Pickled Beets

Beets are a weekly ritual around here. Usually we boil them and toss them in a sweet sour vinaigrette and keep them in the refrigerator to eat all week. The vinegar in the dressing “pickles” the beets, helping them last longer in the fridge.

Many pickled beets I find are much too vinegary, hiding rather than enhancing the naturally sweet flavor of the beets. This recipe is my mother’s approach to preparing the beets, using cider vinegar balanced with a little sugar (you could also just use balsamic), along with olive oil and some dry mustard. We love it! The vinaigrette complements the sweetness of the beets without overpowering them.

Pickled Beets

Do you love beets? Check out all of our beet recipes here.

Updated from the recipe archive, first posted in 2006.

Pickled Beets Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

This recipe uses a basic vinaigrette, heavy on the vinegar to offset the sweetness of the beets, but you could easily use any favorite vinaigrette. A little olive oil with salt, pepper, and balsamic is lovely. Try sprinkling a little orange zest in with the beets, or adding some lime, lemon, or orange juice to the dressing for a citrus note.

Yum

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch (4 or 5) beets
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Method

1 Remove greens from beets, save for future use (see beet greens recipe). Scrub the beets free of any dirt.

2a Boiling method. Place the beets in a medium saucepan and cover with water by about an inch. Bring to a boil on high heat then lower the heat and maintain a simmer for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets, until they are easily pierced with the tines of a fork.

2b Roasting method. Rub the beets with olive oil and wrap them in foil (you can wrap them all together, no need to wrap them individually). Roast in a 400°F oven for an hour or until they are easily pierced with a fork. Let them cool to the touch.

3 If you have boiled the beets, drain them and rinse them cold water. Use your fingers to slip the peels off of the beets. The peels should come off easily. Discard the peels. Quarter or slice the beets.

4 Make the vinaigrette by combining the cider vinegar, sugar, olive oil, and dry mustard. Whisk ingredients together with a fork. The dry mustard will help to emulsify the vinaigrette. Adjust to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine beets and vinaigrette in a bowl and allow to marinate for a half hour at room temperature.

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Pickled Beets

43 Comments

  1. Nicole

    After almost 30 years of thinking I hate beets, I recently discovered that I really love them now! As a child I always thought they tasted like dirt! But recently my aunt made pickled beets for me and now I can’t get enough (I even started finding ways to use them in desserts!). I love lots of vinegar but I think I’ll try this milder version with the mustard just to change things up. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Robyn

    Thanks Elise’s Mum, I love beetroot and will try this next time I find some beetroot, it sounds spot on. Here’s a favourite of mine from Madhur Jafferys’ World Vegetarian( a wonderful! book):

    Beetroot with Mint & Yoghurt
    8oz (225g) cooked beetroot, coarsely grated(I use food processor)
    16 fl oz (500ml) natural yoghurt,
    1 tsp salt,
    Fresh ground black pepper,
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
    2-3 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
    1 tbsp vegetable oil
    3 cloves of garlic (actually I use much more!) finely chopped

    Mix yoghurt in bowl with fork til smooth, add salt, pepper, cayenne, stir then gently mix in beetroot & mint.

    Put oil in garlic in small frypan over med-high heat. Whe it sizzles press garlic down with spatula, turning, allow to sizzle some more. When garlic is medium brown add flavoured oil and garlic to beetroot mix.

    Recipes says serves 6-8. It is so delicious I certainly wouldn’t share it with so many others!! Just a note tho’ it is a shocking pink. I usually eat it with crisped pita bread mezze style.

  3. Carol

    Your recipe is similar to mine, although I omit the dry mustard. However I do add either two green onions or one small white onion, diced. This gives a kick to it, as the mustard likely does. It’s great as a “jar” salad: for use at any meal.
    P.S. I can’t stand dealing with boiling hot beets after the cooking period, so I quickly drain and then cool in the refrigerator overnight. The skins peel just as easily.

