How to Cook Fresh beets

“And what in the world are you going to do with THOSE?” the older woman was referring to the large bunch of fresh-from-someone’s-garden-this-morning beets I held up at our local Saturday morning farmer’s market.

I assured her that the family would LOVE them for dinner tomorrow night. “Well,” she muttered doubtfully, “If you’re sure…..” She was clearly not sure of any such thing herself.

It turns out that she has never had fresh beets in her LIFE. I am constantly running into people who have never eaten fresh beets and they are all missing out on a treat.  I have my mom to thank for my own enthusiasm about beets.

Fixing fresh beets is very simple. First you cut off the tops and boil the beets just about to death. Beets take a long time to cook and you need to watch them to be sure they don’t boil dry and burn. Large beets can take as much as a full hour to cook. They’re done when you can stick a fork in them easily. They won’t be quite as soft as boiled potatoes would be but close.

After they’ve been boiled, the outer skin just slides off of the beets. They are still full of red color, so be careful not to splash them on your clothes. Once you’ve removed the outer skins, cut the beets into 1 inch cubes and return to the pan. Barely heat them through. Toss them with butter, salt, and coarsely ground pepper and serve.

My kids have grown up eating fresh beets and LOVE them. They especially love them because if they eat enough of them, they pee pink. For boys, this is a really special and exciting treat.

The taste of fresh beets is one of the tastes of summer for me.

Fora couple more posts on cooking fresh beets see this Roasting Beets post and this Fresh Beets Revisited post.

25 thoughts on “How to Cook Fresh beets

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  4. Well, they were darn tasty. Preparing these things can make your kitchen look like the scene of a brutal murder if you’re not careful….and I’m apparently not careful.

  5. I just cooked fresh beets for my husband. I came to your site to figure out how to cook them. I tried them boiled with butter and s&p as suggested and I Love beets!!! My dear mother would be so pleased if she were still with us! She loved beets in vinegar with a bit of sugar; also the way my hubby cooked them for himself last time. I got brave and steamed the greens too. I loved them also! They were like spinach with a little additude! Thank You so much for sharing your wisdom and educating us!

  6. I just picked a few beets out of my garden the other day and I cooked them up just for me. Hubby would not touch them or even try them – his loss and my gain! I steamed the greens too and I love them with a little butter, salt and a splash of apple cider vinegar! It brought back so many good memories in vermont as a kid.

    • Angela, If you want to try another method of serving fresh beets you might try boiling them until tender, brush off the old dark skin in cold water over the sink,let them cool for a bit as they will be hot; slice them thin as you would tomatoes, place them in a bowl and cover with white vinegar and refrigerate until cool, take out what you want to eat and cover them with ranch dressing. I think you will get your husband to try them, good luck ….Hal

  7. about ten years ago, I noticed that my pee was kind of red. When it happened twice, I figured I was bleeding internally – maybe bladder cancer or something. It took me a while to figure out that I had bought a rare bunch of fresh beets earlier in the week. Scary.

  8. Love beets like this. Another great way is to roast them in the oven – put unpeeled beets in some tinfoil with garlic, thyme, olive oil. Roast until tender. When they have cooled; the skins slide right off. So good.

    • Heather, I just bought fresh beets today and was at a loss of how to cook them. I like your suggestion of roasting them…would you please let me know how long and at what temperature they should be roasted.
      So looking forward to having them. Thanks!

      • Deb, if you cut them into 1 inch cubes, you should be able to roast them at 400 for about 45 minutes. Depending on whether your oven has hot spots, you might be able to get by with less time.


  9. I use a pressure cooker for my fresh beets – 20-30 mins depending on the size of the beets. The rest of the prep is the same. Quicker to yummy beets! And maybe preserving some of the vitamins by not boiling in water so long.

  10. I am in my 70s. My grandmother told me many years ago to cook veggies that grew in the ground like potatoes, carrots and beets by placing them in boiling water and cooking them until done. Veggies that grew on top of the ground like green beans and peas were placed in cold water and brought to a boil. I have been doing this all my life. My grown children tell me to do this just the opposite and in looking at various web sites, I find their system is the preferred one. What happened to my grandmother’s ways?

  11. I just found and tried your recipe today, and THANK YOU! This is by far the easiest and tastiest way I’ve ever attempted to use the beets in our CSA share. And now I can look forward to getting more beets, rather than feeling despair at how to use them!

  12. My parents were from the northeast and we’d eaten beets all our lives-canned, then pickled. Beets were put in a bowl with vinegar, salt, pepper, a bit of oil and left to marinate, then eaten as a ‘salad’-the only way I like beets but I will try the cubed, sauted in butter/salt/pepper now. I’ve not eaten them this way and am looking forward to it. Southerners don’t seem to eat beets much and certainly not the ‘greens’-looking forward to that too. My fresh-from-the-garden beets are boiling as we ‘speak’.

  13. THANK YOU! Wow – those were really good! Just butter, coarse fresh-ground black pepper, and coarse sea salt. It worked perfectly! I will NOT be buying canned beets anytime soon – the fresh ones REALLY are superior!!

  14. Oh darn, I just couldn’t remember how to cook beets…should have looked up your recipe before I did “my own thing”. I peeled them like a carrot and threw them int a pot of boiling water…there still cooking. What a mess. when I read your recipe I had to laugh. It all came back to me…the beets cook and then remove skin. Guess I’ll have to cook beets more often. : )

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  17. i am trying beets fresh for the first time they were given to me i will try boiling them im not a gardener gosh they look like potatoes sooooohere goes thanks for the help from Maggie.

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