Yucatan-style beets are vibrant and full of bold and delicious regional flavors. This dish is a botana or snack and it’s fresh, light, savory, a little tart, a little sweet and a tad spicy. It’s the perfect flavor and texture combination to serve with tortilla chips.
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Discovering Yucatan-Style Beets
Yucatan-style beets are a “botana” or snack that’s a hidden gem not commonly known outside of the Yucatan Peninsula.
I first tried this savory, sweet and spicy beet dish at a restaurant in Campeche, but then later on found out that they are also a common snack served in the cantinas and restaurants across the Yucatan.
The place I first ate it at referred to the beets as remolacha, but I’ve also seen other places call them betabel like in other parts of Mexico. Regardless of the name, it was love at first bite for me years ago.
(Side note, the cities of Campeche and Merida used to be part of the state of Yucatan. In the mid 1800s Campeche declared it’s independence from Yucatan then forming a new state. Because of their previous history they share many similarities in their traditional foods.)
If you’re a fan of beets as it is, then this recipe is going to be one you’ll really enjoy. It combines the earthy goodness of beets with the zesty flavors of regional cuisine, making this dish is an absolute must-try.
It’s the perfect treat for those who appreciate a balance of savory, spicy, and a touch of sweetness.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- A Fresh Burst of Flavors: Yucatan style beets bring a burst of flavors to your palate. The sweet, tangy, and spicy notes create a harmonious symphony of taste.
- Healthy and Vegan: If you’re following a vegan diet and love healthy options, this snack is a great choice. It’s low in calories and high in nutrients.
The Star Ingredients
One of the great things about this tasty snack is that the ingredients are quite simple and you should be able to find them just about everywhere in the World. Please note the substitutions just in case.
- Beets: These vibrant gems add a burst of color, earthy and sweet flavor.
- Red Onions: They add a crisp and crunchy texture with a mild, sweet, and slightly pungent flavor that pairs perfectly with beets and citrus.
- Sweet Orange: The natural sweetness of oranges complements the beets perfectly.
- Lime Juice: Zesty and tangy, lime juice brings a refreshing twist.
- Habanero: Don’t be fooled by its size; this chili packs a spicy punch. So if you don’t like spicy then you can use deseeded fresh jalapeños.
- Cilantro: Fresh cilantro adds a burst of green and herby taste and aroma.
- Tortilla Chips: A perfect companion for scooping up those delectable beets.
Traditionally this recipe is made using naranja agria or sour orange, but it’s quite difficult to find outside of the Peninsula. To make it easier on everyone I’ve switched this up with a mixture of sweet orange and tart lime juice.
Some recipes also use vinegar but I’ve never done this since I quite enjoy the combination of the sweet orange with the lime juice and feel it’s tart enough.
Making Yucatan-Style Beets
Making your own Yucatan-style beets is so incredibly easy. You’re going to love them!
Step 1: Boil the Beets
Start by boiling your beets until they are tender. This could take from 40 to 60 minutes. You could also use a pressure cooker and follow this cooking times guide.
Once tender, carefully place in cold water to cool. When cooled, peel and set aside.
Step 2: Prepare Citrusy Marinade
While the beets cook and cool prepare the other ingredients.
In a glass bowl, mix the slivered onions, freshly squeezed sweet orange juice and lime juice with salt. Then add the chopped habanero pepper and chopped cilantro and mix until well combined.
Step 3: Chop The Beets & Marinate
Chop the beets into small bite-size pieces. Mix into the other ingredients. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving – or overnight for even better results.
How to Serve
Every time I’ve gotten them at restaurants they’ve been served to enjoy on their own or part of other snacks.
For me, this Mexican beets snack is best enjoyed with crispy tortilla chips. The chips provide a satisfying crunch and a perfect vessel for scooping up the beets.
You can also serve as a side dish to any protein you’d like.
How to Store
Store any leftovers in a airtight glass container or mason jar. You don’t want to use plastic or metal because they will get damaged by the citrus juices.
This beet appetizer will keep fresh in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
Yucatan-Style Beets FAQs
Can I adjust the spiciness level?
Absolutely! The heat of the habanero can be tailored to your preference. If you prefer a milder taste, remove the seeds and veins before adding it to the mix. Or if you want even less heat use either jalapeño or Serrano pepper instead.
Can I use different types of beets?
Sure thing! While the traditional Yucatan-Style Beets use red beets, you can experiment with other beet varieties for a colorful twist.
More Appetizers & Snacks to Try
- Cauliflower Ceviche
- Easy Chorizo and Beans Recipe (Chorizo con Frijoles)
- Easy Mexican Chorizo Cheese Dip Recipe
- Easy Mexican Cucumber Recipe
Yucatan-style beets are a testament to the exquisite flavors that Mexican cuisine has to offer. It’s a reminder that Mexican cuisine is vast and there are so many regional variations. They are the perfect embodiment of freshness, health, and zest.
Whether you’re planning a gathering or just looking for a quick and delicious snack, these beets will never disappoint.
Yucatan-Style Beets (Ensalada de Remolacha)
- 3 small beets
- 1 small red onion halved and sliced in slivers
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large orange juiced
- 2 Mexican limes juiced
- 2 whole green habanero peppers seeded and chopped
- 1 cup chopped cilantro chopped
- tortilla chips for serving
- Boil the beets until fork tender. Once beets are cooked, drain, rinse under cool water and allow to cool completely inside a bowl of cold water.
- While the beets cool mix the remaining ingredients in a large glass bowl.
- Once beets have cooled, peel then chop into bite-size cubes and mix them into the bowl.
- Marinate at least 30 minutes before serving or overnight is even better.
- Serve with tortilla chips as a snack or appetizer or as a side dish to protein of your choice.
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…