Make a jar of pickled beets, and you have a delicious accompaniment to salads, sandwiches, and more (they’re great right from the jar, too). This recipe for Small-Batch Quick Pickled Beets with Dill couldn’t be simpler and won’t leave you drowning in beets.

Small-Batch Quick Pickled Beets with Dill

I love pickles. Love, love, LOVE them. I ask for extra pickles on everything. Together with my niece, I am the co-chair of the Pickle Society (our sole order of business is eating pickles together). I feel that my role as the Pickle Society co-chair makes me a bit of an expert on things pickled. These Small-Batch Pickled Beets with Dill are delicious pickles. You’ll love them, and they couldn’t be easier to make.

A bit of a strange road to this recipe

My route to this recipe is a bit convoluted. For years and years, I’ve made Rachel Khoo’s Lentil and Beet Salad from Little Paris Kitchen for weekday lunches. I would make a pot of lentils du puy, boil some beets, shake up the dressing, and I’d have lunch for the week. Sometimes I’d add the greens and fresh goat cheese, sometimes I wouldn’t, but I have always loved it. It’s a delicious recipe, and I highly recommend trying it.

The way I packed it for lunches made me think

However, I noticed something in the way that I packed my lunch. I’d put my lentils in one small jar, and the beet slices and dressing in another. The effect of the dressing on the beets would suggest a pickle, and I really liked it.

It occurred to me that just pickling the beets, and then drizzling the lentils with good olive oil would work nicely. Pickled beets last longer in the fridge, and I could use them for other dishes like sandwiches and stuff.

Pickling the beets is perfect!

And, behold, I was right. These Quick Pickled Beets with Dill make for a sweeter pickle than Khoo’s delightfully puckery dill dressing, but they pairs beautifully with just about anything you can think of (I haven’t put these on ice cream, but you’re welcome to try it).

Small batch makes enough to be worth the effort, but you won’t drown in pickles

This small-batch recipe pickles up a small bunch of beets (mine came to about half a kilo/1.2 pounds, including the greens) makes enough for a large mason jar. You can make more than lunch salads with it, but you won’t have to make room for multiple jars of beets in your fridge. I think it hits that sweet spot that makes it worth the effort without making a vat.

What's a quick pickle?

Quick pickles are meant for immediate use. They rely on vinegar, water, salt, and sometimes sugar for pickling. Quick pickles are not shelf stable and need to be kept in the refrigerator. They are sometimes known as refrigerator pickles.

The quick in Quick Pickled Beets is a bit of a misnomer

Quick Pickled Beets is a bit of a misnomer, as these are going to need at least a day in the fridge (a few days is better) before they reach peak deliciousness. And, boiling beets does take a bit of time. But, as far as recipes go, this couldn’t be simpler. You can even reuse the pickling liquid (strain it first) to make another batch.

What is quick pickling?

No, what we mean by quick pickling is that they are meant for immediate use. They also go by the name refrigerator pickles. Quick pickles rely on vinegar, water, and salt. We’re using sugar here, too. We’re not canning here—no need to sterilize the jars and tools. Just layer the sliced, boiled beets into a clean jar with herbs and shallots, heat up the pickling liquid, cover and refrigerate for a couple of days, and you have a lovely jar of pickles to eat over the next few weeks.

Boil the beets

While quick pickling cucumbers, carrots, or green beans usually just involves raw (or blanched) vegetables, we’re going to boil our beets for Quick Pickled Beets with Dill. I like mine to retain their crunch, but they should at least be easily sliceable. You can also roast or steam your beets, but, honestly, boiling is a lot easier.

To boil your beets, just add trimmed, unpeeled beets to a pot large enough to hold them, cover with water, and add a little salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until you can easily pierce them with a pairing knife (you can continue to cook them until your desired crunchiness, but you do want them cooked).

Prepare the beets

Drain the beets, set aside until cool enough to handle (you could do this ahead of time). Peel and cut them into your desired shape (I sliced mine so I could use them in sandwiches). If I had my mandoline handy (this isn’t my kitchen), I would have used that, but I just used a knife and went slowly and it worked fine. If you want showcase pickles, you could trim your beets into an even shape before cutting, but I thought that was a bit wasteful.

Make Small-Batch Quick Pickled Beets with Dill!

Next, slice up a shallot and remove the stems from dill. Layer the beets, shallot, and dill in a quart mason jar. Then heat up the pickling solution of vinegar (white wine vinegar is nice, but I just used regular vinegar here), water, sugar, salt, and peppercorns until the solution boils and the sugar dissolves.

Pour this over the beets, close the jar, and put the jar in the fridge for a couple of days (you could try one tomorrow, but it’s going to be so much better if you wait). You’ve made pickles.

Keep it going

You can reuse the pickling solution a couple of times (provided that the pickles were eaten in a timely manner—think a few weeks, though the beets should last a month or two). Strain it, then return it to a boil and reuse. You’ll probably still need to make a little solution, but this is a nice way to reduce food waste. Plus, it’s really yummy.

Remember—beets stain EVERYTHING

Once upon a time, back in my grunge era (Gen Xer here), I used to dye my hair interesting colors. One time I wasn’t particularly careful. I think of that incident every time I see beets and thought of it especially after seeing my hands after peeling my beets.

This probably goes without saying, but beets stain everything they touch. Take care with making them (you might want to use gloves) and eating them. If you have a mishap, this article may prove helpful.

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Quick Pickled Beets with Dill

The quick in Quick Pickled Beets is a bit of a misnomer, as the flavors take time to develop. However, there's no canning process involved. You make the pickle and then chill it in the fridge until they're ready.
If possible, give the beets at least them 24 hours in the fridge before serving (a few days is better). Slicing them thinly with a mandoline would be helpful for a quicker pickle. This is a small batch suitable for one person, and they will keep for weeks in the fridge.
These are delicious in all kinds of salads and sandwiches, but I love them with French lentils, drizzled with good olive oil.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings

Equipment

  • 1 Mandoline useful if you wish to create thin beet slices, but not essential
  • 1 quart jar with a lid
  • 1 small saucepan

Ingredients
  

For the Quick Pickled Beets (makes extra)

  • 3 medium beets, stems removed, and thoroughly cleaned (don't peel them)
  • ½ large shallot, sliced thinly can substitute red onion
  • ¼ cup dill sprigs, large stems removed this is to taste, layer in the dill
  • ¾ cup white wine vinegar can substitute apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 7 tbsp granulated sugar
  • tsp kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns optional, to taste

Instructions
 

  • Add the beets to a saucepan large enough to hold beets and cover them with water. Add a small pinch of salt and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until you can easily pierce them with a paring knife. How long will depend on the size of your beets, but think about 45 minutes. You want a beet that will retain some crisp
    Drain and allow to cool until you can handle them easily
  • Peel and slice the beets thinly, or cut to your liking
  • Layer in the beets, shallots, and dill into a jar with a lid
  • In a small saucepan, add the vinegar, sugar, water, peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved
  • Pour the brine over the beets, taking care with the hot liquid, making sure that the beets are covered
  • Put the lid on the jar and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, but preferably a few days. Quick Pickled Beets with Dill should keep in the refrigerator for several weeks

Notes

On cooking the beets: You can also roast the beets whole by brushing them with oil, covering them with aluminum foil and roasting at 375 until you can pierce them with a knife
Keyword Beet, Pickled beets
Tried this recipe?Let me know what you think!

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