A Look Into Tasty Turnips: What Do Turnips Taste Like?

Deepthi Reddy
Jan 24, 2024 By Deepthi Reddy
Originally Published on Oct 29, 2021
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Rustic organic turnips with fresh green tops
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.4 Min

What's the crop that is mildly spicy when raw, yet earthy, sweet, and nutty when cooked?

Turnips! The most beautiful part about turnips is that even their leaves are edible, making them a zero-waste vegetable, but don’t just take our word, try them for yourself!

This vegetable is quite interesting to taste. The stark difference between its crisp, starchy flesh when eaten raw and the soft and velvety texture after cooking, makes it quite a delight for several recipes. They are part of the root vegetable family and are sometimes mistaken as rutabaga cousins. Even though both crops are grown together, the rutabaga matures later than turnips. This member of the root vegetable family is also used as a low-carb and more nutritious replacement for potatoes. If you are missing the taste of potatoes with salt and pepper, then we suggest you give turnips a chance. Would you like to learn more? Read further to learn more about turnips and their similar taste to the potato.

Apart from, 'what do turnips taste like?' Another question you might have that we would like to answer is, 'what do turnips look like?' Various turnips have different coloring, but most turnips are recognized by their white bulbs and purple top near the root from where their leaves grow. The purple top is the source of growth of standard leafy greens. Interestingly, turnips and rutabagas are usually mixed up for this very reason! Their similar white and purple coloring makes them look alike.

Apart from turnips, there are several other vegetables whose flavors are like hidden gems waiting to be checked out by you! So go ahead and look at some of our other articles, what do brussel sprouts taste like and what do chestnuts taste like?

Do turnips really taste like potatoes?

Here's a brief review of what to expect if you decide to eat turnips. Their flavor is quite similar to many other root vegetables such as cabbage and radish.

Turnips are said to have a taste that's somewhat in between the two. They are also compared to carrots, but what's shared between the two is their texture. Like the carrot, people also find turnip skin a bit hard to bite. Their flavor is, however, not similar to that of carrots. The age of the turnip can affect its flavor, with young turnips having a sweeter taste than the bitter taste gotten from many matured turnips. The bitter-sweet taste this family of young root vegetables provides is your answer to what do turnips taste like. Turnips are also your best option for eating food that is both healthy and tasty.

Its delicate sweetness, along with its hint of peppery spice, makes these nutritious roots a great addition to your dining table. Many people enjoy the turnips depth of peppery flavor in a mashed or roasted recipe, even though they become a bit harder with age. This peppery flavor is often confused with the flavor of cabbage. This does not come across as a surprise because turnips contain sulfur-based compounds similar to other roots like cabbage. Is the turnips' flavor similar to that of potatoes? The only subtle difference between turnips and potatoes, apart from the starchiness of potatoes as compared to turnips, is the flavor they give. A slightly spicy undertone that is absent in the potato makes the turnip stand out. Although, the sweet aftertaste gotten from cooking the root makes it resemble potato to a great extent.

Most people would beg to differ, but if you want to get started with turnips, what better way is there than to get started by adding turnips to mashed potatoes? These tasty turnips will blend seamlessly with potatoes, thereby creating a resultant sweet flavor and a sweeter mash than usual. Sadly, these nutritious vegetables are now going out of fashion, but guess what? If you are looking for a lighter option, then the perfect way to avoid the high carbs in the potato is by consuming a turnip! Sometimes sweet and at times bitter, these roots will give you a similar flavor to that of potatoes.

What do turnip leaves taste like?

In addition to using the actual plant, you can use the turnip greens or stalk, which makes it one of the most wholesome food to consume. Trust us when we say this is your best bet for a healthier option. This fresh root isn't only a tasty vegetable but it is also a vegetable with equally tasty leaves.

The leaves of this spring season crop are also an excellent replacement for chard or spinach in recipes. Turnip greens are spicy, much like the common mustard greens. These greens also have the flexibility to be consumed cooked or uncooked and are available in the season of late spring. These root greens are best had when fresh, and to enhance their flavor; you can sauté them in olive oil and garlic. If you want to eat your ordinary dishes with more flavor, then you should definitely go for the fresh turnip dip that can be made from cream cheese, salt, pepper, steamed leaves, and garlic. You can also cook several of your daily dishes, such as pasta, and make them more delicious by making the garlic sautéed in olive oil or any other oil of your choice. The greens can also be made into pesto with parmesan cheese and walnuts.

What do raw turnips taste like?

There is a strange perception about this plant; people consider this vegetable to be slightly tricky to cook, and so you will hardly find them in grocery stores.

