How to cook fresh beets

fresh sliced beetroot on wooden surfaceBeets©

Beets have a range of culinary uses, but their hard texture and tendency to stain surfaces can make them daunting to prepare. Try these tips to become a better beet cook.

Roast: Many recipes suggest wrapping beets in foil and baking, which works well when prepping a day ahead (baking time is 1 hour, plus additional time needed to cool and skin beets). A quicker method is to cut beets into half-inch cubes, toss with oil and roast in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes. Beet skins are edible (after being scrubbed) and offer dietary fiber. Roasting beets without foil also results in toasty, sweeter flavors.

Instant pot or pressure cooker: These fast cookers are a game changer for cooking root vegetables. Whole, unpeeled beets cook in about 15 minutes.

Boiling, steaming or microwaving: Cube beets (skin and all) for these faster cooking methods, which work well for making soups or smoothies. Use the cooking liquid in the final soup or smoothie, or to make pink ice cubes. Add the slightly earthy-flavored cubes to an herbal gin cocktail, a tart kombucha mocktail or a glass of water.

Note: While starchy root vegetables get mealy and fall apart when over-cooked, non-starchy beets stay moist and firm. This makes it difficult to overcook beets, but know they will rarely get as tender as potatoes.

Stain-Free Serving

When prepping raw beets, coat your cutting board with cooking spray. After slicing, wipe the board clean with a paper towel.If you choose to skin cooked whole beets, work in the sink or on a large rimmed baking sheet to contain the stain. To keep your fingers from turning red, wear clean rubber gloves or use paper towels to rub off beet skin. To remove stains from your hands, gently rub them with kosher salt, then wash with soap and warm water.

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Proposed Pairings

Sweet: Almost any fruit pairs with beets, but winter or fall fruits are an especially good match; try pomegranates, persimmon, pears, citrus and dried fruits. Sweet vegetables such as fennel, carrots and parsnips also complement beets.

Earthy: Fresh thyme and sage, as well as earthy soft cheeses — such as brie and Camembert — pair nicely with cooked beets.

Salty: Miso paste, capers or olives are a great match for warm roasted beets. Goat cheese or blue cheese and beets are a classic pairing. A sprinkling of Gouda or queso blanco also are delicious choices.

Nutty: Roasted beets are soft, so crunchy pistachios, pecans and walnuts provide an enjoyable contrast in texture. Try drizzling a dressing made with peanut or almond butter over a salad of raw shredded beets and apples.

Ingredient Swap!

Try substituting shredded zucchini with shredded beets in recipes. Quick breads, veggie burgers and vegetable pancakes turn into pleasingly pink dishes. Not sure if you’ll enjoy the earthy taste of beets? Start by substituting only half the vegetables for a mellower mixture.

This article is part of the Healthy Kitchen Hacks series.

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  • Healthy Kitchen Hacks

How to Make Instant Pot Beets

  • Scrub beets as well as you can. You’ll be cooking them in their skins and then removing the skins after they’re cooked.
  • Place steaming rack inside Instant Pot and fill with 1 cup of water.
  • Cut off stems, about an inch from the base and place beets on steaming rack in one layer; not piling on top of each other.
  • Using Instant Pot manual mode and vent in the sealing position, cook beats for 15 minutes. Larger beets may need about 20 minutes.
  • Rinse beets under cold water, trim the ends and you can gently peel the skins right off.
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how to make instant pot beets

What to do with Instant Pot Beets

Once these instant pot beets have been cooked the possibilities are endless.

No matter you decide to do with these instant pot beets, they’re perfect!

golden beet noodles, chopped red beets and quartered golden beets on tray.

PrintPrint Recipe Pin Recipe

My new favorite way to prepare beets: the glorious Instant Pot. Perfectly cooked beets are ready in about 30 minutes and perfect for snacking, spiralizing, salads and more.

  • raw red or golden beets
  • 1 cup water
  • Instant Pot or pressure cooker
  1. Place steaming rack inside Instant Pot (pressure cooker) and fill with 1 cup water.
  2. Scrub beets to remove as much dirt as you can; cut off stems about one inch from base.
  3. Place beets on steaming rack in one layer; not piling on top of each other.
  4. Using Instant Pot manual mode and vent in the sealing position, cook beats for 15 minutes. Larger beets may need about 20 minutes. Smaller beets about 2″ in diameter may only need 10 minutes.
  5. Once the timer goes off, carefully manually release the pressure (cover valve with towel and keep face away!). 
  6. Use tongs to remove beets and place them in colander; rinse beets under cold water and gently rub skins off.
  7. Place beets on cutting board and trim ends off. Cut into quarters, slices or make into noodles for easy meal prep. Or keep whole and use in various recipes.

Keywords: ways to cook beets, how to cook beets, what to do with beetroot


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