How To Cook Turnips: {Plus Tips}

Turnips are simple to prepare for the dinner table and with a few quick tips, you can turn these strong flavored vegetables into something the whole family will look forward to (yes, it’s true!). Here’s a quick and easy way to make them (with tips listed at the bottom).


  • Remove tops and ends then wash and scrub thoroughly.
  • If they are very young, scrape as for young carrots; when larger, pare thinly.
  • To prep: they may be shredded, sliced thinly, or diced. Small ones may be cooked whole then hollowed to form cups or shells, then stuffed and baked.


  • Being one of the strong-flavored vegetables, these are done in a very large quantity of boiling salted water, uncovered, but just until tender.
  • With old ones the flavor and odor will be stronger, place a piece of stale bread on top surface of water to absorb strong odor.
  • Cooking time varies with age of turnips as well as the size of pieces they have been cut, Time: from 15 to 50 minutes. For example: young ones, diced fine, will require only 15 minutes; old ones sliced, will require about 50 minutes.
  • Drain them then mash or leave in tender pieces. Add butter or bacon drippings, salt and pepper then serve.

That’s it! Ready for some tips? Here ya go…

  • Each pound will typically yield 3 generous servings.
  • Add a teaspoonful of sugar to the water to add flavor, this lessens the odor too. Source.
  • For a nice flavor twist that will temper their strong flavor, peel and cut an apple in wedges then toss in the pot of boiling water along with a teaspoon of sugar (1 large apple per 2 pounds of turnips).
  • For a more delicate flavor, always choose young, tender ones. For a stronger, more pronounced flavor, choose older ones.
  • They should be never be split, but sliced in rings. Cut across the fiber and they will cook more quickly and be more tender. Source.
  • Though they don’t take well to combining with most other vegetables, very young and tender ones may be served raw, in salads. Served this way, its food value is particularly good. To prep for salads: shred fine.
  • When wishing to include in homemade relish, cut them in toothpick-size pieces (when raw and freshly cleaned).
  • It contains about 90% water and its pronounced flavor is due to the presence of a certain essential oil in the vegetable, which grows stronger as it becomes larger and older.
  • Try mashing them then mix with applesauce and bacon bits. Bake in a casserole until hot then serve, this dish is something to remember! (about a 4:1 ratio–turnips:applesauce)

Source: Vegetable Cook Book, McFayden Seed Co. Ltd. (1948)

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What Readers Are Saying: 5 Comments
  1. June Williams says:

    My family loves turnips, it is a traditional dish at Thanksgiving. When I was a child I hated turnips and they were on our table alot.When I became a home maker I decided to create a recipe that would be accepted by my family. I make a thick rich white sauce, add sugar and gently stir in diced cooked turnips(lightly salted), it is delicious, I might add that I use butter when I make my white sauce, marjarine is not acceptable!

  2. Bobby says:

    Quick and easy way to prepare purple top turnips in the microwave.
    1. Peal big turnips and cut off top and bottom just a bit.
    2. Slice across the turnip in 1/4 inch slices.
    3. In a micorwave safe dish place a layer of turnips slices.
    4. Next a layer of spicy meat. I uses small pieces of summer sausage. Be sure to use fully cooked meat products as this receipe will not cook raw meat.
    5. Another layer of turnips.
    6. Another layer of meat.
    7. Another layer of turnips.
    8. Cook covered on high for 5 minutes.
    9. Test turnip for tenderness.
    10 If turnips are tender, sprinkle your favorite shredded cheese thickly put the cover back on the pan and let it rest until the cheese is melted.
    11. We put on jalapenos or green olives for additional flavor and color.

  3. Connie says:

    I cook my turnips with a potato sliced up in them and also cook with pork chops or some kind of pork…they are wonderful with corn bread….

  4. don comer says:

    boil turnips when almost done add salt butter and a thicking made with corn meal slowly simmer for ten miuntes GREAT

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