a few days. If you are pickling for a longer period, add equal amounts of water and vinegar. Let me know how it goes!

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