Air frying beets is a quick and easy way to create a nutritious and colorful side dish. The concentrated heat from the air fryer halves the time it would take to roast beets in the oven, and your results will be even crispier.
Ever since reading the “The Nimble Cook,” I’ve been obsessed with making spiced salts. So rather than just tossing the beets with basic salt and pepper, I’ve created a bay salt, which is made very quickly and easily by whizzing together some dried bay leaves with salt and a pinch of ground white pepper. You will (intentionally) have leftover bay salt here. Trust me: You’ll thank me later. Beyond beets, the bay salt also goes particularly well sprinkled over baked or mashed potatoes, fried or boiled eggs, and on pizza, as I just happily (and accidentally) discovered.
If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can substitute the bay leaves with 1 tablespoon of lightly toasted coriander seeds to create coriander salt instead, which goes equally well. Transfer the coriander seeds to a mortar and pestle with the salt to crush to a coarse powder. Alternatively, use a zip-top bag and a rolling pin to pound it instead. It will not get as fine as using a spice grinder, but as long as it’s ground reasonably well, it will still work out great. (Unfortunately, these methods do not work for bay leaves.)
Instead of sprinkling the beets with a fresh herb at the end, I’ve used some of the highly nutritious (and often underused) beet greens. If your beets didn’t come with any greens, just toss with a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley or chives.
When air frying or roasting cut beets, it’s always best to peel beforehand. The skin can be a little leathery, especially on larger beets, so it’s best to peel and trim away the gnarly tops.
A vegetable peeler or paring knife works well. Using disposable gloves is highly encouraged to avoid getting stained hands. The color may bleed into your cutting boards, so make sure you wash and scrub it right away after using.
How to Serve
- Add to most salads! They go exceptionally well with creamy cheeses, such as goat cheese and feta, and are a match made in heaven with bitter, crunchy walnuts.
- Use air-fried beets in any grain bowl.
- Top hummus with the cooked beets, or even add to hummus when making from scratch.
- Whisk together 1 teaspoon orange zest, 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and toss beets into the dressing.
Whole Beet Variation
You can also cook whole, unpeeled beets very well in an air fryer. Once scrubbed and trimmed, wrap beets tightly in foil and air fry for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until fork-tender. Let cool slightly, then use paper towels to wipe away the skins.
Air Fryer Beets With Bay Salt
For the Bay Salt
- 1/4 cup loosely packed broken dried bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
For the Beets
- 2 bunches beets (about 3 pounds total), beet greens reserved
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Cooking spray
Place the bay leaves, kosher salt, and white pepper in a spice grinder. Pulse into a fine green powder, around 10 pulses. If needed, sift the powder through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any small pieces of bay leaves.
Heat an air fryer to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, prepare the beets.
Scrub, trim, and peel the beets. Cut into 1-inch pieces (just over 3 cups). Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon of the bay salt, and toss to combine. (If you are using a mix of beets, the red color will bleed onto the golden beets, so you may wish to toss in separate bowls, but this is not essential.)
Lightly coat the air fryer basket with cooking spray. Air frying in batches if needed, place the beets in a single layer in the basket. Air fry for 10 minutes. Flip the beets and air fry until caramelized at the edges and fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes more.
Meanwhile, cut 5 medium beet green leaves into fine shreds (about 3/4 cup). Wash and rinse the greens with a salad spinner or fine-mesh strainer. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the air-fried beets to the bowl with the beet greens, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon bay leaf salt, and toss to combine.
Leftover cooked beets can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to five days.