16 Ways To Use Canned Beets

Beets may be America's second-most-hated vegetable — behind either turnips or Brussels sprouts, depending on who you ask — but we think these root veggies have been maligned for far too long. Sure, they'll stain your hands, cutting board, and clothing if you're not careful. We'll also concede that they're kind of a pain to peel. But unless you're part of the population who thinks beets taste like dirt or metal, we beg you to give them another shot.

If it's staining that you're worried about, then wear gloves when working with beets and coat your cutting board with olive oil before chopping. As for their tough skin, skip the fresh beets and choose the canned version instead. We recognize canned beets might not sound appetizing to beet detractors, so that's why we've come up with a list of 16 un-beet-able ways to use canned beets (you didn't honestly think we'd get through an entire article without a beet pun, did you?) From simple salads to eye-catching spreads, you'll be amazed at the myriad of ways these colorful bulbs can be used in the kitchen.

1. Whip up a beet salad

We've got nothing against iceberg and romaine, but we can't help but feel like lettuce is a bit boring. Luckily, putting a fresh spin on your daily salad is as easy as substituting your regular lettuce for canned beets. Not only is this swap a cinch, but just like typical, lettuce-based salads, the recipe options are endless.

For example, there's spinach salad with beets, walnuts, and goat cheese. To make it, simply arrange baby spinach leaves on a plate and top with crumbled goat cheese and chopped walnuts. Finish it with homemade balsamic vinaigrette and you've got a salad that looks a lot fancier than it is. Another one of our favorites is beet salad with strawberries, yogurt, and watercress. The original recipe calls for roasted beets, but you can save yourself hours by using the canned version. Prepare this salad by dressing the beets in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey, then season with salt and pepper. Spread strained yogurt on plates, add the beets and strawberries, and finish with watercress.

2. Beet pesto will make you see things in a new light

Basil-based pesto dominates the market, but did you know that it's possible to make pesto from peas, spinach, and even beets? These alternative forms may sound funky, but we promise you they're no less delicious than the original version. Although many beet pasta sauce recipes call for fresh roasted beets, the canned version saves time and works just as well. That's because beets don't lose much flavor when they're canned. As a result, the fresh and canned varieties taste pretty similar.

All you need is a food processor and a few simple ingredients to give your typical pasta sauce a makeover. To prepare this bright-hued sauce, add roasted pine nuts (walnuts also work), canned beets, garlic, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a food processor. Pulse several times to chop the ingredients. Pour in olive oil while the food processor is still running and blend until smooth. If you're looking to serve it over pasta, warm it up on the stove beforehand. Alternatively, you can serve it cold as a bread spread.

3. Cozy up with borscht

Every country has a soup recipe it holds dear. In the United States, chicken noodle soup and beef stew vie for the top spot. In Japan, tonkatsu ramen is the undeniable winner. And in Ukraine, Poland, and the rest of Eastern Europe, borscht comes out on top. All of these meals have their merits, but we're inclined to go with Eastern Europe on this one. With winter temperatures ranging from 23 degrees Fahrenheit to 36 degrees Fahrenheit, people from these countries know a thing or two about cooking for warmth.

Pretty much every family has its own borscht recipe, but most contain some combination of beets, carrots, potatoes, beef shank, and vinegar. You'll probably notice that most recipes call for fresh beets, but once again, canned beets work exceptionally well when making borscht. They end up getting cooked alongside carrots and onions until they turn mushy anyway, so save yourself the hassle of peeling and slicing by using canned, pre-sliced beets instead.

4. Stir up some beet hummus

Whether you're preparing a pink and red Valentine's Day meal for your honey or looking to wow your party guests, beet hummus is the way to go. Not only does the bright color draw attention to a dip that usually receives no more than a passing glance, but the sweet flavor livens up even the blandest of spreads.

As with beet pesto, you'll notice that most beet hummus recipes call for roasted beets. While there's no denying that roasted beets are full of flavor, you can still stir up a tasty hummus with just the canned variety. After all, the ingredients are all getting mashed together otherwise, so why not save yourself some prep work? To make beet hummus from scratch, blend tahini, garlic, salt, and beets until smooth. Top with your choice of olive oil, pine nuts, and herbs. If you're in a rush, simply blend premade hummus with beets, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

5. Add some color to potato salad

If you've ever tried borscht, then you know how well beets and potatoes go together. Take that principle one step further by adding canned beets to your favorite potato salad recipe. In addition to providing visual interest to the all-white side dish, beets pump up the nutrition in potato salad. In fact, a one-cup serving of canned beets provides three milligrams of iron, an amount that's equivalent to about 17 percent of your daily recommended intake. The same serving size of canned beets also provides 13 percent of your daily folate intake (per Livestrong).

