Side/ Vegetarian

Roasted Turnips with Honey

March 11, 2020
plate of roasted turnips with thyme sprig and napkin

Are Roasted Turnips glamorous? No, no they are not. But here’s why you should consider adding them to your winter vegetable repertoire. Turnips are easy to prepare and readily available in winter when seasonal vegetables are scarce. And how about turnip health benefits? Turnips are low-calorie and low-carb, but are a good source of Vitamin C, calcium, and fiber. And did I mention they are inexpensive? You will not spend a fortune at the farmers’ market to go home with a couple of pounds of purple top turnips. So read on for more, including other great ideas for turnip recipes. 

How do turnips taste?

Never had a turnip? Their flavor can be a bit sharp and/or bitter, especially when raw. But roasting brings out their sweetness, and they end up tasting a bit like a potato crossed with a radish. Smaller turnips (harvested early), are usually sweeter than older/larger turnips. 

What’s the difference between purple top turnips and other turnips?

Purple top turnips are the most common type of turnips, though there are several different varieties. In France, the main types of turnips are:  le milan (round but flattened with purple top), le Nancy (smaller and rounder with purple top), les nantais (oblong like a parsnip), and jaune boule d’or/navet jaune (round and yellow).

bowl of purple top and yellow turnips

Turnips are generally planted either in the spring, for summer harvest, or in late summer. In the spring, turnips are often harvested early, when they are small. Eat them within a week for the sweetest flavor. Turnips planted in late summer are harvested just before the first frost, and are often hardy enough to store in a refrigerator or a root cellar throughout the winter. (That said, turnips do become bitter as they age, so for best flavor, use within a couple of weeks of purchasing or harvesting.) When buying turnips, smaller ones are generally less fibrous than larger ones. Look for smooth turnips without wrinkled skin.

Do you have to peel turnips?

You don’t need to peel baby turnips, just scrub them. With larger turnips, however, peeling them is a good idea because the skin is fibrous and hard to chew. You can either use a sharp vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, as turnip skin can be difficult to peel. 

How do you make Roasted Turnips? 

Roasted turnips are extremely easy to make, and the recipe is quite flexible. Read below for ingredient substitutions and other ideas. Start by preheating your oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel 2 pounds of turnips, then slice into bite-sized chunks. Baby turnips can be left whole. Toss with 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon honey, 2 fresh thyme springs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl.

bowl of chopped up purple top turnips and yellow turnips tossed with olive oil and honey

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and distribute turnips and thyme sprigs in a single layer on the sheet.

chopped turnips tossed with olive oil, honey, and thyme on sheet pan

Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, and test with a fork to see if they are fully tender. Remove from oven when done, and discard thyme sprigs. 

Roasted turnips on sheet pan with thyme sprigs

Ingredient Substitutions for Roasted Turnips

This roasted turnip recipe is a blank canvas. Feel free to replace the thyme with other herbs like parsley or rosemary. You can also jazz it up by adding spices like garlic salt, paprika, smoked paprika, pimente d’espelette, cumin, or red pepper flakes. Try adding some balsamic vinegar before roasting, or just when serving. You can also take out the honey if you prefer—I like it because it reminds me of the popular French technique of cooking turnips with butter and a bit of sugar to counteract some of the sharp turnip flavor.  

And you can easily roast other root vegetables along with your turnips, such as carrots, parsnips, or potatoes. Just make sure all the vegetables are cut about the same size, so they will cook through in the same amount of time. 

Turnip Health Benefits

Turnips belong to the cruciferous family, which also includes kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. They are a root vegetable whose greens are also safe to eat. Low in calories, turnips are a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, calcium, and folate. Turnip greens are an even better source of nutritional benefits, as they also contain high amounts of Vitamin K and Provitamin A. Since turnips are low in carbohydrates, they can be a good replacement for potatoes (or substitute some turnips within your mashed potato recipe). 

What should I serve with Roasted Turnips?

This is a perfect side dish with many kinds of main courses, though my favorite might be to serve this with a roast chicken or rotisserie chicken. But they would also work in a grain bowl like my Ramen Egg Rice Bowl or my Parmesan Pearl Barley Grain Bowl. And, serving them with a runny egg on top next to this Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad would be truly delicious. 

close up of roasted turnips on blue plate with thyme sprig

How to Cook Turnips

Beyond roasting, there are many other ways to cook turnips. Check out these ideas:

  • mashed (either alone or combined with potatoes)
  • chips (slice thinly with mandoline before baking or frying)
  • pickled
  • soup (cook in vegetable or chicken broth with or without potatoes, then purée)
  • stew (include as one of the vegetables in your beef or chicken stew) 
  • roasted with chicken or duck (turnips easily—and deliciously—absorb fat in a dish, which is why they are often served with duck confit in France)
  • baked or fried in French fry form
  • salad (slice thinly and serve with greens and other salad fixins)
  • steamed
  • boiled and then sautéed with a glaze of butter and sugar (très populaire en France!)
  • grated and combined with cabbage in coleslaw

And don’t forget sautéeing those healthy turnip greens, if they came with your turnips!

Other Roasted Vegetable Recipes

If you’re looking for other recipes for roasted vegetables, be sure to check out some of my favorites here on the site:

Roasted Turnips with Honey

Roasted Turnips with Honey

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This Roasted Turnips dish is a quick and easy turnip recipe. Simply toss with olive oil, honey, thyme, salt, and pepper and roast until tender and caramelized!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs (900g) turnips, preferably small-medium
  • 1 1/2 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. honey
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground cracked pepper

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Peel turnips, then slice into bite-sized chunks. Baby turnips can be left whole.
    3. Toss with olive oil, honey, fresh thyme springs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
    4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and distribute turnips in a single layer on the sheet.
    5. Bake for 20 minutes, then stir.
    6. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.
    7. Remove from oven when done, and discard thyme sprigs before serving.

Notes

You can use any size turnips for this recipe, but note that large turnips can be tougher and more bitter than smaller turnips.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 52Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 146mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Jeff the Chef
    March 12, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    I love turnips. They’re so underutilized. They need to make a come-back!

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