How To Cook Beets (4 Best Methods)

When you cook fresh beets, it’s a whole different experience. You can steam beets, boil beets, and roast them either whole or sliced. With these cooking methods, you can create healthy side dishes with wonderful flavor. 

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Beets are a super healthy vegetable, and they’re not cooked as often as they should be because many people have the misconception that they’re not delicious. This comes from the canned beets some of us endured back in the day. A fresh beet is a whole different ball game.

When you first taste beets, it will be a surprising experience for you. Beets are earthy and sweet, and they’re unique because nearly the entire plant is edible. You can eat not just the beetroot but also the leaves and stems. It’s most often the root that’s eaten, and you can find both golden beets and red beets at most supermarkets.

How to Prepare Beets

Now that you know how healthy and delicious beets are, you can learn how to cook them. Below, we give step-by-step instructions for roasting, boiling, and steaming beets.

Method 1: Roasted Whole Beets

One of the easiest ways to cook beets is to make whole roasted beets. When you cook beets this way, the roasted beets retain more of the valuable nutrients because they don’t wash away as they do when you boil beets. To roast whole beets, coat the skin of the root with kosher salt, extra virgin olive oil, and freshly ground black pepper. Then, wrap the beets in foil pouches.

how to cook beets

Cooking beets this way allows you to infuse the vegetable with more surface flavors. It also creates vibrant flavor characteristics. Roasting whole beets takes approximately 40-60 minutes when cooked at high heat of 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius). You’ll need to check the beets frequently to see if they’re done. They’re ready to peel and eat when they’re tender when poked with a fork.

Method 2: Boiled Beets

When you boil beets, they become super tender. The beet root is submerged in hot water and cooked until it’s fork-tender. Red beets tend to leak their brilliant color into the cooking water. To keep this from happening, you can try leaving intact two inches of the beet’s stem. Another thing you can do is add a little bit of vinegar to the cooking water.

Although we’ve tried both of those methods, it didn’t completely prevent the seepage of the red color into the cooking water, but it did help some. Another way to keep from losing the beet’s color is to cook them with the peels intact. You can peel the beets once they’re fully cooked and cooled. Boiling beets takes approximately 30 minutes, though a large beet may take longer. Baby beets or small beets cook more quickly.

Another option is to use a Crock Pot or other slow cooker to boil beets.

Method 3: Roasted Sliced Beets

If you love the idea of roasting your beets but want a faster cooking method than roasting whole beets, you can peel and slice them before roasting. After you peel your beets, cut them into wedges that are between 1/2 to 3/4 inches.

how to prepare beets

Cook the beets in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) or high heat. This encourages the process of Maillard browning, which creates even more deep flavors in every beet slice. Note that using this cooking method, you don’t wrap the beets in aluminum foil as you do when roasting whole beets.

When cooking a golden beet and red beet together (or with other veggies), use aluminum foil to section off the red beets. When they’re peeled, red beets will lose some of their color, and the red color will stain the other vegetables. To cook roasted sliced beets, you need to allocate about 25-30 minutes. Store the leftover roasted beets in an airtight container in the fridge.

Method 4: Steamed Beets

To steam beets, you use water in a lidded pot until it becomes a vapor (steam). The temperature in the pot will be 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), which is the boiling point of water. The pressure in the pot allows the steam to cook the beets without using a lot of water. This is one of the best ways to cook beets because the beets retain all of their nutrients instead of getting washed away in the water, as happens with boiled beets.

For best results, don’t allow the water in the pot to touch your steamer basket. What you want to achieve is the steam circulating underneath and around the beets while they’re cooking. Cook the beets until they’re tender when pricked with a fork. The skin should be easy to peel away from the beets. Steaming beets takes approximately 30 minutes, though it depends on the size of the beets. Steamed beets are perfect with a little bit of lemon juice.

You can make Instant Pot beets or use a stovetop pressure cooker to pressure cook steamed beets. An Instant Pot beet recipe is delicious.

Cooking Tip: How to Peel Beets

When cooking beets, the skin is typically left on so that they’re easier to peel. When the beets are cooked by boiling, steaming, or roasting, they’re easier to peel. You need to make sure the beets are cool enough to handle before trying to peel them. Since they’re a root vegetable, beets get hot, and it takes them longer to cool because they retain heat.

beets

Once the beets are cool, you can easily remove the skin with a paring knife or even just a paper towel. The paper towel can wipe the skin completely off with minimal effort. When you cradle a beet in a paper towel, you just gently rub off the skin, and you don’t have stains on your good kitchen towels or all over your hands.