  4. Scott at Realepicurean

    That is quite interesting – I also hate the trend of “over-pickled” beetroot, it’s all too prevalent in the UK.

  5. Deb

    Thank you for sharing this marinade. We just fixed pickled beets for dinner last night but didn’t do it this way. I will try your recipe next time. Thx.

  6. Suzi Boyer

    Do you know if this can be canned and how to process (since it is sweeter)?
    Thanks.

    Suzi

  7. Patti

    Yum, beets. I use a little rice vinegar and a few drops of balsamic and they’re lovely.

  8. Linda

    My husband doesn’t like beets but I adore pickled beets so I make them for myself. I first had them at my ex mother in law’s home. She made them with canned beets and added vinegar, garlic powder, a little worcheshire sauce and I think that’s it. I love sweet pickles so maybe that’s why I like them so much. I think I will another batch up for me.

  9. krista

    Beets are my favorite, I usually have them with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

  10. Michael

    I love beets, especially in this simple way. I just use olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which has the advantage of deepening the color of the beets.

  11. lydia

    I love beets! My husband’s favorite is beets roasted with orange juice, honey, and a bit of balsamic vinegar.

  12. Isabela

    I love beets too. My recipe has horseradish instead of mustard. I like it with lots of horseradish, actually, and I don’t use sugar either.

  13. Linda

    Could I use this recipe and can the beets?

  14. Elise

    Hi Linda – this is not a canning recipe. To can vegetables you need to follow canning protocol which you can find by looking up articles on Google.

  15. Heather

    Hello There…

    I am 4 mo. pregnant and craving all things pickled! And tonight I was staring at a newly acquired bunch of beets wondering what else I could do with them besides juice them — and then I found you!

    Absolutely delish looking. Thanks for sharing.
    Heather

  16. Lin

    Beets should not be cut up before cooking. They lose their juice, their flavor. They should be cooked with skins on, 2 or 3 inches of tops left on to prevent their “bleeding” while cooking.

  17. Joan

    I love beets too! For those of you who don’t like your beets with an over powering vinegar taste try the following. I use Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix as a marinade. Follow the package directions for mixing but use Balsamic vinegar which is sweeter tasting. I also add the juice of half a lemon. Really good!

  18. Leigh

    How is 1/4 cup of liquid supposed to adequately cover 4-5 beets? I just made this recipe with only two beets (that’s all the grocery store had) and there wasn’t enough marinade to get all the slices into the juice. I had to flip it a few times to get all the beets marinated. What’s the deal?

    Think of the marinade as a salad dressing. You probably wouldn’t use more than a quarter cup of salad dressing for 4-5 beets, and yes, you would have to toss them a bit to get them all covered. But if you want to use more, by all means, do so. ~Elise

  19. MFanya

    I get small turnips at my local farmer’s market and they make a really great addition to this dish: boiling them will make them too mushy, so just add them raw at the end of step three (I add 1/4 cup or so of red wine vinegar to make them pinker, and also because I like ’em extra tart).

    The beets and turnips make a fantastic addition to a falafel sandwich!

  20. Heidi

    Wow – I’ve always liked beets, but I’ve never had them fixed this way. Amazing!

  21. Denise

    YUM. Thanks to your Mom for this recipe. Can’t wait to try your Beet & Orange salad for dinner tonight.

  22. donna

    Delicious! You still taste the sweet of the beets…my husband will enjoy them.

  23. Lucia Ruocchio

    Your recipe is similar to mine but I use the beet greens too. I also add about 8 whole cloves to red wine vinegar and sugar, cooking for a minute or two once it boils. (Toss out the cloves and allow it to cool before mixing with olive oil.) I also add sliced raw white onion to the beet salad, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and let marinade for at least an hour or better if overnight. The combination of the cloves and wine vinegar seem to bring out the ‘fresh dirt’ flavor of the beets!

  24. Lucy

    Just made these – beautiful and delicious!

