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Thyme (Recipe: honey-roasted beets with orange and thyme) {vegetarian}

First published in November 2007, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and a few tweaks to the recipe. Sweetened with honey and orange, these beets add a festive blast of red to any Thanksgiving menu. Try the leftovers in a salad with arugula and crumbled blue cheese.

Honey-roasted beets with orange and thyme.

If, on some stormy December day, you look out the window and see a figure hunched over, scarf wrapped around her face, fogged-up red glasses, pink fuzzy gloves, nippers in hand, digging through the snow where she thought she remembered planting thyme last summer, you'll be looking at me.

I love thyme, and it breaks my heart to buy it at the market, when all summer long I enjoy an abundant harvest from my garden. I try to remember to dry some each Fall, in the drying screen my husband Ted made out of an old window frame, but as much as I dry, it's never enough.

So, yes, I would rather forage for frozen thyme in my garden, or buy good-quality dried thyme, than spend a penny on the uninspired, aroma-free, weak-stemmed, overmisted, no-flavor thyme in the grocery store.


The name thyme derives from the Greek work thymon, meaning "to fumigate," and also from thymus, meaning "courage" -- both clues to some of the earliest uses for this herb. Thyme was burned, like sage, to drive away evil spirits -- and, more literally, to drive away evil odors and stinging insects. Some believed that fairies lived in beds of thyme, so many gardeners would plant thyme in the garden.

In the first spring after we moved to this house, I planted both English thyme (the most common desirable culinary thyme, and a mainstay of bouquet garni and herbes de provence) and abundantly-fragrant lemon thyme, and though I haven't seen any fairies, I've seen plenty of happy bees and butterflies feasting on the plants.

When you purchase dried thyme, buy from a vendor that has a lot of turnover, so the herb will be fresh. Good-quality dried leaves are grayish-green, and a package full of stems indicates an inferior quality. Dried thyme, stored in an airtight container (or in the freezer) away from heat and light, will last for up to a year. If a recipe calls for fresh herbs and you only have dried, use half the amount of dried that the recipe suggests: i.e., for 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme, substitute 1 tablespoon of dried. 

Honey-roasted beets, from The Perfect Pantry.

Honey-roasted beets with orange and thyme

From the pantry, you'll need: honey, thyme, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.

Serves 4.


4 large beets, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup orange juice, or the juice of 2 oranges
2 tsp fresh chopped thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme leaf
2-3 Tbsp honey or agave nectar, to taste
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place beets in a nonstick roasting pan, and stir in remaining ingredients.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375F, stirring occasionally to keep beets from sticking, for 45 minutes, or until beets pierced with a sharp knife are tender all the way through.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Red rice salad with roasted beets, sun-dried tomatoes, cherries and nuts
Spinach salad with glazed beets and blue cheese
Tomato, beet and basil salad with balsamic vinaigrette
Beet and fennel salad
Red quinoa, beet and pecan salad with pomegranate-orange vinaigrette

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Quinoa salad with roasted beets, chick peas and orange, from Gluten-free Goddess
Beet, orange and five-spice soup, from Soup Chick
Beet salad with feta, orange, and mint, from Leite's Culinaria
Warm beet salad with orange vinaigrette, from The Hungry Mouse
Salt-roasted beets with goat cheese and toasted walnuts, from Alexandra's Kitchen

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I haven't thought preparing honey-roasted beets. I'll give this a try. Who knows, it might just enter my thanksgiving menu list.

I haven't found my love for beets yet, but adding honey will help me. ;-) I chuckled at the image of you in pink fuzzy gloves, etc. foraging, but I get it! Thyme especially shines this time of year. :-)

Happy Thanksgiving, Lydia!

Jeff, hope you like it.

Shirley, I love how, as adults, we keep working on learing to love vegetables we don't love naturally (me, with Brussels sprouts). Honey really helps! Have a wonderful holiday.

I don't eat beets too often because they are high in sugar, but I LOVE them and this sounds wonderful!

Kalyn, same here, but they are such a treat for the holidays. And I always hope for a few leftovers to add to salad.

Thanks for putting a smile on my face from the image of you foraging for your thyme. This recipe sounds lovely. I just don't make beets often enough!

Donna, if we have the snow they're predicting this winter, I'll be out foraging in the garden again this year. I always think I know just where the herbs are, until they're covered with snow.

Yummmmm. What a simple great side dish for the table. What about using leftovers in a twist on 'red flannel hash' with turkey the next day at brunch? just a thought!

Carol, you must do that and share the results! Great idea.

I just made a sourdough with beets, and beloved husband was relieved, as at first he thought I was going to simply cook them as a side dish for dinner ;-)

I rarely cook beets to keep our marital bliss going, but your recipe is tempting! Also loved the mental image of your chase for thyme... Priceless!!!!


I love beets, although I've never roasted them with honey before. What a great idea to combine earthy beets with some rich local honey. I picked up a bunch of beets at the farm last night, so this will be one of my weekend dinners!

You may have guessed that I am a fan of Thyme....and love roasted beets

Sally, my husband adores beets and usually gets the lion's share whenever I make this dish. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

TW, these beets are really more like beet candy, and with beets from the farm, it will be fantastic.

Jennifer, I guessed! And I'll bet you have lots of thyme in your holiday menu.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Even though beets are sweet, diabetics are encouraged to eat them.
Besides being high in Vit C and Folate, they contain an antioxidant lipoic acid, which helps to prevent nerve damage.
Sounds like a 'win win' to me, no?

I just love the earthiness of beets. (Hated as a youngin too!)

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