This Instant Pot beets recipe is the simplest, most foolproof way to prep this super healthy vegetable. This is the ultimate guide to pressure cooking beets: learn my simple formula to perfectly cook beetroots of any shape and size, practical tips for prep & storage, and tasty ideas for enjoying them in your everyday meals.
I started regularly cooking beets when I was in grad school, studying to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. I fell in love with their deep, earthy flavor and with the way they made me feel. Food can be powerful! Let your Instant Pot help you eat more veggies and feel awesome.
Why to Use Instant Pot for Beets
Instant pot makes it so easy to include beets in your food prep routine! Pressure cooking is a quick and efficient method for this dense vegetable.
To roast beets in an oven, they can take about 1 hour depending on their size – not very energy efficient. When you’re prepping beets for summer salads, nobody wants to heat up their kitchen that much!
To boil beets on your stove top, they can take about 30 minutes or more to become tender – and the whole time they’re simmering, they are slowly leaching their nutrients out into the water. If you steam your beets over water in a pot, you don’t lose as much goodness… but you still have to spend just as long babysitting your hot cooktop.
With Instant Pot, you can rest easy knowing that this friendly robot has your hot water safely locked down. Set it, forget it, and take advantage of the quicker cook time that beets require under high pressure.
Whole vs. Sliced vs. Cubed Beets
My preferred method to pressure cook beets is to leave them whole. It simplifies the process because you don’t have to peel them first – if you wait until after they’re cooked, it is easy to rub off their skins with your fingers or a paper towel. It’s also a little easier to slice or chop them when they’re softer, compared to when they are raw and hard. To determine the ideal cook time for whole beets, refer to How Long to Pressure Cook?
If you prefer to peel your beets and slice them before cooking, they don’t have to spend as long in the pressure cooker. For typical sized medium beets sliced into 1/4 inch rounds, pressure cook for about 8 minutes.
Using peeled, diced beets is the quickest way to get them in and out of your Instant Pot. In just 5 minutes, they will be tender enough to enjoy in salads or as a side dish.
Pressure Cooking Beets with Their Greens
When you have beautiful fresh beetroots with their greens still attached, it’s lovely to serve them together as a mixed dish. Unfortunately, the two parts are not a good match for cooking together. Beet greens are very delicate; they can pressure cook in only 2 minutes, and can quickly overcook into mush in the time that it takes to cook beet roots, even if they are finely chopped.
If you want to serve beet roots and greens, it’s better to cook them separately and then season and toss them together. For more details on how to prep and pressure cook leafy greens, see Insta-Greens!
Step By Step: How to Cook
If your beets are still intact, trim off the greens and the long, skinny tap root. Scrub them well to remove any dirt.
As mentioned above, beets can be peeled and sliced before cooking if desired – but I think it’s easiest to just leave them whole.
Pour a cup of water into your Instant Pot, insert the cooking rack, and arrange the beets on top. If you decide to slice or chop your beets first, pile them into a steamer basket.
Use Instant Pot’s Steam button and set the cook time according to the size of your beets, covered in How Long to Pressure Cook. The Steam function is a little quicker to heat up the cooker compared to Manual mode, because there is no need to worry about scorching the bottom of the pot when steaming over water.
Peel & Slice
After the beets are cooked, I like to make the whole batch ready-to-eat by peeling and slicing them. Wait until they are cool enough to handle, then the thin skins can easily be rubbed off. Use a paper towel to avoid staining your fingers pink!
After the skins are gone, slice them into the shape and size of your choice. Chill in the fridge and enjoy for days!
How Long to Pressure Cook?
The hardest part about pressure-cooking beets is deciding how long to cook, because beets come in all shapes and sizes. At the market, try to select similar specimens. After taking notes on a few different batches, I was able to review my captain’s log and reverse-engineer the following basic formula which has been working out very well in my Instant Pot:
weight of the largest beet in your batch (in grams) / 10 = minutes of cooking time under high pressure
For example, the six beets in my photos ranged between 152-223 grams, so I set my cooking time to 22 minutes – perfect! The number of beets in the cooker doesn’t have much impact on cooking time, so you can use the same guideline regardless of your batch size.
To look at it another way, here is a time chart covering several common sizes:
Instant Pot Pressure Cook Times (High Pressure)
Quick vs. Natural Pressure Release
When pressure cooking beets, it is safe and effective to finish with a quick release (the valve can be opened immediately after the cook time is complete).
While natural pressure release (allowing the pressure to gradually come down before opening the valve/lid) isn’t necessary, it also is not likely to leave your beets overcooked – so don’t fret if you’re late getting back to your cooker.
Storage & Make-Ahead Meal Prep Tips
After your beets are cooked, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Follow USDA food safety guidelines and eat them within 4 days after cooking.
