Harvard beets

Harvard Beets


Harvard beets

Harvard Beets

Why Harvard? Beets me, I went to public school.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 8 small-medium cooked beets see notes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • any juice from the beets you collect
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  • In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, water, beet juice, salt and pepper over low heat until everything is well combined and smooth.
  • Add the beets and heat through. Add the butter, stir to melt it and serve immediately.


  • I used already cooked Love Beets I bought in bulk at Costco, you can also roast the beets that day or the night before and refrigerate them until you are ready.
  • Do not over cook the sauce! It is gets thick and gloppy quickly.
Keyword side dish

I really need a vegetable (besides sauerkraut!) for Thanksgiving and I had a ton of pre-cooked Love Beets I bought at Costco and thought it would be a great excuse to make Harvard Beets. Harvard Beets are another regional dish (fitting the theme!) with a murky origin story. Are they named Harvard Beets because beets are similar to Harvard’s colors? Or it is because they were first made a tavern in England  named “Harwood” that opened up a branch in Boston with the same name, serving these beets and I guess people didn’t know how to pronounce it correctly? That makes zero sense but that’s what I keep seeing. Who knows? But it is a popular and tasty dish that seems to be the most popular in New England. I came across so many people saying it “wasn’t Thanksgiving without Harvard Beets”.

It is pretty straightforward although I’ve seen variations and arguments for lemon and/or orange juice rather than water or even the vinegar. The trick is the cornstarch, it turns the beet juices and vinegar into a velvety sauce.

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