A favorite root vegetable for salads, pickling, smoothies, dips or snacking, I’m sharing my best tips for Roasting Beets using a simple, no foil method for perfect roasted beets every time! | vegan + gluten free
Vibrant, sweet, juicy and just gorgeous, beets come in many varieties from red, magenta to golden and even the fun candy-stripped Chioggia. Raw beets have a long storage life without their greens. Oven roasted beets are a delicious and nourishing accompaniment to salads, for a snack, included in hummus or smoothie or simply as a side to be enjoyed.
But it’s not just the root that should get all the attention. Beet greens are a powerhouse of nutrition and can be deliciously included in smoothies, or salads and also included in stews, soups, lasagna or in pasta recipes. I’ve been to farmer’s markets before where the farmers were giving away beet greens because people don’t want them. Save those greens and use them in recipes just like you would swiss chard or kale!
How to Choose Fresh Beets:
- For beets with the greens attached, look for vibrant color with fresh crisp leaves, a sign of freshness, and medium-ish beet root.
- For loose beets without their leaves, look for firm roots with no soft spots or cracking.
- When roasting multiple beets, look for beets of the same size. This way they will all be done at about the same time.
- There are many varieties of beets at farmer’s markets. Try different varieties and find the one(s) you prefer. A few I love include Detroit Red, Early Wonder and Red Ace.
Once I learned how to cook beets, I realized how simple it really is to enjoy these ruby-red roots with little fuss. After years of trying different cooking methods in the oven, I’ve landed on this preferred roasted beet method.
How to Roast Beets in the Oven
Roasting by definition, means to roast with direct dry heat. For this method, I’d first peel the beets, cut them into quarters, drizzle with olive oil then roast in a 400F oven on a parchment lined sheet pan for about 35-40 minutes. This method works but it left the beets dryer and not as tender as I wanted. Plus peeling pre-cooked beets is a pain (although the skins may be left on if desired). Then, I started wrapping beets in aluminum foil to roast. The skins slip off still warm beets with ease this way. But in my efforts to reduce kitchen waste by roasting beets without foil, I started using a Dutch oven.
Additionally, I found over time, oil wasn’t necessary but I opted instead for a bit of water which also protects the vessel from a coating of cooked, stuck on beet juice; a pain to clean. Roasting beets in the oven in a covered Dutch oven or oven proof lidded baking vessel with a bit of water yields a steaming affect, gently cooking the beets while keeping them juicy and tender.
How to Prepare Fresh Beets for Roasting/Cooking
- Trim the beet root from their greens leaving about 1″ (2.5cm) of stems in place. Trim off the tail.
- Store the beet greens in the refrigerator crisper wrapped snugly in a refrigerator bag. They’ll last, if fresh, for just a few days.
- Scrub the beets under running water with a vegetable brush to loosen any stones or dirt.
- The beets are now ready for roasting! You do not have to peel the beets.
How to Roast Beets
As soon as I learned how to cook beets without foil, in a way that worked for me, I took every opportunity to pick up a bunch and roast them. Here’s how to do it:
- First, preheat the oven to 400F (204F).
- Second, place the beets, skin on, into a large Dutch or other oven proof vessel with a tight-fitting lid in a single layer – no crowding the beets. Add about an inch of water. Place the lid on the vessel.
- Third, roast the beets in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. This can vary depending on the size of beets. Larger beets take longer to roast, smaller, less time. They’re ready when a fork yields to gentle pressure.
- Next, as soon as beets are cool enough to handle, optionally slip the skins off using gentle pressure. I find larger beet skins to be a bit bitter as opposed to baby beets having a more tender, sweet skin. Taste before peeling to see what you prefer.
- Last, the beets can now be sliced into any size and used in salads, dips, pickling, sandwiches etc.
Do I Have to Peel Beets Before Roasting Them?
Roasting beets using the method in this recipe, there’s no need to peel the beets before roasting them. After cooking and depending on how the beets will be used is when the skin can be removed. Peeling is optional however.
I like to peel the skin off when using beets for pickling, in salads, on sandwiches and pureed in dip. If I have a batch of baby beets and I’m simply enjoying them as a side or in a salad, I leave the skin on because it tends to be sweeter and more tender than larger beets.
A Few Recipe Notes on This Roasted Beets Method
- If buying beets is new territory, try a few different varieties to see which variety you prefer. A combination of golden and red beets make a beautiful salad. TIP: Roast them in separate vessels however as the red will taint the beautiful color of golden beets.
- Peeling beets after roasting is optional. For small (baby) beets, I leave the skin on. For larger beet root, I peel right after roasting. I find the peel on larger beets to be a little bitter.
- The larger the beet, the longer the roast. Keep an eye on the time and check a few times while roasting. The beets are done when a fork or knife inserted meets little resistance.
Recipes to Love that use Roasted Beets
- Beet and Apple Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Roasted Beet and Sauerkraut Sandwich
- Winter Beet Persimmon and Meyer Lemon Salad – by Floating Kitchen
- Winter Jeweled Salad
- Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes with Whipped Chocolate Ganache
How to Roast Beets
- 2 lb (900g) Beet Root About 5-6 medium beets
- Preheat oven to 400F (204C). Trim the greens to about an inch (2.5cm) above the base of the beets and save for another recipe (I love them in green smoothies!). Store the greens in the refrigerator for up to three days. Trim the tail and discard. Scrub the beets to loosen any dirt and wash throughly. Place beets in an oven proof baker or Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid and fill with 1/2" - 1" water, cover and roast for 35-50 minutes or until fork- tender (the larger the beets, the longer the roast). Check the beets about mid way through to make sure there's still water in the vessel. Add a bit more water (hot) if needed. Once the beets are out of the oven, allow to cool just slightly or until they can be handled. The warmer the beet the easier it is to slip the skin off. Use gentle pressure and slip the skin right off. Or, if desired, a vegetable peeler may be used to gently remove the skin. Once the skins are removed, slice the beets into thin (about 1/4") discs, quarters or small cubes. Use as a side, on salads, for pickling, on sandwiches, in smoothies or beet hummus! Refrigerate for up to three days.