Can you freeze cooked beets?
Cooked beets freeze very well; they can be thawed and used just like freshly cooked beets, or they can be blended frozen in smoothies.
Arrange whole, sliced or cubed cooked beets on a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Flash freeze this tray until the beets are firm, then transfer them to an airtight container for long term storage. Store frozen beets for up to one year for best quality.
Meal Prep Ideas for Instant Pot Beets
Now that you’ve got a beautiful bowl of cooked beets, it’s time to get busy using them in healthy meals and snacks!
- Salads: The majority of my beets go into salads. My #1 favorite beet salad: fresh leafy greens, lots of beets, chopped walnuts, crumbled feta cheese, fresh herbs, and chunks of juicy fresh oranges. Mmm!
- Hummus: Rich, earthy beets are delicious in a mild, creamy dip like hummus – and beautifully hot pink! I got addicted to beet hummus when I lived near Trader Joe’s, and it is just as good homemade.
- Pickles: After peeling and slicing your beets, soak them in a 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar (apple cider or red wine vinegars are my favorite), along with a pinch of salt and sugar. Store them in a jar in the fridge, and use them in sandwiches or burgers (a strange personal weakness of mine: “Aussie-style” burgers, topped with pickled beets and a pineapple ring!!
- Baking Recipes: Believe it or not, beets can find a home in sweet treats. Puree cooked beets in a food processor, and try them in a chocolate cake!
Food for thought, from your friendly neighborhood Registered Dietitian Nutritionist + food science buff!
In my professional opinion, beets are one of the best vegetables you can add to your diet. Their intense color flags the dense plant-powered benefits hidden in this humble root.
Uncommon points of interest in this plant’s biochemistry include:
Betalains are the class of pigment molecules that give beets their color. The unusual thing is that just about every other purple plant on Earth is colored with anthocyanins; betalains are a unique exception, found only amongst the Caryophyllales order of plants (including beets along with chard, amaranth and dragon fruit) and strangely, a handful of higher order fungi including Amanita muscaria. Nobody can say how these two very different molecules evolved into parallel roles, but we know that they share more in common than just their color. Betalains have similar biological properties to the flavonoid anthocyanin; when consumed, both have antioxidant activity and can inhibit inflammatory pathways.
Nitrate is a soil-borne compound that plants absorb as a source of nitrogen for protein synthesis (found in particularly high concentration in beets). When we eat plants, their nitrate is reduced to nitrite by bacteria living in the backs of our mouths, and can then be reduced again with our own enzymes to nitric oxide. In our physiology, nitric oxide is an important signaling molecule. It’s a volatile gas that can diffuse readily across cell membranes, and it has a key role in the circulatory system, where its presence induces vasodilation and increases blood flow. This pathway is likely related to emerging research linking beet consumption to improvements in endothelial function (and potential impacts on cardiovascular health, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and cognitive function).
Recommended Reading: The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease
To remove beet juice stains, sprinkle your hands with baking soda and a few drops of water. Rub this paste into your skin; it is mildly abrasive and will help work out the pigments and absorb them out.
I have several friends who have asked me this question – not everyone has a natural taste for this vegetable! Bright, sour, salty flavors can counter the “earthy” (dirty??) taste of beets. Try ingredients like vinegar, lemon or orange juice or zest, fresh herbs, or even pomegranate juice.
More Instant Pot Vegetable Recipes
How to prep leafy greens in a pressure cooker – kale, collards, chard, turnip, mustard… not to mention the tops of your beets!
Using zucchini noodles as a simple substitute for pasta can be a fun way to add more veggies to your diet… and you guessed it, Instant Pot makes it easier than ever!
Pressure cooker potatoes and carrots are a quick and low-effort side dish. Dress them up with one of my 3 favorite seasonings: garlic herb, lemon pepper, or maple mustard.
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[Instant Pot] Insta-Beets!
- 20 ounces fresh whole beets rinsed and scrubbed
- Set a cooking rack or steamer basket into the pressure cooker, place the beets on top, and pour in a cup of water. Close the lid and ensure that the valve is set to sealed position. Select “Steam” mode, leave the setting on High Pressure, and adjust the time based on the size of your beets (see recipe note).
- When the cooking time is up, the pressure valve may be opened immediately for a quick release.
- When the beets are cool enough to handle, slice off the top and root end, then carefully remove the skin either by rubbing it off with your fingers (wearing disposable gloves if desired, or lined with a paper towel to limit staining) or if they’re especially stubborn, with a paring knife.
- The cooked beets may be chilled and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The beets can be sliced and tossed with vinegar, salt, oil or other seasonings; mixed into salads; or used in other recipes.