Easy Sweet and Sour Harvard Beets – Just 5 Simple steps

Looking for a delicious side dish? Try our Harvard beets recipe! Made with tender beets, sweet tangy sauce, and easy instructions. Perfect for any meal.

Easy Roasted Harvard Beets are a family favorite passed down from my Grandmother. They are the perfect blend of sweet and sour.

Looking for a side dish that’s both healthy and bursting with flavor? Look no further than Harvard beets! With their unique combination of sweet and tangy flavors, these beets are the perfect complement to any meal. Our easy-to-follow recipe will show you how to create perfectly glazed beets that are sure to impress your guests. And with a variety of variations and tips, you can customize the dish to your liking. Whether you’re cooking for a family dinner or hosting a special occasion, Harvard beets are a classic and delicious addition to any menu. So why wait? Get ready to elevate your cooking game with our mouth-watering Harvard beets recipe!


Harvard beets typically consist of cooked beets, sugar, vinegar, butter, and cornstarch. These ingredients combine to create a sweet and tangy flavor, with a smooth and slightly thickened sauce, making it a classic and delicious side dish.

** You can find the full recipe ingredients and instructions on the printable recipe card below.

  • Fresh beets – stems and roots removed
  • Olive oil
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water
  • Granulated sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Prepare Harvard Beets

** You can find the full recipe ingredients and instructions on the printable recipe card below.

  • To make Harvard beets, start by roasting and peeling beets, then slice them.
  • In a saucepan [paid link], combine sugar, vinegar, butter, and cornstarch.
  • Cook until thickened, then add beets and simmer until tender.
  • Serve warm or chilled for a flavorful and vibrant side dish.
Easy Roasted Harvard Beets are a family favorite passed down from my Grandmother. They are the perfect blend of sweet and sour.

Recipe Tips & Kitchen Tricks

  1. When roasting beets, leave the skin on to prevent excessive bleeding of color.
  2. To easily peel cooked beets, rub them with a paper towel while they’re still warm.
  3. For a variation, try adding a splash of orange juice or zest to the Harvard beet sauce for a citrusy twist.
  4. To save time, you can use canned beets instead of boiling and peeling fresh ones.
  5. Adjust the sweetness and tanginess of the sauce by adding more or less sugar and vinegar to suit your taste.
  6. Allow the beets to marinate in the sauce for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator for a more intense flavor.
  7. Serve Harvard beets as a side dish with roasted meats or as a topping for salads or sandwiches.
  8. Leftover Harvard beets can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  9. Don’t discard the beet greens! They can be cooked and enjoyed as a nutritious side or added to soups and stews.
Easy Roasted Harvard Beets are a family favorite passed down from my Grandmother. They are the perfect blend of sweet and sour.

Recipe Variations

  1. Spiced Harvard Beets: Add spices like cinnamon, cloves, or ginger to the sauce for a warm and aromatic twist.
  2. Maple-Glazed Harvard Beets: Substitute some or all of the sugar with maple syrup for a rich and sweet flavor.
  3. Balsamic Roasted Beets: Roast the beets instead of boiling them, toss them with balsamic vinegar, and bake until tender and caramelized.
  4. Mediterranean-style Harvard Beets: Add crumbled feta cheese and chopped fresh herbs like parsley or dill for a Mediterranean flair.
  5. Honey Mustard Harvard Beets: Replace the sugar with honey and whisk [paid link] in Dijon mustard to the sauce for a sweet and tangy combination.
  6. Asian-inspired Harvard Beets: Use rice vinegar, soy sauce, and a touch of sesame oil in the sauce for an Asian-inspired twist.
  7. Beet and Goat Cheese Salad: Slice the cooked beets and serve them on a bed of mixed greens with crumbled goat cheese, toasted nuts, and a light vinaigrette.
  8. Harvard Beet Slaw: Shred cooked beets and toss them with shredded cabbage, carrots, and a creamy dressing for a refreshing coleslaw variation.
  9. Pickled Harvard Beets: Prepare a brine with vinegar, sugar, and spices, then pickle the sliced beets for a tangy and crunchy treat.
  10. Harvard Beet Relish: Chop cooked beets finely and mix them with onions, vinegar, sugar, and spices for a delightful relish to serve with sandwiches or grilled meats.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Serve Harvard beets as a side dish alongside roasted chicken, grilled steak, or baked salmon.
  2. Include them as part of a vegetarian or vegan meal by pairing them with quinoa, roasted vegetables, and a creamy tahini dressing.
  3. Add Harvard beets to a salad for a pop of color and flavor. They work well in green salads, grain salads, or even in a beet and goat cheese salad.
  4. Incorporate them into a charcuterie or cheese board for a vibrant and unique addition. They complement various cheeses, cured meats, and crackers.
  5. Serve Harvard beets chilled as a refreshing side dish for summer barbecues or picnics.
  6. Use Harvard beets as a filling for vegetarian sliders or mini tartlets for a delightful appetizer option.
  7. Enjoy them as a standalone snack or appetizer by serving them with crackers or crostini.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How long does it take to cook beets for Harvard beets? A: It typically takes about 30-40 minutes to boil or roast beets until they are tender. The cooking time may vary depending on the size and freshness of the beets.

