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A trio of gold beets resting on a piece of foil next to beet greens.

How to Cook Beets [4 Ways]

How to cook beets using several methods, and know when they're perfectly tender. See the Notes section for the best ways to clean and store beets.

  • Total Time: 60 minutes (50 inactive)
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings 1x


  • 1 bunch of fresh beets or 4 to 5 whole beets, leaves trimmed
  • salt, kosher recommended
  • cooking oil, avocado or olive recommended


To Steam

  1. Prepare your steaming setup. Bring a couple of inches of water to boil in your largest pot or a pot that fits your steamer basket. Make ready a lid or foil to prevent excessive evaporation of the water. 
  2. Wash and trim the beets. Wash the beets gently to remove excess dirt and pluck off any rootlets (tiny sprouts). Trim a thin slice away from the top and bottom of the beets. You can peel and cut or slice the beets before steaming, but it's easier to do so after cooking. Sprinkle a little salt over cut or whole beets before placing them in the steamer basket.
  3. Steam covered until tender. Place the beets in the steamer basket and cover the pot, if possible. Begin checking the beets for doneness after 30 minutes by inserting a butter knife or fork into the largest one. If you feel resistance, steam for ten more minutes and check again. Add more hot water as necessary to maintain two inches in the bottom of the pot. 
  4. Cool and peel. Remove the tender beets from the basket and let them cool until you can handle them. With the edge of a spoon, scrape away the skin of the beets and cut or slice them to your liking.

To Boil

  1. Boil water. Fill a large pot with water and set it over high heat on the stove. Water boils faster if you cover the pot. 
  2. Scrub the beets. Wash and/or scrub the beets gently to remove excess dirt and pluck off any rootlets. With the sharpest knife you own, trim a thin piece away from the top and bottom of the beets. 
  3. Salt the boiling water and add the beets. Add several pinches of salt to the boiling water. It will dissolve and pass through the beets as they cook.
  4. Boil for 35 to 50 minutes. No beet is alike, and every stove heats differently. Boil the beets until there is no resistance when you pierce them with a fork or butter knife. Adjust the heat to maintain a strong boil (but prevent boiling over). You can cover the pot to prevent the water from evaporating. Begin checking the largest beet for doneness after 30 minutes. Add more hot water to the pot to keep the beets fully submerged.
  5. Drain and cool. Remove the beets from the boiling water by straining them with a large colander or remove them with tongs. Pat the beets dry with a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel. Cool the beets for a few minutes before peeling (they'll be easier to handle). Scrape the skin away with the edge of a small metal spoon. Cut as desired. 

To Roast or Air Fry

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F or air fryer to 400° F.  The higher the heat, the faster the beets will cook. 
  2. Wash and cut the beets. Wash the beets gently to remove excess dirt and any rootlets. Trim a thin slice away from the top and bottom of the beets to remove the root and stem. Leave the beets whole for easier peeling after cooking. Or peel them with a vegetable peeler and cut them into slices or wedges. 
  3. Season and roast until tender. Coat the beets in a heat-tolerant oil like avocado, olive (not exta virgin), or sunflower. Season the beets generously with plenty of salt. For whole-roasted beets, wrap them in foil for less mess. You can also line your pan with parchment paper (not wax, as it will smoke, burn, or melt at high temperatures). Roast or air fry the beets until you can easily pierce them with the tines of a fork or a butter knife. 
  4. Cool and cut. For roasted beets that are easier to peel and cut, let them cool for ten minutes first. 


To clean fresh beets. Cut the greens off the beets when you bring them home, leaving about one inch of the stem on the beets. But only clean the beets right before cooking. To clean, pluck any rootlets (tiny sprouts) and rinse the beet in water, gently rubbing with your fingers to remove any dirt. For beet greens, quickly rinse them under a trickle of water. Pat the roots and leaves dry with a kitchen towel. 

To peel cooked beets. The easiest time to peel beets is after they're cooked. I recommend using the edge of a small spoon to scrape the skin away in strips from top to bottom. The pigment will stain your hands and cutting board, so either cradle the beets in a paper towel or wear disposable gloves.

  • Author: Chef Christina
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 to 50 minutes
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Steaming, Boiling, Roasting, Air Frying
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Diet: Vegan


  • Serving Size: 1 Cooked Beet
  • Calories: 85
  • Sugar: 5.5 g
  • Sodium: 296.5 mg
  • Fat: 5.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.8 g
  • Protein: 1.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: how to cook beets, roasted beets, steamed beets, air fryer beets, boiled beets