How To Cook Rutabaga Or Turnip Irish Style

Rutabaga is a very popular vegetable in Ireland, but the name is never used by the Irish to describe this favorite side for a chicken roast, ham or bacon dinner.  The Irish call this root vegetable a turnip.  The English call it a swede, and in Scotland it is often called neep.

The term rutabaga comes from the Swedish word “rotabagge”.  It is a bulbous root vegetable with a purple hued outer skin covering a dense inner yellow core.

Practically every time I buy a rutabaga at the grocery store, the check-out guy or gal holds it up with a quizzical expression.

“What’s this called,” comes the inevitable question.

I think very few Americans buy rutabagas, probably because they simply don’t know how to cook them.  Today I will solve that problem with a short tutorial on how to peel and cut a rutabaga before boiling it – the tried and trusted cooking method of most Irish cooks.

My thoughts turn to rutabagas with Thanksgiving approaching.  I know it is not a traditional vegetable for Americans to serve, but a turnip tale links it to this holiday for me.

When I was close to seven months pregnant with my triplets, my aunt visited for Thanksgiving.  She was born in Ireland, but has lived in America for over fifty years.  She suggested we have Irish mashed turnips with our turkey that year, since serving rutabaga at Thanksgiving had become a personal tradition for her over the years.

Despite resembling a moving mountain at this point in my pregnancy, I dutifully waddled to the grocery store, plonked my colossal self into a motorized cart,  and sped through the vegetable aisles, never dreaming there might be a shortage of rutabagas.  Lo and behold there wasn’t a single rutabaga to be had.

“We always run out of rutabagas at Thanksgiving,” the produce manager explained.  “It’s the one time of year they are in demand.”

I returned home shocked and empty-handed.

But never fear!

Irish American Dad fancied a scoop of mashed turnip instead of an overly-sweet, sweet potato casserole that year.  He rose to the challenge, searching high and low, from grocery store to fresh fruit market, along the turnip trail.

He did not fail us.  He found one hiding beneath a head of cabbage in a Meijers store far, far away.   And so that year we gave thanks, for one man’s perseverance in his quest to deliver a Thanksgiving rutabaga.

So enough of my waffling, let’s get down to cooking this tough little root.

The most difficult and dangerous part of this process is cutting up the rutabaga.  When picking one in the grocery store, I try to find one with a flat bottom end.  It makes it much easier to balance to make that first cut through the hard inner core.

Place the root on a cutting board, balanced on its flattest end.  Cut through the middle separating it into two equal halves.

Turn each half onto its flat side, then cut it into 1/2 inch thick semi-circles.  Throw away the first and last piece which are covered in thicker skin.

Use a paring knife to remove the outer skin.  This method is much easier than trying to peel a rutabaga with a potato peeler – really a mission impossible.

Next cut each piece into one inch cubes.  Each semi-circle usually yields nine cubes by cutting 3 vertical slices and then three more perpendicular slices.

Add the diced rutabaga to a medium saucepan and cover it with cold water.  Some of the pieces will float in the water making it impossible to cover the top by an inch. Season with salt at this point.

Make sure you add plenty of water though.  If the pot boils dry the smell of burnt rutabaga is horrible.  Believe me – I know from experience.

Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes until the rutabaga is fork tender.  It takes quite a long time to boil this tough little vegetable.

Drain the boiling water once the rutabaga is cooked.  Return it to the pot.  Use a potato masher to break it up.  Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter.  Season with salt and pepper.  I use white pepper since I don’t like black flecks through my turnip.  Mash it well together to make sure the melted butter is thoroughly mixed through.

Sour cream can be used instead of butter.  Its flavor compliments the sweet yet tangy taste of the rutabagas.  Some people like puree the rutabaga in a food processor, but I prefer to leave a little bit of texture by using a potato masher.

Served hot, as a side for roast turkey dinner, mashed rutabagas are simply delicious.

I love two nice, big mounds of rutabaga mash on my plate.  Once I dined at a fancy restaurant in New Jersey.  I grew excited when I saw a pork dish on the menu with a side of rutabaga puree.  Oh how disappointed I was when all I got was a yellow squiggle of rutabaga on my plate.  It didn’t fill a hole in my tooth.

So heap those rutabagas onto your plate.  Not only do they taste great, they’re good for you too.

Happy Thanksgiving cooking to all.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)



Irish American Mom


  1. Rutabagas are one of my favorite Irish foods! And I’ve also been aquainted with the smell of a burnt one :-)

    • Jenn – It takes a day or two to get the stink of burnt turnip out of the house. Ever since my fiasco, when I forgot about the simmering pot on the stove, my motto is plenty of water in the rutabaga pot.
      Take care,

      • My parents were in Germany during the holidays one year and my mother was craving turnips and couldn’t find them anywhere. My parents happened upon a farmer with a load of turnips and begged to buy some… it was a hard fight as apparently in that region of Germany turnips were not thought to be fit for human consumption. It was considered pig fodder ! ! ! The farmer was very distressed when he found out my parents were going to feed the turnips to my brother.

