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How to Cook Beets

Move to the beet. Start with these basics to learn how to cook fresh beets at home—then get creative with your salads, snacks, dinners and more.

By Elizabeth Harris, Contributing Editor and Ellie Martin Cliffe, Senior Editor

A basket of beets.

Beets are full of nutrients—plus natural sugars that come out in full force when you roast them. Learn about the sweet root veggie you can boil, roast, microwave, slow-cook, pickle or even munch on raw.


Expert Tips from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen

  • Red vs. yellow beets: Red beets taste slightly more earthy than yellow, or golden, beets. For taste and texture, you can use the colors interchangeably, but if your recipe calls for many different-colored ingredients—like potatoes, beets and carrots—keep in mind that when you stir everything together, red beets will turn just about everything purple. Try yellow beets instead, although they can bleed a bit, too.
  • Storing before cooking: Cut off greens 2 inches above the beets. Refrigerate greens separately in a sealed plastic bag for up to three days. Refrigerate uncooked beets in an open bag for about two weeks.
  • Peeling: Boiling beets to remove skin is an excellent way to keep your hands from getting stained. When the beets are cool enough to handle, trim off what’s left of the stem, grab a couple sheets of clean paper towel and hold one in each hand. Then pick up a beet with both hands. Hold the beet firmly and twist your hands in opposite directions. The skin slides right off and you hands stay clean!
  • You can eat them raw, no problem! Just peel with a veggie peeler. They can be tough (beyond crunchy), so try shaving them with that peeler or cut them into matchsticks. A mandoline slicer works nicely, too. You could even spiralize them!
  • Sweeten up a skillet meal by shredding a beet into the mix. It’s really yummy in stroganoff and other eastern European dishes. Also, try it in chili!
  • Decide if they’re done: Poke with a toothpick. You’ll have to push to get through the tough skin. Then it should go in fairly easily.



How to Boil Beets to Remove the Skins

What you’ll need

Ingredients

  • Beets
  • Water

Equipment

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Dutch oven
  • Paper towels

1. On a cutting board, cut off the greens to 1 inch and cut off tail of beet. (Why trim the tops to 1 inch? It helps prevent the color from bleeding into the water.)

Cut off the greens to 1 inch and cut off tail of beet.

2. Place in Dutch oven; add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cook for 30 minutes.

Place beets in Dutch oven; add water to cover.

3. Remove beets to a bowl of cold water.

Remove beets to a bowl of cold water.

4. Trim off what’s left of the stem, grab a couple sheets of clean paper towels and hold one in each hand. Pick up a beet with both hands. Hold the beet firmly and twist your hands in opposite directions. The skin slides right off and your hands stay clean!

The skin slides right off and your hands stay clean.



How to Roast Beets

What you’ll need

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of beets, scrubbed and tops trimmed to 1 in.
  • Olive oil

Equipment

  • Heavy-duty foil
  • Baking sheet

Roasting beets concentrates their sugars, making them extra tasty. It couldn’t be easier. Place beets on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 24x12-in.); drizzle with olive oil. Fold foil around beets, sealing tightly. Place on a baking sheet. Roast at 400° for 55-65 minutes or until tender. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape.




How to Cook Beets in the Oven

What you’ll need

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb of beets, scrubbed and tops trimmed to 1 in.
  • Water

Equipment

  • 13x9 baking dish

Beets cooked this way steam gently, letting them cook through evenly. Place beets in a 13x9-in. baking dish; add 1 in. of water. Bake at 400°, covered, until tender, 40-45 minutes.




How to Microwave Beets

What you’ll need

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of beets, scrubbed and tops trimmed to 1 in.
  • Water

Equipment

  • Large microwave-safe dish
  • Beets cook quickest in the microwave, with a flavor and texture similar to steaming or boiling. Place beets in a single layer in a large microwave-safe dish. Drizzle with water. Microwave, covered, on high 14-15 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork, turning once; let stand 5 minutes.




    How to Slow-Cook Beets

    What you’ll need

    Ingredients

    • 3 lbs of beets, scrubbed and tops trimmed to 1 in.
    • 1 cup water or stock

    Equipment

    • 4-qt. slow cooker

    Concentrate the sweet flavor of beets by cooking ‘em low and slow. Place beets in a greased 4-qt. slow cooker. Pour about a cup of liquid over the top. Cook, covered, on low 6-8 hours or until beets are tender.




    How to Pickle Beets

    What you’ll need

    Ingredients

    • 8 medium fresh beets
    • 1 cup vinegar
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons whole allspice
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    Equipment

    • Dutch oven
    • Knife
    • Small saucepan

    Method

    The sweet, rich flavor of beets springs to life with the addition of vinegar and spices. Try these zippy pickles on sandwiches, potatoes or with fruit or vegetable salads. Scrub beets and trim tops to 1 in. Place in a Dutch oven; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 25-30 minutes or until tender. Remove from water; cool. Peel beets and slice; place in a bowl and set aside.

    In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, cloves, allspice and salt. Bring to a boil; boil 5 minutes. Pour over beets. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Drain before serving. (Makes 6-8 1-cup servings)


    Homemade pickled beets.

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