Beets are a versatile root vegetable, full of vitamins and healthy nutrients. I will walk you through 5 different delicious ways to cook beets. Boiling, roasting whole, sliced roasted, pickled, juiced, and even sauté beet green tops to make sure there is zero food waste.
Follow this step-by-step picture guide showing you how to cook beets using different cooking techniques. You will never need to buy a can of beets again!
What to look for in a good beet.
The fresher, the better when it comes to selecting beets. The best beets will have stems and leaves that have few blemishes and are not wilted. The beet will be smooth on the surface and firm, with no give when pressed. Choose a beet without cracks or bruises.
Beets come in a variety of colors including reds, striped and golden in hue. Baby beets are just a beet that has been harvested before it has grown to its full size. They are more tender compared to their full-size counterparts and are perfect for roasting whole for salads or pickling whole for a cheese and charcuterie board.
How to boil beets
Boiling beets is an easy way to prepare beets for salads, snacking or in preparation for juicing them without the use of a juicer.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. There should be enough water to cover the beets.
- While the water is coming to a boil, trim off the root off the bottom of the beet as well as the stem and leaves. Save the leaves to sautee, if you wish. Wash the beets if they are especially dirty.
- Once the water comes to a boil, add the beets to the pot and boil for 30 to 40 minutes. The larger the beets, the longer it will take to cook them.
- Insert a sharp knife into the beet and if it easily slides to the center of the beet, it is cooked.
- Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the beets from the water.
- Transfer to a clean plate and allow them to cool for 15 minutes or until comfortable to handle.
- Remove the skin from the beets by pinching the skin loose from the beet.
- Finally, cut the cooled beets to your preferred sizes.
- Store sliced beets in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Beet peeling tips
- Peel the beets with your fingertips while the beets are still warm. Once they cool all the way down, it is next to impossible to peel.
- To avoid getting beet stains on your hands, wear food-safe gloves.
- To clean the cutting boards of beet stains, use a combination of lemon juice and salt, rubbing in a circular motion.
Every time I eat beets, plant beets or cook beets I can’t help but think of the Office episode when Jim is taking on the Dwight persona. Bears, beat, battlestar galactic. I can watch this episode over and over!
How to roast sliced beets
How to Roast Beets, Whole
I love to use baby beets when making roasted beets for salads or snacking. The stems are edible, full of nutrients and make a lovely presentation when left attached. Just be sure to completely wash the dirt away and out of the stems.
- Wash and peel the beets. If leaving stems in tact, trim to a reasonable length and ensure they are free of dirt.
- Peel the skin off the beet with a vegetable peeler.
- Heat the oven to 400 F.
- Arrange the beets in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven, uncovered for 35 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a fork or sharp knife into the beet.
- If the knife or fork does not easily slide to the center of the beet, roast for an additional 10 minutes. Repeat until beets are roasted through.
Roasting larger whole beets
- Wash the beets and remove the stems and the root end.
- Heat oven to 400 F.
- Place the beets on a baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Cover with foil.
- Bake for 1 hour or until a sharp knife easily inserts into the center of the beet.
- Once the beets have roasted, remove the foil from the pan and remove the skins of the beets, while still warm, by rubbing with a paper towel.
- Steam the beets.
- Make a pickle brine.
- Slice the beets.
- Fill each jar with sliced beets or whole beets, if they are small.
- Pour the cooled brine over the beets, tapping the jar to remove any air pockets.
- Place a clean lid and ring on the jar and finger tighten.
- Store in the refrigerator over night and taste the next day for pickling.
- Use refrigerated beets within a month.
- For complete instructions check out my pickled beets tutorial.
How to steam beets
- Thoroughly wash the beets.
- Cut off the leaves but save the stems.
- In a wide-bottomed pot, place the beets and the beet stems in a single layer.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
- Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil and steam the beets until knife tender.
- Remove the beets from the pot and allow to cool until able to be handled.
- Once the beets are cooled enough to handle, slice off the root and the stem end.
- The skin of the beet should peel right of with a bit of rubbing with your thumb or scrape with a butter knife.
- Slice larger beets for pickling and leave smaller ones whole.
- Tip: use gloves to keep your hands from turning beet red.
Sautéing beet greens
Sarah Mock is a classically trained Chef and graduate of Johnson & Wales University. A culinary blogger for 12 years Sarah helps the home cook prepare her recipes with professional results.