How To Cook Beets: 3 Simple Methods
One of the most common questions I hear at the market during the winter months when beets are in peak season is “how do you make beets taste good?”
Many people view beets as slimy, dirt-flavored vegetables that should be avoided at all costs.
BUT beets are one of my favorite vegetables and this blog post will teach you how to cook them properly and enjoy their delicious flavor!
Beets are very versatile and can be eaten hot as a side dish, chilled in a salad, or pureed as an addition to a chocolate cake or smoothie. This earthy and sweet ingredient is unique in that almost the entire beet, from the roots, stems, and leaves are edible.
The nutritional benefits are extraordinary, especially from B vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in the bulb. They are also packed with nitrates which help to lower blood pressure and antioxidants which protect your cells from damage and may lower the risk of heart disease. Additionally, the dark leafy greens are high in calcium, vitamins, and iron.
Now that we know all about the awesome benefits of eating beets, let’s learn how to cook them properly using three, easy-to-follow methods.
First, before using any method you need to prepare your beets for cooking.
Beets are root vegetables and grow underground so give them a good scrub before cooking, ideally with a vegetable scrubber.
Cut off the stems and leaves at the top. 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 sauteing with a little bit of oil and seasonings, making for a healthy side dish!
If the beets are large, cut them in halves or quarters so they cook faster
Method 1 | Roasted Beets
Many people ask, “is it better to boil or roast beets?”
In my opinion, roasting is the best way to lock in the flavor of beets and is a great way to cook them if you are already planning to have the oven on to bake some potatoes or roast chicken.
Roasting can also maintain more of the nutrients in the vegetable by preventing them from being lost to the water through osmosis while boiling.
To roast beets, set your oven temperature to 400-425 degrees F. Thoroughly wash each beet, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in foil. Transfer the beets to a large baking sheet and allow them to roast until fork-tender, approximately 45-60 minutes.
Remove beets from the oven, carefully remove foil, and allow your beets to cool before peeling away the skin. Rinse with cold water and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Method 2 | Boiled Beets
Boiling is the easiest no-fail method to getting perfect beets every time.
To start, grab a large pot. It needs to be large enough to fit all your beets plus cover them in water. Add the beets, cover with 1-2 inches of water, and place on the stovetop. If you have some on hand, add a little lemon juice (1-2 tsps) to the pot. The lemon juice will keep the beets from bleeding so they will look extra bright after they are cooked!
Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. As soon as the water is boiling, cover the pot and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until beets are fork-tender- you want your beets to be tender, but not too soft or mushy. The total time will vary depending on the size of your beets, but it should take anywhere between 30-60 minutes.
Immediately remove the beets from the boiling water and transfer them to a colander to cool. You can also transfer beets to an ice water bath to prevent any additional cooking and allow them to cool faster. As soon as they are cool, peel the skin right off, give them another rinse and they are ready to eat.
Method 3 | Steamed Beets
Steaming is very similar to boiling beets. However, unlike boiling, the beets are not fully submerged in the water which prevents nutrients from escaping into the surrounding water.
To get started, grab a large pot and insert your steamer basket. Fill with water, making sure that the water level remains just below the steamer basket as you want the steam to circulate under and around the beets as they cook. Add the prepared beets to your pot and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bring water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow beets to steam until fork tender- you want your beets to be tender, but not too soft or mushy.
Carefully remove beets from the pot and allow them to cool before peeling away the skin. Rinse with cold water and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Do you have to peel beets before cooking?
No. In fact, none of these methods require you to peel your beets before cooking. Beets are incredibly difficult to peel, so unless you plan to eat your beets raw, just leave the skin on.
Can you eat beets raw?
Yes! I encourage you to! Raw beets are just as delicious as cooked beets and are another way to enjoy the vegetable. They are somewhat sweeter, slightly less earthy, and a little crunchier. Raw beets taste fantastic in salads and can also be pressed for a heart-healthy juice!