How To Cook Beets

4.97 from 201 votes
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Learn how to cook beets with three easy methods: steaming, boiling, and roasting. My step-by-step guide shows you how to enhance their flavor for various dishes.

Learn how to cook beets by steaming, boiling, or roasting them.

Recipe Science

  • Boiling beets soften their fibers to tenderize the tough root. Keeping the skin on reduces the leaching of pigment into the liquid.
  • Steaming beets preserve more of their vibrant color while minimizing nutrient loss by reducing direct contact with water.
  • Roasting beets intensifies their natural sweetness through caramelization, concentrating their sugars and enhancing flavor.

It wasn’t until I learned how to cook fresh beets that I truly appreciated their earthy and sweet taste. Red and golden beets are the most commonly available in the market. The entire beet, including the roots, stems, and leaves, is edible.

Beets offer incredible nutritional benefits, including B vitamins, vitamin C, minerals like potassium and manganese, and fiber. Don’t overlook the beet greens—they’re packed with calcium, vitamins, and iron.

Learn how to cook beets in the oven and on the stovetop, plus tips on preparing the leafy greens.

How to Boil Beets

Spoon lowering a beet into boiling water

Step 1: Prepare the Beets

Trim the tops off the beets, leaving 2-inches of the stem. This reduces color leakage when boiled. Cooking the beets with the peel on is the most effective way to reduce the loss of pigment.

Step 2: Boil the Beets

Cook the beets in a solution of boiling water, distilled white vinegar (for color retention), and salt for seasoning. Depending on the size, this method takes about 30 minutes to tenderize the vegetables. Remove the beets, then peel off the skin when cool enough to handle.

How to Steam Beets

Two beets in a steamer basket.

Step 1: Prepare the Beets 

Trim the tops off the beets, then wash and dry well. If desired, peel the beets before steaming.

Step 2: Steam the Beets 

Do not allow the water to touch the steamer basket. The steam should circulate around the beets as they cook. Steaming involves heating water in a closed vessel until it becomes superheated vapor. The high temperature of 212°F (100ºC) and pressure cook the beets easily using minimal water. Cook until tender and the skin easily releases from the peel, about 30 minutes.

Pro Tip: I like the steaming method because the nutrients stay in the vegetable and are not lost in the water.

How to Roast Whole Beets

Whole roasted purple and gold beets in aluminum foil.

Step 1: Heat the Oven 

Set the oven rack in the center position. Heat the oven to 400°F (204ºC).

Step 2: Prepare the Beets

Trim the tops off the beets, leaving ½-inch of the stem. Wash and scrub dirt and dry well. You can peel the beets now or wait until the end of cooking, which I find easier.

Step 3: Season the Beets 

Add the beets to a large piece of foil and drizzle with enough olive oil to coat—season generously with salt and pepper. Wrap the beets tightly in the foil and place them on a sheet tray.

Step 4: Roast the Whole Beets

This method allows you to infuse more flavors on the surface, creating more vibrant flavor characteristics. The roasted beets recipe takes about 40 to 60 minutes. If you haven’t done so already, peel when cool to the touch.

How to Roast Sliced Beets

Sliced purple and gold beet wedges on a foiled-lined roasting pan.

Step 1: Heat the Oven 

Set the oven rack in the center position. Heat the oven to 400°F (204ºC).

Step 2: Prepare the Beets

Wash and scrub the beets to remove dirt, then peel. Cut into ½ to ¾-inch thick wedges or cubes.

Step 3: Season the Beets 

Toss the beets, olive oil, salt, and pepper together and place in a single layer on a foil-lined sheet pan. If you’re cooking red and yellow beets, as shown in the photo above, I like to section off the vegetables with aluminum foil as a divider on the baking sheet.

Step 4: Roast the Beet Slices

Roast until beets are fork-tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Sliced beets roast faster and add the most flavor. The high temperatures in the oven encourage Maillard browning, creating deeper flavors for each slice.

How to Peel Beets

Wiping the skin off a beet with paper towel.

Once the beets are cooked by either method and cool enough to handle, you can remove the peel using a paper towel to wipe the skin off. Cradle the beet in a paper towel, and the skin can be gently rubbed off. This reduces stains on hands and cloth towels.

Pro Tip: If you get the inevitable stain on a cutting board, scrub salt on the surface before washing to help lift the pigment.

How to Cook 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. They are perfect for sauteeing over medium heat with a bit of oil and seasonings and cooking until wilted. The process only takes a few minutes and makes for a healthy side dish!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat raw beets?

Raw beets are crisp and sweet. When thinly sliced, they are perfect for adding to a salad or as crudite paired with a dip. Beets can also be pressed for their juice. Pickle the beats for a tangy condiment. No matter how you like them, they can be enjoyed in many versatile ways!

