This homemade pickled beet recipe is ready to eat in hours and is a delicious way to add a sweet taste of summer to salads, sandwiches, or sides. These quick refrigerator pickled beets will brighten up your table with their sweet and tangy taste.
I love making quick and easy refrigerator pickles in the summer, from traditional bread and butter pickles to pickled green tomatoes. And beets are ideal for pickling because their sweetness makes beet pickles taste unique.
This is a small batch pickle recipe used to make one 16 ounce jar. This is enough pickles for a few weeks but doesn’t overcrowd the frig with pickle jars!
This post was originally published in August 2018 and revised on 8/20/21.
Why You Will Love These Pickled Beets
- Since this is a refrigerator pickle recipe there is no special equipment or canning tools necessary.
- This recipe is easy to make, so it is perfect for beginners who are new to pickling.
- Beets are low calorie, high fiber, and high in nutrients, making this a healthy snack or side.
- These are not overly sweet like candied beets, but and sweet, tangy and full of flavor making them an ideal condiment for your next cookout.
- Beet pickles are very pretty, both in the jar and in dishes. They add a great burst of bright color along with their sweetness.
Beets – You can pickle any kind of beets. Golden beets are a tiny bit sweeter and have the advantage of not staining everything they touch the way red beets will. You can pickle striped Chioggia beets, but once they are pickled the beet juice from the red stripes will color the everything red, so you will lose the striped effect.
Vinegar – I like to use white vinegar for pickles. Apple cider vinegar works fine too though.
Sugar – Some recipes for pickled beets include a lot more sugar than my recipe. But beets have one of the highest sugar contents of all vegetables, so they really don’t need a lot more. However some sugar is necessary to offset the earthy flavor and bring out the vegetable’s natural sweetness.
Salt – The salt helps preserve the pickles so they stay fresh in the refrigerator. Use kosher salt or pickling salt for the best results. Pickles made with table salt are fine to eat, but the salt will make the brine cloudy, so they won’t look as nice.
Onion – Sweet onion adds a little bite to the pickles. Red onions or shallots would also taste good. I wouldn’t use red onions with golden beets though, since the red will color the pickle juice.
Spices – Spices are essential for adding flavor to pickles. These pickles use peppercorn, cloves and a cinnamon stick. Using cloves and cinnamon in the brine enhances the sweet flavor of the beets without overwhelming it.
How to Make Refrigerated Pickled Beets
Before you can pickle fresh beets they need to be cooked. There are a number of different ways of cooking them and it doesn’t matter which one you use.
Using the Instant Pot is my preference because it is a little faster and avoids heating up the kitchen. But I have included instructions for roasting them in the oven below.
Instant Pot – A pressure cooker is ideal for quickly steaming vegetables. Put a cup of water in the bottom of the Instant Pot and add a rack or trivet. Then put the unpeeled beets on the rack.
Set the pressure cooker for Manual, high pressure, for 12 minutes. Once it finishes flip the valve to manually release the pressure and take the lid off.
Oven Roasting – Take the unpeeled beets and wrap them in aluminum foil. Roast them in the oven at 300 degrees F for about half an hour.
They are done when they are easily pierced by a knife. Larger beets will take longer to roast than smaller ones.
2. Peel and Slice
No matter how you cook the beets they will need to cool before they can be pickled. Let them sit on a cutting board until they are cool enough to handle.
Tip: Beets, especially red beets, are messy to handle. The beet juice will stain everything it touches including cutting boards, wooden spoons, plastic bowls and your hands. So keep that in mind when slicing!
Once they have cooled the skin will peel right off just by rubbing them. Then slice them into rounds or cut them into chunks. I prefer the way rounds look in the jar, so that is how I slice them.
3. Fill the Jar
Fill the jar with the sliced beets. Use a glass jar, like a mason jar or a weck jar. Since this is not a canning recipe you don’t have to use a canning jar and don’t need a canning lid.
This recipe makes enough for a small batch of beet pickles in a 16 ounce jar. I like to make small batches of refrigerator pickles because there is only so much room in my refrigerator!