If beets stain your cutting board, use coarse salt to rub onto the cutting board’s surface before you wash it. This will help to lift off some of the pigment.

Use the Beet Greens

Beet greens are as nutritious as beetroot. A lot of home chefs discard the greens, but they are a delicacy by themselves, so we encourage you to use them. You’ll notice a slight bitterness in beet greens that’s similar to that of collard greens or kale. Beet greens are super hearty, and they’re perfect when you sauté them with seasons and some extra virgin olive oil. You’ve got a healthy side dish that can go with any meal.

Now that we’ve shared our favorite methods for cooking beets, you can start enjoying them. You can eat beets raw, and they’re delicious cut up into a salad. Raw beets are sweet and crispy. You can also press beets to get delicious beet juice. Beet juice can be made using traditional methods or with a juicer.

More Delicious Beet Recipes

Want to learn how to make healthy recipes with beets? Try any of these ideas.

beet salad

The creamy taste of goat cheese is the perfect complement to colorful cooked beet. Another beet recipe that’s wonderful to make with pickled beets is deviled eggs.

how to cook beets

How to Cook Beets

Cooking beets is easier than you think, and you can use one of these four simple methods that include boiling beets, steaming beets, and roasting beets. Beets are a super healthy side dish that can be made using these easy techniques that maximize the natural flavor of this delicious vegetable.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 24 kcal

Ingredients
  

Roasted Whole Beets

  • 1 lb. beets sizes between 2.5 and 3 inches
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste for seasoning
  • Kosher salt to taste for seasoning
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on the beets

Boiled Beets

  • 1 lb. beets sizes between 2.5 and 3 inches
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

Roasted Sliced Beets

  • 1 lb. beets sizes between 2.5 and 3 inches
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Steamed Beets

  • 1 lb. beets sizes between 2.5 and 3 inches

Instructions
 

Roasted Whole Beets

  • Put the oven rack in your oven's center position. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Trim the tops of the beets, and leave a stem of about 1/2 inch. Under running water, wash the beets thoroughly, being sure to scrub all dirt from the beets. Dry the beets well with paper towels.
  • Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Pinch the foil to make a pouch. Place beets onto the foil. Then, drizzle the beets with extra virgin olive oil. You should use enough olive oil to coat the beets thoroughly. Then, sprinkle the beets with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt. Wrap the foil tightly around the beets.
  • Roast the beets for approximately 40 to 60 minutes. The cooking time will vary if you have large beets. Check the beets every 20 minutes to see if they're done. You'll know they're ready to eat when they're fork-tender. Let the beets cool and peel them.

Boiled Beets

  • Trim the tops of the beets. Leave about 2 inches of the beet's stem. Wash the beets thoroughly and dry them with paper towels.
  • Add the white vinegar, water, and kosher salt to a large pot. Next, add the beets to the pot and bring the water to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Cook the beets for approximately 30 minutes or until they're fork tender. Peel the cooked beets when they're completely cool.

Roasted Sliced Beets

  • Put the oven rack in the center position of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wash the beets thoroughly under running water. When the beets are clean, dry them with paper towels. Then, cut the beets into wedges between 1/2 to 3/4 inches.
  • Toss together in a medium bowl the olive oil, beets, freshly ground black pepper, and kosher salt. Put the beet wedges onto a sheet pan that's lined with aluminum foil. Roast beets for between 25 and 30 minutes or until the beets are tender when poked with a fork.

Steamed Beets

  • Trim the tops from the top of the beets. Wash the beets thoroughly and scrub all of the dirt from them. Dry the beets thoroughly with paper towels.
  • Add sufficient water to the bottom of a large pot. Insert a steamer basket into the pot. You don't want the water to be above the bottom of the steamer basket. Put the beets into the large pot atop the steamer basket. Cover the pot and cook the beets on high heat. The water needs to be steaming.
  • Steam the beets for approximately 30 minutes or until the beets are tender when poked with a fork. Let the beets cool completely, and then peel the cooked beets. You can also peel the cooked beets before you steam them if you want to do that.

Nutrition

Calories: 24kcal
Keyword boiled beets, How To Cook Beets, roasted beets, sliced beets, steamed beats
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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