Do you peel beets before cooking?

Beets do not require peeling before cooking unless you cut them into smaller pieces and roast them. The thick skin easily separates from the flesh after cooking. However, if you prefer to peel the skin, it just takes a few extra minutes. I recommend not peeling before boiling so the flavor doesn’t get diluted and less pigment is lost in the liquid.

What’s the best way to season cooked beets?

Keep it simple, and season with salt and pepper to enhance the sweet flavor. Toss with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to add a bit of acidity. Before serving, garnish with herbs like sliced basil, chives, dill, or chopped parsley.

Can I prepare the beets ahead of time?

Beets are very robust and can be stored well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze them for up to 6 months.

Recipes with Beets

Now that you know How to Cook Beets, if tried any of these methods, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

How to Cook Beets

Learn how to cook beets with three easy methods; steam, boil, and roast. Healthy dishes can be created using these basic techniques to maximize flavor.
4.97 from 201 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Boiled Beets

  • 1 pound beets, 2 ½ to 3" in size
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Steamed Beets

  • 1 pound beets, 2 ½ to 3" in size

Roasted Whole Beets

  • 1 pound beets, 2 ½ to 3" in size
  • olive oil, for seasoning
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • black pepper, for seasoning

Roasted Sliced Beets

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

Instructions 

Boiling Method

  • Prepare the Beets – Trim the tops off, leaving 2-inches of the stem. Wash and scrub dirt from the surface, then dry well.
  • Boil the Beets – In a large pot, add water, vinegar, and salt. Add the beets, bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Allow the beets to cool before peeling.

Steaming Method

  • Prepare the Beets – Trim the tops off. Wash and scrub dirt from the surface, then dry well. If desired, you can peel the beets.
  • Steam the Beets – In a large pot, add just enough water so that it does not rise above the steamer basket. Add the basket and beets to the pot. Cover and cook on high. Steam until fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Allow the beets to cool before peeling.

Whole Roasting Method

  • Heat the Oven – Set the oven rack in the center position and heat the oven to 400°F (204ºC).
  • Prepare the Beets – Trim the tops off the beets, leaving ½-inch of the stem. Wash and scrub dirt from the surface, then dry well. If desired, peel the beets.
  • Season the Beets – Place the beets on a piece of foil large enough to make a pouch. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the beets tightly in the foil and place them on a sheet tray.
  • Roast the Beets – Roast until fork-tender, about 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Check every 20 minutes for doneness. Allow beets to cool before peeling.

Sliced Roasting Method

  • Heat the Oven – Set the oven rack in the center position and heat the oven to 400°F (204ºC).
  • Prepare the Beets – Wash and scrub dirt from the surface, then peel. Cut into ½ to ¾-inch thick wedges or cubes.
  • Season the Beets – In a medium bowl, toss together the beets, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in a single layer on a foil-lined sheet pan.
  • Roast the Beets – Roast until the beets are fork-tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Notes

  • Storing: Store beets in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing: Store in a resealable freezer bag or air-tight container for up to 6 months. Defrost before using.
  • Cooking Beet Greens: Wash and dry the leaves. Cut into smaller pieces. Cook in olive oil over medium heat until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 24kcal (1%)Carbohydrates 5g (2%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 0.1gSaturated Fat 0.02gPolyunsaturated Fat 0.03gMonounsaturated Fat 0.02gSodium 44mg (2%)Potassium 184mg (5%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 4g (4%)Vitamin A 20IUVitamin C 4.1mg (5%)Calcium 10mg (1%)Iron 0.5mg (3%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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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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108 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. JAMES says

    Thank you Jessica for sharing this wonderful post on how to prepare and cook Beets along with your explanations. I have only tried Beets years ago from a Can. I have heard a lot of benefits with Beets. I’m happy to have found your post first. I’ll even try the leaves too. How do you prepare the Stem?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You’re welcome! To cook the stems I would trim them to the desired sized pieces, then rinse them really well to remove any dirt. You can steam, boil, or saute them until tender. You can saute them with the beet greens too!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Kosher salt is more granular that tables salt, so it tends to stick better to the food when seasoning, and slowly dissolve onto the surface. Table salt is more dense, so if you use more than 1 teaspoon, you’d have to do a conversion so it’s not too salty. Sea salt and table salt are both granular, and are good swaps for each other. I have an in depth article on salts and how to swap, you should definitely take a look.

  2. Jan Mitchell says

    Loved all the ideas about cooking beets. Question: does anyone have experience with eating beets and lowering blood pressure? I see ads and infomercials about this.

  3. 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!

