5 Fantastic Ways to Liven Up the Humble Turnip – Updated!

Turnip or Rutabaga?

It must be a Canadian thing. The vegetable that I grew up calling turnip is actually a rutabaga. This homely vegetable is thought to be a cross between a wild cabbage and a white turnip. Rutabaga is also known as swede, yellow turnip, or winter turnip. It is larger than a white turnip, and therefore easier to peel. It is good for long storage too, whereas your white turnips may not have the same staying power.

Both the white turnip and the yellow turnip belong to the brassica family, whose members are high in vitamins A, C and K, folic acid, and fibre. They also contain a surprising amount of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and glucosinolate. You may know the brassicas as cruciferous vegetables, a name derived from the distinctive cross shape of their flowers.


What am I going to do with 20 lbs of yellow turnips?
The true turnip, otherwise known as summer turnip or white turnip (Image: Clagett Farm CSA at thebittenword.com/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

How to Cook Turnips

Most folks are a bit hesitant to cook turnips because – well, they’ve never cooked with turnip! Some people do boil and mash them, but since many people find the taste sharp by itself it’s good to know a few other ways to introduce turnip into your diet.



  1. Eat turnip raw: Just cut it into small pieces and enjoy as is. Believe me, it’s good! Rutabaga is sweeter than you would expect, and it has a little bit of tang that is an interesting departure from other raw vegetables like carrot sticks.

You can also get a variety of turnip that is exceedingly tender and meant to be eaten raw. They are smooth, round, and white; they look a little like a button mushroom. Look for them at your farmers market or grocer’s produce section under the name “salad turnips.” They are also sometimes known as Hakurei or Tokyo turnips, and are a Japanese variety that mature early in the summer, like radishes. Slice them thinly and add to any green salad. They are really yummy with a balsamic vinaigrette!

If you can’t find salad turnips, try turning raw rutabaga or white turnips into turnip slaw. Shred the roots or cut them into julienne strips. If the taste is a bit odd at first, you can take a small amount and mix it in with your favourite coleslaw or broccoli slaw recipe. Or just add some shredded turnip to any green salad.

Recent nutrition studies favour eating our vegetables raw instead of cooked, so anytime you can eat turnips raw, don’t pass up the chance!


Hakurei, or salad, turnips are tender white roots that don’t need to be cooked
Salad turnips are sweeter than other turnips – and so tender you can cut them with a butter knife!
Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image by Pixabay user Hans


  1. Boil turnip: Cook up a batch of turnips and simply mash them with a little butter and salt. It’s heavenly, especially when made with the pretty yellow flesh of a rutabaga! You can also mash turnip with other root vegetables.

My mother-in-law used to make Scottish “tatties and neeps” in order to sneak the turnip into my husband’s diet when he was little. There is also rotmos, a Swedish puree traditionally made from turnip, carrot and potato. I like to leave out the potato, and just blend equal proportions of the carrot and turnip. It’s so sweet and delicious!

Other good matches for boiled turnip would be sweet potato, or even a little baked acorn or butternut squash. Flavour your mash with freshly grated ginger, some cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice, a little paprika or some thyme. Turnip goes well with chives, onion, or garlic too.

You don’t even have to mash the turnip after boiling it. Instead, try cutting it into julienne strips before cooking, and just serve your turnip julienne with a little butter or a honey-lemon glaze.

  1. Add turnip to soups and stews: I’ve always loved a good beef stew with turnip in it. But you can toss a bit of turnip into just about any soup or stew to boost its nutritional content, and bring a little zip to the flavour. If you like cream soups or chowders, add a bit of turnip to your favourite recipe and blend it until smooth. This is a great way to introduce turnips if you or your kids find the taste too strong. Increase the amount of turnip each time you make the soup, to help your taste buds adjust to the flavour.
Cooking with turnips – 5 cool ways to cook turnips and rutabagas | Updated! | 24 Carrot Diet
How to cook turnips – or rutabagas, neeps, swede, or winter turnip, as the case may be!


