Harvard Beets #SundaySupper

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These Harvard Beets conjure up memories of a famous Philadelphia restaurant back in the 1950’s. Simmered in sugar and vinegar, these super sweet and tangy beets make a delicious side dish.

Harvard Beets, Retro Foods #SundaySupper

When #SundaySupper announced the Retro Foods theme, I knew just who to turn to for advice — my dad. Classic recipes from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s are the inspiration behind today’s event and Dad had some really great ideas. Asking him to come up with ideas for the theme was so much fun. He got to reminisce about some of his childhood favorite foods and I got to learn about dishes I’d never heard of. This is what my dad had to say:

As a young kid, my parents used to take me to Horn and Hardart’s on Chestnut St. This was the famous Automat, where food was in little cubicles behind glass in the wall, and you got the door to open by inserting coins in the slot, like vending machines today, except this was a whole wall. See the picture. It was all self-service, like a cafeteria, moving in line with a tray, except there were no people serving — just these little windows with food behind the glass. After you got your food, you had to find a place to sit down and eat it. You had to sit wherever there was room. You might have had to sit with strangers, but who cared! My very favorite food there was harvard beets. 

Another restaurant was Linton’s. This was great. They must have had tables, but I can’t remember sitting anywhere but at the counter, where a waitress took your order just like in a diner today. The difference was the way the food got to you. It came out on a conveyer belt that ran along the entire counter, just behind it, where you or the waitress could reach over and grab your food as it went by. They had great coffee. 

The Melrose Diner was another one that goes back to my childhood.

I think my fondness for a Hot Turkey Sandwich and Mashed Potatoes with Cole Slaw traces its way back to these three places. Add a side order of Harvard Beets, and I’d be in heaven!

Harvard Beets, Retro Foods #SundaySupper

Since I’m such a huge fan of beets as it is, it was no question that I’d be making Harvard Beets for this week’s #SundaySupper. They turned out exactly how I imagined they would. I roasted fresh beets instead of buying a can like most recipes I found online called for. It’s so easy to pop the beets in the oven and do it yourself, plus I really wanted to make these totally from scratch. I placed the sliced, cooked beets in a pot of water to mimic the “beet water” you’d get from the canned variety. That liquid, plus sugar, vinegar and corn starch simmer on the stovetop and turn into this luscious, thick and shiny coating for those slices of beets. 

Harvard Beets, Retro Foods #SundaySupper

I made the dish for Monday Supper (hah) last week while my younger sister was here visiting during her Spring Break. Bubby cooked red snapper and her signature crispy eggplant, and I added these Harvard Beets to the table. It was a perfect family meal. I can’t wait to make Harvard Beets again for my dad when he visits later this month! 

Harvard Beets, Retro Foods #SundaySupper

Harvard Beets
Recipe Type: Side Dish
Author: Shaina
Serves: 4-6 servings
Simmered in sugar and vinegar, these super sweet and tangy Harvard Beets make a delicious side dish to any entree.
  • 3 medium fresh beets, washed and greens removed
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 cup reserved beet water
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (regular white sugar will work too)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over beets and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Wrap the beets loosely in tin foil and place on a baking sheet. Cook for 50 minutes.
  4. Fill a medium bowl with water and set aside.
  5. Allow the beets to cool completely and use a paper towel to rub off the skins.
  6. Slice into 1/2-inch discs and place into the water. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the reserved beet water, sugar, vinegar and cornstarch to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  8. Lower to a simmer and add the beets to the pan, stirring until completely coated.
  9. Simmer until the liquid has thickened to a syrup-like consistency.
  10. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  11. Store in tupperware in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve cold.


Thanks to this week’s host, Heather of Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks! Let’s see what other Retro Foods my #SundaySupper friends have cooked up this week!

Bodacious Breakfasts and Appetizers:

Made in the Shade Main Dishes:

Swell Side Dishes:

Dreamy Desserts:

The Bee’s Knees Beverages:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement



Hello! I’m Shaina – a Delray Beach, Florida resident, foodie, and lifestyle blogger. I love exploring South Florida and beyond, and sharing everything from my favorite restaurants, products and more with you! See more by following along on Instagram:  @takeabiteoutofboca

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