How to Cook Rutabagas

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How to Cook Rutabagas

Maybe you’ve been lured in by some of the fabulous seasonal produce at a farmers market. Maybe you’ve joined a CSA. Maybe you’ve heard good things about rutabagas, or tried them at a restaurant and you’d like to introduce them into the home meal rotation.

How to Cook Rutabagas

And maybe you don’t know exactly how to cook (or shop for or store or prepare) some of the vegetables and fruit you bought home.

So highly fixable! Let’s go!


What is a Rutabaga?

Rutabagas (sometimes called Swedes in parts of the world) are fairly similar to turnips, with a slightly bitter flavor, and a yellower interior. They are a root vegetable, and actually a cross between turnips and cabbage. Rutabagas are used in all sorts of cuisines, from Scandinavian to British to American.

How to Cook Rutabagas

What Does a Rutabaga Look Like?

They are orb-shaped, sometimes quite round, sometimes a bit more elongated. Rutabagas are often purple on the outside, though the purple usually covers about half of the vegetable, much like a purple topped turnip. The rest of the skin is a yellow-ish white.

What Does a Rutabaga Taste Like?

The fact that rutabagas are a cross between turnips and cabbage is evident in the flavor. The taste is a bit milder than a turnip’s when raw, and buttery and sweet-savory, though still a bit bitter, when cooked. They taste like Yukon Gold potatoes with a lot of attitude.

How Do I Cook Rutabagas?

Rutabagas should be washed and have the waxy skin completely removed before cooking. If you bought them from a farmers market, they might not have the waxy skin so will be easier to peel; if they are small and unwaxed you can also just give them a good scrub and leave the peel on.

Creamy Rutabaga, Parsnip and Cheddar Soup

They can be eaten raw, but are usually roasted, cooked and mashed (sometimes with potatoes or other root vegetables), and used in casseroles, stews and soups. The leaves can also be eaten, prepared in the same way as turnip tops, or other hearty greens.

How Do I Know Which Rutabagas to Buy?

Look for rutabagas that are large and round, with a thick, smooth, hard skin that needs to be peeled before eating. They should have firm roots and feel heavy for their size. If there are leaves attached they should be smooth and waxy. Smaller rutabagas (less than 4 inches in diameter) have a slightly sweeter flavor than their bigger counterparts.

How Do I Store Rutabagas?

Refrigerate rutabagas, unwashed, in a plastic bag for up to 14 days, or keep them at room temperature for up to a week. Don’t wash them until just before using.

When Are Rutabagas in Season?

Rutabagas are in season October through March.

Are Rutabagas Nutritious?

They are high in Vitamin C, low in calories, a good course of potassium, and high in fiber.

Do you have questions about how to buy, store, prepare, and cook rutabagas? We’ve got lots of answers!

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Try Rutabagas in these Recipes:

Rutabaga recipes, plus recipes with easy rutabaga substitutions!

Creamy Rutabaga, Parsnip and Cheddar Soup
5 from 1 vote

Creamy Rutabaga, Parsnip and Cheddar Soup

A beautiful, creamy, soul-soothing root vegetable soup.
View Recipe

Rutabaga and Parsnip Puree / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen
5 from 2 votes

Rutabaga and Parsnip Puree

Earthy, with a touch of sweetness, and very simple to make.
View Recipe

Creamy Rutabaga, Carrot and Parsnip Soup
5 from 2 votes

Creamy Rutabaga, Carrot and Parsnip Soup

Such a pretty and comforting root vegetable soup, great for those chilly nights.
View Recipe

Mediterranean Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables / Photo by Mandy Maxwell / Katie Workman / themom100.com
5 from 12 votes

Mediterranean Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables

Yet another moment where a pork loin, or a pair of pork loins in this case, make dinnertime just so very easy. Substitute 1 1/2-inch cubed rutabagas for half or all of the potatoes.
View Recipe

Roasted Vegetables with Blue Cheese / Sarah Crowder / Katie Workman / themom100.com
5 from 1 vote

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Blue Cheese

Just when you thought roasted vegetables couldn’t get any better. Substitute rutabagas for the sweet potatoes.
View Recipe

Roasted Vegetables with Sriracha Honey Glaze
5 from 1 vote

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Sriracha Honey Glaze

A bit of heat perks up these earthy vegetables in such a great way (and livens up those rich holiday meals, too). Substitute rutabagas for the regular or sweet potatoes.
View Recipe

Serving bowl of Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes with spoon.
5 from 4 votes

Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes

The addition of roasted garlic (which is so freaking easy to make) gives sweet potatoes a very savory twist. Substitute rutabagas for half or all of the sweet potatoes.
View Recipe

Mashed Yukon and Sweet Potatoes with Sauteed Leeks in white serving dish.
5 from 2 votes

Mashed Yukon and Sweet Potatoes with Sauteed Leeks

Because there will never be enough recipes for mashed potatoes. This has a nice combo of buttery yukons and sweet potatoes, plus a tousle of sliced sauteed leeks.
Substitute rutabagas for either the Yukon or the sweet potatoes, or use a combination of all three.
View Recipe

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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