Yes, you can grill beets! The hot fire of the grill brings out the earthy sweetness of beets with an added hint of smoky flavor and an almost candied coating. Grilled beets make a delicious and beautiful addition to any grilled vegetable platter. Other recipes will have you wrap the beets in foil, which is really just steaming or roasting them on the grill, not truly grilling them. The smoky sweetening power of true grilling is key to their appeal here.
- 4 medium beets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
- Salt for sprinkling to taste
- Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-hot (you should be able to hold your hand about an inch over the cooking grate for about 2 seconds)—if the grill is too hot the beets will burn before they cook through. If you need a hotter grill to cook other things, cook the beets on the cooler edges of the grill.
- While the grill heats, peel and slice the beets.
- Brush the beets with olive oil or vegetable oil *or* put the slices in a large bowl, drizzle with the oil and toss to coat the beets evenly.
- Place the beets on the grill and sprinkle lightly with salt, if you like. If using a gas grill, close the cover. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, turn the beets over and continue cooking until the beets are tender and grill-marked, another 8 to 10 minutes.
- Serve the beets hot, warm, or at room temperature. Drizzle them with additional olive oil for serving, if you like. This is also a great time to use any nut oils (toasted walnut oil or hazelnut oil in particular) since they so perfectly complement the earthy-yet-sweet flavor of grilled beets.
That's it. It's really just slicing the beets and setting them on the grill until they're tender!
Grilled beets are good as-is, with maybe an extra sprinkle of salt to highlight just how sweet they are, but if you feel like dressing them up, there are plenty of options. Use them much as you would use roasted beets. A few ways to start customizing grilled beets to your taste:
- A sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs adds color and freshness (mint is particularly lovely).
- Crumbled cheese of the fresh and white varieties, like cojita or feta or ricotta, foregrounds the smoky flavor.
- Get bold with a bit of blue cheese.
- Add some toasted chopped nuts like walnuts or hazelnuts for crunch.
- A bit of lemon or orange zest is always good with beets.
- They're already sweet, but you can bring that out even more with the lightest drizzle of honey or maple syrup (watch out, people may start experiencing beets as dessert if you go this route!).
- Use them in a salad with strong, peppery greens like arugula or watercress.
- Add them in place of sliced tomatoes in sandwiches and burgers—Bacon Beet Burger anyone? Or how about a BLB (bacon, lettuce, and beet)? It may sound weird, but it's delicious.
Don't forget, you can always mix-and-match these ideas, too!