How to Boil Beets Perfectly for Salads, Sandwiches and More

We are an Amazon Affiliate and earn from qualifying purchases. For more information please see our disclosure page.

How to boil beets: a long-overlooked, but a delicious and healthy vegetable that’s easier to prepare than you think! Plus, how to choose the best beets and store them for freshness.

The easiest way to cook beets is by boiling them in a large pot of water for 30 to 60 minutes, until they’re very tender. Test small beets after 30 minutes by inserting a small skewer into the thickest part of the vegetable. As soon as the skewer goes easily in without resistance, your beets are cooked. Remove them from the water and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. Then, when the veggies are cool enough to handle, use your thumbs or a dark kitchen towel to easily remove the skin. Then, simply season and enjoy your freshly cooked beets!

If there’s one majorly underrated vegetable, it’s the beetroot. Some people are put off by the color or size, but in reality, beets are a healthy and tasty addition to any diet. With their bold color and naturally sweet flavor, beets add a pop to any plate. And learning how to cook them properly is easier than you think. In fact, it’s as simple as boiling water!

Beets are highly nutritious but low on calories, which means you will get the bang for your buck with this vegetable. Use this guide to boil beets perfectly every time, and soon enough you’ll be enjoying this healthy root veggie every week.

How to pick the best beets in the market?

When selecting the best beet for cooking, there are a few important features to look out for:

  • First, like most produce, beets aren’t perfect. They grow underground after all. Instead of searching for a blemish-free beet in the pile, accept the fact that most, if not all, beets are going to have a scar or two. And this is totally fine. As long as the meet is mostly round and without any major soft spots, it should be in perfectly good shape. You can always shave off any blemishes back at home.
  • Wrinkly is wrong: Wrinkles on a beetroot is a sign of dehydration, age, and improper storage. Avoid soft, wrinkly beets when possible.
  • A little green goes a long way. You’ll find there are beets with greens attached and beets without. Always choose vegetables, from beets to carrots to turnips, that have their greens still attached. The greens help keep the vegetables fresh. Also, after harvest, the greens are the first part of the vegetable to wilt. Often, shops will cut off the greens to hide age. So to ensure you’re getting the freshest and most nutritionally-dense produce possible, always select fruits and veggies with their greens attached.
  • Sizes matters: Larger beets will take longer to cook. That’s no reason not to get them, of course. When it comes to size, the most important thing is that your beets are all of similar sizes. This ensures even cooking. If you can’t find enough that are around the same size, you can always cut larger beets in half or quarters to match the size of smaller ones.

Can I Eat Raw Beets?

While raw beets are technically edible, they’re very hard. The best way to eat raw beets is to grate them on a box grater and toss them into a salad. Otherwise, cooking softened up the root veget


The only ingredient you need to cook tender, sweet beets? You guessed it: beets. That’s it!

No, really. That’s all you need. That and a little bit of water. Unless you want to eat beets raw – and you can do that! Cooked beets taste better, though!

How to Cook Beets

There are several easy ways to cook beets. The most straightforward methods including boiling or steaming them on the stove, or roasting them in the oven. The fastest, easiest way to cook beets is by boiling them, which is what we’ll cover here.

Prepping the Beets

Step 1: Remove the greens

The first step to boiling beets is to trim off those greens. Use a sharp knife and a cutting board to slice a bit off the top of the beets to remove the greens. You can save the greens for sauteing into a tasty side dish. You can also trim off the thin root ends of the beets.

Step 2: Wash your beets

Once you have chopped off the greens from your beets, it’s time to give them a good rinse. Using a vegetable brush is always a good idea but not necessary. If you don’t have the tools, you can always use your hands! Remember that these vegetables grew underground, so they’re going to be dirty.

How to Boil Beets

Step 1: Bring Water to a Boil

The size pot you need depends on the number of beets you’d like to cook. As long as the beets can fit and be covered by at least an inch of water, your pot is big enough. Fill it 3/4 of the way full with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. 

Step 2: Put the beets in the pot

When the water is at a rapid boil, add the beets carefully. Use a spoon to gently lower the vegetables into the water. Remember, it’s hot so be careful. 

Step 3: Simmer

Return the beet water to a boil, then reduce the heat until you have a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and cook until the beets are very fork-tender. The cooking time depends on the size of your beets. Small beets may be done after 30 minutes, while larger beets will take up to an hour. The freshness of your vegetables also impacts the cooking time. Fresher beets are firmer and harder, so they take longer to cook. 

Check the beets after 30 minutes. To check for doneness, stick a thin skewer into your smallest beet. If there’s little to no resistance, the beet is done. You can always take the smallest ones out first. Otherwise, continue cooking and checking for doneness every 5 minutes or so. Be careful not to overcook, which will result in mushy beets. 

Step 4: Cool things down right away

As soon as your beets are perfectly tender, remove them from the boiling water. Place them in a colander i in the sink and run cold water over the vegetables. this stops the cooking process to prevent over-cooking. It also cools the beets down enough to handle them comfortably. 

Step 5: Peel your beets

Once the beets are cool enough to handle, they are easy to peel. If you want to keep your hands clean, use a dark kitchen towel to press the skin off the beets. Otherwise, you can embrace the purple hands and use your thumbs to push the peels off. Discard the peels and rinse the beets clean. 

Can I Eat the Skin?

Beet skin is edible but not very tasty. It has a gritty texture with a dirt-like flavor, so it’s recommended to remove the skin before serving your beets. You can peel raw beets with a vegetable peeler if you prefer, but it’s much easier to peel beets after cooking. 

Do beets lose their nutrients when you cook them?

The longer you cook beets, the fewer nutrients it has. Nutrient-wise, the best way to eat a beet is raw. But the loss of nutrients is minimal when you cook them, there’s nothing to worry about! The biggest change from a nutritional perspective from raw to cooked beets is the sugar content. One cup of raw beets contains 9 grams of sugars, while one cup of cooked beets contains 13.5 grams of sugar. During cooking, some of the complex carbohydrates in the beetroot are broken down into simpler sugars. 

Nutrients in Beets

Beets are a bright, flavorful, and nutrient-dense vegetable. A 100-gram serving of cooked beets contains just 44 calories and less than .2 grams of fat. You’ll also find 2 grams of fiber, 305 milligrams of magnesium and 16 grams of calcium. 

How to Store Cooked & Raw Beets

Raw, uncut beets with their greens attached can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They will stay fresh for up to 3 weeks under these conditions. Make sure there is no moisture on the beet before you store it. 

Cooked leftover beets should be stored in an airtight container and enjoyed within 4 days of cooking. Beets can also be frozen for longer storage. After cooking, drain the beets and slice them into smaller pieces. Then spread them out on a baking sheet and place it in the freezer for about an hour, until the pieces are mostly frozen solid. Then you can transfer the frozen beets into an airtight container or zip-top bag and store them in the freezer for up to 8 months. Add frozen beets to soups, stews, and sauces.


How to Boil Beets

How to boil beets that are perfectly tender, sweet and bright red.
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Large pot
  • Colander


  • 4 medium beets


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Trim the greens and root ends off the beets.
  • When the water reaches a boil, add the beets and return the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 30-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the beet yields no resistance.
  • Transfer the beets to a colander in the sink and run cold water over them. When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the skin with your thumbs or a dark kitchen towel. Note that the beet juice may stain.
Keyword Boiled beets


Share with your friends