Steaming - Boil

How to Boil Beets Recipe | Family Cuisine

How to Flavor Boiled Beets: In a small saucepan, add the beets and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain in a colander set in the sink

Love them or hate them, beets are a very popular vegetable across the pond in England. This how to boil beets recipe is the perfect starting point to get you eating more of this colorful vegetable.

holding a bowl of sliced boiled beets

Jump to:

  • Questions
  • How to Make
  • Variations
  • Pro Tips
  • Recipe


What methods are used for cooking?

  • Boiled on the stove top
  • Roasted in the oven in foil or on a cookie sheet
  • Steamed in a steamer
  • Grilled on a charcoal grill
  • Baked in foil in camp coals
  • Dehydrated slices to make beet chips

How can I dress up this vegetable?

  • Balsamic Glaze: Use balsamic vinegar, sweetener of choice, butter, salt and pepper.
  • Compound Butter: Use fresh dill, mint or tarragon, salt and pepper with unsalted butter.
  • Reduction Sauce: Use red wine vinegar and butter along with beet juice.
  • Burst of Acidity: Toss with freshly squeezed lemon juice or red wine vinegar.
  • Caramelized Nuts: Use caramelized or candied pecans to jazz them up in a mixed green salad.

What are the health benefits?

  • Low in calories
  • No cholesterol or fat
  • High in vitamins B and C
  • high in potassium and iron
  • high in folic acid

What’s the best way to cook this?

If you don’t want to lose too many nutrients, steam them for 15 minutes.

If you boil the them, leave the root on and 1 to 2 inches of the stem. This will help keep many of the nutrients in the beet.

Of course, some of the nutrients will go into the water, but you can reuse the beet water in soups, rice, risotto, or pasta.

holding a slice of boiled beet on a fork

Should I peel beets before cooking?

No, it is easier to boil them first, let them cool, and then peel.

How should you peel this vegetable?

  • Wear kitchen gloves, if you don’t want to stain your fingers.
  • Lean over the sink and use a paper towel to rub off the skins.
  • Also try rubbing off the skins under cold running water.
  • Discard the skins or save them for a friend that has goats.

How do you make them taste less earthy?

  • Use plenty of salt, like when you’re cooking pasta or potatoes.
  • Use vinegar in the water. Try red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

What makes beets taste earthy?

  • Geosmin, an organic compound produced by microbes in the soil.
  • Other foods high in geosmin are lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, and catfish.
  • It seems half the population likes the earthy taste and the other half doesn’t-much like cilantro.
a bowl of diced boiled beets

What do you do with this vegetable?

  • Salads
  • Soups (Borscht)
  • Pickle them
  • Spiralize them to make zoodles
  • Puree for baby food
  • Smoothies
  • Dips

Can you reuse the water?

Yes, you can! If you don’t want to throw it out, here are some ideas to give it a second use.

  • Make Depression-era beet jelly (faux grape jelly).
  • Use it as a natural dye in sauces, icing, and cakes.
  • Make beet lemonade with sugar syrup, lemon and lime juice from concentrate mixed with beet juice.
  • Dye Easter eggs.
  • Pickle hard boiled eggs in it; just add some vinegar and spices.
  • Use it as a base for risotto: it will be pink.
  • Make it into a beet juice reduction sauce with red wine vinegar and butter.
  • Use it to boil apples for applesauce. It will turn the applesauce pink.
  • Water your houseplants or outside bushes with it, as it’s filled with nutrients.

How long are they good for?

Cooked beets are good for 3 to 5 days when stored in an airtight container and placed in the fridge. If you need longer storage, freeze the cooled beats in a zip top freezer bag. Just remember that the beet juices may stain a plastic container, so if you have glass use it!

How to Make

Start by scrubbing and rinsing the dirt off the each vegetable. Trim off the beet greens and leave on a 2-inch stem. Keep the leaves and stems for another use.

Measure out the red wine vinegar and the kosher salt.

beet roots with red wine vinegar, salt, and beet greens

Submerge the whole, unpeeled beets into a Dutch oven filled with water.

beets in a pot of water

Add the red wine vinegar and carefully mix. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the kosher salt.

Keep the pot covered and reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until fork tender, roughly 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size. Larger ones can take up to 60 minutes.

adding red wine vinegar and salt to the pot of beets

To check if they are cooked, pierce with a fork. If the fork easily inserts into the beet, they’re done. Remove them from the pot with a fork or a slotted spoon, and place on a large plate.

stabbing a boiled beet with a fork

When they’re cool enough to handle, cut off the stems and roots. Rub the skins off with a dry paper towel, or rub them under cold running water.

taking the skin off of a boiled beet

Rinse off any small amounts of remaining beet peel under cold water. Now you’re ready to use them in your recipe of choice.

I chose to slice them for the photo shoot and then I decided to cut them smaller to use in a salad. Feel free to quarter, cube, or puree once cooked.

holding a large boiled beet on a spoon


  • Dress them up with a balsamic glaze, beet juice reduction sauce, compound butter, or caramelized/candied pecans.

Pro Tips

  • Keep at least 1 inch of the stem and the root intact before boiling them whole. This will keep the beet from bleeding too much into the water.
  • Don’t use wooden cutting boards, as the beet juice will stain it. Use a plastic cutting board with paper towel or wax paper on top.
  • If your hands get stained with beet juice, use fresh lemon juice to help get rid of any stubborn stains.
  • Don’t throw out the beet greens or stems. Sauté them or use them in salads or soups.
  • Don’t throw out the beet water. Re-purpose it in soups, rice, smoothies, pickled eggs, dye icing, or faux grape jelly.

Looking for more nutritious vegetable side dishes?

  • Sautéed Beet Greens
  • Sautéed Kale with Mushrooms
  • How to Make Mushy Peas

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