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How to Boil Beets Whole | Cook Beets on the Stove

A root vegetable, beets are delicious in sandwiches, salads, pickled and more. Want to cook beets on the stove? Here’s how to boil beets whole.

A blue pot is shown on a wooden counter. It's filled with beets submerged in water.

Canned beets were the bane of many a childhood – but not mine. In my house, fresh, round beets from the farmers market were destined for boiling in our kitchen on the cooktop. They were often served sliced and we’d sprinkle them with salt before devouring them. Beets, to me, taste of childhood summers, bare shoulders and farm stands. As I grew into an adult, I discovered how lovely beets can be paired with a cheese like feta or roasted or eaten raw in salads. Yum.

When I was pregnant with Will, I craved pickled foods including pickled beets and ate them straight from the jar with a ferocious hunger.

Beets are naturally sweet and can be eaten raw or cooked – including roasted, sauteed and boiled. Today, I am teaching you how to boil beets whole, which is a great way to prepare them when you want them sliced for sandwiches and salads, cubed for pickling and using in dishes or quartered for snacking.

Plus, when you boil beets whole, the skins slip right off with the brush of a finger. Although I often eat beets with their skins on (particularly when roasting them), I do like boiled beets to be skinless.

Do Beets Help Your Body?

Actually, yes. According to Prevention Magazine, beets have numerous health benefits. They can help lower blood pressure, boost stamina and fight inflammation. They might even help you boost your brain power (and if you suffer from mom brain like me, that’s really good to hear0. Moreover, they are rich in nutrients like folate, potassium and fiber.

Alright, now let’s make some beets, shall we?

Step One: Prepare the Beets

If the beets have the greens attached, lop them off, leaving about 1/2 inch of the stems. Wash the beets thoroughly. You’ll want to boil like-sized beets together, so pay attention when choosing which ones to boil.

Hint: Beet greens are delicious! Try them in Fried Halloumi with Beet Green Bruschetta or Beet Fried Rice.

The root ends of beets are shown on a cutting board with a knife nearby.

Be sure to cut off the long root that protrudes from the bottom. Although it’s edible, you don’t want it attached when boiling. You could totally reserve it for vegetable stock though.

Step Two: Place the Beets in a Pot

A blue pot is shown on a counter with wet beets inside.

A stock pot or Dutch oven is perfect for boiling beets. Don’t overfill it with beets though, you need to leave room for water

Speaking of water, now, you’ll want to fill the pot. The water should cover the beets (it’s ok if a little protrudes – you can also stir them to ensure even cooking.

Step Three: Boil!

A blue pot is shown on a stove. It's filled with beets and water.

Now it’s time to cook beets on the stove! Bring the beets and water to a boil over high heat. (You can reduce the heat once boiling if you wish; I don’t.) Boil for 40-50 minutes or until a fork can pierce the beets easily.

Step Four: Drain

A blue pot holds steaming water and whole beets.

Once the beets are tender, remove from the hot burner and let sit for a few minutes until they aren’t quite so hot.

Boiled beets are shown in a colander.

Drain the beets.

Hint: Beet juice can be used as a natural fabric dye, so if you want to use it for that, don’t toss it!

Now What?

Allow the beets to cool until they can be handled. Then you can easily use your fingers to dislodge the skins and peel. From there, there are so many uses for boiled beets.

Here are a few ways to use boiled beets:

  • Try them in rice or grain bowls (as shown above)
  • Cube them and use on salads.
  • Make a beet dip
  • Slice them for sandwiches
  • Top crostini with sliced beets and goat cheese or feta
  • Pickle them
An image of beets submerged in water in a pot is shown with the words "How to Boil Beets Whole" superimposed on top.

More Beet Recipes


Monday 29th of October 2018

I've always just bought jarred beets but making my own was so fun and they turned out tasty! I used them in a salad, and I'll probably use more for dinner. Thanks for sharing!

Sarah Walker Caron

Monday 29th of October 2018

YAY! So glad you liked it.

Kimi Wei

Sunday 21st of October 2018

Will you share a recipe for pickling beets, please?!

Sarah Walker Caron

Monday 22nd of October 2018

Hi Kimi, pickled beets are on my list! Hopefully I will have a good recipe to share soon :)


Wednesday 17th of October 2018

I like to bake mine, then chop and toss with butter, salt, and lemon juice.

Sarah Walker Caron

Wednesday 17th of October 2018

Do you bake them whole?