    • Karen Larsen says:

      My swedish grandmother cooked rutabagas all the time. A holiday favorite was mixed with mashed potatoes..she called it Routamoose……..I prepare it for Thanksgiving every year and the whole family is crazy about it….

  2. Try chopping a medium red chili into fine strings. Little more than a hairs berth. It lifts parsnips, turnips and Celeriac into something utterly sublime.
    I also find it matters if you blitz or mash. Blitzing draws out more water, but there is nothing like a duck breast sliced and placed as an island in the middle of a sea of fine turnip.

    Waste hitting whirling things again, on this side.

    • Vince – Red chili would really add an extra dimension to turnips. When I read this though I had visions of my mother adding that hint of heat to my father’s turnips. I can just hear him saying “‘Tis far from chilis I was raised”. But I, on the other hand, always love to trying new combinations and experiment in the kitchen. I think traditional Irish cooking is perfect for a little fusion of extra spices and flavors from around the world. The end product is often “utterly sublime”, as you point out.
      Thanks again,

  3. Penny Wolf says:

    Out of curiosity if you call a rutabaga a turnip what do you call a turnip? i have never tasted a rutabaga
    but eat turnips.I will try them AFTER Thanksgiving so I don’t reduce the supply of them too. :)

    • Penny – I suppose we would call them “little turnips”, the rutabaga being granted the grand title of “big turnip”. Doesn’t it sound like a children’s book – “Big Turnip, Little Turnip”? I must get my thinking cap on and come up with a Turnip Tale for kids. To tell you the truth I never actually saw a small turnip in Ireland. We always had rutabagas, but I am sure they are available nowadays.
      All the best,

    • I grew up in the South. Charleston, SC to be exact and we called rutabagas by their given names, or my grandmother called them Waxed Turnips. My grandmother made them for the holidays and I was one of a very few who loved them. She taught me how to cook them, and I make then every fall. My husband had never had one until I made them and now he loves them. The less common root vegetables get a bad rap.

      • Vida – I’m glad your grandmother introduced you to turnips or rutabagas and that you have passed your appreciation of this wonderful winter vegetable on to your family. It’s lovely to know I am not alone in my love of rutabagas.
        All the best,

  4. Hi Mairead,
    Always been a turnip in my house, the key ingredient in my beef stew, and one of my extra ingredients in my corned beef and cabbage.
    Have a Happy thanksgiving,

  5. So, just to be sure, this recipe could be used for turnips or rutabagas- right? We are getting a lot of turnips in our CSA box right now and I could definitely use more recipes for them! I have tried making mashed turnip and potatoes mixed together, but never the turnips by themselves. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful recipes!!

  6. Exactly Mairead! There are never any complaints while the taste testing is happening! Hope you are having a wonderful day so far! The planning is always my favorite part…making it all come together though is a little less fun for me. But just a little. :-)

  7. My family loves rutabaga, too. I add crumbled bacon and a little bacon grease to the mash as my Irish born mother did. She also added bacon to boiled/chopped cabbage as a side dish on occasion when not making corned beef and cabbage as a main dish.

    • Kathleen – Adding bacon to the rutabaga is a great idea. I also add it to my cabbage when I am not making corned beef. You can’t beat these dependable Irish vegetables for a great dinner.
      All the best,

  8. Gosh, reading your blog is so refreshing. I’ve been picking out posts from your achives, and keep finding new reasons why I love it!

    Rutabagas? One of my favorites. I buy them every chance I get. We have a produce place in our area called “Produce Junction”. All they have is fruit and vegetables. Everything is already bagged up. You go in and just tell them what you want. I buy rutabagas every time they have them. Usually two in a bag for a couple dollars.

    I use them in soups, stews, mashed, but my favorite way to cook them is to roast them in a pan with other root vegetables!

    I am cooking a ham today and we are having mashed rutabagas with it for Super Bowl Sunday dinner.

    • Your Super Bowl Sunday dinner sounds delicious. We love mashed rutabagas in my house too. I love to mix them with my mashed potato on my plate and then melt a big knob of butter in the middle of the pile. Lately my local grocery store has been stocking rutabagas. I often wonder if I am their primary rutabaga-buying customer. Anyway, enjoy your dinner and I hope your team wins the Super Bowl.
      All the best,

  9. Shawn Marie Durkan says:

    I love rutabaga. My grandma made them mashed at least two or three times a week when we were living with her as kids. :)

  10. Last (or maybe the year before) Thanksgiving my 100% Irish dad asked me to buy rutabagas and try to make them the way his first generation Irish mom (my grandmother) used to make them. He only had a vague idea how she made them. Steamed or boiled then mashed, with chicken stock maybe, maybe sauted onions and then brown sugar and maybe some spices. I tried that and they were sort of meh. I think dad was the only one who tried them and only because of my effort. Does this ring any bells for you on a recipe?

