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Rutabaga vs Parsnip: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve ever been to a grocery store and wandered down the produce aisle in search of root vegetables, you might have noticed two very similar types: rutabagas and parsnips.

Although they may look pretty much the same in appearance, there are actually some significant differences between them that make each one unique.

So if you find yourself stumped as to which is which, this blog post will dive deep into the details so that by the end, you’ll know exactly how these fascinating veggies differ.

What is Rutabaga?

Rutabaga, also known as swede, is a root veg native to Northern Europe.

It’s a cross between turnip and cabbage, with yellow flesh and a smooth skin.

This veg has a sweet, slightly earthy flavor with a hint of bitterness.

Plus, it’s packed with vitamin C and potassium.

If you’re keen to try it, you can cook rutabaga by peeling and cubing or slicing it.

Then use it in roasts, boils or mash.

Rutabaga also works as a low-carb alternative to potatoes in stews and casseroles.

To get creative with rutabaga, why not add it to your favorite soups or try mashed rutabaga as a side dish? Just remember, parsnips and rutabagas look similar, but parsnips are sweeter and smaller.

So make sure you know the difference when you’re at the store.

What is Parsnip?

Parsnips are root veggies.

They’re related to carrots and parsley.

They have a beige, tapered shape and a yummy, nutty flavor.

Parsnips are high in fiber, vitamins C and K, plus antioxidants.

You can roast, mash or use them in soups or stews for taste and texture.

Remember to wash and peel the skin before cooking.

Unlike carrots, parsnips have a woody core that needs to be taken out.

Also, they take longer to cook because they’re dense.

Parsnips get sweeter when exposed to cold weather.

After the first frost, they have higher sugar content.

This makes them a great option for winter dishes.

Rutabagas might look like parsnips but they’re different.

Parsnips are sweet tasting whereas rutabagas have a bitter flavor.

Also, rutabagas are denser and parsnips have a softer consistency when cooked.

Differences Between Rutabaga and Parsnip

Rutabagas and parsnips may look similar, but they are two different root veg.

Rutabagas are sweeter and firmer in texture than parsnips, which have a more nutty and earthy taste.

Both can be boiled, roasted, mashed, or sautéed.

Rutabagas take longer to cook due to their denser flesh.

Appearance and Size

Rutabaga and Parsnip are two of the top root veg in the market.

They seem similar, yet have their own unique traits.

Rutabagas are round with a purplish-brown top.

Parsnips are slender and beige or white.

Size varies.

A rutabaga usually weighs 1-2 pounds. A parsnip is 6-8 ounces.

But it can depend on where it’s grown, how long it’s been growing, and how ripe.

There are slight differences in looks and texture.

Rutabagas have more yellow flesh than parsnips, which are whiter.

Rutabagas are crumbly when cooked.

Parsnips remain firm.

Cooking enthusiasts need to know the difference between rutabagas and parsnips.

To make delicious and healthy meals, understand their looks and size.

Enjoy one or mix them into dishes.

Flavor and Taste

Rutabagas and parsnips are two root vegetables that differ in flavor.

Rutabagas have a sweet, earthy taste with hints of cabbage or turnip.

Parsnips have a nutty sweetness like carrots but with more complexity.

So, their flavors make them great for recipes.

Rutabagas are firmer and denser than parsnips.

They also tend to be larger and heavier.

This makes them perfect for soups, stews, and roasted dishes.

Parsnips, on the other hand, are great for salads or as side dishes.

By knowing the differences between rutabagas and parsnips, you can get creative with your cooking.

You can add these ingredients to existing dishes or create new ones by changing the quantity.

Nutritional Composition

Rutabaga and parsnip are two root veggies that are often used in the same way.

But, their nutritional content is different.

Rutabagas are higher in carbs and parsnips have more fiber.

Rutabagas also have more vitamin C than parsnips, but parsnips have more minerals like potassium and magnesium.

Both root vegetables have low fat and are packed with antioxidants.

Parsnips are sweeter, whereas rutabagas are a bit more bitter.

Remember, both veggies are really nutritious and tasty.

Culinary Uses and Recipes

Rutabaga and parsnip are root veggies, but they differ in taste, texture, and use.

Rutabaga has a sweet yellow flesh.

Parsnip has a nutty flavor with cream-colored flesh.

Both can be boiled, roasted, or mashed.

Rutabaga is good for stews and soups.

Parsnips work well in salads, casseroles, and roasted dishes.

Try something new.

Explore recipes like rutabaga mash or parsnip fries from different cultures.

Enjoy the distinct flavors of these healthy veggies.

Similarities Between Rutabaga and Parsnip

Rutabaga and parsnip are similar veggies, but tere are differences.

They’re both root veggies with a carrot-family connection.

They have vitamins C and K plus dietary fibers.

Yet, the taste differs – rutabaga has a sweet-bitter flavor whilst parsnips have a nutty sweetness.

Texture-wise, rutabaga is denser and coarser.

It’s also usually bigger and takes longer to cook.

Interchanging them in recipes is sometimes not possible, considering their separate flavor and texture.

It’s best to distinguish between them when cooking, to get the most out of each one’s uniqueness.

How to Prepare and Cook Rutabaga and Parsnip?

Rutabaga and parsnip can look similar, but they are different in taste and texture.

Here’s how to prepare them perfectly.

  • Get fresh, smooth veggies with no cuts or bruises.
  • Wash and peel them carefully.
  • Cut them into cubes or juliennes.
  • Boil in salted water until tender. Drain the water.
  • For rutabaga, add butter and nutmeg/cinnamon. For parsnip, use olive oil, garlic salt, and thyme.
  • Serve hot as a side dish or roast for a snack.

Rutabaga has more starch than parsnip.

That means they have various uses in recipes like stews or soups.

If you haven’t tried either yet, sample them separately first.


Rutabaga and parsnip look similar. But they have big differences.

Rutabaga is larger with yellowish-orange flesh.

It tastes slightly sweet with a mild turnip flavor.

Parsnip is smaller with white flesh. It is sweeter than carrot when cooked.

Both veggies are nutritious and yummy. Rutabaga is more versatile for cooking.

Boil or mash it like potatoes. Or roast it like carrots.

Parsnips are best for roasting. High heat brings out their sweetness.

They also add flavor to soups or stews.

Nutrient-wise, rutabaga has more vitamin C, calcium, potassium and magnesium.

Parsnips have more fiber and folate.

Rutabaga vs Parsnip: What’s the Difference?

Andrew Gray
Considering root vegetables for your next dish? Differentiate between rutabagas and parsnips, examining their flavors, textures, and culinary applications to elevate your cooking with earthy sweetness.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Rutabaga
  • Parsnip


  • Choose between rutabaga and parsnip based on your preference and availability.
  • Prepare the chosen vegetable by peeling and cutting it into the desired shape or size.
  • Incorporate the rutabaga or parsnip into your dish, following your recipe’s instructions.
  • Cook the vegetable until tender, using your preferred cooking method such as roasting, boiling, or sautéing.
  • Season and season the cooked rutabaga or parsnip according to your taste preferences.
  • Serve and enjoy the unique flavors and textures offered by rutabaga or parsnip in your dish.
  • Experiment with various recipes to explore the versatility of these delightful root vegetables.
Keyword Rutabaga vs Parsnip
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