  1. Bake or roast turnips: Cooking turnips in the oven is a snap. Just brush with a little olive oil and sea salt, and roast for about 30 minutes at 400ºF. You can also just slice a winter turnip into 1/2” pieces and tuck them under a chicken or turkey before cooking.

If you want to add turnip to a casserole with other foods, steam or boil it briefly first and then pat dry. This allows you to add turnips to recipes the otherwise wouldn’t give it the chance to cook all the way through.

Want to make healthy turnip fries? No problem! Cut your turnips into thick slices and boil them a bit to soften them up. Then coat them in oil and lay them on a sheet pan. Bake them at 425°F for about 20 minutes, or until crisp. Check out the video below if you want a fancier recipe for your turnip fries.

Roast turnip with other root vegetables like carrots or parsnips, or bake it with slices of butternut squash. If you like cheese, try sprinkling with a little Parmesan before serving.

  1. Make turnip noodles: If this idea sounds crazy to you, maybe you haven’t heard of spiralizing. Essentially, this cool new trend involves using a special spiral vegetable cutting gadget that slices your veggies into long thin ribbons – just like pasta noodles! The “noodles” are served with your favourite sauces instead of the less healthy, high carb pasta that puts a spare tire around our middles. Serving spiralized turnip is a great way to include this nutritious veggie in your diet. Eat them raw or cooked!



Did you find this post informative? If so, I hope you’ll share it with others who will be interested in learning more about turnips! Share this post by using the social media sharing buttons at left, or feel free to use the image below to pin it on Pinterest.


Cooking with Turnips | Fun new ways to cook turnips and rutabagas – and ideas for eating these healthy root vegetables raw too! | 24 Carrot Diet
Turnips and rutabagas are healthy cruciferous vegetables
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Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image by Pixabay user Kovbaskina


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Original content © 2016-2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Last updated 23/12/2017

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Cooking with Turnips: New, Healthy Brassicas to Add to Your Diet
Article Name
Cooking with Turnips: New, Healthy Brassicas to Add to Your Diet
Many cooks are unfamiliar with turnips. This humble root vegetable is a delicious and versatile member of the brassica family. Learn 5 great ways to cook it.
Kyla Matton Osborne

36 thoughts on “5 Fantastic Ways to Liven Up the Humble Turnip – Updated!”

    1. Cooking really isn’t difficult. Especially if you try some of the crockpot meals and soup recipes posted here and on Pinterest. Do you have someone that does the cooking for you? If so, get them to help you learn! And remember to include the turnips 🙂

  1. When I lived in England, Turnips were a popular veggie to add to our stews. Now that I’m here in the States I don’t see it as much and I have ceased to use it. But I have to say, Roasted turnip does sound good. I’ve never tried it but am willing to give it a go.

    1. I love rutabaga in beef stew! In England, they’d call it swede. The tang of the yellow turnip goes really well with the rich flavour of the the beef after it’s been stewing for several hours. I add the turnip when I put in my other root vegetables. It’s a wonderful cold weather meal.

      I’m a little surprised to hear that turnips are hard to find in the States. Although we mostly get the yellow turnip here in Canada, white turnip is sometimes available in grocery stores. And at our farmers market, it’s pretty easy to find. One of our local farms grows the Japanese turnips all summer and into the fall. So we have a ready supply of turnip greens and salad turnips from late June, through to the end of October.

  2. Am honestly not familiar with turnip (i think i need to visit the farmers market often). And thanks to your story, am learning and gaining ideas what is it and how to cook it.

    1. A lot of people these days have never eaten turnip. I guess maybe it’s a bit of an old fashioned food. I’m really glad that I wrote about it, because this is helping to expose a lot of people to this delicious and healthy vegetable 🙂

    1. you know Krysti, you are one of the first people to comment that she’s already eating turnips? I was really surprised to learn a lot of my friends and readers have never eaten them! I had always figured maybe we cook less often with them, but that most folks would eat them at least once a year.

  3. I love cruciferous vegetables. But turnips are a vegetable I haven’t really gotten into. I think I would try roasting it first. One of the things I love most about the cooler months is roasting veggies.

