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.
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- 1 pound turnips (peeled and diced large)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
Gather the ingredients.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and season with salt.
Once boiling, add the peeled and diced turnips. Cook until fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Drain the turnips and place them back into the pot. Add the butter, sugar, and pepper, and season with salt to taste.
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.
Serve hot and enjoy.
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.
- 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.
- 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 couple of tablespoons 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 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 from 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.