Like traditional potato salad, you'll start by steaming potatoes, then dicing them once they cool. Next, combine the potatoes with diced canned beets, celery, onions, hard-boiled eggs, and chives. Dress the vegetables with a combination of vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, yogurt, and salt. Add some freshly ground pepper and serve immediately or chill for a few hours. Once again, the use of canned beets saves you at least an hour of preparation time when making this recipe.

6. Swap tomatoes for beets in bruschetta

Like a lot of Italian food, bruschetta seems like one of those sacred dishes that simply can't be messed with. We're not saying that some nonna is going to come out of the woodwork to slap your wrists, but it does seem pretty tough to top such a beloved classic. After all, how can you improve on something as perfect as toasted ciabatta drizzled with olive oil and topped with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil? It's not easy, but it is important to have alternatives available in case you run out of tomatoes or get an unexpected bruschetta craving in the middle of winter.

Beets might seem like an unconventional swap, but their deep red color and rich flavor profile make them an excellent tomato understudy. Like the traditional version, beet bruschetta starts with hearty toasted bread generously topped with garlic and olive oil. While the loaf is toasting, combine ricotta, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Top the bread with the cheese mixture, add a beet slice, and finish with a couple of basil leaves.

7. Red velvet beet cookies are a healthy treat

Red velvet cookies typically owe their signature color to food coloring. There's nothing wrong with some artificial dye, but we think it's much better to use natural food coloring whenever possible. That's why we're such big fans of using beets when making red velvet cookies. Not only are they effective at staining cookie dough, but they contribute fiber and minerals you won't get from pre-made options. While you can certainly use fresh beets for this recipe, canned beets work just as well. They save you from the hassle of boiling and cooling, allowing you to toss the beets directly from the can into the blender.

These delectable treats start by combining the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt) together. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add milk, vanilla, egg, and one cup of blended beets. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients little by little, mixing after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips, then bake for eight to 10 minutes.

8. Harvard beets will win over even the most beet-phobic

A traditional New England recipe going back decades, Harvard beets are a sweet and tangy take on everyone's favorite root vegetable. The origins of this popular side dish are murky. Some sources credit an unnamed Harvard student for their creation, while others cite an English pub named Harwood as the birthplace. We may never learn the true story, but something we do know is that these sauce-heavy beets are delicious.

If you want to give them a try, bring sugar, white vinegar, water, and cornstarch to a boil in a saucepan. Add chopped beets and cook until they soften. Once they're a bit mushy, add butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Although simple, this sauce is fatty, sweet, and a bit sour (in the best possible way). Something else we love about Harvard beets is that they can be served hot or cold. Pair hot Harvard beets with steak, pork chops, or chicken. Serve cold beets on top of a fresh salad or snack on them all by themselves.

9. Step back in time with pickled beet eggs

A traditional springtime dish amongst the Amish, these eye-catching orbs are an Easter favorite for many. They're ridiculously tasty to eat and even easier to prepare, especially when you use canned beets instead of fresh ones. Traditional advice will tell you that it's essential to roast fresh beets before pickling in order to bring out their natural sweetness, but don't get scared off. Canned beets work just fine for this simple recipe.

Start your preparations by hard-boiling and peeling eggs. Once cooled, plop them into a mason jar. From there, add two cans of whole beets to the eggs, making sure to reserve some of the beet juice. Bring beet juice, sugar, water, and vinegar to a boil and pour over the beet and egg mixture. Allow the jar to cool before refrigerating for at least 24 hours. When you pull the jar out of the fridge, you'll be greeted with bright pink, slightly sour eggs that are perfect for snacking on.

10. Jazz up your morning smoothie

Even if you're not that interested in smoothies, you've probably heard something about sneaking vegetables into your morning drink as a way of meeting your daily nutritional goals. Spinach, kale, and cauliflower are some of the more popular options, but they're far from the only ones. In particular, we're big fans of adding canned beets to our chilly beverages. We like them because they blend easily, give a burst of nutrition, and provide an irresistible purple hue.

One of our favorite healthy smoothies combines beets, blueberries, Greek yogurt, orange juice, ginger, cardamom, and almond milk. With its high protein content and mysterious spicy notes, this is definitely not your grandmother's smoothie. Another beet-friendly option combines pineapple juice, plain yogurt, frozen berries, a frozen banana, and beets. For the sweet tooths, there's the chocolate beet smoothie. Made with vanilla almond milk, Greek yogurt, beets, cauliflower rice, cacao powder, and cashew butter, this smoothie is one we'll reach for any time of day.

