Hacks: Turnips Instead of Potatoes


Ask 10 Paleo devotees about whether or not they eat white potatoes –and why or why not – and you’ll get 10 different answers. One main reason to avoid potatoes is their high starch content. If you’re not an athlete looking for a lot of carbs to refuel after a big workout, you might want to stick to lower-carb options.

What’s a Turnip Anyway?

Turnips are a member of the cabbage family and look a lot like rutabagas. They can be used interchangeably with swedes and rutabagas.

If you’ve had turnips before and found them bitter, then you’ll need to re-think how they were chosen and prepared. Basically, the older and larger a turnip is, the more bitter it will taste. Choose ones that are around the size of a tennis ball for the best flavor.

When it comes to actually cooking them, the trick to a non-bitter turnip dish is how you boil them. Use lots of water and don’t cover them. Let that bitterness boil away!

Potatoes vs Turnips

One cup of raw cubed white potatoes gives you around 22 grams of carbs and two grams of fiber. One cup of raw cubed turnip gives you only six grams of carbs and two grams of fiber. So, if you’re going for the lower-carb option, turnips are definitely your best bet.

Pro tip: Sub Turnips for Potatoes

If your “past life” favorite dishes included a lot of potatoes, what can you do? The great thing about turnips is that they take seasoning really well, and you can cook them pretty much the same ways as you would a potato. There are plenty of things you can do with turnips: turnip fries (plain or seasoned), bacon turnip mash, garlic turnip mashed, twice-baked turnips, and turnip gratin.

Turnip Friesshutterstock_145985444

Turnip fries are simple and delicious! The basic recipe involves two turnips, two tablespoons of olive oil, and your choice of seasonings. The trick here is to boil the turnips first for about 30 minutes and then bake them to make them crispy. Any oil and seasonings are added to the turnips after they boil but before they bake. You only need to bake them about five to 10 minutes in a 350F oven until they are crispy.

Some of the seasonings you can use are chili powder, salt and pepper, or even curry powder.

Bacon Turnip Mash

This recipe requires two pounds of turnip, butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder, half a pound of bacon, and some bacon fat. Peel and cube the turnip, boil until tender, and then drain it. Mash it along with two tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper to taste, and a dash of garlic powder. Add in one-half pound of crispy crumbled bacon. Add two tablespoons of bacon grease to your skillet,
turn in the turnip mixture, and heat and stir until it is the desired temperature. Serve hot.

Garlic Mashed Turnipsshutterstock_137810942

Take three cups of diced turnip, two cloves of garlic, one-quarter cup of heavy cream (or chicken stock if you don’t do dairy), three tablespoons of melted butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the turnip and garlic cloves in a large pot of water until it is all very soft. Drain well, then mash or use a stick blender. Add the cream and butter, and then season with salt and pepper to taste. This makes four servings.

Twice-Baked Turnips

This recipe is different from the others in that there is no boiling required. Cut the tops off of all the turnips and rub olive or coconut oil around the outside. Wrap each one in foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake in a 350F oven for about an hour or until they are soft but not overcooked.

Remove the tray from the oven and carefully unwrap each turnip. Don’t burn yourself! Scoop out most of the insides from each one and put the “meat” into a mixing bowl. Make sure you leave the outside of the turnips whole or you’ll wreck the presentation.

Add the seasonings you have chosen (paprika, salt and pepper, garlic powder or onion powder are al good choices) to the turnip in the mixing bowl and blend or mix until creamy. Add broth if you need a better consistency. Spoon the mixture back into the turnip shells and bake again for 10 to 15 minutes. Top with chopped green onion and crispy bacon.

This makes four servings.

Turnip Gratinshutterstock_132171638

This recipe from Chris Kresser takes three medium-sized turnips, washed and peeled; two tablespoons of room-temperature butter; 1.5 cups of milk; sour cream, cream, coconut cream, or coconut milk; two cloves of garlic; 1.5 cups of Grueyere cheese; two teaspoons of thyme leaves; and some freshly grated nutmeg.

Preheat your oven to 350F. Use a mandolin to slice your turnips thinly or go all chef-like with a sharp knife. Boil some salted water and add the turnips and cook for four minutes after the water returns to a boil. Drain the turnip.

In a saucepan, melt half of the butter and add the minced garlic. Cook for two to three minutes and then whisk in the cream, nutmeg, thyme, black pepper, and about three-quarters of the cheese.

Butter the bottom of an eight-inch casserole dish with the leftover butter and lay half of the turnip slices in the dish. Pour half of the cream mixture on top of the turnips and then cover the mixture with the remaining slices. Dump the rest of the cream mixture over top.

Heat the turnip dish for 25 minutes at 350F. Take it from the oven, press it all down with a spatula, and cover with the leftover cheese. Return the casserole to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes or until the top is slightly golden.

Take the casserole from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before you cut it.

This will serve four people.






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  • Linda Stiver

    Turnips are also good diced and pan-fried in coconut oil or butter, like home fried potatoes. You can also shred them like hash browns. Season with whatever you like- salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, parsley, chives, or a commercially prepared all purpose seasoning.

  • Kimberly Jones

    oh wow! these look good.

  • Sherry

    Thanks for these awesome recipes! Turnips have a thick skin, and therefore need to be peeled before cooking.
    When I was a child, I looked forward to a winter dish of turnips, carrots, and potatoes cooked together with a ham bone or smoked ham hock. We served it with lots of butter. It’s paleo, when one removes the potatoes. {Stifles a longing sigh…}

  • Sherry

    I use diced turnips for any soup that requires potatoes. My clam chowder came out GREAT, and you can’t hardly tell it’s made with turnips instead of potatoes. I also dice them and make home-made corned beef hash with them. My favorite substitute for potatoes thus far. Parsnips are delicious, but are actually more glycemic than a potato! Who knew?

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