    • Kelly – I’m afraid your recipe does not ring a bell with me. Salt and white pepper were considered spices by my grandmothers, and that was as far as they went with seasonings. Rutabagas are usually boiled in water. Years ago my granny would have added diced rutabaga to the same pot as the boiling bacon, so that they would absorb some of the bacon flavor. After removing the bacon, she drained the water before mashing them. Boiling them in plain water works great though since they have a strong taste when cooked. Mashed with butter, salt and pepper is the typical old Irish way of serving them. I do add a dollop of sour cream since moving to America. I think it compliments their slightly bitter flavor.
      Thanks so much for stopping by.
      Best wishes,

    • Kelly – I make rutabaga the way my Irish born mother did. Cut it into small cubes and boil in salted water. Fry up some bacon (4-5 slices per “head”), cool and break into small pieces. When the rutabaga is done, drain it and mash it well. Add the bacon pieces plus salt and pepper to taste. Add some bacon grease to add extra flavor and moisture. If bacon isn’t your thing, I agree with Mairead about mashing it with butter, salt and pepper. I’m not big on sour cream so don’t know about that. Take care & have a good Thanksgiving. Kathleen

  11. A question: To simplify things tomorrow, I’d like to peel and cut my rutabaga today. Is it OK to do that? And if I do, should I keep it overnight in a bag with some water…or without?

    • If you pre-peel and slice your rutabaga I would store it covered in water in an airtight bowl or bag. If you store it without water, the slices might dry out overnight. When you cook it tomorrow, use fresh water for boiling. Hope you enjoy your rutabaga. Thanks so much for checking out my site.
      Best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving.

  12. Hello. My mom always made rutabaga for Thanksgiving, so now I do. I’m. 1/4 Irish, so maybe that explains why I love it:-). I’m boiling my rutabaga now, but am concerned because it is much lighter in color than usual. It’s more pale yellow than orange. I’m hoping it’s not bitter. Any suggestions on what to do if it is? I always put some Cool Whip in it. Maybe a little more of that than usual?
    Thanks, Suzanne

    • Suzanne – I think your Irish genes are shining through your rutabaga loving taste buds. I hope it did not turn out bitter. A little extra Cool Whip might do the trick. My other suggestion is to try a little honey, but that may not mix well with Cool Whip. I’ll keep my fingers crossed they turn out ok.
      Have a lovely Thanksgiving,

      • Thanks Mairead! It actually turned out well even though it’s lighter in color.
        Happy Thanksgiviing! I enjoyed reading your blog about rutabaga . I also enjoyed reading about your trip to Sligo. My husband & I were in Ireland for 10 days in July 2012. We loved it and hope to go back, this time to Northern Ireland. Back to food- everywhere we ate in Ireland, the food was piping hot ( and delicious). How do they do that in Ireland? It’s not like that in the states.

        • Suzanne – It’s lovely to hear you plan to return to Ireland after a successful trip last year. Food in Ireland is exceptionally good, and always served really hot. My mother is very fussy about serving hot food. She even heats our dinner plates before plating. I’m not sure how Irish restaurants manage to keep the food piping hot, but there is a noticeable difference compared to America. If I ever find out the secret I’ll let you know.
          Best wishes and I hope you all enjoyed your rutabaga.

  13. when I was a kid my mom made rutabagas for thanksgiving. she sauteed onions and mixed them with fried bacon this with the grease and butter went into the mash.:-p I’ll be making them tomorrow 11/28/13 happy thanksgiving.!!!

  14. I researched the web and it says a rutabaga is a cross between a turnip and cabbage. That would mean a turnip was different. Would you cook them the same way?

    • Peggi – I’ve tried cooking American turnips this way, but they didn’t turn out as tasty as a rutabaga, which has a denser flesh. The smaller turnips were a little watery when cooked this way.
      Best wishes,

  15. Richard Hinely says:

    I grew up thinking they were only a southern food, but was pleased to see they are international. I’m cooking rutubagas and turnips together tonight in a pot with a few slices of bacon on the top of the water for flavor. We eat them without mashing them up. They fill the house with a special aroma!

  16. being irish watching an american cooking programme and being confused with what a rudabegga was 😀 the good owld turnip . . The perfect thing with bacon and cabbage ! ! A regular veg in my house. . . . .
    Nice method of mash big turnip

    • Dawn – I think we Irish really do appreciate “the good owld turnip”. Growing up we had it once or twice a week for our dinner. I love to mash my turnip and potatoes together with butter.
      Take care,

  17. Always had turnip at my grandmothers’ house. Happened to pick one up at the grocery the other day (don’t ask why) and just the aroma on my hands after cutting it up evoked a sense memory !