11. Beet cake is a tasty way to eat your daily vegetables

There are a lot of ways to go wrong when using canned beets, but one of the most egregious faults you can make is using them only in savory recipes. Don't get us wrong, we're big fans of beet salads and burgers, but these trusty root vegetables have some serious dessert potential when used correctly. Smoothies and cookies are a decent start, but if you really want to up your beet game, then consider making a beet cake. Feeling hesitant about adding beets to your beloved cake recipe? Just remember that you'll hardly be able to taste them. On top of that, they provide moisture and nutrition, which is more than we could ask from any single cake ingredient.

This recipe calls for puréed beets, so use either a fork or a masher to transform your beets into mush. Next, combine the beets with melted chocolate, butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 55 minutes, cool, and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

12. Go vegan with a beet burger

Whether or not you follow a plant-based diet, there's a good chance you've tried a veggie burger in some way, shape, or form. Popular recipes use black beans, lentils, or mushrooms as the patty base, but we think beets are a much more interesting (and unexpected) alternative. These trusty root veggies provide a pop of color and keep you full for hours — what's not to love?

There are all sorts of ways to incorporate beets into your burger recipe, but one of our favorites starts by puréeing beets in a food processor. Remove the beets and clean the machine before pulverizing walnuts, oats, flax, garlic, spices, and salt. Mix until you obtain coarse flour. Add beets, white beans, and tamari, then blend again. Form patties and cook for 30 minutes in a 375-degree-Fahrenheit oven, flipping once halfway through. Serve on a bun topped with lettuce, microgreens, and hummus.

13. Switch up coleslaw for beet slaw

Mayonnaise-based coleslaw made from cabbage and carrots is fine, but we're always on the lookout for interesting ways to reinvent this picnic classic. For example, we've experimented with apple and blue cheese coleslaw, Asian-inspired coleslaw, and even kale slaw. Beet slaw is yet another way to enjoy this tasty side dish.

Our favorite beet slaw recipe combines sliced fennel, Granny Smith apples, parsley, and matchstick beets. Canned beets are perfect for this recipe because they're ready right out of the can — no need to deal with the thick skin and pesky greens. Once the base ingredients are chopped, it's time to make the dressing. All you need to do is whisk olive oil, lemon juice, orange zest, honey, salt, and pepper together. To assemble the slaw, mix all of the ingredients (besides beets) with two-thirds of the dressing. Use the remaining third to coat the beets. Add the beats to the other ingredients and stir a couple of times before storing.

14. Drink your beets

Juicing is hands-down one of the fastest and easiest ways to consume your daily fruits and vegetables. That said, you can't just chuck a bunch of random produce into your NutriBullet Slow Juicer and hope for the best. To make the best juices, you've got to go in with a recipe. That's especially true when it comes to beets. We love them to pieces, but their rich, earthy flavor doesn't exactly jive with a lot of other ingredients.

A safe bet when you're just starting out is to incorporate beets into a classic apple, carrot, and ginger juice. This blend is sweet, tangy, and bursting with nutritional benefits. Once you've mastered the basics, level up the difficulty by combining beets with cucumber, apple, parsley, lime, and ginger. If you prefer your juices to be sweeter, then the strawberry, raspberry, and beet blend is for you. No matter which recipe you choose, canned beets will help you save time without sacrificing anything in the nutrition department.

15. Try beet tzatziki sauce

With its creamy texture, bright flavor profile, and endless versatility, there's not much we don't love about tzatziki sauce. We love it so much, in fact, that we put in on everything from raw vegetables to pork souvlaki. The only problem is that sometimes we eat so much tzatziki that we get sick of it. Instead of eliminating it from our diets completely, we decided to find variations that would give us a new outlook on the classic sauce.

One of the most promising alternatives we discovered was beet tzatziki. As you might expect, beets add a lovely pink hue to an otherwise white sauce. They also give sweetness to the dip, balancing out the tanginess of the yogurt and the dill. To make it, pulse beets in a food processor until chopped. After pulsing, allow them to drain for 10 minutes. Drain cucumbers by pressing them in between paper towels. Add the beets and continue pressing until no more liquid is left. For the sauce, combine Greek yogurt, lemon juice, dill, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour over the cucumbers and beets and mix until combined.

16. Give your potato pancakes an upgrade

If you've been paying attention, then you know how well beets pair with potatoes. As you'll remember, you'll find both root vegetables in borscht and beet potato salad. This dynamic duo comes together once again in beet potato cakes, a tasty take on the classic fried patty.

Beets make an excellent addition to potato pancakes for a number of reasons. For starters, they lend a curious hue to the typical light brown flapjacks. People will be clamoring to try them if only to find out what they are. Looks aside, beets add flavor, moisture, and vitamins without distracting from the flavor of the potato. But what we like best about beet potato pancakes is that they're easy to make. Simply combine sliced canned beets with shredded potatoes, onion, egg, and flour. Make patties with your hands and fry them in vegetable oil until the exterior becomes crispy. Serve with smoked trout, chives, and crème fraîche.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.