Substitute For Turnip Guide: 9 Best Alternatives

Substitute For Turnip Guide 9 Best Alternatives

Substitute For Turnip Guide: 9 Best Alternatives

Turnips are a popular root vegetable that lend a unique, mildly peppery and sweet flavor to dishes. However, you may sometimes need a substitute for turnips if you cannot find them, want to change up flavors, or due to dietary restrictions.

Fortunately, there are many excellent turnip substitutes to choose from. In this guide, we will explore the best alternatives that can allow you to replicate that distinctive turnip taste and texture.

An Introduction to Turnips

Before jumping into the best substitutes, let’s briefly go over some background on turnips themselves:

  • Turnips are a highly versatile vegetable that works well in a wide variety of recipes and dishes. They can be eaten raw, roasted, mashed, boiled, pickled, and more.
  • When raw, turnips have a crisp, crunchy texture and a refreshing, peppery bite. Their flavor becomes richer and sweeter when cooked.
  • Turnips contain beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and antioxidants. They are especially high in fiber and low in calories.
  • Common turnip varieties include purple top, Tokyo, and golden turnips. The smaller and younger turnips tend to be milder and more tender.
  • Turnips are frequently used across cuisines like Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Western European. Popular dishes include stewssoups, roasted vegetables, mashed turnips, and turnip fries.

Now let’s look at why you may need a substitute and the best alternatives to use.

When to Substitute Turnips

There are a few situations where you may want to use a replacement for turnips:

  • You follow a restricted diet like paleo, keto, or vegan that limits turnips
  • Turnips are out of season or difficult to find at your grocery store
  • You want to experiment with different flavors and textures
  • You or someone you cook for dislikes or is allergic to turnips

Switching up ingredients keeps meals exciting. And finding the right stand-in helps ensure a balanced flavor.

The good news is there are lots of vegetables with a similar texture and sweet, earthy qualities as turnips. Let’s review the options.

9 Best Turnip Substitutes

1. Potatoes

Common potatoes make an excellent turnip substitute. They become soft and starchy when cooked, similar to turnips.

Depending on the variety, potatoes can have a neutral flavor that adapts well to seasonings or a sweet, nutty taste.

Use boiled, mashed, fried, or roasted potatoes in place of turnips in soups, stews, and vegetable sides. Adjust any creamy or tangy seasonings to account for the more mild potato flavor.

2. Rutabagas

Known as “Swedes” in the UK, rutabagas offer the quintessential turnip-like flavor. They have an assertive, bittersweet taste and deep golden color.

Use rutabagas anywhere you would use turnips – in pot roasts, casseroles, roasted vegetable medleys, and mashed as a potatoes substitute.

Because their flavor is so similar to turnips, you likely won’t need to modify the rest of the recipe’s ingredients.

3. Parsnips

Long, ivory-colored parsnips have an incredibly sweet, nutty flavor. Though not an exact match, their taste complements turnip’s earthy notes beautifully.

Parsnips are delicious roasted or mashed as a lower-carb alternative to potatoes. Or add them to soups and stews for flavor and texture. Their skin can be bitter when raw, so peel before use unless roasting.

4. Carrots

Bright orange carrots are another mildly sweet and subtly spicy alternative. Though they lack turnips’ peppery edge, they have a similar crunchy bite raw and become starchy, soft, and sweet when cooked.

Shred carrots raw for slaws and salads. Or cut into coins, roast, mash, or simmer into soups, curries, and noodle or rice dishes in place of turnips.

5. Sweet Potatoes

Thanks to their plump shape, vibrant color, and sweet flavor, baked sweet potatoes make gorgeous turnip substitutes.

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes have a richer, maple-like sweetness. White-fleshed varieties offer a less sugary, creamy alternative more akin to turnips.

Use cubed, roasted sweet potatoes in soups or stews. Mash them with herbs in place of turnips. Or bake then season with spice blends popular in African and Indian cuisines.

6. Celery Root

Knobby tan celery root, also called celeriac, provides an unexpected turnip substitute. It has a mild, celery-like taste when raw. But it develops a rich, sweet flavor when cooked, similar to turnips.

Peel the fibrous outer skin then grate or finely dice celery root raw for tangy, crisp salads. You can also boil, roast, or simmer into soups, stocks, and roasted vegetables.

7. Kohlrabi

With its pale green bulb and vibrant leaves, kohlrabi resembles a turnip crossed with cabbage. When raw, kohlrabi has crisp, juicy flesh with a flavor like broccoli stems – mild and slightly sweet.

Cook kohlrabi by roasting, boiling, or stir frying to bring out its rich, turnip-like sweetness. Substitute in baked dishes, mashed veggie sides, soups and stews in place of turnips. Trim off leaves and stems first.

8. Radishes

Peppery radishes provide instant turnip flavor thanks to their sharp, spicy bite. Choose colorful watermelon and daikon varieties to add visual appeal.

Radishes hold up well when roasted or sautéed. But they’re best used raw in places you want crunchy texture and spicy flavor, like chilled grain bowls and slaws.

Their spice fades with extended cooking. So add toward the end of soups and stir fries instead of simmering.