    You ever roast turnip or rutabaga?

    • Matt – Sometimes I roast turnip, parsnips and carrots together – they turn out delicious. It’s amazing how a simple task such as cutting a turnip, can evoke loving memories of the past. Thanks for checking out my website.
      Best wishes,

  18. Jennifer says:

    My mother would mash carrots into the mix if she needed to to create some sweetness. At times she would also use a wee bit of brown sugar.

  19. Jackie Grice says:



    • I think 4 to 7 minutes should work on high. Time depends on the size of your rutabaga. Place it on a microwave safe plate covered with waxed paper or Saran Wrap. In America rutabagas are covered in a wax coating so if microwaving with the peel on, this wax will melt. The covered plate helps with clean up. Hope this helps.

  20. Patrick Lyons says:

    Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter we have turnips (rutabaga…I don’t know what those purple and white things are called…). I cut them differently; half the turnip, peel with a knife then slice about 1/4″ thick then chop to, say, 1″ pieces- because that’s how my Mother cut them. However before chopping many of the slices would disappear in the hands of children, with a dunk in water and salted that slice of turnip was so tasty. However it is an acquired taste says my wife–but not my children and I. My wife likes them mashed and I like them both mashed and raw with salt. Try it!

    • Hi Patrick – I love to hear from others who love rutabaga as much as I do. Before I wrote this blog recipe, I believed I was a very rare rutabaga loving American. Nearly every time I purchase a rutabaga the cashier inevitably asks me what it is. I was really beginning to get worried my crew are the only rutabaga eating family in America. But ever since I wrote this post, so many readers have added comments or e-mailed me singing the praises of this seldom praised vegetable. But I do agree with your wife – it is an acquired taste, one for me that was nourished and cultivated at a young age by my mother.
      Thanks so much for stopping by,

  21. Maureen Donnelly says:

    The best way to cut a rutabaga is to ask the butcher at your grocery story to cut and quarter (or 1/8) it. Then cook until outside is soft. Cool a bit and peel. Finish cooking in a clean pot.

  22. Rutabagas (aka turnips) are always part of our Thanksgiving dinner! It wouldn’t be the holidays without them. Our Grandmother came over from Ireland, and knowing her, she probably brought some with her! One question: Here in the western U.S., these turnips are not common and often have a lot of green around the outer skin. Can I just peel that off or are they simply too unripe? Thanks. Long live rutabagas!

    • Kathleen – I have found that rutabagas with a lot of green are more bitter than the ones without. However, sometimes it’s hard to find one that is perfectly purple and yellow in coloring. I would just cut away the green. You can always taste a little piece of the raw turnip to check if it is too bitter before you cook it. I’m not an expert on gardening, but I think green rutabagas won’t give you an upset tummy like a green potato might. I think the top bit can turn green if they grow a little above the soil with too much skin exposed to the light. And definitely I agree with you – Long live rutabagas!
      All the best,

  23. Maureen O Hanlon says:

    Thank you Mairead , love turnip and bacon or just mashed like you did .

  24. My mother makes turnips for all our big family meals; christmas, thanksgiving, etc. We live in eastern canada and no one around here even knows what a rutabaga is, we’ve all called them turnips for years. My mother always cooks hers with sugar, instead of salt, to sweeten them! Might have to try this next time around.

    • Hi Florence – It’s interesting to hear that in eastern Canada rutabagas are also called turnips. I know there is a huge Irish cultural influence in Newfoundland, which makes me wonder if that is why people in eastern Canada use the term turnips. I think I’ll give cooking my rutabagas with sugar a try. A few readers have made that suggestion and it sounds like a great tip.
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

      • Jayson McGraw says:

        We call them Turnips here as well! I was confused when I google searched them and none of the food looked like what I was used to; I lived most my life near London Ontario, and my mom got the recipe from my Grandma, and so on; being a ginger and of Irish heritage, cant say I’m all that surprised!

      • We use the sugar because it cuts down on that “woody” texture of the turnips and adds just a lovely layer of sweetness! I’ve seen my aunts use brown sugar sometimes too!

  25. Eileen Stevenson says:

    My son found your website and we are SO HAPPY!!!! When my mom died the recipie died with her. She made Canadian Turnups (as she called them) every Thanksgiving and Christmas. She didnt like making them because they were so hard to cut and boil and boil and boil! but we kids loved it so she made it and used sugar and bacon to season it. Now my son is going to make it for the family and its because of your blog. Thankyou sooooo much!!!! And Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!.

  26. Leona Conlon says:

    We love rutabagas at Thanksgiving. I make them with carrots, butter, salt and pepper. Mash it all together. This tip I received years ago at an Irish restaurant in New York City when I enjoyed it as a side.
    Carrots give it some sweetness and also are good for you!

