Spicy Quick Pickled Beets

Definitely not your grandmother’s pickled beets

Spicy Pickled Beets taste great on their own as side dish, or you can use them to make delicious salads and sandwiches, juice them, or even puree them in smoothies—the possibilities seem to be endless.

Kristi Bissell
Taste of Norway Editor
The Norwegian American

Pickled beets have long been a Scandinavian food staple. My Norwegian grandmother canned many batches of them each fall so that they might be enjoyed on our family’s southwestern Minnesota farm through the cold winter months. These pickled beets were the only form of beets we ate growing up, and to be honest, I was not a fan.

My love for beets came later in life when I went to culinary school. I learned how to roast them in a hot oven, caramelizing their exterior and accentuating their earthy sweetness. I learned how to shred and sauté them in olive oil and fresh herbs, finishing them with a little tarragon vinegar.

Since that first cooking class over 20 years ago, I have also learned to eat them shredded and raw in salads, on sandwiches, juice them, puree them in smoothies, and roast them whole—and I have loved beets in all of these forms.

So, why not pickled beets? I decided it was time to revisit them and create my own recipe. Roasted rather than boiled and quick pickled in a spicy brine, these Spicy Quick Pickled Beets are a deliciously modern take on a very old-fashioned recipe.

The best part? This recipe is incredibly easy! In a completely hands-off cooking process, the roasted beets are immersed in a simple brine that comes together effortlessly. You just let them sit for 30 minutes, and they are ready to go!

And if you want to add a Georgian twist to your beets, serve them with walnuts. What could go better with your freshly baked Georgian khachapuri cheese bread? Enjoy!

Expert tips:

To check if your beets are tender, slide a small, sharp knife into the center of the beet. It should go and in and out easily, with little resistance.

If you are having trouble getting the skin off of the roasted beets using a paper towel, simply switch to a vegetable peeler—that works, too.

Be sure to let the beets sit in the brine for at least 30 minutes before enjoying them. They need time to pick up all of the flavors of the spices, vinegar, and sugar. Covering the beets and moving them to the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight is even better.

Eat within a couple of weeks. These are not traditionally canned pickled beets, so they don’t have a shelf-life like those do. They are meant to be enjoyed within 10 to 14 days.

SPICY QUICK PICKLED BEETS

INGREDIENTS

Photos: Kristi Bissell
Easy-to-make Spicy Quick Pickled Beets are a deliciously modern take on a very old-fashioned recipe.

2-16 ounces small- to medium-sized beets
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. fine salt
5 allspice berries
10 juniper berries
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. dried chili flakes

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400°. Scrub and trim beets. Place beets on a large piece of foil and drizzle them with olive oil. Using your hands, rub oil onto the surface of the beets. Fold foil over and seal the edges making a pouch. Place pouch on a baking sheet and transfer to oven. Roast beets for 45-60 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Smaller beets will take less time than larger ones.

Remove beets from oven and open pouch. Let cool before handling. Once the beets are cool enough to work with, rub the skin off with a paper towel and slice into ½-inch thick wedges. Transfer to a quart-sized mason jar.

Meanwhile, heat remaining ingredients over medium-low heat until simmering and sugar has dissolved. Pour mixture into the jar with the beets. Allow to cool at room temperature. Cover and place in the fridge. Consume beets within two weeks.

FAQs

How do I store Spicy Quick Pickled Beets?

Store these pickled beets in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

I don’t like spicy foods! Can I leave the red pepper flakes out?

Absolutely! You will instead have a much more traditionally flavored pickled beet, which is also delicious and not at all spicy.

What goes with Spicy Quick Picked Beets?

Pickled beets make a nice accompaniment to just about anything: roasted meats, salmon, legumes (especially lentils), salads, on avocado toast—let your palette and your culinary creativity lead the way!

This article originally appeared in the April 2023 issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Kristi Bissell

Kristi Bissell is the founder of True North Kitchen, a Nordic food blog designed for the American home cook. She enjoys creating recipes that celebrate her Scandinavian heritage and that approach traditional Nordic ingredients in a modern, fresh and approachable way. Kristi is a native of Minneapolis and currently resides in Omaha, Neb. When she’s not cooking and baking in her cozy kitchen, Kristi teaches private and corporate yoga classes and leads Scandinavian cooking and baking workshops. For more information, visit her blog, www.true-north-kitchen.com.