Nutrient-rich beets have a slightly sweet and earthy flavor, and fresh beets are readily available in the market. Besides the common red beets, there are golden beets, "candy cane" Chioggia beets, and even white beets. Sizes vary as well. Beets can range from small and medium beets with a circumference from 6 to 8 inches to extra-large 1-pound beets with a circumference of up to 12 inches. The larger beets might be a bit less sweet, but they don't get woody like some overly large vegetables, and they are perfectly fine to eat.
Most beet cooking methods do not require peeling. The outer peel is easy to slip off when the beets are cooked. Here's how to boil, steam, or roast beets in the oven, slow cooker, Instant Pot, or on the stovetop.
Boiling is a popular way to cook beets. Scrub the beets thoroughly, but do not peel. Cut the greens off about 1 inch above the beetroot and cut off all but 2 inches of the root. Place the beets in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and boil the beets for about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size.
Stovetop: Add about 2 inches of water to a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut off all but about 1 inch from the tops and most of the root ends. If the beets are large, cut them in half or into quarters. Place a steaming basket in the pot and add the beets. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and steam them for about 15 to 25 minutes, or until they are tender.
Instant Pot: Add 1 1/2 cup of water to the pot. Place a steaming basket in the inner pot; add the scrubbed beets to the basket. Turn the steam release valve to the sealing position, select the pressure cook or manual function (high pressure), and set the time for 15 to 18 minutes for small to medium beets and up to 25 minutes for large beets. When the time is up, do a quick release and test the beets with a skewer or fork. Depending on the size of the beets, you might have to add time and cook a few minutes longer after a quick release.
Whole Beets: Scrub the unpeeled beets and cut off all but about 1 inch of the stem end and leave an inch or two of the root. Drizzle each beet with olive oil and then wrap loosely in foil. Place the wrapped beets in a baking pan and roast in a preheated 400 F oven for about 45 to 60 minutes. Check for doneness with a skewer or fork.
Cubed or Sliced Beets: Peel the beets and cut into cubes or slices. Toss the beets with a small amount of olive oil or vegetable oil. Spread the beets out in a single layer in a shallow rimmed baking sheet—roast for about 15 minutes. Turn the beets and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until tender.
Slow Cooker: Scrub the beets and cut off the leaves, leaving about 1 inch of stem. Cut off most of the root end. Drizzle the whole beets with olive oil and wrap each one in a sheet of foil. Place them in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for about 3 to 4 hours, or until the beets are tender. If the beets are large, cut them in half or into quarters before wrapping in foil.
When you buy beets with their tops, you get an additional bonus: beet greens!
Beet greens are similar to spinach and Swiss chard; the flavorful greens cook quickly and are full of nutrients. Steam or boil the beet tops in lightly salted water for about 2 to 4 minutes, or sauté them in a small amount of oil with salt, pepper, and seasonings. Add some minced shallot and garlic, or drizzle them with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar. Beet greens are great in salads as well.
- When shopping, choose beets free from damaged areas, obvious bruises, or wrinkled skin. The freshest beets will have greens attached.
- Store cooked beets in an airtight container or wrap them in foil; refrigerate the beets for up to 3 to 5 days, or freeze in airtight wrapping for up to 1 year.