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What are beets?
Beets are root vegetables that come in a variety of colors. They are usually round in shape with long greens on top and a slender pointy root on the bottom.
When you look for beets in your local grocery store, you’ll find them in the produce section. Sometimes the beet greens are still attached, and sometimes the greens have already been removed.
Select beets that are firm and similar in size so they finish cooking around the same time. Smaller beets tend to be a bit sweeter than larger beets. If the beet greens are attached, make sure they look fresh and not wilted.
Once cooked, beets taste sweet and earthy. The texture is tender like a roasted carrot.
They are low in calories and fat with the benefits of folate, dietary fiber and calcium. However, they do contain natural sugars, so they are higher in carbohydrates than other vegetables.
- Beets: Use golden beets, red beets or a combination of both.
- Oil: This acts as a binder to allow the seasoning to stick. Use, olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil or avocado oil.
- Seasoning: I keep it simple with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Goat Cheese: Goat cheese is the base for this salad that creates a creamy, tangy dip for the roasted beets.
- Greek Yogurt: The yogurt and a little olive oil help thin out the goat cheese.
- Garlic: Use fresh or roasted garlic and mash it into a paste so it blends in with the cheese.
- Basil: Fresh basil provides an herbaceous brightness to the earthy salad.
- Arugula: While you can layer in any type of lettuce, arugula gives a peppery snap to the salad.
- Toasted Walnuts: Because the goat cheese and beets are soft, it’s important to add some texture. Toasted walnuts are the perfect topping. You could also use pistachios or slivered almonds.
Substitutions: In place of the goat cheese, you could use cream cheese. Instead of the Greek yogurt, you could use sour cream or milk. If you don’t have basil, use any fresh herbs or fresh mint.
How to cook beets for salad
While you could roast the beets in a 400F-degree oven for about an hour, they are even better when you cook them on a grill with charcoal. I use Cowboy All-Natural Hardwood Briquets.
The charcoal adds a subtle element of smokiness that adds richness and depth to this savory salad.
- STEP ONE: Start by removing the greens and washing any dirt from the beets. Pat them dry with a paper towel. Don’t peel them yet.
- STEP TWO: Place the beets on a pan or plate. Drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and coarse-ground black pepper.
- STEP THREE: Heat your grill to 375-400F degrees using Cowboy Charcoal briquets. Set the grill up so the coals are on one side. Then, place the seasoned beets on the opposite side over indirect heat.
- STEP FOUR: Roast the beets on the grill for about one hour, or until they are fork tender.
- STEP FIVE: Once the beets are tender. Remove them from the grill and let them cool to the touch. Once cool enough to handle, put on a pair of gloves. Then, remove the skin. It should peel right off.
PRO TIP: It’s important to wear gloves when handling roasted beets, especially the purple ones, because the natural beet juice will turn your fingers purple.
- STEP SIX: Once all the skins are removed, you can slice the beets into wedges or slices. They can be served as a side and eaten just like this or topped on a savory beet, goat cheese and arugula salad.
How to make a beet salad
Once the beets are roasted, assembling the remaining ingredients for this great salad is easy. You can do this prep work while the beets are on the grill.
Start by making the creamy goat cheese spread. In a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese, Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Smash the fresh or roasted garlic into a paste. Then, gently fold the garlic and basil leaves into the cheese.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread the garlic goat cheese onto serving plates. Then, layer the sliced roasted beets right on top.
Tuck in some fresh peppery arugula leaves, sprinkle with toasted walnuts and drizzle with a little olive oil. Add a fresh pinch of salt and pepper. And you have yourself a colorful beautiful salad.
If you like your salads a little sweeter, you could drizzle on a little maple syrup or balsamic vinegar glaze. If you prefer a salad that is more tart, try adding red onion, feta cheese or bleu cheese.
Beets can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.
You can also freeze beets for up to a year. Or you can pickle them and can them, but that process does change the flavor.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Don’t remove the beet skin, until after they are cooked and cooled
- Cook on a charcoal grill over indirect heat
- Once the internal temperature is 205-210F degrees, they’re ready
- Peel, slice and enjoy
Frequently Asked Questions
The tastiest way to eat beets is to roast or grill them. This allows the natural sugars to caramelize, which enhances the flavor. Cooked beets also have a nice, soft texture. Once cooked, they great on this simple beet salad.
This recipe is made using fresh beets. You can use canned beets or pre-roasted beets that are sometimes available in the produce section at grocery stores, but the beets won’t taste as fresh, and they’ll lack the subtle kiss of smoke you’ll get from roasting them over charcoal.
You can freeze roasted beets. They actually hold up well in the freezer, because they are one of the vegetables that is least susceptible to freezer burn. Store them in an airtight container for up to a year. While the beets freeze well, I don’t recommend freezing the creamy cheese or arugula. Those should be made fresh. You can also can roasted beets and store them for 2-5 years.
Beets come in a range of different colors, including red, golden, chioggia and white. The red beets are the most popular variety and look more like a deep purple when they’re cooked. The golden beets are bright yellow and a little sweeter. Chioggia beets are really colorful with red and white rings. When shopping for beets, pay attention. They look a little bit like rutabaga and turnips, which taste quite different.
Beets are a good source of folate, which has been scientifically proven to help reduce birth defects, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of some cancers.
What pairs well with a beet salad?
- Grilled Porterhouse Steak
- Sweet + Smoky Beef Plate Short Ribs
- Pork Porterhouse Chops with Lingonberry-Dijon Sauce
More delicious salad recipes
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Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
- 2 golden beets
- 2 red beets
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
Goat Cheese Spread
- 8 ozs goat cheese
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh basil
- pinch kosher salt
- pinch black pepper
- 1 cup arugula leaves
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Prep: Remove the greens from the beets. Slice off the root stem on the bottom. Wash the beets and dry with a paper towel.
- Season: Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
- Heat Grill: Heat the grill to 375-400F degrees using Cowboy Charcoal briquets with an indirect heat zone
- Grill: Place the seasoned beets on the grill over indirect heat. Cook for about one hour, until they are fork tender or the internal temperature reaches between 205-210F degrees.
- Make Spread: In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix until smooth. Using the side of your knife, smash the garlic and press against it with the knife to create a paste. Fold the garlic and fresh basil into the spread. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate.
- Slice Beets: Remove the beets from the grill. Allow them to cool to the touch. Wearing gloves, remove and discard the peel. Slice the beets into wedges.
- Assemble: Smear the goat cheese spread onto 4 plates. Layer with sliced beets. Tuck in arugula leaves. Sprinkle on toasted walnuts and add a drizzle of olive oil.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.