Last Updated: April 21, 2022

What Do Beets Taste Like? Muddy, as Rumor Has It?

what do beets taste like?

It’s true that taste vastly differs from person to person. But most people, without even trying beets, believe in the myth and rumor that beets taste like dirt. So they have started to hate this ultimate-good-for-health root vegetable.

Let’s see how much this generally formed opinion about beets is true.

  • Beets typically have an earthy flavor 

and those who are beet lovers find this earthy taste most appealing. Many people won’t even dare taste beets because of their flavor, which seems muddy to them.

Because beets are root vegetables, it’s normal for soil to cling to them. On the other hand, beets taste bitter when cooked to some people. So, if you don’t wash them and cook them properly, they will only result in a dull, muddy flavor, and you will miss out on the sweeter taste of beets when cooked perfectly.

Do Beets Actually Taste Like Muddy?

The answer to the question does depend on the person being asked. Beets taste like dirt, a common belief. But how did the rumor about beets’ taste being earthy or dirty start? It’s because of an element in beets called geosmin.

Beetroots have a high amount of geosmin, a composite made by microbes that live in the soil. So, the microbes are the main reason behind the soil’s taste and the earthy smell of beets. It has nothing to do with being cultivated under the soil.

So, the thing people complain about is just a natural compound that is commonly found in many vegetables, such as mushrooms, spinach, and lettuce.

But don’t start worrying about consuming beets, mushrooms, and spinach because geosmin is an entirely safe compound.

However, now you know what causes the rumor of beets’ having a dirt-like taste. But as mentioned before, some beet lovers love beets for their earthy smell.

Taste of Different Beets

Typical purple and golden beets have the same earthy flavor and smell. But to some people, golden beets may taste a little less earthy and a bit sweeter than purple beets.

But what do beets in other forms taste like? Let’s find out!

The Taste of Canned Beets

Canned beets are relatively 

  • sweeter
  • softer 

than fresh ones because the canning process includes either sugar or salt, which impacts the taste and makes the taste of beets sour or sweeter.

Canned beets are milder in flavor and are unlikely to have the rumored dirt flavor.

The Taste of Pickled Beets

Depending on the pickling method, pickled beets can be lovely and sour.

If the pickling process includes sugar, the pickled beets will taste sweeter. You may get a hint of fermented tang, but sweetness will be the defining flavor.

However, if you pickle beets with garlic and dill, they will be sweet, but there will be a prominent garlic and dill flavor.

Beets Look
Image Credit: Emma-Jane Hobden

What Do Beets Look Like?

Beets are root vegetables. They look like larger radishes with a round root and have long green leaves. The root is typically purple, but there can be different shades ranging from pink to red. However, yellow, orange, and white beets can also be seen. Beets get darker with time till they are black.

Beets ready to reap will resemble tennis balls in size. They can, however, grow to be quite large depending on the variety and the length of time they are kept in the ground.

Their green tops have long, colorful stems, usually a bright purple color. Beets’ green leaves kind of look like Swiss chard. But unlike chard, beets have a round taproot and thin stalk.

How to Cook Beets to Not Taste Like Dirt?

For those who have never tried cooking beets because of a common belief that beets have a super earthy or muddy taste, will you believe me when I say beets taste good if you know how to cook them properly?

Here are some ways to make beets taste good for those who have never tried them or who had a bad experience the first time they tried them and for those who love beets and want to know other ways to eat them. Here it goes.

But, before I  share how you can make beets taste good, there are some points to be remembered.

  • Always use fresh, firm beets with dark green, leafy tops.
  • Always use gloves to cut or slice beets if you don’t want to stain your hands.
  • Use a plastic board to peel, slice, or chop the beets instead of wooden boards.
  • Most importantly, remember to wash the beets thoroughly before peeling or cutting them so that no soil can cling to them. But it won’t wash off the earthy flavor as the geosmin will still be there.
  • Store cut beets in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them.

