Harvard Beets ♥

Harvard Beets, another classic vegetable recipe ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Today's classic vegetable recipe: Harvard Beets, perhaps the most traditional beet recipe out there, one with a long, storied lore. Harvard Beets are simple and delicious, just cooked beets warmed through in an orange sauce. Harvard Beets are one of the many great dishes you can make if you meal prep beets. Seasonal. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Freestyle Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

For ages now, I've been meaning to make Harvard Beets. When A Veggie Venture first launched in April 2005 and I was hungry for vegetable recipe ideas, my Auntie Meryl suggested them. And back in June, a commenter on Swedish Beets reminded me. Thank you both! Harvard Beets are delicious!

Harvard Beets are a simple, classic treatment for already-cooked beets, apparently first published in the Fannie Farmer cookbook. That said, I haven't yet tried her classic treatment, which calls for using the water in which the beets are cooked to make the sauce. That, I shall yet try.

But Harvard Beets are also good enough reason TO cook some beets. How do you cook beets? Well, my first pick would be to roast the beets, here's My Favorite Way to Roast Beets. But you might cook beets in water. Or you can grate beets for pan-fried patties. Or ... I could go on and on but just check here for lots of beet recipes. I may be the veggie evangelist but I am also a certified Beet Queen. ;-)


Hands-on time: 15 minutes (assumes beets are already cooked)
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 6 cups

This recipe calls for cooked beets, my recommendation for this particular recipe is to roast them, My Favorite Way to Roast Beets. This recipe makes a bunch but it easy to halve.

1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

6 cups cooked beets, peeled and diced (from 6 medium- to large-size beets)
Salt & pepper to taste
Optional pretty garnish: orange zest, chopped chive, chopped dill

ORANGE SAUCE In a saucepan large enough to hold both the Orange Sauce and the beets, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. (Be sure to work out any cornstarch lumps.) Slowly stir in the orange juice and vinegar, working out any lumps that appear. Bring the liquid to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter if using.

SALAD Gently stir the diced beets into the warm Orange Sauce, coating all the pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper, don't be shy. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with some pretty something. Serve at room temperature.

The inspiring recipe calls for a tablespoon of butter. But the first time I made Harvard beets, I accidentally left out the butter and didn't miss it. Happy accident!
The beets are rich and full of sweetness and flavor. A small serving feels like plenty so I'm providing nutrition information for both small and large servings.
All this is a good lesson in the usefulness of a nutrition analysis program. (I use a program called Accuchef). I omitted the butter, of course. But even afterward, by adjusting portion size and sauce quantity, the Weight Watchers points are very do-able.
Next time, I'll garnish with grated orange peel or bits of chopped chive or dill.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I bookmarked a recipe for Harvard Beets just few weeks ago, when I came across it in a small Penguin cookbook from 1970s. Now that the recipe has been endorsed by Beet Queen, too, I must try it soon.
    Pille, the Beet Princess;)

  2. Duh -- I always thought Harvard beets were a variety of beets, not a recipe for beets! Now I know. My husband adores beets, and my favorite way to make them for him is to roast them with orange juice, black pepper, and a tiny bit of honey.

  3. I love Harvard Beets, too. We used to make them at the nursing home all the time. I haven't made them in ages - guess it's time to do some again! Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. Oh how I love beets....I like the use of orange juice.

  5. Hello all ~ thanks for stopping by! I'm slow to respond, thanks to the Big St. Louis Ice Storm which has left me, currently, nearly four days without power (for the second time this year, I might add, thank you, Kirkwood power people). It could be worse: there's hot water, there's a gas stove/oven (I've been thought about baking cookies!). It's not all bad, retreating from the modern world for a few days. Still ... it's nerve-wracking, literally watching the neighbors' power come on (after 18 hours) and then waiting ... and waiting and ... STILL waiting ... to have it happen at my place, too.

    Beet Princess ~ I so often see beet inspiration at Nami Nami, would you like to share the crown? Or better yet, I dub thee Beet Queen.

    Sher ~ They're old-fashioned, yes, but a keeper.

    Sally ~ "Nursing home food", I hope that's a recommendation!

    Peabody ~ The orange, yes, it pairs beautifully with beets.

  6. Alanna - Sorry, I grew up in a nursing home (LOL) as well as cooked there too. Long story... anyway, I'd forgotten about Harvard Beets. I used to love it when we had them. Think I'll try making them again.

  7. My parents always served us harvard beets alongside our boxed mac & cheese- we loved to mix the beets with the noodles to make pink macaroni.

  8. Anonymous ~ Pink noodles, I love it! Thanks for sharing the memory!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna