Thanksgiving Recipe: Pickled Beets and Eggs

Here’s another decorative dish for your Thanksgiving table.

Pickled Eggs and Beets for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Table

I don’t recall mother or grandmother making cold pickled beets, but mother’s favorite way to serve canned beets was Harvard beets (a recipe for another day) which also is a sweet and sour sauce.

When I first added  pickled beets and eggs to our Thanksgiving menu, my main thought was how beautiful the bright magenta beets and eggs would look in one of my great-grandmother’s cut-glass bowls on the Thanksgiving table. Now I can’t leave them off the table, or I’ll hear from my son Mike.

Of course pickled vegetables were a staple of my ancestors, and you can use basically this same recipe to “put up” beets in glass jars, if you wish. You can find directions on the Internet in many places. The history of the humble root is fascinating for its International flare. At first, beets were deemed only fit to feed livestock. (Lucky pigs!) Our early ancestors would have called this vegetable a blood turnip, and Ken’s Swiss family persists in calling them “red beets.”


Orange beets with other farmer’s Market finds

Growing up we knew nothing BUT red beets, so it seemed redundant to me to call them “red beets,” but recently at farmer’s markets, I have tried yellow, striped, and orange beets.

You can see various recipes used for beets in the 1800s at this American Cookery site.

The history of pickled eggs is interesting as well. They seem to be considered an English tradition–definitely pub food.  In the early days of this country visitors to bars might have gotten a little food for free along with their drink and big jars of disgusting brownish liquid held pickled eggs.

Whoever decided to mix them with beets to turn them beautiful red, deserves our everlasting thanks.

PIckled Beets and Eggs


  • 5 beets (medium or 1 can whole beets)
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves (whole)
  • 8 eggs (hard cooked and peeled)


1. If using fresh beets, cook,peel and slice. If using canned, drain liquid and use as part of called-for water.
2. Mix vinegar, water, sugar, salt and cloves.
3. Put beets in large glass container and pour vinegar mixture over.
4. Let marinate overnight in refrigerator.
5. Next day, remove half beets and add shelled eggs. Put reserved beets back on top of eggs. Refrigerate at least another day.

6. Will keep in refrigerator for a long time, but eggs will get rubbery if left more than a week.
7. To serve, spoon the beets and eggs out of the liquid. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, or slice crosswise. Slice beets if they are large, or leave small ones whole. ( Do not return sliced eggs to liquid or you'll have a muddy mess.)


The hardest part about this recipe is getting neatly peeled eggs. To ensure you have attractive peeled eggs, set aside however many eggs you are going to use about a week before you plan to make this. Old eggs peel better.

Amounts are flexible. I usually use two cans of beets and a dozen eggs. The liquid is still enough for that amount.

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