Thanksgiving Harvard Beets

This dish is probably my favorite Thanksgiving side dish after stuffing. Fresh roasted beets are delicious but adding a sweet and sour sauce that has made Harvard Beets so famous really takes beets over the top. The color alone is a beautiful addition to my Thanksgiving table. You can see from the photo that I used golden beets which taste like red beets but are also just as pretty. Give Harvard Beets a try this Thanksgiving.

Harvard Beets
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar, I used white balsamic
3 T. ketchup
3 T. unsalted butter
1/2 t. Kosher salt
2 T. whole cloves
1 1/2 cups beet juice- this is the juice in the pan from roasting them
3 T. cornstarch
9 roasted beets cut into wedges
1 t. vanilla extract

In a large pot over med-high heat, add sugar, vinegar, ketchup, butter and salt. Place cloves in a coffee filter and tie shut and toss in the pot too. I used a tea ball to hold my cloves. Bring the sugar mixture to a simmer and lower heat to medium and cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix beet juice with cornstarch until smooth. After the 10 minutes add the beet juice mixture to the pot and stir for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thickened and glossy. Add the beets and heat through. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Serve hot. Serves 8.

To learn how to roast beets go here.
You can also substitute canned beets, using the beet liquid “juice” from the can.

Preparation Tip:This dish can be made a few days ahead of time and simply reheated in the microwave so be sure to store in a microwave safe dish.

More Thanksgiving Recipes
Cream of Peanut Soup
Bûche de Merci
Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes


  1. oneordinaryday
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

    Can I say that I've never even eaten a beet? My parents loved pickled beets when we were kids and I just thought it looked disgusting so I wouldn't even try one. It's funny that now I see a recipe like this and want beets. : )

  2. FOODalogue
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

    I've never had beets prepared sweet and sour and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I guess I'll have to try to find out. Really loving the color though.

    I think I'm using the brie recipe from your newsletter as inspiration for one of the appetizers for Thanksgiving.

    Enjoy the holiday.

  3. Dinetonite
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    wow! That was looking Delicious

  4. Biz
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    Hmmmm. Okay, its been like 10 years since I tried beets the last time – the ingredient that's throwing me off is the ketchup, but you just might convince me to make this!

    Have a great weekend!

  5. Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

    I don't think I have ever eaten beets, and never cooked them beacause I have never had them to know what to do…These look delish and suddenly have a need to try them!

  6. Lyndsay
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

    I made a similar recipe for a dinner party I hosted last month and loved that they could be made a day ahead. Never thought of beets as a Thanksgiving side, but they're really quite perfect. Thanks for the idea!

  7. Ingrid
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

    I've never had beets and I have to be honest, I'm still not so sure about them. They do look pretty good. 🙂

  8. Mimi
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    Harvard beets were my dad's favorite veggie sidedish.

  9. Jenn@slim-shoppin
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    They look so pretty!!! Nice recipe Robin Sue, I've never made anything like that before.

  10. Kristen
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 8:53 PM | Permalink

    Those look so delicious, Robin Sue! Perfect addition to a Thanksgiving table!

  11. Denise Michaels - Adventurous Foodie
    Posted November 14, 2010 at 7:20 PM | Permalink

    I'm really into side dishes lately. They can add so much color, flavor and nutrition to a meal. I've never tried Harvard Beets before but I like the combination of ingredients and the glorious Thanksgiving-like color.

    I always think of beets as that deep, deep red – which can be great at Christmas – or all through the winter. But these are amazing. I'll have to give it a go.

  12. High Plains Drifters
    Posted November 15, 2010 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    Not sure I can eat a Harvard beet … brings back memories of playing the Crimson in football some 25 years ago. We were crushing them, and as the clock was ticking down, their fans started chanting, "That's alright, that's okay, you're going to work for us someday!"

  13. leslieweslie
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 2:01 PM | Permalink

    help! Thank you for a delicious sounding recipe. I wanted to make this for thanksgiving and have two questions: 9 beets – beet size varies a lot. 1 to 4 inches in diameter – I like them small because they are less fibrous. Could you provide a weight?

    Beet juice… Are you sure it's 1.5 CUPS – not tablespoons? The only kind I could find is FERMENTED beet juice. Does that work? It's quite expensive. Apparently, pure beet juice is somewhat dangerous and even juice bars can't serve it straight. Can paralyze vocal chords (temporarily), racing heart, other stuff. I do not have a juicer. Is there some substitute?

    Thanks very much!!

  14. Robin Sue
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    leslieweslie- I used the juice from roasting them. it is 1.5 cups. If you read how I roast them I do add extra water to the roasting pan to make the extra liquid. Also if you were to use canned beets you can use that juice from the can. My beets were probably considered medium sized about 2.5 incehs across. I hope this helps you out. Have a great day!!!

  15. Robin Sue
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

    leslieweslie- Thanks I clarified the recipe above so that no one uses real beet juice but only the liquid from the roasting pan.

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  1. By Harverd beets | Charlestonslip on March 31, 2012 at 11:46 AM

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