  25. Joe

    How long will these last in the fridge?

    Several days. ~Elise

  26. Lori on Little Traverse Bay

    I come from a “culinary-challenged” background, ha! ha! (Think Hamburger Helper and Lime Green Kool-Aid.) So I’m trying to stretch myself, and I just made these pickled beets. They are wonderful! And so easy! Thanks!

  27. Julie in WA

    My Finance is from Syria, so when we spent a month in his home town we had pickled beets and turnips with just about every meal. Its wonderful with hummus and pita, on falafal, and with garbanos. We made at home (in the states) and they are just amazing together.

  28. Jeni

    Made these tonight– fantastic!! I used golden beets from the farm shop down the road and my 3 year old son ate 1/2 the batch. Win!

  29. Dafna

    This recipe looks great and I want to try it but it appears it’s a quick pickle. Will this last in the fridge “indefinitely” like other pickle recipes for large batches?

    It is a quick pickle. It will not last indefinitely like other pickle recipes. ~Elise

  30. Tee Sims

    I just made these beets again and had to leave a comment. Beets are a part of my 2011 garden plan now! Thanks so much.

  31. Pat

    Hi Elise,

    This is a great recipe for pickled beets. My family and I have really enjoyed making and eating them. Would you know anything about freezing beets? I’m not into canning. With beets being in season right now, we would like to buy them and either freeze them before pickling or after if that is a possibility. I would appreciate hearing from you. Thanks again for a delicious and easy recipe.

    Pat

    Hi Pat, sorry I do not. We can get beets almost year round, so never have a need to freeze them. ~Elise

  32. Mel G.

    I LOVELOVELOVE beets and this recipes is SO good! Thank you!!

  33. Kendra

    Hi Elise,

    Tried these last night for dinner after picking my beets up from co-op yesterday afternoon–absolutely delicious! My mother lives next door to me and I brought some to her as she loves pickled beets–my number one fan :) My daughter was equally impressed but scared because it turned her pee red-lol! I’m on the hunt for a canning recipe for these now and the beet greens will be on the menu the day after next. I was fortunate enough to be gifted a young rooster so it’s the Coq A Vin tonight. Wish me luck!

    Kendra

  34. sue kershaw

    These are the BOMB! PERFECTLY seasoned, not too vinegary. Enjoyed immensely. Do you know whether the acid level is such that it would be a suitable canning recipe? Thanks soooooo much (grinning through my red-stained teeth)!

    • Elise

      Hi Sue, I’m so glad you like them! No idea on the canning question. For us, this is just a refrigerator beet pickle.

      • sue

        Thanks for your quick reply! I’m also checking with our local Extension Service’s “Ask-An-Expert” to see if anyone there knows if this is possible. Great recipe! I appreciate your effort in getting it out there.

  35. Anya

    Great recipe! Turned out delicious!

  36. Deborah

    This is a great marinade for beets. Tangy/sweet, but not sharp, thanks to the mustard.

    I served these beets with a lemon herb chicken, cooked in the clay baker, with potatoes, yams, carrots and onion. Plus lots of fresh garlic. Ready in About 1.4 hours.

  37. Brian

    Amazing recipe. how long can it stay in the fridge for?

  38. Millie | Add A Little

    Yum! One of my favourites! I love adding them to salads!

  39. Sandy S

    Thank you for giving me a quick way to have pickled beets. I’ve been adding pickled beets to green salads for years, as a way to skip high fat/sugar salad dressings. But they are usually from a can. So, really looking forward to trying this recipe with it’s modest tablespoon of olive oil and sugar! Am thinking I will also add some rings of red onion while it is marinating!

  40. Joanna

    When I was small I could not imagine anything worse than beetroots! They were evil. Now, I’ve grown up so much! I actually fancy eating beetroots! I know! People change! Ha! ;)

  41. Annie

    Oh, Elise! Thank you for bringing back a childhood memory for me! Yum!

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