How to Cook Beets: Easy Step by Step Guides

Beets are a nutritious addition to meals but cooking them can be intimidating. Here are easy how-to guides for the best cooking methods for beets. 

By Julie Hartigan


Updated December 20, 2017

Beets are a deliciously sweet and gorgeously hued addition to so many dishes. They also happen to be rich in antioxidants and nutrients like folate, manganese, and potassium. Yet many home cooks wonder “So, just how do you cook raw beets?” We get it, cooking beets can seem daunting! This step-by-step guide will show you how to prepare beets and how to cook fresh beets using a few simple techniques. We’ll cover how to cook beets in the oven, cooking beets on the stove, how to cook beets for salad, and even how to cook beet greens. This guide will also give you recipe inspiration for enjoying all varieties of beets from mildly flavored golden to traditional ruby red to heirloom Chioggia beets with stunning red and white stripes.

How to Prepare Beets

Preparing fresh beets is so much easier than it seems! From golden beets to red beets to any other fun varietal you discover; these flavorful root veggies add a beautiful flavor and color to everything from light summery salads to savory winter sides. So go ahead and grab a bunch at your grocer or farmer’s market—our simple steps will show you how to prepare beets.

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1. Trim off beet greens and stems and store, wrapped in a paper towel, in the refrigerator for later use. (Tip: Beet greens are a delicious substitute for sautéed spinach or arugula. Just rinse well, chop and sauté in olive oil for 2-3 minutes.)

2. Cut off the root just to the bottom of the beet.

3. Lightly scrub the skin with a brush or clean scrub sponge to remove any dirt.

How to Cook Beets

Now that you’ve prepped your beets (easy, right?) you’re likely wondering “Ok, now what is the best way to cook beets?” We’ve outlined a few of our favorite options for how to cook a raw beet from stovetop to steaming, to how to cook beets in the oven. Note: There’s a lot of variability in the size and density of beets, so you may need to cook some longer than others. Just test for doneness by seeing how easily a sharp knife pierces to the center.You want them tender, but not too soft.

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Smoked Trout Salad With Creamy Dill Dressing

Roasting Beets

Roasting is one of the best ways to cook beets because it gives them a rich, dense texture with concentrated flavor. Here’s how to cook beets in the oven:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Line a baking pan with foil or parchment paper.

3. Drizzle beet halves or beet wedges with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

4. Spread beets on pan and roast for 45 minutes or until fork tender.

5. You can also slow roast beets or beet halves for deeper flavor. Just wrap individual seasoned beets in foil and roast for 60 minutes on the prepared pan.

6. Let beets cool and use foil or paper towel to rub away skins. (Careful, beet juice will stain skin, clothing, and dishtowels.)

Creamy Beet Dip

Steaming Beets

Steaming beets retains their gorgeous color and delicate flavor—plus, it’s the fastest way to cook beets. Just 15 minutes and you’re good to go! Here’s how:

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1. Quarter large beets or halve smaller beets.

2. Place in steamer basket over boiling water.

3. Steam for 15 minutes or until tender.

4. Remove skins.

Beets With Crème Fraîche, Shallots, and Pistachios

Boiling Beets

Cooking beets on the stove is one of the easiest ways to prepare them with basic cooking gear. Plus boiling beets lends a delicate, sweet finish that’s perfect for light recipes or people who find the taste of roasted beets too overpowering. Boil them whole to retain the juices and color (doing so also makes it easier to remove the skin).

1. Place whole beets in a medium to large saucepan and cover with salted water by 2 inches.

2. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30-45 minutes, depending on beet size.

3. Remove beets as they’re done and immediately plunge in ice water to easily slip off skins.

With these preparation and cooking tips you’ll feel confident cooking fresh beets for a wide variety of recipes!