  27. Don Stephens says:

    Thanks. My family is Irish American from New York and we always had mashed “turnips” at Thanksgiving. Found out much later they were really rutabagas. I’ve become the designated turnip boiler and masher. Everyone (mostly) love them.

  28. Mairead, thank you so much for your blog. I’m 1/4 Irish and grew up on rutabagas or waxed turnips for our holidays. We also had them during the winter months once a week.

    Turnips were a small purple and white little veggie. The taste is different. I roast them with carrots and parsnips. Before serving I add a little honey butter glaze to them. Yum! I will be making your recipe for our Thanksgiving tomorrow. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  29. Just now saw this post begun last year!

    I grew up eating rutabagas, but never knew they were called that. We also called them turnips! It is interesting to learn that the turnip eating must have come from the Irish side of the family, and not my mom’s Italian side, hahaha! We had them mashed and mixed with a little mashed white potatoes. They were wonderful at thanksgiving with gravy, but I loved them even more when my dad made them into turnip/potato pancakes the next day. Crispy and hot with a pat of real butter on them… Oh, yum!

    • Patricia – Turnip potato pancakes sound delicious. I make fried cakes with parsnips and potatoes, but I must try some mashed turnip with potatoes. They sound so tasty with a crispy crust.
      Best wishes,

  30. Mike Corbeil says:

    Fine enough instructions I suppose, but I always steam-cook rutabaga, turnips, beets, carrots, squash and potatoes, as well as sweet potatoes, which aren’t potatoes. This is for reducing loss of nutrients. Once the steam cooking is done, then I save the steam bath water, or whatever to call it, for use in sautéeing foods such as onions, garlic, leek and meets, f.e. Steam cooking reduces nutrient loss and if a person wants the steamed cubes of vegetables to be more easily mashable, then it’s just a matter of letting them steam-cook a couple of minutes longer and once done, turn off the burner and leave the steamer covered. The cubes of vegetable will then be easy to mash.

    I live in Quebec, Canada, where my ancestry dates back a few centuries or more. Root vegetables like the ones mentioned in the above paragraph, as well as parsnips, are commonly consumed by Quebecers. Stores seldom run out of these vegetables, for the stores buy these in sufficiently large volume. This is a small city though and maybe stores in a city like Montreal do sometimes run out of these vegetables. There’s plenty of farm production for these vegetables in this province though, including for a population that consumes these vegetables year-round. Rutabaga and turnips, however, are possibly consumed less during late spring and summer months, but I consume them year-round and stores have these also year-round; both regular grocers and those specializing, say, in selling certified organic produce. In regular grocery stores, rutabaga and surely turnips are sometimes imported, but I generally find that the certified organic ones normally are from Quebec farmers.

    Boiling the root vegetables was definitely common among my older relatives, but I never boil vegetables. About the only thing I do boil is pasta and rice is slow-cooked using either a very low boil or simmering.

    I’ve read that boiling potatoes causes the water to become starchy and this can be useful for making soups or stews, something like that. It seems that the potato starch in the water will act as a thickener. I haven’t done this and it’s only from a little reading.

    Anyway, when getting certified organic rutabaga I wash it off well but normally don’t peel it. I also don’t peel potatoes, and if wanting to make a mash of either of these, then sufficient steaming permits easy mashing with the peel included. As long as the peels of these vegetables aren’t toxic for us, then consuming them along with the flesh provides fuller nutrition.

    I also don’t peel apples when making apple sauce or compote. With sufficient simmering, the whole mixture is smooth.

    With that said, I got the link for this page while doing a Web search to find out what’s said about consuming turnip peel. Well, that’s how they’re now being cooked so I’ll find out this evening. I always steam-cook rutabaga and when it’s certified organic, then the peel is also cooked and eaten.

    • Hi Mike – Thank you so much for all your wonderful tips for steaming and cooking vegetables in a healthy way. It’s nice to hear that root vegetables are so popular in your part of Canada.
      Best wishes for a very happy New Year.

      • Mike Corbeil says:

        You’re welcome, Irish American Mom. Said with a gentleman smile.

        Grocery stores, small and large, here don’t lack root vegetables. These may vary in popularity throughout a year for many consumers even when the vegetables are available. F.e., I’ve read, from an article published in the USA, that rutabaga is considered a winter food crop and isn’t consumed much, if at all, during summer months, possibly even late spring. It’s also true, based on experience, that root vegetables are great for winter months, for these vegies keep very well and are of course nutritious. I don’t quit during warm months though.

        I appreciate both summer and winter food crops, but being a northerner, winter crops are more predominant for me.

