Homemade Quick-Pickled Beets and Turnips

Typically, turnips don’t exactly exude confidence.

Vertical overhead image of a white bowl of shocking pink pickled turnips and beets, with a sprig of Italian parsley, on a white surface with a black background, printed with orange and white text at the midpoint and the bottom of the frame.

They’re an oft-forgotten root vegetable that’s primarily recognized for not having much flavor.

That’s not really the reputation you want.

But I’d like to change that.

Closeup vertical overhead oblique shot of a purple and white turnip, with other root vegetables in the background on a beige surface.

I’m aware that if you’re not a big fan of root vegetables to begin with, I probably can’t transform turnips into the love of your life. But when you experience a pickled turnip for the first time, one that’s been permeated with the crimson color of a beet, you might start to see them in a new light.

Pickled condiments are a staple in many different types of cuisine. Let’s explore, shall we?

We’ve got Lebanese-style (like today’s featured recipe) that tucks in beautifully to a meaty gyro. There’s giardiniera – an Italian relish medley of pickled vegetables in vinegar or oil that gives life to beefy hoagies.

I recently even spotted pickled string beans and baby carrots on an elegant charcuterie platter at a Spanish tapas spot.

But for right this second, I’d like to discuss the OG from my childhood: the dill pickle.

Vertical image of a white bowl of vibrant pink pickled root vegetables with a sprig of parsley for garnish, on a white painted wood surface with a black background.

Okay, technically it’s a pickled cucumber, but you get where I’m going with this. I’ve always had a thing for pairing fried, salty food with cold, crunchy pickles.

I have hundreds of upscale food memories from my younger years (like fresh, tomatoey bouillabaisse prepared oceanside…) thanks to being raised by parents who were quite the epicureans.

But no matter how much my dad instilled in me the art of scratch-made cooking featuring fresh herbs and my mom begged me to try her rainbow chard, I still couldn’t get enough Applebee’s.

Overhead closely cropped vertical image of a white ceramic bowl of bright pink pickled root vegetables that have been cut into thick matchsticks, with a sprig of flat leaf parsley for garnish, on a white surface against a black background.

I know. It’s a miracle I ended up in the culinary industry.

I like to think that my relentless love for this American neighborhood grill was actually an exploration in understanding how flavor contrast and balance work.

This is clearly the gourmet in me speaking.

I know that this chain, though a delightfully affordable family-friendly franchise, isn’t exactly known for their artisanal abilities in the kitchen. But I can still taste the crispy tenders from that chicken finger basket paired with chilled briny pickles like it was yesterday.

(And it definitely wasn’t yesterday. I had my sixteenth birthday party there, and that was many moons ago.)

I remember that I couldn’t share a seasoned pile of french fries with friends without asking for my beloved sidecar of ridged pickles. It was as if I knew that my future self was going to become a professional cook, and I was implanting culinary nuggets (like balancing acidity with fat) into my teenage brain.

Vertical oblique overhead image of a white ceramic bowl of vibrant pink pickled root vegetables, on a white painted wood surface with a black background.

Now, as an adult, I slide all kinds of pickled veggies into anywhere that I want to infuse with a bit of magic.

And by magic, I mean crunchy tartness.

These pickled beets and turnips are a game-changer when it comes to flavor, but color is another key feature. As the hot brine gets washed over the veggies, a few cloves of garlic, and the fiery red chili, the beets release their energetic shade into the turnips.

Suddenly, the once-bland turnips are literally “turnt up.”

The result: thick, rosy matchsticks that are addictively salty, gloriously garlicky, a touch sweet, and delicately hot.

You can slip them into souvlaki, toss them with greens, or take them to Applebee’s for a hot date.

No judgement here.

Print
Horizontal oblique overhead image of vibrant pink pickled root vegetables in a white bowl with a sprig of fresh parsley, on a white surface with a black background.

Homemade Quick-Pickled Beets and Turnips


  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 hrs, 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 quarts 1x

Description

Got a recipe that’s missing a bright touch of tartness and sassy tang? These crunchy pickled beets and turnips are your ticket to flavor.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 pounds turnips, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
  • 1 small red beet, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red chili, halved with seeds discarded

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepot over high heat, add the vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Whisk until the salt has dissolved, about 1 minute.
  2. Place the turnips, beets, garlic, and chili into 2 32-ounce glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables, leaving about ½ inch of space at the top.
  3. Cover the jars with lids and allow the pickles and their liquid to cool slightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 day. Pickles will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Notes

Note that the nutritional info below includes the brine, most of which you will actually drain.

  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Pickles

Keywords: pickles, pickled beets, pickled turnips, beets, turnips

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Peel and Chop Vegetables

Trim the root ends and tops off of the beets and turnips, and then peel them with a vegetable peeler. If you bought the beets with the greens still attached, don’t throw them out! Saute them with garlic for a delish side.

Three peeled sliced purple beet rounds on a wood cutting board.

To slice them into matchsticks, place the end side flat on a cutting board.

Closeup horizontal image of peeled beets sliced into thick matchsticks, with a knife on an unfinished wood cutting board.

Slice into flat slices that are ½ inch thick.

Closeup image of peeled turnips sliced into thick matchsticks, on a wood cutting board with a knife and more peeled root vegetables in the background.

Stack several slices at a time, and then slice lengthwise into fat sticks.

Step 2 – Make the Brine

In a medium saucepot over high heat, add the vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and bay leaves and bring to a boil.

A hand pours sugar from a small white and green plastic measuring cup into the saucepan below, on a wood surface.

Whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved, about 1 minute.

Step 3 – Pour the Brine over the Veggies

Thinly slice the garlic.

Closeup image of a knife slicing a red chili pepper to remove the seeds and pith inside, on a blonde unfinished wood cutting board.

Slice the red chili down the middle, and remove the seeds.

Overhead image of two glass jars filled with sliced turnips and beets, with some sliced garlic on top, on a wooden cutting board on a beige countertop.

Place the turnips, beets, garlic, and chili into glass jars with tight-fitting lids. I used two 32-ounce jars for this recipe.

Horizontal oblique overhead image of two glass jars on a wooden cutting board with a knife. The one in the foreground is filled with sliced root vegetables and a pink liquid, with a dried bay leaf on top.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables, leaving about ½ inch of space at the top.

Step 4 – Cover and Refrigerate

Cover the jars with lids and allow the pickles and their liquid to cool slightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 day before enjoying.

Overhead closely cropped horizontal image f a white bowl and a glass jar of pickled beets and turnips with a bay leaf, on a beige countertop.

Pickles will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.

It’s a Pickle Party, and You’re Invited

On a scale of one to fabulous, these cool, crisp, crunchy condiments that you can sneak into any meal tip the scales towards awesome every time.

Anything you can think of with a savory bite will make an ideal landing zone for these turnips and beets. I trickle them over breakfast tacos, pile them onto a hummus wrap at lunch, and load them into my dinnertime buffalo chicken salad.

Hungry yet? Same.

Horizontal oblique overhead image of vibrant pink pickled root vegetables in a white bowl with a sprig of fresh parsley, on a white surface with a black background.

The pickling possibilities are endless. Here are some more ideas to try:

How do you prefer your pickle brine? Brimming with fresh dill and garlic? Spicy and sweet? Share your salty secrets in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

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