Q: Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar for Harvard beets? A: Yes, apple cider vinegar can be used as a substitute for white vinegar in Harvard beets. It will add a slightly different flavor but still work well.

Q: Are Harvard beets suitable for a vegan or vegetarian diet? A: Yes, Harvard beets are suitable for both vegan and vegetarian diets. The main ingredients are beets, sugar, vinegar, and butter can be substituted with plant-based alternatives.

Q: Can I make Harvard beets without sugar for a healthier version? A: Yes, you can reduce or omit the sugar in the recipe for a healthier option. However, keep in mind that it will alter the traditional sweet taste of Harvard beets.

Q: Can I use beet greens in the Harvard beets recipe? A: While beet greens are edible and nutritious, they are not typically used in the traditional Harvard beets recipe. However, you can cook and enjoy beet greens separately as a side dish or in other recipes.

Wine & Cocktail Pairings

Wine Pairings for Harvard Beets:

  1. Pinot Noir: The earthy and fruity notes of Pinot Noir complement the sweet and tangy flavors of Harvard beets.
  2. Chardonnay: A buttery and oaky Chardonnay can provide a nice contrast to the sweetness of Harvard beets while adding richness to the overall pairing.
  3. Sauvignon Blanc: The crisp and herbaceous qualities of Sauvignon Blanc can cut through the sweetness of Harvard beets, creating a balanced combination.
  4. Rosé: A dry or off-dry Rosé provides a refreshing contrast to the richness of Harvard beets, with its fruity and floral characteristics.

Cocktail Pairings for Harvard Beets:

  1. Moscow Mule: The ginger beer and lime in a Moscow Mule complement the sweet and tangy flavors of Harvard beets.
  2. Beet Martini: A creative option, the earthy flavors of beet-infused vodka in a Beet Martini can harmonize with the beet flavors in Harvard beets.
  3. Whiskey Sour: The citrusy and tart notes of a Whiskey Sour can provide a refreshing contrast to the sweetness of Harvard beets.
  4. Pomegranate Margarita: The fruity and tangy flavors of a Pomegranate Margarita can enhance the overall taste of Harvard beets.
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Easy Roasted Harvard Beets

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
Easy Roasted Harvard Beets are a family favorite passed down from my Grandmother. In my family, we serve warm beets as a side dish at weeknight meals but also for gatherings like Thanksgiving and Christmas. These are the perfect side dish for any weeknight or holiday meal. The tangy sweet and sour sauce makes a great contrast to the meat.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course side
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 107 kcal


  • 3 pounds fresh beets , stems and roots removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Coat beets lightly with olive oil.
  • Wrap beets in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven until cooked through, approximately 45 to 60 minutes – depending on beet size. When beets are fork tender, remove from the oven and set aside.
  • When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut the beets into a 1/4-inch dice. You should have about 6 cups of sliced beets. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized pot, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and reserved beet liquid. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Whisking constantly, cook for about 1 minute or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the sliced beets and cook just long enough to heat through. Season with salt and pepper.


Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 107kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 283mgPotassium: 369mgFiber: 3gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 37IUVitamin C: 6mgVitamin E: 1mgVitamin K: 1µgCalcium: 18mgFolate: 124µgIron: 1mgZinc: 1mg
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