    • Susan Baker says

      Please try the cooked beets while they’re still warm with just a pinch of salt. To me, they taste wonderful like this! Many people use too much vinegar and mask the delicious savory taste of the beets. Absolutely wonderful!

  4. 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.

    • 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. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Holly- Sorry to hear that! What method did you use? The cooking time can be adjusted as needed.

    • 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.

  9. Northeast Asia says

    Uncooked beats smell like soil in the field, so it’s hard to eat. I pickle the beat with salt and hot pepper sauce. This is called beat kimchi. But the recipe I want is not kimchi. I want to eat a beat dish that doesn’t smell like soil. It’s hard for me to use ovens and flour. I look forward to hearing about Asian beat dishes.

  10. Debra Dickens says

    Is there any way to bake them without aluminum foil? My digestive system cannot handle anything cooked in aluminum foil. If not, I will use your recipe to steam them.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I would recommend steaming if you are sensitive to using foil, just to be safe and have less mess.

  11. Shirley says

    Thank you so much for all the cooking methods! I had no idea how to cook fresh beets as I’ve always had them from a can. Beets are one of my favorite vegetables and now I’m going to get to try the greens too!

  12. Sharon Haymaker says

    Length of time to boil beets is way off. I like soft beets and in a pan it takes much longer. However, the one method you missed is to use a pressure cooker! I’ve been using a pc for over 40 years and the beets always come out cooked well and tasty!

  13. Lisa says

    Thank you, Jessica, I’m so glad I found your page. This information is really good and I will be steaming these beets! Also, I had no idea the leaves could be used too! I’ll go with sauteeing them, as it sounds delicious.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m happy you’re here, Lisa! Let me know what you think about the steaming method and eating the greens.

  14. Desiree says

    Thank you everybody for such wonderful tips I love beets and I just didn’t know the best way to cook them and who knew there were so many different kinds of ways To get one of the best super foods on the planet into your system I love the flavor but not too much for pickled beets but there’s lots of people who do I can take a beat any kind away thanks everybody for helping me make it so easy to love more beats

  15. airgrain says

    Good recipes bc they explain why’s and how’s.
    I’m a lazy cook so i marinate beets in rice vinegar (milder and better tasting than any other vinegar) then eat w pasta or potatoes and cream sauce. Can have all that in the fridge for days then just mix sauce and pasta, put in the oven in low heat and eat whenever i get hungry. Really good!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I like to keep it simple with salt and pepper or add some additional garlic and onion powder for more aroma.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Yes, you can wrap them in microwave safe parchment paper, then one by one microwave on HIGH until the beets are tender. Around 5 to 6 minutes for a medium sized beet, add one more minute until it can be easily pierced with a knife.

  18. 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!!!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      They will all yield soft beets, just cook until the tip of a knife can be easily pierced into the center. Whole roasted beets have the best beet flavor in my opinion.

      • Pam says

        Just made the whole roasted beets today – amazing! I also coarsely chopped and wilted the beet greens & some fresh spinach with a spritz of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Delicious!

    • 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!

  19. Del says

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

  20. Jacqui says

    Hi Jessica, thanks for your helpful information on what to do with beets. I have grown them in my garden this year for the first time ever and have got lots of them. I will be trying out your suggestions and tips on boiling and roasting. I was wondering can beets be pickled at all?

    Many thanks

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, raw beets can definitely be pickled! I’ve often seen them shaved into thin rounds, or sliced into sticks when pickled.

  21. Amanda says

    Many thanks for this comprehensive guide to beetroot. I’ve a glut in my garden and needed ways to preserve that wasn’t chutney (my family are not keen on beetroot chutney), so your advice on cooking before freezing is really helpful.

  22. Frank says

    After washing the beet roots and slicing them without peeling them, I sauteed them with onions, garlic, bell peppers, mushrooms, brocolli, asparagus,and the beet stems in olive oil and Italian dressing and spices.
    When I figured they cooked enough I served it over quinoa.
    They were delicious.

  23. Derek Freemantle says

    I had a beet salad at a restaurant in Sydney harbor with 4 or 5 different colored beets, it was both delicious and colorful. I have grown 5 types of beets in my garden and I cook them all the same way.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Lawrence- I haven’t tried drinking the beet water before, but I don’t see why not. Let me know how it tastes!

      • Tealrose says

        The beet water is just as tasty as the beets. We used to argue (as kids) as to who would get the beet water. Mom always split it for us.

  24. Jean says

    How long will the cooked beets store in the refrigerator? I plan on making a beet salad for a large family holiday dinner and want to do as much prep ahead as is possible.

  25. Andrea Beber says

    I’m the only one in my home that likes beets, actually, I love them!! No matter how I prepare them, I am the only one that eats them, which is fine with me!! lol!! Thank you for these easy prep ideas!!