    1. I always look forward to roasted potatoes once the weather turns cool in the fall. That’s sort of my gateway to roasting carrots and other root vegetables too! Another thing I like to make during the colder weather is root vegetable mash. At its most basic, my rotmos is just boiled and mashed carrots with rutabaga (yellow turnip.)

  4. I don’t know how I missed this one..I love swede and all root vegetables they are however very expensive here as they are imported so unless anyone brings me some over when they visit I don’t eat as much as I would like but savour it more. Another lovely post from you Kyla 🙂

  5. I love turnips! I usually make a mashed root veggie dish (from the Redwall book series, actually) that has turnips, potatoes, carrots, and… something else… I can’t think of it now. I’m definitely going to try spiralizing them and making turnip fries now.

    1. Crystal, would that be “Mole’s Favourite Deeper’n’Ever Turnip’n’Tater’n’Beetroot Pie?” It has cheese and pickled beets, in addition to the veg you mentioned.

  6. It’s funny, I only recently discovered I like turnips (and I’m 59 years old!) But they are good in various dishes or by themselves. I’ve never had turnip FRIES, though, so I’ll have to try them! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    1. It’s funny how we only eat certain foods all our lives, and we either avoid others or never seem to encounter them! I grew up with a VERY limited selection of vegetables because my father really disliked so many of them. I discovered so many foods as an adult! It’s wonderful to be able to try all kinds of cool new things, whether it’s a vegetable or fruit I’ve never eaten, or a new dish to cook.

    1. You’ll have to let me know how they turn out! I’m actually thinking I might try to grow the salad turnips but let them get a little oversized. If they still taste mild once bigger, they’d make great noodles.

  7. This is so helpful! I’ve never cooked with either, but I see them all the time in the grocery store! I’ve been wanting to try them, so these tips on how to cook them will definitely help!

    1. I’m so glad that you found the information helpful, Joscelyn! I know when I see fruits and vegetables that I’ve never used, I often want to buy them but many times I don’t because I am not sure what to do with them and don’t want them going to waste.

    1. Growing up, my mother and I were the only ones who would willingly eat turnips. They do have a slightly bitter taste, especially the yellow turnips. But if you like the taste of things like kale, mustard greens, or broccoli, you will probably like turnips. They have a consistency similar to boiled potatoes when you cook them. And they really do go with so many different foods.

    1. You know Carly, I haven’t tried them yet! But they are on my list of things to make with turnips this fall. We gorged ourselves on salad turnips in the early part of summer, thanks to our cool CSA deliveries. But now I’m ready for rutabagas again 🙂

  8. I love turnips! I didn’t know that maybe I love rutabagas too, not knowing they’re from the same family. My favorite thing to do with turnips is to add them, quartered, as one of my vegetables in pot roast. I also add beets to the pot, along with various other vegetables.

    1. That sounds delicious, Ruth! I love to add rutabagas, parsnips, potatoes, and carrots to beef stew, so I know I’d love quartered turnips in a pot roast.

  9. Kyla, I’m blown away by these ideas for turnip. My mom used to cook it like potatoes, only she would put a little bacon grease and red pepper in it. Needless to say, I was not a fan, since I was little. As I grew older I helped her prepare them, and tasted them raw. I was shocked to find I really liked them. But I had no idea until your article, that there were so many different ways of preparing and using them. They all sound delicious and I’m sharing this on FB so I can find it again. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. The way your mom made turnips sounds really delicious, Nancy. My mom generally just added them to beef stew. My father was never a big fan of vegetables, so she could only sneak things like turnips in occasionally. I never really started to experiment with turnips until a few years ago. Aside from cooking them with carrots or adding them to soups and stews, I really had not much idea how to use them. So researching these cooking methods was as much for me as for my readers 🙂

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing the post!

    1. I had a similar experience with beef and barley soup, Vickie! There were turnips added but they were so sweet the only thing that gave them away was the yellow colour of the flesh 🙂

    1. I can see why you’s wonder that, Grecy! No, it’s just the way the turnip was cut 🙂

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