A highly rated pickled beets recipe is Food Network's pickled beets recipe from Alton Brown. The recipe calls for roasting the beets before the pickling process. The pickling liquid consists of red onion, tarragon wine vinegar, salt and sugar along with some water.
For Food Network's pickled beets recipe, toss six medium beets, two large, peeled shallots and two sprigs rosemary with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Roast the beets in a foil pouch for 40 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When cooled, peel the skin off the beets, and thinly slice them. Place the sliced beets in alternating layers with slices of a red onion in 1-quart jars.
For the pickling liquid, boil a mixture of 1 cup tarragon wine vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Pour the liquid over the beets, seal the jars and refrigerate the mixture for three to seven days.
For a recipe that uses boiled rather than roasted beets, clean 1 pound beets, place them in a saucepan and cover them with water. Boil the beets, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Allow the beets to cool, then peel and thinly slice them. In a small saucepan, boil 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup sugar, and allow to cook for five minutes. Add in 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns and two bay leaves, and pour over the beets.