How To Cook A Turnip
Everything You Need To Know!

Do you know how to cook a turnip?

Cartoon turnip saying

Most people don't, which is understandable. In fact, some have never tasted one either. Turnips are one of those vegetables that looks sort of strange in their raw state and can be intimidating.

Believe me, I understand! I tried cooking turnips once, but the resulting bitter veggie was enough to turn me off of ever wanting them again. Blech.

I must say that I have tried -- I REALLY HAVE tried to like turnips. They are NOT my cup of tea. But for those of you that love them...well, this page is for YOU! I've done the research for you and this is what I've learned...


How To Select A Turnip

Three turnips

Look for turnips with smooth skin. They should feel firm and heavy with crisp green tops. Check for a sweet aroma.

Turnips are, generally, white at the bottom with a light purple blush on the top.

Those that are small have the sweetest, most tender flavor. The smaller turnip can be eaten raw, such as when sliced and added to salads.

The larger the turnip, the more woody it tends to be.

Don't confuse turnips with rutabagas which are much stronger tasting than turnips. They're VERY large, usually have a waxy coating, flesh that is yellowish, with a dirty white bottom and a deep purple top.

Many people enjoy eating the greens attached to the end. If you fall in this camp, be sure the greens are fresh and free from decay. But if you're choosing turnips for the root only, the condition of the greens doesn't matter.

You Asked...

"Is it important to buy organic turnips?"

Sassy Sez: The short answer is maybe.

Here is a longer answer...

Personally, I try to buy everything organic simply because there are more chemical pesticides contained in non-organic food. But this is not always possible for everyone, especially because organics tend to be more expensive.

So if your purpose in buying organics is to avoid the greatest amount of pesticides, etc., then keep this list handy, known as The Dirty Dozen.

The Dirty Dozen are the 12 fruits and veggies that should be purchased organic due to the fact that they contain the greatest amount of chemical pesticides/herbicides/etc.

Here is the most current list:

  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Bell Peppers
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Nectarines
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Imported Grapes (remember this goes for wine too!)

As you can see, turnips are not among the Dirty Dozen so you do not have to purchase them organic.

Now, all that being said (!) I also recently heard that it's usually best to choose organic varieties of any root vegetable. The reason for this is that, as you can imagine, pesticide can be washed off the leaves or fruit of an above-ground plant, but for something that grows below the ground, all the pesticides are absorbed into the flesh of the plant.

How To Clean and Prep A Turnip

Before cooking turnips, you will have to clean them. To do this, simply scrub with a vegetable brush under running water UNLESS you're baking them. When baking, there's no need to clean them first.

Next, cut away the greens (optional -- the greens ARE edible). Peeling is optional as well, but can be done most easily with a vegetable peeler.

To chop, begin by carefully cutting in half so you have a flat surface. Then place that flat surface on your cutting board and continue to chop, dice, etc. Especially helpful tip when peeling.

Turnips can be sliced, diced, chopped, or left whole depending on their size, and cooking technique you'll be choosing. They can also be grated.

Continued below...

How To Cook A Turnip

Here are the cooking techniques we recommend for turnips.

Click the one you'd like to learn more about for complete cooking instructions.

A silver oven
A silver pot with a lid
A ceramic-coated saute pan with a lid
A collapsible steamer

Or Eat Your Turnips RAW
Cut raw turnips into sticks for use with dips.
Grate and use in salads or coleslaws.

Turnip Vegan Flavor Matches

Create your very own turnip recipe with some of your favorite ingredients from this list of foods that match perfectly.

(What are Flavor Matches?)

  • Apples
  • Apple cider
  • Bacon, vegetarian (I like Fakin' Bacon. Use sparingly - this is not a health food)
  • Brown sugar (I like organic Sucanat)
  • Butter, non-dairy (I like organic Earth Balance)
  • Carrots
  • Cheese, very mild (such as mozzarella or muenster), non-dairy
  • Chives
  • Cinnamon
  • Cream, organic and non-dairy (I like Silk Soy Creamer)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Lemon
  • Lemon thyme
  • Maple syrup or coconut nectar
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Onions
  • Paprika
  • Parmesan cheese, non-dairy
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips
  • Pepper, white
  • Potatoes
  • Salt
  • Savory
  • Sherry
  • Sucanat, or dry sweetener of choice
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Veggie broth
  • Vinaigrette
  • Vinegar
  • White wine vinegar

Turnip Helpful Hints

  • Although available year-round, turnips are BEST during their peak season, which is October through March.

  • Raw turnips will last up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator crisper.

  • Turnips provide a great crunch and texture, so be sure not to overcook.

  • Leftover turnips are NOT very tasty (OMG!), so be sure to make only enough for your current meal. Turnips vary in size and water content, so the amounts they feed vary greatly. Generally, you can count on 2 pounds of turnips per 4 servings.

  • To freeze turnips, be sure to blanch first. You don't want to "cook" them before freezing, you just want to stop the enzymes from breaking down the turnips (all vegetables have enzymes and bacteria that need to be destroyed for longer-term storage or they'll work to break the veggie down and ruin the flavor).

    Cut the turnips. Then blanch for 2-3 minutes (which means you basically place them in boiling water). After blanching, remove with a slotted spoon and drop them into a bath of ice water to cool completely (about 3 minutes or so), drain the water off them completely, and seal tightly before freezing (a vacuum sealer works beautifully). You can freeze them for up to 9 months.

  • Want to learn how to cook turnip greens, including how to create your own turnip greens recipe? Visit my Greens Cooking Guide , where you'll also discover a substitute for turnip greens, such as collard or mustard greens, or visit the Kale Cooking Guide.

Discover the Nutritional Value of Turnips

World's Healthiest

Happy cooking!

Sassy's Signature

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