Make Ahead

The Best Way to Cook Beets

April 19, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Serves as many roasted beets as you like
Author Notes

The trick to successfully cooking beets is to soften them while also concentrating their sweet flavor. Roasting beets can result in something akin to jerky. Boiling them will produce soggy sponges. The best cooking method I know comes from Tom Colicchio, who wrote in The Craft of Cooking about roasting beets in a foil packet. His way, the roasting condenses the beets' sweetness while a layer of steam inside the packet keeps them moist. The technique's as easy as can be. What to do with your perfectly roasted beets? Oh, where to begin! Here are 3 ideas:

1. Cut the beets into small wedges and toss them with Greek yogurt and Meyer lemon zest and juice.

2. Slice the beets into thin circles, arrange in a cluster on a flameproof pan, cover the beets with thin slices of Camembert and broil until the cheese melts and begins to toast.

3. Cut the beets into tiny cubes, dress them with a sharp mustardy vinaigrette and spoon them atop a tuft of mache, frisee or baby arugula. Serve with roasted salmon.

Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 1 bunch beets
  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut off the leggy root and the tops. Then scrub the beets if they're dirty.
  3. Lay a large piece of foil on a baking sheet, leaving half the foil hanging off one end. Place the beets on top of the foil on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the beets with olive oil -- just enough to dress them like salad greens -- and season with salt and pepper. Fold the foli in half to make a packet and crimp the edges.
  4. Bake until the beets are tender (you can check by piercing a fork through the foil). It usually takes 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Let them cool in the foil packets
  5. When the beets are cool enough to touch, remove them from the packet and peel off the skins -- they should slip off like Concord grape skins.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Patri Chio
    Patri Chio
  • MMH
  • Mary Ann Isaacson-Dawkins
    Mary Ann Isaacson-Dawkins
  • AlizaEss
  • EmilyC
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

17 Reviews

Patri C. February 25, 2020
does this method retain all the nutrients in the beets?
MMH September 22, 2016
We love these. The recipe I use also calls for red wine vinegar which sets the color & they don't bleed all over your hands.
Mary A. May 29, 2013
I haven't tasted them yet but it has taken wayyyyy over an hour to cook them and they are still not done. No biggie, we like beets cold on salad and I guess that will be on the menu for dinner tomorrow since they didn't get done tonight!
Shelby K. December 27, 2012
I just made these for my roasted veggie salad (roasted white onion, red bell pepper, asparagus, beets) with kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese!!!! Amazing
AlizaEss November 19, 2012
Beets seem to roast fine without any added oil, if you are someone who wants to cut down on fats. Roasted some last night in a covered roasting pan, no foil or oil needed.
EmilyC May 15, 2012
My mom and I were just discussing the best way to roast beets this morning so this post is so helpful! As usual, I can find exactly what I'm looking for on Food52.
Amanda H. May 18, 2012
Thanks so much for your note -- glad this was helpful! If there are other basic techniques and recipes you'd like to see, please do let us know. You can always email us at [email protected].
LeBec F. April 3, 2012
amanda, I confused! why do lots of cooks seem to have a problem w/ peeling beets before they're roasted? My method: Peel beets(preferably smaller) and cut into evenly sized wedges. Toss with evoo, s and p. Roast 400 degrees F 10-20 minutes til about 5 minutes from being done.Remove pan from oven, add to beets, combining thoroughly, minced or sliced garlic, and a few spoons of O.J.concentrate. Return to oven til easily pierceable with skewer. Serve. I know you never have enough recipes to test, but I hope you'll try this sometime!
Amanda H. April 3, 2012
I think with small beets, it's easier to push off their skins than to work a vegetable peeler around their circumference. But, yes, neither is too difficult. Your method sounds delicious. Will try it when I have a chance! Thank you.
Lindseytriestocook August 17, 2010
Thank you for this! They were delicious!
Amanda H. August 23, 2010
suzan July 1, 2010
I just tried this method of cooking beets. HELLO! JUST WHY IN THE WORLD have i been peeling raw beets and roasting them all of these years?! [besides the fact that it was worth it]. I will never go back. These beets were supposed to be for my husband's lunch box tomorrow... well, ummm... my "just a little taste" went a bit too far. oops.
Amanda H. August 23, 2010
Felt the same way the first time I tried this method.
Andreas D. April 25, 2010
Here's another suggestion: Peel and cube beets. Heat a sauté pan over low heat, add a glug of olive oil, the beets and salt. Cover and let them braise in their own juices until done, then up the heat for a minute to caramelize a little.

Best served as a salad.
Amanda H. May 30, 2010
Like the sound of your method, too.
dymnyno April 19, 2010
I've used many methods to cook beets and this has been my favorite for many years. The beets are evenly cooked, peel easily, and the flavor is fabulous. My favorite way is simply dressed in olive oil and sea salt and accompanied by fresh buratta.(fresh on the West Coast means not from Italy)
Amanda H. April 19, 2010
Burrata! Great reminder.