Many people are confused as to what the difference is between a turnip and a rutabaga, and it is no wonder because they both have many similarities.  In fact, a rutabaga is actually a CROSS between a turnip and a cabbage!  Who’d've thought! Both rutabagas and turnips are root vegetables and both are grown during the cooler seasons of spring and fall.

Turnips have been around practically forever.  They grow wild in many parts of the world and were actually grown and cultivated during ancient times – all the way back to the Paleolithic era.  Talk about a prehistoric vegetable!  Rutabagas have been around for quite awhile too, but they came later, when turnips eventually crossed with cabbages.

Rutabagas and turnips have a very similar texture and flavor, however rutabagas tend to have a rougher texture and a tougher skin.  Rutabagas are generally bigger and firmer than turnips and are also sweeter in flavor.  Turnips are usually white, and rutabagas often have more of a yellow tint.  Different varieties vary, but both rutabagas and turnips often have a purple-colored crown.  Despite their differences, they are similar enough to be interchangeable in most recipes.  When cooked, the flesh of a turnip turns from white to almost translucent, while a rutabaga’s flesh turns a yellow-orange.

Turnips are also grown for their greens.  Turnip greens are thin and slightly hairy.  Rutabaga greens can be eaten too, but are more rare in the United States.  Their greens look more like cabbage leaves and are thicker with a smooth waxy quality.

So now that you know the difference, why not try one or both?  Both rutabagas and turnips are full nutrients, especially vitamin C and antioxidants.  They can be eaten raw,  steamed, boiled, roasted, or sauted!  Let us know how you end up eating them!

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11 Responses to “Turnips vs. Rutabagas”

  1. I made a turnip and potato soup! It was so amazing! A few herbs from my garden were added and it was a great fall soup! I also added some tumeric for good measure, and a great add to the fall!

  2. The best tasting way to prepare turnip is pickled with chiles.

  3. Wow. That sounds delicious! I’ll have to try it.

  4. I tried the purple crowned ones. The husk was a little tough but the meat was delicious. I steamed them with other vegetables, cut then into small chunks and added to vegetable soup, cut into medium chunks, oiled and spiced then baked. I find that I can treat them as a potato or as vegetable and they perform well and taste great. My motto: don;t rely on a recipe, just give it a try and accept each dish as a new taste experience.

  5. We planted rutabagas for the first time this fall and have just harvested a couple of them. We usually cook them by boiling then adding a bit of olive oil or butter after draining.

    As for turnips, we usually have them in the fall garden. One unusual and favorite way to prepare them is to slice or cut into julienne strips and serve them raw with french onion dip or blue cheese dressing. They’re great raw as an appetizer or snack.

  6. We found that during a healthy weight loss diet rutabagas were a great option for either a snack or as a side. Take out a strong sharp knife and cut off the outside brownish waxed covering and then cut 1/2 inch slices & then to big strips much like big potato wedges. I then use any number of spices to dust the wedges. Montreal Chicken Spice is a household fave. Arrange in big baking sheet that you have already sprayed with something like Pam. Pop in the oven at about 375º F until browned a bit and the chips are no longer tough. Enjoy!

  7. Cut rootabaga in to small chunks boil likea potatoes mash and add brown sugar to taste its great.

  8. Wow! Last year I planted turnips in my North Idaho garden. I was so excited because they grew GREAT! But when I picked them the flavor was so bad we could not eat them. They tasted of cabbage which would have been ok, but the bitterness was such a disappointment, since I had heard how sweet they are. Eating them raw was completely out of the question. Even my horse refused to eat them, or the greens, and she loves everything. Bummer. This year I will try rutabagas.

  9. Thanks for the tutorial! I needed both for a stew (Bilbo’s Underground Stew!), but forgot which was which after I got home. My sons and I learned a lot!

  10. Who knew I’ve been eating rutabagas all these years! We have always called them turnips. Make sure you cook them thoroughly and add a heaping teaspoon of brown sugar to the water to help sweeten them.

  11. Totally new to both vegetables and, like all other vegetables, the best way to eat them in my opinion is raw. I eat the greens as well, either prepared in a salad with a large mix of collard greens, Japanese Red Mustard Greens (DELICIOUS, and radish greens. Fantastic salad. First time eating turnips and rutabagas (sadly) and now I grow them in the garden along with everything else I can get my hands on. Fantastic vegetables. Great site – thanks for having this

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