        • Mike – We call winter vegetables, Irish vegetables in our house. They are our favorites too, and the taste we grew up with in Ireland.
          All the best,

          • Mike Corbeil says:

            “Irish vegetables” because many Irish people consume these and not because these vegetables speak Irish. :) I hope not anyway. After all, would you want to cut up and cook a vegetable if it talked? :).

            It’s not difficult to imagine that root vegetables are important in Ireland. They are in Quebec, Canada, so …. There’re plenty of root crops grown in Quebec. We have potatoes, sweet “potatoes” (not really potatoes), root celery, fennel, carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, onions, garlic, and some others. Not all of these are really vegetables in the normal usage of the word. Onions and fennel, f.e., are considered to be spices or herbs, but they’re used like vegetables by many people. Fennel is sort of like turnip. The root part, bulb, provides a vegetable and the stalk or leaves are used for additional health benefit; and it can be astounding benefit.

            It’s the way most people treat fennel root anyway. I doubt that many consumers know that fennel is in the spices/herbs grouping when consuming only fennel roots and stalk.

  31. i’m an old texas girl but my grandma was IRISH, from mississippi. and her daughter ,MY MOM. always fixed ruttabagas,by peeling chopping in large chunks ,boiling ,mashing (leaving some chunks)with butter or bacon grease.YUM.there were times when they were out of season. but you mmay find some anyway and they would be a litte bitter. and my mom would add a small amount of sugar .so after later moving to missouri looking for rutabaga’s and asking about them .the clerks didn ‘t know what they were.and to this day some still haven’t ever heard of them. “GO FIGURE”.

    • Pat – We Irish sure do love our rutabagas. I buy them regularly, even off-season, and just like your Mom I add a little sugar to counteract any bitterness. I too find most check out clerks have no idea what my rutabaga is. They don’t know what they’re missing. :)
      All the best, and thanks for stopping by.

    • Mike Corbeil says:

      pat brown,

      Steam-cooking is surely a better way to cook rutabaga than boiling is. It’ll provide less nutrient loss and you can still have mashable result. I don’t boil any vegetables, but if I wanted a starchier liquid for making soups or stews, say, then I might boil potatoes. I don’t do this, but it’ll surely leave a water that has more potato starch than when steam-cooking is used. For myself, I never use boiling of vegetables. There’s too much loss of nutrients. We can and should preserve the water when boiling vegetables, for that water is better for making soups or for sautéeing foods, f.e. But I don’t boil. Instead, I just steam-cook or sautée.

  32. Hi!

    Thank you for the recipe! I received these tasty little treats in my Farmer’s basket this week. I used your recipe and they tasted perfectly delicious!
    Thank you so much!

    Your new fan,

    American Irish just like you;)

    • Tiffany – I’m delighted your rutabagas turned out perfectly delicious. They’re a tasty and healthy side for sure. Thanks so much for leaving your feedback on this recipe.
      All the best,

  33. My Irish mother would cut rutabegga up in to 1-2 inch chunks and boil them with ham and the rutabegga would take on the flavors of the ham. As we were growing up she called them”hot peachs. I suppose because of the color. Anyone else ever hear of the term “HOT PEACHS”??

    • Kathie – “Hot peaches – what a cute name for rutabaga. I’ve never heard that term before for this root vegetable, but who knows, perhaps a reader may throw some light on the term
      Best wishes, and thanks for checking out my recipe.

  34. Greetings!

    I am cooking rutabaga as I type this which is my 1st attempt. I usually eat them @ a cafeteria

    . My first encounter to eat them was @ a covered dish party. That was over 20 years ago.

    They are popular here in Eastern North Carolina. Never heard of them when I lived in Western North Carolina.
    Thanks to everyone who has put recipes on here regarding this wonderful root veggie!

  35. Thank you! Now I know why my grandmother always called them turnips. I get so confused when I go to the store to buy one. Not used to saying rutabaga. LOL

  36. I just discovered your wonderful website and blog. I’m a native New Englander whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and here in Massachusetts, turnips (which is what we call them) are an essential staple of our Thanksgiving meal. We cook them much the same way as your recipe advises. :)

    • Hi Danelle – I’m so glad you found my little corner of the world wide web. Glad to hear New Englanders appreciate the turnip as much as we Irish do. They’re such a tasty Thanksgiving side.
      Best wishes,

  37. Noreen Wolf says:

    Growing up in Chicago with Irish born parents and family, turnips (rutabagas) were always part of our holiday dinners as well as Sunday Roast Beef or Roast Leg of Lamb dinners. There is nothing better. I still cook them and have found that if you buy the smaller ones 2 small instead of 1 large, they are easier to cut and are sweeter. I also dice a medium onion and boil that in the water, then drain WELL and add quite a bit of butter, salt and pepper. The onion melts and you hardly see it. THEY are so good and yes, we always called them turnips. They are very difficult to cut and I am told the butchers will cut them, but I have never tried this. I wear big oven mitts when I cut them in case the knife slips.

