What Do Turnips Taste like? (How To Use Turnips)

Turnips are one of those vegetables that are overlooked when at the grocery store.  Popular veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and string beans are more likely purchased.  But should that be the case?  Do you know what turnips taste like?  If not you might be missing out.  This article will explore what turnips taste like, how you can use turnips in your next meal, and the history of turnips. 

If you have not tasted turnips we suggest giving them a try.  These root vegetables make excellent ingredients roasted, in soups, and more.

So, what do turnips taste like?  Turnips can be described as a cross between a radish and a cabbage with a hint of peppery flavor but still has a little sweetness to it.  But not all turnips will taste the same.  Taste can vary based on the type of turnip and how old or young the vegetable is. 

Table of Contents

What exactly are turnips

Turnips are from the root crop family and are really easy-to-grow.  They are in the same family as cauliflower.  Many home gardeners like growing turnips because they are very hardy and take about 4 weeks or sooner to mature.

They are typically an autumn crop and like cool weather.  You can also eat their green leaves and those can be eaten after about a month after germination.  Turnips can be eaten both raw and cooked and are a substitute for potatoes in many dishes. 

What variety of turnips are there?

There are over 30 different varieties of turnips.  These come in different flavors, sizes, and colors.  The most common type of turnip you would see is the purple-top turnip.  These are white-skinned with a slight purple color top.  

These purple-top turnips have a slightly sweet flavor that is mild.  However, when cooked the root and greens will become even milder in flavor.

Baby turnips are more of a specialty variety and they can vary in color from whites, purple, gold, and pink.  Baby turnips are smaller in diameter of about 1 inch.

Scarlet turnips are very bright red colored and are sometimes confused with the red radish.  These have white flesh this is sweet and found a lot at supermarkets and farmers’ markets. 

what do turnips taste like

What do younger turnips taste like?

Different varieties will have different tastes.  However, when talking about younger turnips you typically will have sweet and crunchy textures that are similar to that of a carrot.  Smaller turnips can even have a slightly tangy taste.  These are somewhat different tasting than older turnips. 

What do older turnips taste like?

Older turnips and larger turnup varieties can have a woodier flavor like that of potatoes.   Age can affect the flavor of turnips as they mature they can become a little more bitter.  Although cooking the turnip can help reduce this flavor. 

The greens both the stem and leaves are good to eat and they typically pick up the same flavor profile of the turnip root.

What do turnip greens taste like?

The stem and green leaves typically will take on the same flavors as the root itself.  

Young turnips leaves will have a mild and tiny sweet flavor profile.  As these vegetables grow older and mature the leaves can also get more bitter and spicery in taste.

Cooking the greens will reduce the bitter taste.  If you have a mature turnip and lease sauteeing them with some old and garlic will add a nice flavor profile while reducing some of the bitterness. 

Nutrition of a turnip

The below data is from the USDA and is based on one serving size:  1 medium turnip. (122g)

Amount per serving:
Calories: 34

 % Daily Value
Total Fat0%
Saturated Fat0%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol --
Sodium 82mg3%
Total Carbohydrates 8g3%
Dietary Fiber 2g9%
Sugars 5g
Includes - Added Sugars-
Protein 1g
Vitamin D 0mcg0%
Calcium 36mg3%
Iron 0mg1%
Potassium 235mg5%

How to select turnips

White turnip

If you are not sure what to look for when selecting a turnip at your grocery store you can follow these simple steps.  

Look for turnips that are firm with no blemishes on them.  They should have healthy looking and bright green leaves.  If you see leaves that look wilted or brown leave those alone. 

However, if you are just concerned with the root then you will not have to worry too much about the condition of the green leaves and stem. 

As we have stated above if you purchase young turnips they will be better for eating raw as they will be tender and slightly sweeter than the mature turnip.  

Larger turnips will be harder and better for preparing soups and roasting.

How to cook with turnips for the best taste

Try and pick younger smaller turnips when cooking for best taste.  These small turnips will have a sweeter and milder taste.  

Remember when you cook a turnip it will naturally reduce the bitterness than if you eat it raw.

Roast your turnips.  You can simply peel and dice up turnups.  Drizzle them with some good olive oil, add some fresh garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and roast. 

You can eat them on their own or add them to other types of vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and broccoli.

Using turnips in a soup.  You can substitute potatoes for turnips in any types of soups.  You can also keep potatoes and turnips in the same soup.  

Related questions

Are turnips better than potatoes?  This depends on the person.  In terms of popularity, potatoes are used much more frequently than turnips in dishes.   With that said the taste will strictly be up to the person eating the vegetable. 

Can you eat turnips raw?  Yes.  You can eat turnips raw.  The taste in younger less mature turnips would be better to eat raw over mature older turnips because they are sweeter and milder in taste with less bitter flavors. 

Do turnips taste like radish?    Yes, some people say that they have a taste that is simpler than that of radish and apple.    or cabbage with a slightly spicy underdone like a radish but just not as pronounced. 

Our final thoughts on turnip taste

We are big believers in trying new foods.  Everyone’s taste is different but we think you will find turnips have a good taste and can be used in many different dishes.  With its sweet and peppery flavor profile turnips are worth a try.

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About ASmith

Adam loves cooking and cooking products like cookware, tools, gadgets, and more to help make cooking easier in the kitchen. When Adam is not trying out new kitchen tools in the kitchen you find him researching the next best kitchen gadgets.