January 11, 2010

Tin Foil Beets

by IsaChandra

Unwrapping a tin foil beet is a lot like unwrapping a present. Well maybe not really because you know exactly what’s going to be in there, but it’s still somehow such an exciting surprise. Roasting brings out the beet’s sweet flavor so they’re like precious rubies in a candy box when ready to eat. I usually do two pounds at a time on a weeknight or Sunday afternoon, and use some of them that evening as a side dish with whatever I’m eating. Then I refrigerate the rest and use them in salads or just for a quick snack throughout the week.

The cooking method and time really varies depending on the size of the beets you’re using. If using small beets, say golf ball size, and they are very fresh, then don’t both to peel. Just slice in half, wrap and roast. And remember to save the beet greens to saute with some olive oil and garlic. But if using those big honkers of a beet that you’re more likely to find come January and February, then it’s a little different. Peel them and then slice top down into segments (like orange slices) that are about 3/4 of an inch thick at their widest. If a beet is especially big, say softball sized, then I sometimes will slice widthwise, too. Then, keeping all the slices together in a neat package, place on tin foil and wrap so that it can easily be unfolded from the top.

Roasting time will vary, but I do at least an hour at 425 F. They’re ready when easily pierced with a fork. Be careful when handling, because there will be a lot of red beet juice just dying to drizzle out and stain your countertops. Although maybe that could look cool.

My current favorite quick treatment for roasted beets: toss with fresh orange juice, toasted sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Salt to taste and add a little Sriracha and you’re as good as gold. Or garnets.



  • January 11, 2010 at 5:54 pm: girl least likely to

    love love LOVE beets, and this is my absolute favorite way. hearty heart.

  • January 11, 2010 at 6:00 pm: ASB

    Do you need tin foil or can you just roast in chunks on a baking sheet?

  • January 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm: IsaChandra

    You need the tin foil…thus the tin foil beet! Roasting without tin foil will result in a dried out beet. The tin foil keeps all the moisture in. You can toss in olive oil and roast on a sheet, and that will be delicious, but another animal (or vegetable) entirely.

  • January 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm: melanie

    I LOVE roasted beets. good call on making more and keeping some for snacks and salads in the fridge!

  • January 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm: Glad

    I love beets! The pink pee after I eat them … not so much.

  • January 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm: jessica

    i usually roast them with the skins on, then peel them after they’re cooked – the skin slips off quite easily, and i find it’s less messy.

  • January 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm: bklynchic

    oooh, i just had some last night! made a huge entree salad: greens, dressing, beets (red & golden), clementines and garlicky croutons. yum!

    i also roast with skin on and then peel.

  • January 12, 2010 at 10:14 am: appifanie/Sarah

    LOVE love love. I too roast with the skins on, and squish them off when I’m done.

  • January 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm: Renai

    I love beets! And even though they stain everything within 5 feet of them- I just don’t care!

  • January 12, 2010 at 2:40 pm: IsaChandra

    See, I’m not so sure that it’s easier to take the skin off after than to peel. I just peel before hand (unless it’s a fresh beet and you can eat the skin) because I know I think it’s neater. But it’s just personal preference.

  • January 12, 2010 at 10:22 pm: cila

    Yum. You can never have too many great ways to cook beets. Blossoming Lotus have a fantastic beet and curried cashew salad recipe online too…

  • January 14, 2010 at 6:03 pm: Devanio

    I had never ever thought of roasting beets. How long does it take more or less? The last recipe by @cila in the comments here sounds great

  • January 20, 2010 at 6:18 pm: fringedweller

    Only time I use foil is when I’ve visited relatives, and rescued a big sheet of it (that maybe just needed a wipe) from the landfill.

    So, to roast without oil or foil I use cheap enameled metal bowls and plates I got for camping, but more often use in the oven. Put the tiniest smear of oil on the bottom of the bowl; no shit, not even 1/8 t. oil. Put the beet in the bowl, use the plate to cover. Like Isa, I bake for the week’s worth, rather than heat an oven for one thing.

    Or you can use a small pot and lid, or covered glas bakeware. If you don’t have something suitable, the thrift store will.

  • January 20, 2010 at 9:41 pm: Charissa

    I love beets, never thought about roasting them, thanks for the tip.

  • January 26, 2010 at 9:30 pm: Carolyn

    This is brilliant! Beets are absolutely going in my garden this year, now that they have a raison d’etre. I absolutely love roasted anything, and I absolutely love beets but they just never became part of the “usual suspects” in my vegetable bin (why? how the hell do I know, they just never did). Leave it to Isa to turn them into jewels.

    I still like using foil sometimes for stuff like this, but I’ll use a piece of foil over and over and over again until I can’t rinse the grunge off anymore. Which is usually after many uses (not as good as something non-disposable like a little casserole, though, I know…)

  • January 29, 2010 at 11:46 am: Elizabeth

    Hi Isa,

    This sounds really delicious. About how long should I roast them? 20 mins? 30 mins? I don’t know… need help :) Thank you!

