Harvard Beets

Harvard Beets

Harvard Beets are delicious cooked beets in a tangy sweet sauce.  What a lovely and colourful, not to mention tasty, addition to any dinner plate.

Does anyone eat Harvard Beets anymore?  I never hear anyone talking about them. You can buy them in cans but, yuck, they taste like beets in a sweet and sour glue.  But homemade fresh Harvard Beets are delicious.  Aunt Joan used to make Harvard Beets and I loved them. I was always happy to see them coming to the table.  But I haven't had them in years.

The other day I bought several pounds of fresh beets.  I wanted fresh cooked beets for dinner.  But Don isn't too fond of fresh beets.  He loves Pickled Beets and eats them like a side-dish.  He'll eat the fresh beets but only a slice or two.  In an attempt to satisfy both Don's and my tastes when it comes to beets, I decided to make Harvard Beets.  Oh, what a success they proved to be.  Don looked at them rather suspiciously but I assured him he'd like them.  He took the obligatory two slices.  In a few minutes he came back into the kitchen looking for the beets and helped himself to a rather hearty serving.

We enjoyed them so much I made them again that week and I'll be making them again this weekend.

Printable recipe at end of post.
Harvard Beets
  • 1 pound boiled  fresh beets, sliced or cubed, about 3-4 cups sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup water or beet water
  • Pinch black pepper, optional
  • 1 tablespoon butter
How to make it:
To boil the beets, trim any leaves to about 2 inches from the beet.  Wash any loose dirt from the beets under running water.  Place beets in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.  Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar, if you wish, to prevent excess bleeding.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat and cook gently until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size of beets.  They should be fork tender.  Drain and let beets cool.  Then slip off skins, trimming any bits that don't come off easily.  Slice or cube for recipe.

Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt together in a medium sized saucepan.  Add the vinegar and water and stir until dissolved.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens.  Boil for additional 1 minute.  Stir in the butter.  Add the sliced beets and heat through. May season with black pepper, if desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Harvard Beets can also be served cold with salads.

Boil, cool and slice or cube the beets.  There should be about 3 or 4 cups.

Mix the cornstarch, sugar and salt together and then add the water and vinegar. Mix until there are no lumps remaining.  Heat mixture until it comes to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute.  Stir in the butter.

Pour the sliced beets into the cooked sauce.  Stir until coated with the sauce and then heat through.

The Harvard Beets are served hot but they are also very good cold.

Harvard Beets
 Tangy and sweet Harvard Beets 
will be a bright spot on your plate.

To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩          


  1. I always make them but use orange juice, not vinegar.

    1. I have a recipe for the orange beets also. I was just thinking I'd try that one soon too. They are both delicious!

  2. Made 4x recipe, exactly as written. 7 pints in the canner!!! Delish!!! Thankyou

    1. Hello, do you pressure can or water bath ?? I’m hoping to make some this summer

    2. Pickled Beets, because of the vinegar content, can be safely canned in a water bath.

  3. I also mark them with orange juice. It's also a good way to doctor up those awful canned Harvard Beets from the store

  4. I used golden beets just because they are so pretty. They were delicious!

    1. Ohhh...I'll have to try that.


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