    • Noreen – Turnips or rutabagas may be hard to cut, but they are well worth the trouble in my book. Love all your cooking tips. A simple, humble vegetable, it doesn’t need much fancy cooking, but a few little additions definitely take them to a whole new level of tasty.
      Best wishes,

  38. Yep! This is just how we do it here in Ireland! We had it with dinner today. It was minus the butter, as I’m slimming, but it was still yummy! :)

    • Hi Niamh – Thanks so much for adding your seal of approval to my Irish turnip recipe. So glad you enjoyed your turnip with your dinner tonight. Thanks for checking out my recipes and ramblings.
      All the best,

      • Carl Kelly says:

        Here in Nfld.,Canada(MOST Irish place this side of the big pond) we mash in Brown sugar along with the pepper to cut the bitter edge of the Turnip. Rudabaga and Turnip are two different things….never heard of Rudabaga until I visited mainland Canada. Carl Kelly

        • Hi Carl – Just like you I never heard of rutabagas until I crossed the pond to America. I love your tip for adding brown sugar to cut the bitter taste. It amazes me how ‘Irish’ Newfoundland is – every comment from a Newfoundlander here on my blog under scores our shared cultural heritage.
          Best wishes,

  39. My grandmother always made them for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years , and Easter. It was always served with turkey or Ham. She always called them turnips. She wasn’t Irish, she was French, living in Maine, right near the Canadian border. She moved to Connecticut after she got married. They sell them in the stores here around the holidays. They do get low in stock as the holiday approaches, so I always buy them a week early to make sure I get one. It would be sacralidge if we didn’t have them for the holidays! I had an incident last year. I hurt my foot, so I ordered my groceries online to be delivered. My brother helped me put the groceries away. It was the day before Thanksgiving when I noticed my turnips were um turnips! And by that I mean the small white turnips, not yellow turnips or Ruhtabagas. We don’t eat white turnips. So guess who was limping up to the courtesy desk the day before Thanksgiving. I gave a little speech to the clerk about knowing the difference between vegetables and asking the produce department if they don’t know. These twenty something’s don’t know what anything is. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I would have crawled to the courtesy desk to get my yellow turnips if I had to! So I saved the day! My sister and I love them. My brother, not so much. I love the smell of them cooking! It is as great a smell as the turkey roasting and brings back memories of holidays spent at Grandmas house at the lake.i now make the family holiday meals and I continue the tradition. I cut them up the day before the holiday and put them in a big ziplock bag. They keep fine in the fridge and saves me the hard work on the big day.i boil them low and slow over a long period of time.i drain and mash with butter and salt and pepper and a little brown sugar to take away the bitterness. I think I would be depressed if I couldn’t have them on the holiday. I burnt them one year while I was sitting by the Christmas tree opening presents! Terrible smell and a ruined pan. My sister was so mad at me! We are only allowed to have them on holidays. That way it is a special treat. If I ate them all year long it just wouldn’t be the same. I’m so glad I found other people who are as excited about turnips as me! I’m always asking people if they eat them. Somebody must be if the grocery stores are low every holiday. They sell them waxed here but I did find some once that weren’t waxed, but wrapped in shrink wax. They are a bitch to peel, but I am very careful and haven’t cut myself yet. The last thing I need is to have a major cut on my hand while I am preparing a major feast all buy myself. If I am out of commission, the family doesn’t eat. We are not restaurant people. Holidays are about being home with family. Now I’m craving turnips! I will have to wait three more months !

    • Thank you so much for sharing your “turnip tales”. I can only imagine your horror upon seeing little white turnips amongst your groceries on the day before Thanksgiving. I’m delighted to hear your last minute rutabaga quest was successful, just like my husband’s search here in Louisville. It’s lovely to hear from so many readers who appreciate rutabagas or Irish “turnips” as much as I do. Just 3 months to go before you’ll be enjoying those glorious roots on your Thanksgiving menu.
      Best wishes,

