Mashed Turnips

Mashed turnips in a dark bowl

The Spruce Eats / Linda Schneider

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
106 Calories
9g Fat
7g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 106
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 23mg 8%
Sodium 165mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 13mg 66%
Calcium 41mg 3%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 205mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Turnips may get a bad rap, maybe because they tend to be a little on the bitter side—some folks say they taste like a cross between cabbage and radish. Unless you've got a turnip enthusiast in your family, it's also possible you never encountered a really stellar preparation of this root veggie. Turnips, however, are absolutely delicious when cooked properly.

This recipe mashes turnips with butter and a little bit of sugar for a rich side dish with an unexpected sweetness. The sugar helps counteract the bitterness, and this recipe is enough to convert any turnip skeptics in your family. Don't forget the salt and pepper—when you've got a dish this simple, those seasonings become even more important.

These mashed turnips make an excellent side dish and are a great alternative to mashed potatoes, particularly during the winter when the root vegetable is at its best. Serve it alongside chicken or pork dishes and a salad for a well-balanced dinner.

"This is a super easy, filling, and warming side dish to make alongside any protein. I think a lot of people don't know what to do with turnips, but they are a beautiful root vegetable that makes for a great mashed side dish." —Tracy Wilk

Mashed turnips in a glass bowl
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 pound turnips, peeled and diced large

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for mashed turnips recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Linda Schneider

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and season with salt.

    Salt added to a pot of boiling water

    The Spruce Eats / Linda Schneider

  3. Once boiling, add the peeled and diced turnips. Cook until fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

    Peeled and diced turnips in a pot of boiling salted water

    The Spruce Eats / Linda Schneider

  4. Drain the turnips and place them back into the pot. Add the butter, sugar, and pepper, and season with salt to taste.

    Cooked and drained turnips with butter, sugar, pepper, and salt

    The Spruce Eats / Linda Schneider

  5. Using a potato masher, mash the turnips with the butter and seasonings until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

    Turnips mashed with butter and seasoning in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Linda Schneider

  6. Serve hot and enjoy.

    Mashed turnips in a pot with salt and pepper, plus a serving spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Linda Schneider


  • The turnips you select can have a big impact on the flavor of this dish, as turnips are known to have a peppery bite. If you want a soft, delicate flavor, choose small, young turnips. The older and larger the turnip, the more flavorful it will be. Cooking does mellow the flavor considerably, but you'll still notice the difference.
  • Use a sharp knife to check the tenderness of the turnips. If you can insert the blade with little to no resistance, the turnips are ready.
  • Don't skip the sugar unless you're on a sugar-free diet. It brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables.

Recipe Variations

  • It's easy to turn the mashed turnips into a vegan dish. Simply use vegan butter or a similar dairy-free, plant-based substitute for the butter.
  • A variety of herbs and spices can be added to the mashed turnips. Try a tablespoon of finely chopped sage or rosemary, a clove or two of roasted or sautéed garlic, or a pinch of paprika or ground ginger.
  • If your turnips came with the greens, don't throw them away. Rinse and finely chop them and add them in while mashing. Or turn them into their own turnip green side dish.
  • For creamier and slightly tart mashed turnips, add a heaping tablespoon of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt with the butter.
  • Add other root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, rutabagas, or parsnips to the boiling water if you like. Make sure all of the vegetables are very tender before draining.

How to Store and Freeze

Mashed turnips will keep for three to five days, covered, in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them if needed. It's a good idea to freeze them in portions in a freezer-safe container or a zip-close freezer bag—they'll keep for up to three months that way.

How do you get the bitterness out of turnips?

Smaller turnips tend to be sweeter and less bitter, so start by selecting fresh, small, tender turnips and peeling them. Adding a little sugar to your turnips after cooking can also help to counteract any bitterness.

Can you use turnips instead of potatoes?

Turnips have a different flavor profile than potatoes but cook up similarly. If you want to add more flavor to a soup, pan of roasted veggies, or mash, try swapping some or all of the potatoes for turnips.