How to Boil Beets Recipe

Of all the ways to cook beets, boiling them might just be the easiest! Here’s how to boil beets to use in salads, pasta, hummus, and more.

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: This is a simple way to prepare one of nature’s healthiest veggies.

How long it takes: 5 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to cook
Equipment you’ll need: large pan with lid
Servings: 4

Boiled beets, cut into slices, a deep pink color.

 

Beets—you either love ’em or you hate ’em. 

Fans of beets point to their earthy sweet flavor and vibrant color as their key benefits, while detractors complain that they taste like dirt. (I’m convinced there’s some kind of genetic factor at play, like how half the population thinks cilantro tastes like soap.)

Personally, I’m on Team Beets, as you may have already guessed from my air fryer beets and beet salad recipe. And boiling beets is one of the simplest ways to cook them.

All you need are a few fresh beets, water, and a pot large enough to hold them. Boil them until they’re tender, rub off the skin, and you’ve got a batch of beets ready for adding to all the things you love, or to just eat on their own.

About this Boiled Beets Recipe

  • The easiest way to prepare beets. There’s no need to peel them in advance since the skin comes off easily after boiling, and because you’re boiling them on the stovetop, you don’t have a sheet pan to scrub clean afterwards.
  • An incredibly nutritious side dish. Beets are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 
  • So versatile. Boiled beets can be enjoyed as is or dressed up with herbs, spices, and condiments. You can also add them to all kinds of dishes, from pasta to frittatas and beyond!

More About Beets

Beets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Each type has its own unique flavor and texture, so it’s worth experimenting with different kinds to find your favorite.

The most common types of beets are:

  • Red-Purple Beets: These are the classic beets you’ll find in most supermarkets. They have a sweet and earthy flavor and their texture is often described as being silky.
  • Golden Beets: These medium-sized beets have a milder flavor than red-purple varieties and tend to be sweeter and less earthy. They also have a firmer texture than red-purple beets. Bonus: they won’t stain your fingers or cutting boards!
  • Chioggia Beets: These small, round beets are usually striped with pink and white or red and white rings. They have a sweet flavor that’s slightly nutty and they’re a showstopper when sliced in half, displaying their colorful rings.

What you’ll need

  • Beets! Choose any variety you like. Sometimes you can buy beets with the greens attached; sometimes the greens are already removed. It doesn’t really matter which kind you purchase. It’s best if the beets are roughly the same size so they cook evenly. You can cook as many as you like. Make sure you have a pot large enough for the beets to fit in a single layer with enough water to completely submerge them.
Uncooked, unpeeled beets, with the greens still attached.

How To Store Raw Beets

To store beets, remove the greens, leaving an inch of the stems on the beets. Refrigerate the beets, unwashed, in an airtight bag or container. They’ll keep for at least a month, as long as they are dry.

Don’t toss the tender greens; beet greens are edible, sweet tasting, and very nutritious. I like to sauté them with olive oil and garlic and serve them over polenta.

How to Boil Beets

Prep the beets. If the beets have greens attached, cut them off, leaving about ½ inch of the stems attached. Trim most of the root end off. Scrub the beets well with a vegetable brush.

Greens being trimmed from beets.

Put into a pot of water. Place the prepared beets in a large pan. Cover them with an inch or two of water. They should be completely submerged in the water.

Cook the beets. Turn the burner to high heat, cover the pan, and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, then simmer until the beets are fork tender, about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the beets.

Cool slightly. Drain the beets and let them cool enough that you can safely handle them.

Remove the skin. Use a paper towel or your fingers to rub off the skin. I find that it works best to peel them in the sink under running water. If there’s an area of skin that doesn’t want to slip off, use a small paring knife to help it along. Rinse the beets to remove any remaining shreds of skin.

Peeled beets, with just a bit of the greens still attached, now the same color as beets.

Serve. You can eat them right away or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To cool the beets quickly for use in a salad, fill a bowl with ice water and submerge them for 5 minutes. Drain well and pat dry.

Cooked beet slice on a fork, with more in background.

FAQs

Is it better to peel beets before boiling?

It’s better to peel beets after you boil them because the skin practically slips off. 

Should you salt the water when boiling beets?

This is up to you. I prefer salting the beets after cooking them but if you prefer to add salt to the cooking water, you can do that instead.

Ways to Enjoy Boiled Beets

  • Potato substitute: Enjoy beets baked potato-style as a side dish with your favorite protein; serve them with a dollop of sour cream and chives. Another option is to drizzle them with a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup to play up their sweetness.
  • Marinated: Marinate sliced beets in a tangy vinaigrette. Honey mustard vinaigrette or white wine vinaigrette are good choices. Add finely chopped herbs like rosemary, oregano, or chives; orange or lemon zest is a good addition, too.
  • Added to smoothies: Add them to smoothies for an extra boost of nutrition and flavor (and vivid color!).
  • As an appetizer: Use them to make beet bruschetta with goat cheese.
  • On salads: Add them to your favorite salads, or make my asparagus salad with beets, warm kale quinoa salad, or farro salad with chicken and beets.
  • In hummus: Make hummus with beets for a colorful twist on the classic. I love this beet hummus recipe by Love & Lemons.
  • In pasta: Toss diced beets with a broccoli pesto pasta, or simply a bowl of garlicky buttered noodles with Parmesan.
  • Mashed: Mash boiled beets with sweet potatoes or other root veggies.
  • On a sandwich: Add beets to a wrap or sandwich (golden beets won’t turn your sandwich pink). Finely diced golden beets are wonderful in curried chicken salad or added to chipotle honey glazed meatball pita sandwiches.
  • As baby food: Make your own homemade baby food by pureeing boiled beets with a little bit of purified water or breastmilk.

Make Ahead, Storage & Reheating

Refrigerate: Boil the beets in advance and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator so they are ready to use. Boiled beets can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Freeze: Slice, quarter, or dice boiled beets. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking pan; freeze until firm. Place in a freezer safe container or bag. They’ll keep for six months to a year. Thaw in the refrigerator.

Reheat: Enjoy beets warmed up or cold. To heat them, place beets on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F until heated through, about 10 minutes. You can also heat them in a skillet over medium-low heat, or microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

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Boiled beets, cut in slices.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

4 servings

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Of all the ways to cook beets, boiling them might just be the easiest! Here’s how to boil beets to use in salads, pasta, hummus, and more.

Instructions

  • Trim greens from beets, leaving about a half inch attached. Trim long root. Scrub beets well with vegetable brush. Place beets in a large pan and cover with water so they are submerged by 1 to 2 inches of water.

  • Place on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil, covered. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or longer, depending on size of beets, until fork tender (see note).

  • Cool beets slightly until you can handle them. Use a paper towel or your fingers to rub off peelings. Trim off tops and bottoms, and rinse lightly to remove any remaining shreds of skin. To cool quickly (for adding to salads), fill a bowl with ice water and submerge beets for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

  • Use immediately, or refrigerate beets in an airtight container.

Notes

  • You may cook as many beets as you like, as long as you have a large enough pot. It’s best if the beets are roughly the same diameter so they get done at the same time.
  • Cooking time will vary based on the size of your beets. Larger beets will take much longer and smaller beets cook more quickly. Beets are done when they are fork tender. Insert a fork into the thickest part of the beet; it should go into the beet with little resistance.
  • Cooked beets can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to a year. Refer to the post for freezing instructions.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 98kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 0.4g, Saturated Fat: 0.1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Sodium: 177mg, Potassium: 737mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 75IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 36mg, Iron: 2mg

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.

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