4. Make the Brine
To make the pickling brine combine the vinegar and water in a small sauce pan. Add the onion, sugar, salt, peppercorns and piece of cinnamon stick to the vinegar mixture in the sauce pan.
Heat the brine and cook for 5 minutes. It doesn’t need to boil, it just needs to get hot enough for the solids to dissolve and the spices to start infusing flavor into the liquid.
Pour the pickling liquid over the beets in the mason jar. Depending on how tightly they are packed in the jar there might be extra brine, which is fine. On the other hand if there isn’t enough brine add enough hot water to cover the vegetables.
Just make sure the onions and spices go into the pickle jar so they can continue to infuse the beet juice with flavor as the pickles age.
Put a lid on the jar and let it cool to room temperature. Then put the beet pickles in the refrigerator. They will be ready to eat in as little as 4 hours! These pickled beets are sweet without being overwhelmingly sugary.
Tip: Like all refrigerator pickles this recipe is NOT SUITABLE FOR CANNING and these need to be stored in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to a month.
How to Use Beet Pickles
These pickles are delicious in place of cucumber pickles as a pickle on a sandwich or burger or as a side dish for roasted chicken. In Australia it is common to serve beet pickles on burgers because the sweetness and acidity of the beets goes so well with a juicy burger, so take some along on your next cookout!
I also like to eat them on a sandwich, especially one with a strong tasting cheese like Gorgonzola or Roquefort. They give a little burst of sweetness to anything.
My favorite way to serve them though is on a salad. I love to add them to my summer salads for a contrasting taste among the all the other fresh vegetables.
These will keep for about one month in the refrigerator. The flavors will continue to intensify as they get older.
You can eat the pickles as soon as they are cooled. But the flavor will keep developing and intensifying as they age and I think they taste best after about 3 days in the refrigerator.
Yes, if you don’t have any fresh beets you can make beet pickles from canned beets. This simplifies the recipe since there is no need to steam or roast the beets. Just pack them into a jar and make the brine.
NO! This is definitely not a recipe that is suitable for canning. Don’t take chances with food safety. If you want to can beets or anything else I recommend getting the Ball Blue Book of Canning, which is considered the best authority on the canning process.
Find more Easy Pickle Recipes
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 c sweet onion, sliced
- 4 peppercorns
- 3 cloves
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups beets, cooked and sliced (2-3 fresh beets)
This recipe is not appropriate for canning or long term storage. Recipe was revised 8/20/21 to add more detail to the instructions.
Use either the Instant Pot or the oven to cook fresh beets.
Steaming the Beets in the Instant Pot
- Put a cup of water in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Add a rack to the Instant Pot and put the raw, unpeeled beets on top.
- Close the lid and set the pressure cooker on Manual, high pressure for 12 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes to reach pressure.
- Once it finishes release the pressure and take the beets out to cool.
Roasting the Beets in the Oven
- Wrap the unpeeled beets in aluminum foil. Roast them in a 300 degree F oven for about 30 minutes, although large beets might take longer.
- The beets are done when they are easily pierced by a knife. When they are done take them out to cool.
- Once the beets are cool enough to handle remove the skin by rubbing the beets. Rinse them off and slice them into rounds or chunks.
- Fill a 16 ounce jar with the beets.
- Combine the vinegar and water in a small saucepan.
- Add the sliced onion, peppercorns, cloves, sugar, a cinnamon stick and salt.
- Put the sauce pan on medium heat and let it cook for about 5 minutes. This should dissolve the sugar and salt and let the spices start to infuse into the liquid.
- Pour the hot brine over the beets. There might be too much brine, which is fine, but make sure the spices and onion end up in the jar. Or there might not be enough brine, in which case use hot water to top off the jar.
- Let the jar cool on the counter for an hour or so, and then refrigerate.
- The beet pickles are ready to eat after 4 hours but will take 3 days to develop their best flavor. They keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.
This recipe works with any type of beet include red beets, yellow beets or striped beets.
Beets, especially red beets are messy to handle. The beet juice will stain everything it touches including cutting boards, wooden spoons, plastic bowls and your hands. So keep that in mind when slicing!
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 32Sodium: 101mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 5g