  26. Maxine says

    Hi Jessica, this will be my first time in cooking beetroot. Can you advise how to store them after cooking? Do I use the liquid that they were cooked in?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Maxine- I recommend storing the cooked beets in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container with a lid. No need to store in the liquid.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Yvonne- To make pickled beets, after cooking give this method a try: 1 cup vinegar of choice, 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 cup water, boil and then pour over the beets. Make more as needed. Allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 7 days.

      • Ruth says

        I also add 3 whole cloves, 3 pepper corns and 1/4 bay leaf.to the above. Because my family loves pickled eggs I pour all this over about a dozen hard boiled eggs. I use a large jar for this and let it stand for a few days before eating.

  27. Lulu says

    My child loves canned beets, I want to transition to boiled beets but the strong earthy taste he doesn’t like, how do you diminish that taste w/o seasonings (he won’t eat it seasoned.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Lulu- I read that you could balance the earthy flavor by boiling the beets with salted water and a 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar. Perhaps maybe even add in so sugar or honey?

  28. Rolanda Gilliard says

    Thank you so much for advice on cooking beets! I’m going to be 65 next week and have never enjoyed fresh beets until last month! I absolutely love them and will NEVER eat them from a can again! Thank you for sharing how to prepare them. Happy autumn!

  29. Carolyn Casey says

    Your way of cooking is perfect, all the ways you printed. If you want color, always leave the skin on, and so easy to come off.

  30. Janice Bartmess says

    Hello, Jessica! Thanks for the tips on beets. I found some on sale at a local market. I love beets but didn’t know what to do with them, until I found your site. I’ve cooked up nine of them in a large rice cooker and I already enjoyed one as part of my supper. I’ll let the others cool and put them in the refrigerator to enjoy in the days ahead.

  31. Rosanna Vega says

    Thank you so much. I didn’t have a clue besides roasting them. I am older and need this in my diet. So glad I can finally cook these lovelies on my own.

  32. MargaretO says

    #5: Crockpot! I often make baked potatoes in the crockpot so thought, Why not beets? I wrap the clean (need not be peeled) beets and bake overnight on low. The tough outside skin comes right off. They don’t have that wonderful caramelized exterior the way that roasted beets do, but sometimes convenience wins!

      • bernard curtin says

        I grew up in Ireland (no one is perfect). We grew beets but did not eat them. We fed them to cattle and pigs). About ten years ago I ate beets in a salad (in Canada). Red beets are now one of my favourite vegetables. I also discovered beet juice (from Switerland) in a Whole Foods stores. This is a very good drink after a demanding workout.

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Hi Bernard! I’m happy to hear that you finally get the chance to enjoy beets, so many great taste, and nutritional benefits.

  33. Patricia says

    A healthy new year to you too jessica. I will be cookingc your healthy recipes in 2018. I like all the information you give each recipes so that you know what your eating. I love beetroots and have cooked them as you said ,but didn’t know that you could eat the greens. So thanks for that i will now eat the whole thing..thank you.patricia

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Happy new year Patricia! I’m so happy to hear that you will be cooking my recipes soon 🙂 Any help that I can give I love to help my readers. Enjoy the beetroot and greens when you can!

  34. Mickey Clancy says

    I love beets so thanks for all the information. I will have to try something besides boiling. Unfortunately, I’m the only one in my family who likes beets. My question is about eating them raw; if scrubbed well can you eat the peel like an apple?

    Thanks and Happy New Year!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You’re Welcome Mickey! Great questions about the beet skin. Eating the well-washed beet skin will provide an extra boost of fiber. Perhaps select smaller beets as their skins will be thinner and more tender.

    • Art says

      Boil the beets as usual
      Seperate cut onion small and prefry.
      Cut the beets in small pieces add the smal not overfried onion mix.
      But now add mintsauce to your liking. Delicious.

  35. Jennifer Johnson says

    Great info Jessica….. one of my favourite veggies. Only ever roasted, now I can do more ways.

    Thanks Jennie

  36. Bernard Alvares says

    Good afternoon Jessica and a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New year to you and yours. I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know how much I enjoy your Newsletter and the practical tips that you include.

    In regard to cooking Beets, I usually use a pressure cooker which is efficient in dramatic reduction of time compared to the other methods. Beets cooked by this method are usually prepared as a salad with garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a tiny splash of lemon to balance the sweetness. Cheers and God Bless.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Happy holidays Bernard! Thank you for your feedback, I’m so happy I can help you in the kitchen. Great suggestion for pressure cooking beets! I just got an electric pressure cooker so I will have to try it. How long do you cook them for?