9. Jicama

Jicama is a Mexican tuber with a crisp, juicy white interior that tastes like a savory Asian pear. With a slightly nutty, sweet flavor, it substitutes well for turnips’ texture and bite.

Shred or cut jicama into matchsticks to add crunch alongside spicy mains like tacos, bowls, and stir fries. Jicama also works for dipping, much like turnip strips.

Now that you know the best substitutes, let’s go over some serving suggestions and flavor pairings.

Serving Ideas and Seasonings

Many turip stand-ins mimic texture better than exact flavor. So taste test dishes as you cook. Amp up any missing sweetness with maple syrup or honey. Add earthiness with mushrooms or toasted nuts.

To replicate bitterness, add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice. For heat and bite, stir in spicy peppers, mustard, horseradish, or chopped chili peppers like jalapeño or guajillo.

In general, turnip substitutes pair well with flavors like:

  • Rich gravies, broths, and creamy sauces
  • Warm Indian spices like cumin, curry powder, turmeric and coriander
  • Tangy citrus and fresh herbs like parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
  • Savory roasted garlic, pickled onions, sauerkraut
  • Sweet maple syrup, brown sugar, honey, roasted squash
  • Smoky, salty seasonings like bacon, ham, anchovies, olives

Now for some recipe ideas….

Mashed Root Veggies

Mashed Root Veggies
Mashed Root Veggies


  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small rutabaga, peeled and cubed
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and sliced 1⁄4 inch rounds
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1⁄4 cup butter
  • 1⁄3 cup milk or cream
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Add potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips and carrots to a large pot. Cover with salted water then bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer 15-20 minutes until very tender. Drain and return to pot.
  3. Mash in garlic and butter until incorporated.
  4. Stir in milk or cream until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer to serving dish and top with extra parsley.

Harvest Chicken Stew

Harvest Chicken Stew
Harvest Chicken Stew


  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1⁄2 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery roots, peeled and diced
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Heavy cream for serving


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Brown chicken thighs for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from pot and set aside.
  2. To the pot, add carrots, celery root, potato, onion, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour in chicken stock and nestle browned chicken thighs into liquid.
  4. Simmer 20-25 minutes until vegetables are fork tender.
  5. Take out bay leaf. Use two forks to shred chicken.
  6. Stir in heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Roasted Celeriac and Carrots

Roasted Celeriac and Carrots
Roasted Celeriac and Carrots


  • 1 large celeriac, cubed
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In large bowl, toss celeriac and carrots with olive oil, thyme, and garlic powder. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on two large sheet pans.
  4. Roast 25-35 minutes, tossing halfway, until deeply golden brown. Serve warm.

Jicama Grapefruit Salad

Jicama Grapefruit Salad
Jicama Grapefruit Salad


  • 2 cups jicama, peeled and julienned
  • 2 pink grapefruits, segmented
  • 1⁄4 cup minced red onion
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1⁄4 tsp chili powder
  • Pinch of salt


  1. In a large bowl, combine jicama, grapefruit segments, onion and cilantro.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together lime juice, honey, chili powder and salt.
  3. Pour dressing over salad and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Let sit 10 minutes for flavors to develop before serving.

Now that you know how to replace turnips in recipes, get out your apron out try your own creations! Turnip substitutes make it easy adapt recipes to what you have on hand while still retaining delicious flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about finding the perfect stand-in for turnips? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

Which substitute best matches the texture of raw turnips?

Crisp jicama, radishes, kohlrabi, and celery root all replicate turnips’ firm crunch when raw. For cooked texture, try potatoes, carrots, parsnips, or rutabagas.

What’s the closest flavor match to turnips?

In terms of flavor, rutabagas offer the truest turnip taste. Carrots and parsnips mimic subtle peppery sweetness. Radishes match turnips’ sharp bite.

Can I swap turnip greens for other greens in recipes?

Absolutely! Kohlrabi greens, mustard greens, beet greens, radish greens all work nicely. You can also substitute spinach, kale, Swiss chard, or Bok choy.

Which substitute holds up best to roasting and high heat?

Denser root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, celeriac, carrots, and parsnips roast beautifully and become tender inside.

How can I tell if a substitute needs more or less cook time?

Check size, density, and moisture content as a gauge. Larger, denser pieces may need longer. Quick-cooking veggies like greens and radishes need less time to avoid overcooking.

Which turnip stand-in works for mashed potatoes?

Parsnips, celery root, sweet potatoes, carrots, and rutabagas all mash smoothly on their own or combined with potatoes. Reduce dairy and season with nutmeg or parsley.

Final Takeaways

  • Turnips have a unique, sweet-peppery flavor that enhances many savory dishes. But several alternatives can smartly stand in when needed.
  • Potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, and celery root mimic texture. Radishes, kohlrabi, and jicama offer crunch.
  • Adjust accompanying ingredients like herbs, spices, citrus to balance flavors when substituting.
  • Get creative mixing various substitutes together and using them in unexpected ways.
  • Try roasted veggie medleys, vibrant salads, rich stews and chilis using alternative roots and veggies in place of turnips.

With this guide’s handy recommendations for substitutions, seasonings, and serving ideas, you’re fully prepared to keep recipes delicious even without turnips!