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What Do Beets Taste Like ?

Beets, also known as beetroot are super nutritious root vegetables that are very versatile and popular in many cuisines. If you are wondering what do beets taste like, what to do with them, and how to use them in your kitchen you are in the right place.

a close up picture of raw beets

What are beets?

Beets grow as round bulbs in the ground with leafy green tops, which are also edible and just as nutritious as the beet itself. Beets are closely related to Swiss chard and quinoa.

Beets are typically dark red in color. They are native to Europe and have been used medicinally in many cultures and as food throughout the years.

Today, beets are used worldwide in salads, soups, or served on their own. In addition to their flavor, beets add vibrant color to many savory dishes.

What do beets taste like?

There are different opinions when it comes to the flavor of beets; beet lovers will say that beets have a delightfully earthy, yet sweet flavor and some will say they have a dirt-like taste.

This earthy taste or dirt taste of beets and dirt smell comes from a compound called geosmin. Geosmin is also responsible for the earthy taste in many vegetables, such as mushrooms, lettuce, spinach, and even the smell after a rainstorm.

The general consensus is that the flavor of the beet is earthy and sweet with floral notes, especially if you are a beet lover. The flavor of the beet will change slightly with the cooking method and when they are properly prepared, all that’s needed to enhance the taste of the beets is a little bit of salt, olive oil, coconut oil or butter, and lemon juice.

Beet varieties

There are a variety of beet colors, and they all taste delicious. The flavor profiles differ slightly in the different varieties, but not enough that the beet varieties cannot be interchanged in recipes.

You can find beets at your local farmers market or grocery store in these common varieties

Red beets also known as regular beets are the most common beets. They have the strongest flavor out of all of the beet varieties. When they are cooked their dark red color is almost like a dye that can stain your hands and anything else they come in contact with – so be careful of the beet juice when preparing red beets!

Golden beets have a milder flavor than red beets and do not have as much of a sweet flavor. They are a good addition to roasted vegetables or salads since they don’t bleed their color the red beets do.

Candy stripe beets (Chioggia beets) are naturally striped similar to a candy cane. They have a sweet and earthy flavor, and when they are cooked the stripes disappear and they won’t stain your hands.

White beets (sugar beets) have a similar appearance to small turnips and have the highest sugar content. White beets are the sweetest of the beet varieties and have less dirt-like flavor. They can be prepared as you would any beet variety, and make a nice presentation with Chioggia beets and red beets.

Health benefits of beets

Beets are extremely healthy! They are a great source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and they are low in calories. They help to fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, and are high in fiber which can help control blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight. Read more about the health benefits of beets on healthline.com.

beets at a farmer's market

How and where to buy beets

Beets are available year-round, and you can find them in to produce section in your supermarket, or in the warm months, you can find them in a farmer’s market or at most farm stands. They are usually sold in bunches with the tops attached.

Choose fresh beets that are small to medium in size and are firm with deep coloring.

Smaller beets are more tender than larger beets and are also easier to prepare and cook. The leaves on the beets should be bright green with no signs of wilting while the beets themselves should be free from any nicks or blemishes.

How to store beets

Beet greens take moisture from the beetroot so they should be removed before storing the beets. Once the beet leaves are removed, beets can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

The beet greens can be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic for no more than 3 days.

How to prepare and cook beets

Beets can be enjoyed raw, and they can be prepared using a few different cooking methods such as boiled, steamed, grilled, roasted, or sauteed.

Raw beets

Eating beets raw is the healthiest way to enjoy beets, but raw beets have a more earthy smell and flavor than cooked beets. They are full of fresh flavors and taste delicious finely shredded into salads with a little bit of goat cheese, paired with apples in a salad.

Raw shredded beets also add a nice presentation and taste great as a garnish for soup. They are also a great addition to add texture or crunch to grain bowls.

If you are eating beets raw, you will need to clean them thoroughly and use a vegetable peeler to peel off the hard skin.