However, if you ever get your hands on the beautiful turnip, do not hesitate to put it in your basket because you don't need to cook it. Yes, turnips can be eaten raw. Curious to know how? We've got you covered! Uncooked turnips taste mildly spicy before they are roasted or cooked. The taste of raw turnips at times is regarded as a crossover between potato and radish. Cooking turnips make them sweet. Many people also enjoy grated turnips, which are a pretty healthy addition to your daily salad. You could pair them with carrots or roast them with potatoes. Have you ever tried raw mash? If not, then this should definitely be on your weekend food list!

It is however imperative that you efficiently store these raw turnips after you buy them. Often, muddy turnips can be confused as damaged, but a mere act of rubbing the soil out of the roots would make them look fresh and new! Remember to store them in a cool, humid place and wrap them with paper towels; you could also make use of a moist cloth. Put these wrapped turnips in a perforated plastic bag and store them in a cool place, and voila! You are all set to use these delicious vegetables in a delightful roast or mash.

Closeup of raw organic turnips.

What is a good turnip substitute?

Are you frustrated because your usual vegetable store had no turnip in stock? Fret not! Because we have a list of perfect alternatives for you to substitute in place of turnips.

For starters, you can try searching for rutabagas in a nearby rack. These rutabagas have flavors quite similar to that of turnips. You might get confused while searching for them because they have a similar purple color. They are a tad bit sweeter than turnips. Even with this, turnips and rutabagas can be interchanged while cooking various delicacies such as stews, soups, and casseroles. In addition, you could go for a white potato or add radishes with mustard greens to savor your meal.

One of the other prominent substitutes includes celeriac or celery root. It might not be the most attractive vegetable you'd find, but trust us when we say it's an absolutely delicious substitute for the turnip! The bottom part of the celeriac is most used when compared to its leaves and shoot. It has quite a similar flavor to that of the turnip except for the subtle peppery spice the celeriac provides.

Are you are a parsnips fan? If yes, then here's the good news, parsnips make for a suitable substitute too! The turnips' earthy flavor will often remind you of parsnips, but the turnips' spicy qualities will also distinguish them from parsnips. You can now see that turnips will often surprise you with the vast array of their flavor, which is reminiscent of many day-to-day flavors that you are used to eating. All the more reason for you to try this bitter and sweet crop as soon as you can!

What is the best way to eat turnips?

There are numerous ways to enjoy the delightful sweetness and bitterness of turnips. No matter how you choose to eat them, you will be flabbergasted by their unique flavor.

If you are planning a raw turnip meal, then you could simply peel and slice the turnip to eat with various dips or merely add it to your salad. Ensure you slice off the root at the end along with the greens. Roasted turnips could also be another tasty addition to your food. A little lemon could boost the spiciness of the turnip. Pro tip: choose stronger ingredients than turnips that contain vitamin C or are citrus in nature. For instance, rosemary, lemons, and other powerful spices would blend splendidly with this underground crop.

If you do not come across young turnips and find yourself with an aging turnip instead, you could add cream, salt, or butter to make it taste better. Even better, roast these turnips along with garlic or basil and rosemary. Turnips are also flavorful when had alongside some fresh herbs. Surprisingly, even the roots of turnips can serve as a supper-time meal for your family. You can turn these roots into fries by boiling them in water. After, allow these roots to become cool before you chop them into thin sticks, then fry them in vegetable oil until they are crispy and golden. Don't forget to serve these fries with mayo and ketchup!

Can you eat turnip skin?

The turnip crop has a thick texture and its dermis isn't tender. The dermis of such turnips has the bitter taste of radish, in contrast to their vegetable, which is sweet in flavor.

Using the dermis of the turnip as food is relatively uncommon but safe. The tender ones should be a tad bit edible, but you probably wouldn't want to peel them either. Usually, a peeler or paring knife is used to peel the skin of a tender or rough turnip. Nonetheless, turnip skin has amazing benefits for your skin. With an abundance of vitamin K, C, A, and iron, this crop will help to ramp up the production of sebum. In turn, it will prevent acne from forming on your skin. In fact, your skin's physiology will be at its best with the increased availability of vitamin A from the turnip. The greens also provide high calcium contents per gram of any fruit or vegetable. So, the next time you look at this vegetable in a grocery store, you should be reminded of the plethora of health perks it provides!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what do turnips taste like? Then why not take a look at what does okra taste like or what does gouda cheese taste like?

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Written by Deepthi Reddy

Master of Business Administration

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Deepthi ReddyMaster of Business Administration

With an MBA under her belt, Deepthi has discovered her true calling in content writing. Her writing repertoire is diverse, covering travel, movies, pet care, parenting, animals and birds, and more. Her joy of learning and creating has helped her craft well-written and engaging articles. When she isn't writing, Deepthi enjoys exploring new cultures, trying different foods, and spending quality time with her two children aged 7 and 12.

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