How to Cook Beets

Last Updated on February 26, 2024 | JUMP TO RECIPE

Before we dive into how to cook beets, what exactly is a beet? Beets are root vegetables similar to turnips and radishes. They have a very earthy and somewhat sweet, floral flavor that makes them great for salads, soups, fresh juices and even rich, chocolatey desserts. However, learning how to cook beets to enhance their best qualities can be tricky. 

As you stare down this beautiful root in your hand, you might wonder how to cook fresh beets, how long to cook beets and if beets even need to be cooked at all! Whether you’re working with red, golden, white or Chioggia beets, here’s how to cook beets for a perfectly tender and healthy bite every time. 

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how to cook beets

How to Cook Beets in the Oven 

Wondering how to cook fresh beets for someone who’s never tried them before? Roasting in the oven is arguably the best way to cook beets for beginners because it gives them a tender texture and tones down some of their pungent earthy flavor. Roasted beets can be enjoyed on their own, as a side dish or incorporated into other recipes like salads and sandwiches. 

How to Cook Beets Whole

Before you start learning how to cook beets in the oven, know that you don’t have to peel your whole beets before cooking them. In fact, it’s often less messy to remove the peel after they’ve cooked and cooled enough to touch. Simply hold the cooked beet in one hand and use your fingers or a dry paper towel to rub away the peel. 

To cook whole beets in the oven, start by preheating the oven to 425°F. Next, chop off the greens, leaving about one inch of the stems attached to the beetroot. This will keep the beets from “bleeding” in the oven. Wash and dry your beets and rub them in a nice coat of olive oil. 

Place the oiled whole beets in an oven-safe dish and cover with an oven-safe lid. If you don’t have a dish like this, you can also cover a casserole dish with foil or loosely wrap each beet in foil before placing them on a baking sheet.

Slide the beets into the oven and let them bake for about 45 minutes to an hour. Larger beets may take longer to soften in the oven, sometimes up to 1½ hours. As they near the one-hour mark, check your beets every ten minutes by poking them with a fork. When they’re done, they should feel tender and soft, almost like a baked potato. 

Remove your whole beets from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. Run the beets under cool water, then use your fingers or a paper towel to pick off their peels. Beet juice is a powerful dye, so be careful not to stain your clothing or countertops! Once peeled, season your beets as desired and enjoy warm or cold. Now that you know how to cook beets, whole roasted beets can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. 

how to cook beets in the oven whole

How to Cook Beets Sliced

Whole beets are delicious, but cut and roasted beets may make for a more appealing side dish. Luckily, learning how to cook beets in the oven is roughly the same process no matter how you slice it (pun intended).

 If you want to know how to cook beets into nice roasted wedges, start by washing the beets and cutting off the greens as usual. There’s no need to leave part of the stem this time, as you’ll be cutting the beets open anyway. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut beets will cook faster and at a lower temperature than whole beets, so they’re a good idea for learning how to cook beets with lower energy usage.

Peel the raw beets with a paring knife or a large vegetable peeler. With a trusty chef’s knife, cut your beets in half lengthwise, then cut again to get nice beet quarters. The bright fuschia color of beets is beautiful, but be warned that it can (and it will!) quickly stain your skin, clothing and countertops. You may want to wear gloves and an apron while learning how to cook beets. 

In a large bowl, toss the beet wedges with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh sea salt, then spread the beets on a greased casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil. Cook the beets in the oven for about 45 minutes, checking every ten minutes until they are fork-tender. Remove the roasted beets, then season and serve hot or cold. 

how to cook beets sliced

How to Cook Beets on a Stove

Roasting beets brings out more of their subtle, caramelized flavor, but if you’re wondering how to cook beets on a stove, boiling is another go-to method. Boiling may not be the best way to cook beets, but it is a fast and effective way to soften them up and make them more palatable, especially with the right seasonings. 

As with any cooking method, when learning how to cook beets on the stove, start by thoroughly washing your beets. Chop off the stems and leaves, leaving an inch or so if you’d like to prevent color bleeding. 

How to Boil Beets

There’s more than one way how to cook beets on the stove, and boiling is one easy option. While you’re preparing your fresh beets, start heating a large pot of water on the stove. When the water reaches a roaring boil, drop your whole beets into the water, making sure they have room to “swim” and are covered by at least two inches of water. 

After you’ve tossed them into the pot, you might wonder how long to cook beets on the stove. The answer isn’t definitive, as it will depend on the size and ripeness of your beets. In general, your beets should be ready after about 30 to 45 minutes. To test if they’re done, fish one beet out of the pot and pierce it with a fork, knife or skewer; it should feel tender and soft. 

