These Swedish pickled beets are so easy to make and have a great sweet-tart flavor. You can enjoy them on their own, to top sandwiches or mixed in salads. They're a popular side for good reason.
This post may contain affiliate links, where we earn from qualifying purchases. See more details in the policy page.
Given the climate in Sweden, as with other Northern European countries, the traditional crops are relatively limited. Things have evolved a little, but traditionally you would only find a few hearty crops like barley, rye, potatoes and beets (beetroot).
As a result, though, these ingredients are pretty much staples in Swedish cuisine, along with seafood and certain meats. Given beets are naturally slightly sweet, pickling is not just a good way to preserve them, the acidity is a good balance to the sweetness.
You'll find variations of these in a few different cultures and given the Swedish love of pickling and that it's a traditional crop, it's no surprise they are a popular dish there.
Making Swedish-style pickled beets
The Swedish version, "inlagda rōdbetor", keeps things pretty simple flavor wise, with often little more than vinegar, water, sugar and peppercorns. Though you can change it up slightly with some whole spices like juniper, allspice or cloves in there too.
They are incredibly easy to make as all you do is cook the beets, peel and chop them then place them in a jar. As the beets are cooking, prepare the pickling liquid. You just need to warm the water, sugar and vinegar slightly to dissolve the sugar.
It's worth cooking the beets yourself so that they don't get too soft. These work best with just-cooked beets as when they are relatively firm, they are less likely to break up.
These are what might be described as refrigerator pickles as you don't typically go down the line of water bath canning. That said, you absolutely can if you want to in order to store them longer. Be aware, the pickle flavors will intensify over time as well.
Even without more thorough canning, they still keep for a good amount of time in the fridge ready to use as and when. I tend to make a relatively small batch as below so they are easy to get through.
They make an appearance in lots of meals, such as in sandwiches - particularly to top open sandwiches - and as part of a smorgasbord (buffet table) with other dishes like pickled herring, gravlax (cured salmon) and Swedish meatballs. You'll also find them mixed into salads, as well as just eaten on their own.
You can cut the beet into different shapes (diced, sliced) depending on how you plan to use them, or, of course, cut further after pickling.
These Swedish-style pickled beets are easy to make and great to have on hand to eat alongside various dishes and to top sandwiches and more. They're bright and tasty and so worth a try.
Try these other tasty condiments:
- Pressgurka (quick-pickled Swedish-style cucumbers)
- Brinjal pickle (Indian eggplant relish/ aubergine chutney)
- Apple bacon jam (so good on so many things)
- Zaalouk (Moroccan eggplant and tomato dip/spread/salad)
- Plus get more sauce and condiment recipes in the archives.
Swedish pickled beets
- 9 oz beets 255g beetroot, approx 2 - 3
- ½ cup water 120ml
- ½ cup white vinegar 120ml
- ¼ cup sugar 50g
- 1 pinch salt
- 5 peppercorns black or a mix
- 1 clove
- Clean the beets but don't peel, just remove ant excess roots and break off any remaining greens. Place them in a pot/saucepan just large enough to hold them and cover with cold water.
- Place the pot over a medium-high heat and being to a boil. Reduce to a gentle boil and cook until the beet are just tender when tested with a knife - you should have a little resistance but it still goes into the middle relatively easily. The cook time can vary from around 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the size. Drain then allow to cool slightly. You can also cook a day or two ahead (store in the fridge after a couple hours).
- As the beets are cooking, combine the water, vinegar, sugar, peppercorns and clove in another small saucepan. Warm gently to dissolve the sugar then remove from heat and leave to cool.
- Once the beets are cool enough to handle, or when you choose to prepare, peel off the skin. The skin should slide off pretty easily using your fingers or eased with a knife. Trim off the ends then slice or dice, as you prefer. Note - beets can stain so take care what you use.
- Place the chopped beets in a jar then pour over the cooled vinegar mixture. Seal and place the jar in the fridge and allow to pickle for at least 12 hours, or 2 to 3 days, if you prefer. Keep refrigerated for storage and use as needed.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.