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
3.87 from 115 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

72 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. 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?

  2. Jennifer Johnson says

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

    Thanks Jennie

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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?

    • 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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!

  19. 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!!!!

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

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