Cooked beets

Since they are root vegetables, beets should be cleaned thoroughly before cooking them.

Cut off the beet greens at the top and set them aside. Don’t worry about peeling the beets before they are cooked, once they are cooked, the skins will slide off.

If you are working with large beets, cut them in halves or quarters before cooking them to reduce the amount of cooking time.

How to boil beets

Add the prepared beets into a saucepan and cover the beets with water, bring them to a boil and simmer until they become tender, which should be about 35 to 45 minutes. If you are boiling red beets, you will notice that the red beet color has leaked into the water.

Instead of discarding the healthy beet water, save it and use it in soups, or make red food coloring or you can even drink it; try making beet lemonade.

You can try adding a touch of lemon juice or vinegar to the water to help prevent the beets from bleeding.

When beets are boiled they will be tender and will have a less intense flavor than roasted or steamed beets. If you are not a fan of the earthy taste of beets, this method might be for you.

How to steam beets

Steaming beets is similar to boiling beets, except the beets do not touch the water in the pan. Instead, they sit in a steamer basket above the water in a pan, and the steam cooks the beets.

This is the most nutritious way to cook beets. Here’s how to steam beets; add a small amount of water to a saucepan with a steamer basket. Place prepared beets into the steamer, and basket, cover, and cook the beets over medium to low heat until they are tender which is about 35 to 45 minutes.

Steamed beets will have a more intense flavor than boiled beets and will hold onto more nutrients than the boiled version.

How to roast beets

This is my favorite way to prepare beets mainly because it’s easy and less messy! Wrap the beets in parchment paper and then in foil. Place them into a preheated oven at roast them for 30 to 40 minutes until they are tender inside. The beets when cooked this way have a less earthy flavor and more of a sweet flavor.

You can also roast beets in the oven on a baking sheet without wrapping them up. If you choose this method to roast your beets, you will need to peel the beets with a vegetable peeler and cut the beets into uniformly sized chunks.

For easy clean-up, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the beet chunks on the baking sheet. Drizzle the beet chunks with olive oil and roast them in a preheated 400-degree f oven for about 25 minutes, until they become tender.

Fresh roasted beets are delicious and don’t need much help to flavor them. Once they have been cooked, try serving them with a little bit of butter or olive oil, with a spritz of lemon juice or citrus zest, and fresh herbs such as parsley, mint, basil, and tarragon.

What do you do with beet greens?

Don’t throw the beet greens away, they are delicious sauteed in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil and fresh garlic with a little sprinkling of your favorite fresh herbs.

You can also chop the raw greens up and add them to your salad.

beet salad on a white plate with a fork

Foods that pair well with beets

  • apples and pears
  • unsalted butter
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • cheese (blue, cheddar, goat, parmesan, Roquefort)
  • citrus
  • creme fraiche
  • herbs (basil, chives, dill, cilantro, rosemary, parsley, mint, tarragon, thyme)
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • honey
  • maple syrup
  • nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios)
  • leafy greens (arugula, spinach, endive, field greens)
  • vinegar
  • yogurt

Try these flavor combinations with beets

Try any of these combinations to make your own beet creation. Think appetizers, side dishes, salads, or main courses.

Beets + Citrus + Goat Cheese + Olive Oil

Beets + Dill + Sour Cream

Beets + Goat Cheese + Nuts

Beets + Mint + Yogurt

Beets + Orange + Walnuts

Beet FAQs

Canned beets vs. fresh beets, which is better?

Canned beets are a convenient alternative to fresh beets. Canned beets take away the time it takes to prepare fresh beets and they have a longer shelf life. The nutrients of canned beets aren’t compromised either. Canned beets are a great source of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber, but they do contain more sodium than fresh beets.

Is it okay to eat beets with the skin on?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to leave the skins on. As long as they are properly cleaned. The skins can add a slight bitter flavor in larger beets though.

Beet Recipes

Here are some beet recipes to try out.

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