Remove your beets from the pot and allow them to cool for a few minutes before rubbing off their peels, as mentioned above. Give your boiled beets an earthy flavor boost with coriander, cumin, rosemary or thyme, or play up their natural sweet side with cranberries, red wine, maple syrup or cinnamon. 

how to cook beets on a stove (boil beets)

How to Steam Beets

Knowing how to cook beets on the stove can mean more than just boiling them. This versatile vegetable can also be steamed for a fresh and healthy finish. When you boil beets, some of their nutrients and color will leach out into the water, but steaming beets is the best way how to cook beets for maximum nutrient retention. 

Wash your beets and decide whether you’d like to steam them whole or cut. Either way will turn out fine, but cut beets tend to cook faster because they are smaller. If you decide to cut the beets, peel them beforehand. After washing and preparing your beets, add them to a steamer basket. 

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, then add the steamer basket with the beets. The water should be high enough not to run dry while boiling, but also low enough not to touch the beets – roughly two inches deep. Cover the pot with a well-fitting lid and let the beets steam for about 30 to 45 minutes. Check with a fork and remove when tender. If you steamed whole beets, rub away the peels. Finally, season as desired and serve warm or cold. 

how to cook beets on a stove (steam beets)

How to Cook Beets in an Instant Pot

Now you know how to cook beets in an oven and how to cook beets on a stove, but is there a method for how to cook beets in an Instant Pot? Learning how to cook beets in an Instant Pot is as easy as it sounds! Plus, knowing how to cook beets this way can save time in the kitchen, especially if you prefer to incorporate your cooked beets into another dish, like borscht, latkes or salad. 

Start by washing your beets thoroughly and cutting off the greens as usual, leaving about an inch of the stems intact. Add one cup of water to the bottom of the Instant Pot, then add up to five whole beets on the wire basket. Close the lid and set the lid valve to “sealing.” Push the “Pressure Cook” or “Manual” button, then set your timer for 20 minutes on high pressure.

After 20 minutes, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release steam for about 10 minutes, then carefully release the rest of the steam from the manual lever. Drape a dishcloth over the valve and use a spoon to push the lever to avoid burning your hands. Finally, open the lid and remove the cooked beets from the Instant Pot, checking with a fork to ensure they’re tender. Let the beets cool to the touch before rubbing away their skins over the kitchen sink. 

how to cook beets in an instant pot

How to Cook Beets for Salad

Now you know how to cook beets in several different ways, but what if you don’t want to cook your beets at all? Are there rules for how to cook beets for salad? 

Actually, a salad is often one of the easy methods for how to cook beets – you can even enjoy them raw! However, if you’re not going to cook your beets for salad, it’s best to peel them before slicing. Beet peels are edible, but they aren’t very pretty. Use a large vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife to remove their unglamorous skins, but be careful not to stain your clothes or your kitchen!  

The first step for how to cook beets for salad is, of course, to wash them very well. Dirt tends to collect in the little nooks and crannies of your beet skins, and dirt isn’t so tasty in a fresh salad. After washing and peeling, use a paring knife or chef’s knife to slice your beets. Be sure to slice your beets very thinly if you plan to eat them raw; trying to bite through a thick, raw beet chunk can be like trying to chew through wood. 

Many people prefer to use cooked beets in their salads because they have a softer texture and milder flavor. To cook your beets for salad, you can use any of the methods mentioned above, then enjoy them warm or allow them to cool in the refrigerator before tossing in with your salad. Don’t throw out your beet greens! They’re totally edible raw or cooked, so you can add them to your salad too. 

how to cook beets for salad

Best Ways to Eat Beets

1.  Roasted Beets and Carrots

Beets and carrots are very similar by nature. They’re both root vegetables, can be enjoyed hot or cold and pair well with both sweet and herbaceous seasonings. Roasted Beets and Carrots make an excellent healthy side dish. Simply roast the carrots and beets separately in the oven, then toss them together with salt and pepper. Add more color to your plate by using red beets, golden beets, orange carrots and purple carrots.

2. Beet Latkes with Creamy Horseradish Sauce

Beet latkes are a fun and colorful twist on traditional potato latkes, a crispy fritter that’s popular around Hanukkah. To make beet latkes, shred raw beets on a box grater, then toss with eggs, flour and spices. Scoop the latkes into hot oil and fry them until they are tender and crispy. For the dipping sauce, mix a spoonful of prepared horseradish with a cup of sour cream or crème fraîche.

3. Beet Reuben Sandwich

A vegetarian take on the classic beef reuben, a beet Reuben sandwich is a creative idea for how to cook beets for lunch or dinner. Roll your cooked and peeled whole beets in a mixture of coriander, ground mustard, smoked paprika and allspice, then cut into thin slices. Sandwich the beet slices between two slices of rye bread with mayonnaise, swiss cheese and sauerkraut, then cook in a buttered skillet until both sides are golden brown. 