  40. YooperWannaBe says:

    Oh my word!!! I cannot believe that in this long line of commendation on the use of rutabaga that the word PASTY hasn’t come up. I live in lower Michigan, but I love the Upper Peninsula (UP, hence Yooper, the term for a UP native) and want to move there. This Upper region of Michigan was the worlds top producer of pure copper in the 1800’s to early-ish 1900’s. There were many immigrants who came to the mines for work. Finnish, yes Irish, German, Swedes I’m sure. But it was the Cornish people who brought over the pasty. The wives would make these hot in the morning, wrap them and the miners would keep them in their pockets for lunch. I’m actually surprised that some of the Canadians haven’t mentioned them being so close to the UP. A pasty is similar to a pot pie in ingredients, only hand held size or now made into a folded quarter size pie. (Think half of an italian calzone). It traditionally contained beef, potato, carrot and…..rutabaga!! The pasty is to this day a traditional (and now novel tourist must-have) food in tbe UP. Unfortunately they’ve become very commercialized, and often are puny frozen versions of what a pasty should be. Often the rutabaga is omitted. I hear that northern Minnesota has pastys (probably due to the migration of the miners when the mines closed up and entire little towns surrounding them dispersed), but that it is rare to find one with rutabaga. Anyway, if you’re a true die-hard UP Cornish pasty fan, they MUST have rutabaga. Not only do I make them homemade on occassion, I am baking them as I type. Lol. They are much better than most of the commercialized versions in the touristy spots. Many places in the UP still make them homemade though, especially in the western Upper Peninsula near the Porcupine Mountains (my favorite place in the world), and the Keweenaw Peninsula that extends to Michigans northern most tip (Copper Harbor) into Lake Superior. The epicenter of the copper mining industry. There are some places as far south-southeast as Mackinaw City where you can find a good homemade pasty. Before I order, I make sure the ingredients lists rutabaga!! :) Yes, people look at it funny every time I buy one and almost always ask what it is. Boiling it with the potatoes and carrots to use in the pasties is the only way I’ve ever used them and, wanting to begin a healthier diet I wanted to know the rutabagas nutritional values as compared w potatoes. Sure enough, they are considerably lower in carbs. So guess who is going to be trying some of these suggestions? Meanwhile, maybe some of you will want to try my pasties. :) I must admit, I do cheat. I use refrigerated pie crust. Feel free to make your own. About 1.5 – 2 lbs of sirloin or round steak, cut into small cubes and sauteed in pan wirh some black pepper towards the end. Peel and slice about 4 large carrots. Peel and cube 2 large potatoes, and about half to 2/3 of a rutabaga. Boil carrots first as they need to go longer, add the rutabaga next (you can probably add the rutabaga at the same time as the carrots), and last add the diced potatoes to the boiling water. Drain when done. Add salt and herbs to taste. I use a bit of dried basil and parsely. Open pie crust, or roll out. Add some meat, then add the veg mix to half of a pie crust. Fold the other half over that and pinch and crimp to seal. Bake at about 375 for…..well, till they’re golden browned. I don’t use a recipe so I can’t really tell you. Lol. 25-30 min maybe. Hope someone enjoys this use of rutabaga. I am sure to be using more of it and some of the ideas here. Thank you!

    • I had no idea pasties are a Michigan tradition. I have eaten Cornish pasties in England, and in Ireland we make a similar hand held pastry filled with meat and vegetables called a Dingle pie. I’ll have to make some for my blog someday and share the recipe with photos. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe for a Michigan pasty – they sound scrumptious, especially with rutabaga adding its distinctive flavor. I really appreciate your input on the tradition of rutabagas in the United States, especially Michigan. This blog post and all these wonderful comments has reassured me I’m not the only one in America who loves rutabagas.
      Take care,

  41. The Vermont Country Store had them for sale to ship to your home and I believe they had the rhutabaga in them, so they must have been authentic. I never got a chance to try them, but they may still be available. You would have to check their website. Of course if you already know how to make them from scratch, it probably isn’t necessary. Although, sometimes it’s fun to try other people’s for comparison!

  42. I always buy a rutabaga (or turnip as I knew it growing up) as a treat for myself. We always had this with turkey when I was a kid, but I love it any time of the year with any kind of meat! I haven’t had any luck in convincing my husband or son that it is actually a great tasting vegetable. My only problem is eating a whole rutabaga by myself!! This time I noticed rutabagas being sold cubed and packaged by the store, but I have always cooked them whole in the microwave, then mashed them with butter, salt and pepper. I googled ways to cook rutabagas and that’s how I found you. What a treat to find so many people who love this veggie as much as I do! I’m going to try cutting in cubes and steaming it today. … and while that’s steaming, I have to read some more of your blog!

    • Try adding a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar to take the bitterness out of it. They might like it better.and you might too! I always boil mine for a long time when I cook them.

    • YooperWannaBe says:

      I have always had the same issue. I don’t nly use about half of one when I make pasties. At one time I thought perhaps I could wrap and freeze the other half and use later, but…I forgot about it and after a year finding it in the back (blush) of the freezer I threw it away. Does anyone know if it works to freeze them?

    • Hi Linda – Hope you enjoyed your rutabaga yesterday. Thanks so much for checking out my recipes and ramblings.
      All the best,

  43. I had too much turnip last year, so I mashed up the cooked vegetable, but I didn’t add the butter or salt and pepper or brown sugar. I just froze it for a couple of months and added the butter and other ingredients when I re-heated it. It tasted good! That is the first time that had happened. I don’t know how it would last if it was longer, like 9 months, but I think three or four would be fine.

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