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
3.75 from 54 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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54 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Del says

    just made a slow cooker stew with red cabbage, raw beet, mushrooms, kale & spinich and sweet potatoes. So so yummy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I think you could give cooking beets in the rice cooker a try, it would essentially steam them. I’m not sure how long, I’m thinking at least 30 minutes, and then check to see if a knife can pierce easily into the center. Keep cooking if not, you may need to add more water. Let me know how it goes!

  2. Sean Sullivan says

    Hi there!!
    I was trying to find the method for the softest beets for salad. I love them any way so far, but I’ve found a few places we’ve eaten a beet salad and the beets are softer than the ones we make at home. Perhaps we need to boil or roast them longer? And, do you know which methods will yield softer beets? Thank you!!!!

  3. Gwen says

    To pickle my beets after I boil them and get them peeled with my vinegar and sugar I use pickling spices. This is the only way our family will eat beets. We mostly use them for what my great granny called purple potato salad. Served warm!

  4. Mrs. Yvonne Ellis says

    Today I boiled 5 beets grown on my home allotment. We ate one for dinner but I shall slice the rest, put into jars with malt vinegar, some sugar, a few pickling spices and I shall try adding a little fresh lemon juice as many people seem to use it for preserving and sterilizing so I reckon it will help to keep the pickle a long time.

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