4. Balsamic Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

One of the easiest answers for how to cook beets is to enjoy them in a salad. Cook, cool and slice your beets, then toss them in a large salad bowl with mixed greens like spinach and arugula, thinly sliced green apple, walnuts and goat cheese. If goat cheese isn’t your thing, you can also substitute it with feta. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic dressing for the perfect salad or side dish. 

5. Borscht (Beet Soup)

If you ask anyone how to cook beets into a recipe, borscht is probably one of the first ideas you’ll hear! Peel and grate fresh beets, potatoes and carrots, then sauté the grated beets in a large soup pot until soft. Add chicken broth, water, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and bell pepper and simmer until done, then finish with herbs and spices and serve with sour cream. 

6. Pickled Beets

Pickled beets are one of the most loved methods for how to cook beets, and there’s hardly any cooking involved! To make simple pickled beets, start by cooking the beets with any of the methods listed above. In a separate pot, boil vinegar, water, sugar, salt and ground mustard. Add the beets to a large glass jar and pour in the brine, then cover and let cool before placing in the fridge. For the best flavor, let the beets marinate in the fridge for a few days before eating and enjoy them within six weeks. 

7. Roasted Beet Hummus

If you’re wondering how to cook beets for a crowd, roasted beet hummus is a colorful addition to any party spread. In a food processor, blend one whole roasted beet with canned chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, tahini and olive oil. Transfer the hummus to a serving container and serve with pita bread, sliced cucumbers and baby carrots. 

8. Fresh Beet Juice

Beets are an amazing source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, potassium, iron, manganese, vitamin C and fiber. Thoroughly wash the beets and remove the greens – no need to peel – then feed them through your juicer. You can take straight beet juice as a wellness shot or mix it with other fresh juices like apple, cucumber, lemon, ginger and carrot juice.  

9. Morning Beet Toast

Rise and shine with a healthy beet breakfast! Beet toast is the perfect solution for how to cook beets for breakfast or use up leftovers from last night. Toast two slices of multigrain toast, then spread with cream cheese. Top with roasted sliced beets, fresh chives, sesame seeds and a pinch of salt.

10. Chocolate Beet Cake

If you’re looking for the best way to cook beets for picky eaters, try hiding them in an irresistible chocolate dessert. Finely grate your cooked beets and mix them into your favorite recipe for chocolate cake. The beets will practically melt into the cake as it bakes, giving the chocolate a rich, new dimension. Plus, every slice counts as a serving of vegetables, right? 

best ways to eat beets

Beet Recipe and Tips

Here are some helpful tips when it comes to cooking beets:

  • Beet juice will stain almost anything it touches, so wear an apron and protect your countertop while cooking. 
  • When shopping for beets in the produce aisle, look for blemish-free beets with healthy roots and greens still attached. 
  • Cooked beets can be stored in the freezer for up to eight months, making them easy to keep on hand for healthy recipes. 

Now that you know how to cook beets, you can enjoy these flavorful root vegetables in all sorts of versatile recipes! From beet Reuben sandwiches to traditional borscht soup and rich beet chocolate cake, the possibilities are endless. Ready to whip up some delicious beets for yourself? Check out our favorite recipe below. 

How to Cook Beets Recipe

Learning how to cook beets is sure to open up a world of flavor possibilities and enjoy more of this wholesome root vegetable. Whether you’re using them in a salad, sandwich or hummus, we’ll show you how to cook beets so they’re versatile, tender and delicious.
Side Dish
New American
How to Cook Beets
Brooke Younger is a freelance writer, artist and Shakespeare enthusiast. She enjoys creating delicious plant-based meals at home and pairing them with the perfect glass of vino. When she’s not writing, Brooke can be found lifting weights at the gym, browsing secondhand shops and doting on her two spoiled cats.


fresh whole beets
1 tbsp
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste, see notes 1

Directions 5 steps | 70 Minutes

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 425°F, then put on an apron and prepare your surfaces to avoid stains from the beet juice. Thoroughly wash your beets to remove any soil residue. If necessary, chop off the greens, leaving about 1-2 inches of the stem attached. 

Step 2

Rub the whole beets with a light coat of olive oil, then place them in an oven-safe casserole dish and cover with a lid. Alternatively, you can cover the dish in aluminum foil or loosely wrap each beet individually. 

Step 3

Roast the beets in the oven for about 45 minutes, then remove and check their tenderness with a fork. If the beets still feel tough, continue baking for up to 1½ hours. When the beets are fork-tender, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool until they are safe to handle. 

Step 4

Remove the skins of the beets by gently rubbing and peeling with your fingers. If the beets are well-cooked, the skins should slide right off.

Step 5

Slice, dice, season and serve your cooked beets however you’d like. They can be enjoyed hot as a side dish, incorporated into other recipes or chilled and mixed into a salad. 


  1. Try these additional seasoning options to spice up your beets: coriander, cumin, thyme, rosemary or paprika.

Nutrition Per Serving
View All
2.4 g
1 g
6 g
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