Now that you’re ready to cook beets, you can use any of the following methods to make the taste of beets better:

1. Making Juice

Those who love beets are mostly fans of beet juice. So, if you want to change your belief that beets taste like dirt, try making beet juice. There is no way you won’t like the taste of this healthy juice.

To make it tastier and more nutritious, add some lemon and ginger. The juice will be full of flavors, and you will fall in love with them.

2. Boiling

You can boil the beets with or without the skin. If you cook beets with skin, the skin easily peels off when the root is boiled. It prevents the colors from washing out and the loss of some nutrients.

However, boiling will subdue the flavor and soften the texture of beets. As a result, you can use it for different recipes.

3. Steaming

You can also steam the beets. Steaming will enhance the floral flavors and add crunchiness. You may add some coconut oil to enhance the taste. So, this will be a great way to replace your prior bad experience or make a great start with beets.

4. Roasting

If you want to enjoy the pleasing sweetness of beets and reduce the earthy flavor notably, roasting them will be one of the best ideas. Because roasted beets soften the texture of beets and caramelize the sugar. While roasting, you can add some herbs, peppers, and a little bit of salt.

For a change, you can roast beets with hazelnuts and cheese. We promise the combination will be mouth-watering.

5. Frying

Tossing the beets in some good olive oil and seasoning with fragrant herbs like rosemary or dill will pleasantly bring all the flavors together. This combination tastes good when served both cold and hot.

6. Making Puree

You can puree the beetroot and then cook it in a tasty broth. You can finish the recipe by adding some full-fat coconut milk or heavy cream. That’s a way you will get a delicate flavor tempered by cream yet quite sweet.

7. Grating

You can grate beetroot to use as a natural food colorant. When grating the raw beets, submerge them in water for a few minutes. The water will absorb their color. And after filtering the color, you can use it in many recipes that need food coloring.

To have a more flavorful and darker color, let them sit longer.

8. Pickling

Pickling these taproots is an excellent way to make them taste even better. And that’s why pickled beets are commonly used in burgers, salads, and some recipes.

Besides these 8 ideas to make beets taste better, you can use beets to make chips, hummus, salads, and smoothies. They can also be used in cake dough, cookies, pizzas, burgers, and jam. So, there are so many delicious ways to try beets.

So, instead of believing in a generally formed belief, give this healthy taproot vegetable a chance. Who knows, you may get hooked on beets!

Can You Eat Raw Beetroot?

Yes, beets can be eaten raw, unlike other root vegetables. You may enjoy raw beets because they are unexpectedly sweet even though they have an earthy flavor.

By eating raw beets, you will get every health benefit they provide. So, it won’t be wrong to say that eating raw beetroot is better than eating cooked ones because raw beets are sweeter and healthier.

Beet Leaves & Stems: Are They Edible?

Beets’ leaves and stems are perfectly edible, and you can even eat them raw if you want. Beet leaves are flavorful and nutritious as they are an excellent source of vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin K. You can either eat them raw or sauté, steam, and boil the leaves and eat them.  

marigold beat leaves and stems
Image credit: Shutterstock

Beet greens, or stems, whatever you call them, are also nutrient-rich. So, don’t sleep on this healthy part of beets because the healthy yet versatile beet green can be sauteed, steamed, or added to salads or egg scrambles.

So, when you buy beets, look for the healthy, hydrated, and darker green leaves and enjoy all the health benefits they offer.


I want to say that don’t judge beetroots by other people’s perceptions without even trying them yourself. Giving this vegetable a chance will be more valuable for your body. So, don’t miss this highly nutritious vegetable because it looks unappealing and smells and tastes earthy, which is a natural thing, and you can reduce it by your cooking methods.

So, if you’re one of those who’ve never tasted beetroot, try it once. I believe you will like it, if not love it. But even if it doesn’t suit your taste buds, try being creative with it. Because one way or another, you will understand that it tastes delicious and is even better for your health. 

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