Beet Chocolate Cake: An Earthy Earth Day Dessert

How can you have your cake and beet it, too?  (That should win an award for worst pun ever.  It doesn’t even make sense.)  Well, I had a surplus of beets and figured I’d try to sneak them into a chocolate confection.  I’ve got to say I was pretty shocked when it actually turned out.  I found a recipe online but modified it so much that I can now claim that this is my own original creation.  (Read my Cooks Illustrated-style account of my little experiment after the recipe if you’re into that kind of thing.)  The result?  A moist, chocolatey, delicious cake that my beet-hating husband and child devoured.

Note: I used two pans to make this after I lost my 9 x 13″ pan in a tragic accident.

Beet Chocolate Cake Recipe

1 ¾ cups flour

1 ½ tsp baking soda

¼ cup cocoa

1 lb beets, peeled, steamed, and pureed (yields 2 cups puree)*

¾ cups sugar

½ cup apple sauce

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 squares chocolate

½ cup vegetable oil

1 cup chocolate chips



1. Mix the flour, soda, salt, and cocoa in a bowl and set aside.

2. Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl along with the oil. Let cool while preparing step 3.

3. Mix beet puree, sugar, apple sauce, and eggs until well blended.

4. Fold chocolate into beet mixture.

5. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir well.

6. Spread into a 9″ by 13″ pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips. The batter will look disturbingly reddish at this point.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

8. Let cool completely before eating.

*Note on the beets: I prefer to peel beets before steaming them, but you can also steam them, let them cool, and then slip the skins off before pureeing them.  You may need to use a little of the steaming liquid to create your puree.  I used a ¼ cup of beet liquid.  You can make the puree a day or two in advance and store it in the fridge.

The batter is strangely fuchsia before baking

Detailed notes on the creation of this recipe (The part where I pretend I work in the Cooks Illustrated test kitchen): Beet Chocolate cake recipes abound on the Internet.  Even Oprah has one, courtesy Jessica Seinfeld of Deceptively Delicious fame.  Back in my spinach popsicle post, I mentioned the controversy surrounding the idea of “sneaking” vegetables into foods to make kids eat them.  I personally don’t have a problem with it, especially since I am the only one in my household who likes beets.  I needed a new way to prepare them!

Jessica Seinfeld’s recipe called for just a ½ cup of beet puree and 1 ¾ cups sugar for a 9 x 9 inch cake.  My recipe uses two full cups of beet puree and just ¾ cups of sugar for a 9 x 13 inch cake.   The recipe I ended up using and modifying came from and called for a cup of vegetable oil and 1 ½ cups sugar.  I slashed both of these amounts in half and added some apple sauce. 

I also improved their directions for adding melted chocolate to the batter.  Following the original recipe’s directions, I melted the chocolate in the microwave and tried to incorporate it into the batter.  Half of the chocolate adhered to my spatula, and much of it hardened into little clumps as I stirred it.  By melting the chocolate along with the oil and waiting a few minutes, I was able to add the liquid chocolate to the beet mixture without a hitch.

I served up my first attempt of the cake for Audrey’s birthday, and no one guessed the secret ingredient.  I am usually not even much of a chocolate cake fan, but this recipe can’t be beet.  (Second worst pun ever?)

This post is a part of We are THAT Family’s Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival.


  1. looks yummy! i love beets

  2. Ditto on the yummy, can’t say I love beets, but plan to try this.
    I disagree, I like the pun:)
    Thank you for trying all those recipes and perfecting – I’m impressed.

  3. I am absolutely going to try this for my daughter’s birthday (turning 3). I had a bunch of strawberries that weren’t all that tasty so I made some sauce with them and am going to try and mix it with the frosting to make it pink. It also helps that my daughter wants strawberries “Just like Lowly (worm)”.

  4. I did end up doing this cake and it was a hit! I iced ours instead of the chocolate chips. The mom’s who knew it had beets liked it and the kids who didn’t ate it all up too. THanks!

  5. Sounds yummy. Glad to use a recipe once it has been tried. Thanks!

    Alyzabeth’s Mommy for Eight Months

  6. JenniferM says

    I found a bunch of recipes of this on the internet, but I liked yours the best. I’m going to go out on a limb and try to use just honey (in place of the sugar) in it and sort of work with the recipe a bit to make up for the excess liquid, so we’ll see how it works. I’ll try and come back and let you know how it goes! I’m so excited! My daughters birthday party is coming up and we both love beets! It’s just getting her daddy to try it, :P!

  7. I think that this recipe will surely make my daughters ask for more.

  8. We tried this last night. It was way too beet-y for my husband and I, who actually don’t mind beets. You can really taste them. My son though, who threw an all-out fit at having to eat beets the night before, had two helpings, so what do you know? I may try it again with far fewer beets (I actually didn’t even use all that was called for because I ran out) and see how it goes. I hear good things but we could really taste the beets, which is not what we wanted out of a chocolate cake. Kudos to her, though, for reducing the sugar. It was sweet enough without all the sugar.

  9. Hi, I tried your chocolate cake recipe few hours ago but somehow couldn’t get the same result as you, my cake clearly wasn’t looking that good (but tasted fine). What sort of chocolate are you using? Maybe it’s because of the flour I used, i’m gluten intelorant so I used amaranth flour instead of usual wheat flour.

  10. I HAVE to try this! Thanks for the recipe!!

  11. Really liked it! So moist. My only question is if there is significant change in nutritional value; calories and benefits from beets. Don’t most of the nutrients from the beets get cooked out? If this cake is lower in calories and there’s actually a benefit from the beets I will definately bake this from now on. How’s this for a pun, “This cake definately has a beet!”

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