How to cook beetroot

Beetroot recipes

How to cook beetroot

9 November 2023

Once a vinegary, purple pariah, beetroot has recently reclaimed its rightful place on seasonal British menus. Check out our full guide to cooking beetroot below.

How to cook beetroot


Once a vinegary, purple pariah, beetroot has recently reclaimed its rightful place on seasonal British menus. Check out our full guide to cooking beetroot below.

A root vegetable that is valued for its vibrant colour, firm flesh and sweet, earthy flavour, beetroot is an incredibly versatile ingredient with many nutritional merits too.

In Britain, beetroot is available from June to March but is at its sweetest during the growing season from late June to October (pre-cooked beetroot is available all year round but fresh beetroot has a better texture and flavour). As well as the traditional purple kind, there are golden, white and pink-and-white-striped heirloom varieties which taste as delicious as they look.

And beetroot isn’t just a savoury ingredient: the flesh can be used to enrich cakes, to make refreshing sorbets and to add an earthy sweetness to juices. Raw beets can also be peeled and grated into salads.

With so many ways of serving this humble vegetable, beetroot-haters might have to give it a second chance.

What to look for when buying beetroot

When buying fresh beetroot, look for firm beets with smooth, undamaged skin and a diameter of no more than 6–7cm – any larger than this can indicate a tough, woody core. Try to pick beetroots of similar sizes so they cook evenly. If possible, buy beetroot with the leaves and roots still attached. The leaves should be fresh-looking and not wilted and the tap root should be firm.

How long does beetroot last for?

Raw beets can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks. To store raw beets, remove any leaves but leave the root intact. Cooked beetroot (whether steamed, roasted or boiled) will last for around 5 days in the fridge.

Beetroot and cured fish

Beetroot is a very popular ingredient in cured fish, as it adds a dramatic pink colour and sweet, earthy flavour. Check out some of our favourite beetroot-infused cured fish recipes above, or our guide to curing fish at home.

Can you freeze beetroot?

Like carrots and potatoes, beets tend to go slightly spongy if frozen raw, so it’s better to cook them – or at least blanch them – before freezing.

To freeze beetroot, chop the cooked beets up into slices or chunks and then spread out on an oven tray or something similar. Place in the freezer until solid. Once the beetroot are frozen solid, transfer them to a container or ziplock bag.

Can you eat beetroot raw?

Beetroot can be eaten raw. Beets are very hard, and so not particularly pleasant to bite into like an apple! But if grated or very thinly sliced, beets make a great addition to salads and coleslaws.

Beetroot juice is another delicious way to enjoy raw beetroot, as well as a great ingredient in beetroot sorbets and smoothies.

Can you eat beetroot leaves?

Beetroot leaves are edible and can be used in exactly the same way as chard or spinach. Beetroot leaf stems are quite tough however, and take longer to soften than spinach stems.

Beetroot leaves will go off more quickly than beets will, so it’s best to cut them off from the root before storing. Cook beetroot leaves within two to three days.

How to roast beetroot

We prefer to steam-roast beetroots by roasting them wrapped in foil. This gives the beetroot a denser, smoother texture when compared with roasting beetroots uncovered, which makes them slightly more porous and spongy.

To steam-roast beetroots, place cleaned and trimmed raw beets on a large piece of foil. Drizzle the beets with olive oil and season them with salt, then wrap tightly with the foil. Roast in the oven at 220°C/200°C fan. Small beets (~100g) will take 50–60 minutes, medium beets (~200g) will take 70–80 minutes and large beets (~300g) will take around 90 minutes.

Use a knife to check if the beets are cooked through – it should be able to slide in easily. When cool enough to handle, you can peel beetroot by just rubbing away the skin. If you want to avoid staining your fingers, wear rubber gloves or clean them with lemon juice afterwards.

How to pickle beetroot

Pickled beetroot is a delicious accompaniment to cheeses, works well in salads, and is very easy to make at home. In its simplest form, pickled beetroot is made by storing cooked beets in sweet spice-infused vinegar. Check out Jeremy Lee’s recipe below for a delicious pickled beetroot recipe, and an easy salad to pair it with.

How to steam beetroot

To steam beets, place them on a steamer set above simmering water, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Timings are the same as for steam-roasted beetroot above.

How to boil beetroot

To boil beetroot, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. You can add some aromatics if you like, such as thyme, sage or garlic. Add whole, scrubbed beetroot to the water and cook until the beetroot is tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size.

Roast beetroot and orange salad

Beetroot and orange is a classic combination. This simple recipe serves roasted beetroot with crunchy sunflower seeds, chunks of fresh orange and some orange zest-infused Greek yoghurt.




  • 400g of beetroot, raw, washed, tops and roots trimmed
  • 1 orange
  • 200g of Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp of sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil, plus extra for roasting beetroot
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 Dijon mustard
  • salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan


Place the trimmed beetroot in the middle of a large piece of foil on top of a baking tray. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle over some salt


Seal the beetroot in the foil tightly and then roast the beetroot in the oven. Small beets (~100g) will take 50–60 minutes, medium beets (~200g) will take 70–80 minutes and large beets (~300g) will take around 90 minutes


To check if the beets are done, open up the foil and pierce them with a butter knife or chopstick. Once cooked they should be soft enough to pierce all the way through. If your beets are different sizes, take smaller ones out as they cook


Either set the beetroot aside until cool enough to handle, or place them in a bowl of water to cool them down faster


Once cool, trim the root and stem end and peel away the skin with your hands. Running the beetroots under cold water as you peel them can help get rid of any wispy bits of skin


To make the salad, chop the peeled beetroots into roughly 2 cm chunks


Zest 1 tsp of orange zest from the orange, and stir into the yoghurt with a pinch of salt. Taste and add more zest and salt if needed


Cut away the skin from the orange and then cut the orange flesh into pieces roughly the same size as the beetroot


Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing, and season to taste


Mix together the dressing, beetroot, sunflower seeds and orange pieces


Divide the yoghurt between two plates and top with the orange and beetroot mixture

What can you make with beetroot?

So many different things! Beetroot are a truly versatile vegetable, as delicious in sweet beetroot brownies and sorbet as they are in savoury salads and soups.

If you have a glut of beetroot to work through, try making beetroot chutney and turn the leaves into veg top pesto. You can use raw beetroot in coleslaw or in this simple fermented beetroot from Kuba Winkowski.

Beetroot is also a great ingredient to use in dips, both for its dramatic colour and affinity for creamy tahini and yoghurt. Asma Khan's recipe for beetroot raita looks as gorgeous as it tastes.

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