Roasting beets intensifies their flavor, brings out their earthy sweetness, and makes their peels as easy to strip off as an over-sized sweater. Like roasting anything, it's pretty straightforward (pro tip: put them in a hot oven!). This step-by-step guide proves that point.
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Start With Fresh, Firm Beets
Start with beets that are firm and feel heavy for their size. If the beets came with their greens still attached, cut off the greens, wash them, and reserve them for another use (you can cook beets greens just like other greens such as spinach or chard).
Rinse any dirt or debris from the beets—some beets may need to be scrubbed clean—and put the beets on a large piece of aluminum foil and preheat the oven to 375F.*
*Note: Beets are fairly flexible veggies, if you have something else in the oven at anywhere between 325F and 425F, beets will happily roast up at that temperature alongside what you're already cooking, it just will take a bit longer at lower temperatures.
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Prepare & Roast the Beets
If you like, drizzle the beets with a bit of oil before roasting. Olive oil is a good choice, but grapeseed oil or canola oil work just fine, too. A bit of oil at this stage will help keep them from drying out in the hot oven—coating them and helping them hang on to their own juices, keeping them tender.
Note: If you're planning on making a salad with the roasted beets, feel free to use plenty of oil here—you can use the beet-infused oil in the dressing.
Sprinkle the beets with salt, too, if you like. Unsalted beets are fine, but a bit of salt while cooking really will up the final flavor of your roasted beets.
To evenly roast the beets, fold the foil over them and crimp to seal the sides closed. This helps keep them moist, it also helps contain the powerfully staining juices they'll emit while roasting and make clean-up a snap.
Roast beets until tender. The amount of time this will take can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors:
- the size of the beets
- how many beets there are
- if other things are in the oven
- how fresh the beets are (fresher beets cook up faster)
For smaller beets, start checking them for tenderness after they've been roasting for about 25 minutes. Larger and older beets can take up to an hour or more.
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Peel Roasted Beets
When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip their peels off. You can use a paring knife if you like, but you can also marvel at how easily the peels come off with just a rub of your fingers.
Serve peeled roasted beets as-is, with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Or slice and use them in salads. These Great Beet Salads will get you started.
Roasted beets are particularly tasty with highly flavorful but creamy white cheeses; feta and goat cheese are excellent choices. They also pair well with roasted nuts (walnuts or hazelnuts are good choices), as well as fresh herbs such as dill and parsley.
Beets work well with other fruits and vegetables. They add an extra sweet element when served with their fellow root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips), while they bring in an earthy note when served with sweet, tangy options such as oranges, peaches, and tomatoes.