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Harvard Beets

Harvard Beets
23 votes, 3.65 avg. rating (73% score)
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Yield: Serves 6

The classic New England recipe for Harvard Beets -- roasted and simmered in a sweet and sour sauce to perfection.

Read more about the history of Harvard Beets and how to prepare them!

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Harvard Beets
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey


  • 3 medium beets (about 2 pounds), ideally a mix of red, yellow, and chioggia colors
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375° and put a rack in the middle of the oven. Wash and trim the beets, leaving an inch of leaf stems and all the root.

  2. Wrap the beets tightly in aluminum foil and put in the oven. Roast until fork-tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, peel using a small knife or your fingers, then slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.

  3. In a double boiler over medium heat, whisk together sugar, salt, vinegar, cornstarch, and cloves. Cook, stirring gently, until the mixture is clear.

  4. Add sliced beets, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

  5. Remove cloves and add butter just before serving.

Updated Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

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2 Responses to Harvard Beets

  1. Maria August 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    You can’t beat New England Harvard beets! This recipe is a classic.

  2. Gretch December 24, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    Gee whiz… How long does it take to cook the liquid before it turns clear?!

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