  • February 2, 2010 at 4:53 pm: Elizabeth

    Okay! Anyone who’s wondering about the length of time… I roasted two beets the other day and took them out of the oven after 60 minutes. They were absolutely perfect. We made open faced sandwiches with goat cheese, fresh thyme, a little bit of olive oil and arugula. Awesome!

    Also, for some reason, one beet dripped through the tinfoil and made a red, smoky mess all over the bottom of the oven. After that, I put a cookie sheet on the rack below the beets.

    So good–thanks for sharing, Isa!

  • July 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm: Ivan E. Cao-Berg

    Did them and tossed in a couple of garlic cloves. Awesome!

  • August 15, 2010 at 10:48 pm: jlhiowa (Jessica)

    I was really looking forward to eating these, but unfortunately, I did not like them. Let me start off by saying that I am a horrible cook, and have just started trying to learn how to cook, and transition as much as possible from vegetarian to vegan. I guess I was a little confused, I thought these were going to taste like candy.

    I bought the beets about a week ago and put them in the refrigerator. Just today, I read on a different beet recipe that the leaves are supposed to be cut off, otherwise they keep sucking water out of the beets. So, I might have wrecked the beets from the beginning :/

    We did not have olive oil, but we did have olive oil spray, so I sprayed the beets with it. This might have been mistake #2. I wrapped them in foil and let them cook at 400 for an hour (Since I am learning, I usually start with a PPK recipe, and compare some others, because I need all the tips and directions I can get).

    After about 15 minutes, I could smell something unpleasant coming from the kitchen. My heart sunk when I realized it was the beets. I am not sure how to describe it, maybe like dirt (but not good dirt, like dirt that has some sort of problem, rotten dirt? LOL I’m not sure). Is this how they are supposed to smell? I could barely stand the smell.

    At an hour, the beets passed the knife test so I took them out. I did not like the smell. After they cooled, I tried a tiny piece. I did not like it. I put on the olive oil spray, it was slightly better, but only where the olive oil was completely masking the beet taste. I added salt, and another taste, it was okay. I added the pepper, and it tasted okay, but I was already getting sick of the beet taste. I remembered one beet recipe said to add sugar if the beets were not sweet, so I sprinkled on cinnamon sugar (I am still confused about all the different types of sugar, the closest things we had were brown sugar and a natural? sugar. Also, at this point I really wanted to cover up the beet taste). Even then, it did not taste very good. I actually had to rinse my mouth and eat gum to get out the beet taste.

    Do I just not like beets? Did I prepare the beets wrong? I am trying to learn how to cook, so I do not want to blame this recipe. It, and other beet recipes, have a lot of good reviews, so I think it’s either my palette or a cooking mistake I made.

    We started a compost pile tonight. I put the two beets in it, and as we were chopping them up, the awful smell came out, so I had to keep covering them in dirt. LOL, I don’t know, hopefully one day I will be able to cook and understand food!

  • January 17, 2011 at 8:36 pm: Julie

    I made the Roasted Beet/Navel orange salad out of the Appetite for Reduction cookbook today (I highly recommend the book!) … just happened to have all of the ingredients in my kitchen… How do I describe this salad? Unbelievable is a good place to start. The dressing alone is good enough to eat with a spoon, but then you get to pour it over delicious roasted beets, oranges, toasted sesame seeds! …. it’s unlike anything I’ve ever had! I can’t wait to make it next time I have a dinner party… Thanks Isa!

  • December 20, 2011 at 6:46 pm: Therese

    @jlhiowa: You need fresh beets that feel firm to the touch, wash them thoroughly, cut off the part of the beet attached to the leaves (I usually cut off the top and bottom pointy bit – habit), peel them and chop it up the way Isa described in the recipe. She didn’t use oil – like she says higher up in the comments, oil is used for a different preparation technique.

    If you don’t follow the recipe, you can’t expect to achieve the same result as the author. (Of course it’s possible that you don’t like beets.) It’s best to follow one recipe at a time if you’re learning and experiment when you have more experience in a particular area of cooking. Good luck!

  • December 20, 2011 at 8:03 pm: Therese

    Tin foil beets just out of the oven, and several into my mouth… At this rate there won’t be any left for the wild rice, orange and beet salad! Tastiest darn roasted beets I’ve ever had, and no fat! =D

  • March 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm: Becky

    @jlhiowa – it sounds to me like you just don’t like beets. They taste quite earthy, kind of like dirt.. Very wholesome. I crave them like crazy quite often, but many of my friends don’t like them at all.

    This is a great idea Isa, I cook beets often but always boiled them for that hour, and it made such a mess. Thanks!

  • December 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm: Darlene Cardone

    So excited on this one !!!

  • November 27, 2014 at 4:19 am: KateInHawaii

    My 1st attempt: I now am roasting 5 tin papooses on the little black tray of my toaster oven (why waste elect w/large oven, unless your pies are included :). Love all the ingredients in salad and dressing! Winnah!