Cooking Basics

How to cook beets

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fresh beets and beet greens
Learn how to to turn these ruby red veggies into a dinner time treat
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Learn how to cook beets because they are better when they don't come from a can!

Somewhere around second or third grade, most of us learned to hate beets.  Odd are, those slimy, sweet mushy red vegetables came from a can or jar, and had been cooked to death before appearing on your plate.

But if you know how to cook beets the right way, you'll discover that this bright red vegetable is actually (dare I say it?) delicious!

Are you ready to take a chance again on beets? Here are three ways to cook beets to bring out their flavor in a new way.

Beet basics

Pick a bunch of firm beets with no mushy spots, and ideally with a healthy bunch of greens still attached.

Trim any roots and leaves (or stalks) to about an inch from the beet itself.  Set the greens aside to saute later.

How to boil beets (and still keep the flavor)

Although this makes a tasty beet, it's not my personal favorite...I lean more towards to the grilled or roasted versions listed below..  But this is a simple and tasty way to cook beets, and a lot of people do love these boiled beets, so give it a try.  I promise it's nothing like those mushy beets of childhood!


Sugar (1 teaspoon per 1/2 gallon of cooking water)
Salt (1 teaspoon per 1/2 gallon of cooking water)

Salt and pepper to taste


  • Wash the beets well with cool water.  Don't scrub them like you would potatoes or you'll destroy the fragile skin needed to protect the beets while cooking.
  • Select a pot large enough to allow all of the beets to be completely covered with water.
  • Place beets in pot and cover with cool water.
  • Add salt and sugar and stir around slightly
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, and then immediately reduce to a simmer.

Now this is the tricky part.  Fresh beets will cook in about an hour.  Older beets may take up to four.  If yours had the bright, healthy greens attached, you know you're working with fresh beets. If you're not sure, check them after 45 minutes, and then periodically until a fork goes in easily.

  • Remove the beets from the heat, drain and rinse immediately with running cold water
  • Cut off remaining root and stem, and then rub off the skins using a damp dish towel (yes, it will stain!)
  • Serve warm, sliced or mashed with salt and pepper to taste, and a bit of unsalted butter.

Smokey grilled beets

Once you've grilled beets, the smokey delicious flavor and caramelized outsides will make this a Bar-B-Que favorite. Serve them alone, or as part of a grilled vegetable dish.


Olive oil


  • Wash the beets well, and trim off any greens.
  • Peel the beets
  • Slice them into 1/2" slices
  • Brush all sides of the slices with olive oil
  • Sprinkle lightly with salt
  • Place the slices on a medium hot grill...if you put them right over the flame, they'll scorch instead of cook 
  • Cover (if possible) and cook 8-10 minutes.  Turn and cook another 8-10 minutes
  • Serve drizzled with additional olive oil

Roasted Beets

The intense flavor of roasted beets makes them a natural side dish with flavorful meats or fish.


Olive oil
Fresh ground pepper


  • Heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Trim beets as above
  • Peel beets, and cut into quarters (if beets are very large, cut into smaller pieces)
  • Place beets on a baking sheet or in a shallow pan.  Make sure there's enough room so they are not on top of each other.
  • Drizzle beets with olive oil (about 1 1/2 tablespoons per pound of beets)
  • Toss to coat
  • Sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and toss to coat again.
  • Cook for about 40-50 minutes, stirring/turning beets twice during the cook time)
  • Serve hot with other vegetables, meat or fish

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