Simple Quick-Pickled Beets

A small white bowl containing slices of pickled beets on a plate with a quesadilla

This is a mild, slightly sweet quick-pickle and works well as a side dish or you can toss them into salads or sandwiches. Pictured above they are served with kale, cheese and black bean quesadillas. 

Big Picture

Many quick-pickle recipes do not require cooking first, but this one does. You’ll boil the beets and mix up a brine separately to pour on top of the cooked, peeled and sliced beets. Skins peel off of beets easily after they’ve been cooked, but cooking with beets can be a bit messy as they can stain fabrics and porous surfaces. If that’s a concern to you, you can put some precautions in place and choose your cutting board accordingly, or you can just give in to the appearance of a hard-working kitchen!

Any variety of beets such as golden, red or chioggia will work and be pretty. If your beets still have their nutrient-packed greens attached, plan on finding a use for them such as a salad, curry, stir-fry or soup. Or, if you are currently well-stocked with greens, you can blanch them quickly and freeze them to throw into a soup someday. 


This recipe can be made in a large mason jar, but a glass food storage container with a lid also works nicely. They will have more flavor after a day in the refrigerator. 



1 lb beets, cooked and peeled (5-7 small or 3-4 medium)

½ cup distilled white vinegar

¼ cup sugar 

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp peppercorns

2 bay leaves


Optional additions

3 whole cloves 

Top with a touch of flaky salt and ground pepper to taste


Scrub the beets really well with a brush. Leave them whole with about an inch of the roots and stems on for now to prevent the color from bleeding out too much while cooking. 


Place them in a large saucepan (with a well-fitted lid) and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook for 20-40 minutes or until tender and easily pierced with a fork. The cooking time will depend on the size and age of the beets. Rinse with cold water, drain.


When they are cool enough to touch, cut off the ends and rub off the skins with your fingers or use a paring knife. Rinse, slice thinly and place in a glass bowl or container. 

Combine all the other ingredients in a saucepan on the stovetop. On medium heat, bring to a gentle simmer stirring constantly. Simmer 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are combined; pour mixture over the beets, cover and chill in the refrigerator. Discard bay leaf before serving. Serve with a fork or slotted spoon.

What is this vegetable and what do I do with it?!


Sometimes at the farmer’s market or in a CSA box you may come across a vegetable you’ve never seen before. Or perhaps you know the name of a vegetable but you’ve never cooked with it and aren’t sure what to do with it. That’s where our Veggie Gallery comes in handy! CLICK HERE to visit the gallery.

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