Dissecting Turnips' Taste and Culinary Repertoire: What Do They Really Taste Like?

Do you believe turnips taste similar to root vegetables or cabbage? Let's break down what a turnip's flavor profile.


Feb. 14 2024, Published 11:19 a.m. ET

A crowd gathers around a pile of turnips to pick them up on the streets in Piornal, Spain, during Jarramplas Festival
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People have enjoyed turnips for many years. They’re siblings of popular root veggies like radishes and have an autumn harvest, so people stored them for winter meals long before refrigeration existed. People might avoid them because they assume turnips taste bad, but learning the truth may pleasantly surprise you.

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Check out everything you need to know about what turnips taste like. You might love them enough to save them in your fridge for stews, soups, and casseroles.

A basket full of organic, local, pale-colored turnips at the Port Jefferson Farmer's Winter Market in Southold, New York
Source: Getty Images
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What do turnips taste like?

People often note how similarly turnips taste to cabbage. It’s likely because they both belong to the Brassicaceae family, have glucosinolates, and contain the same nutrient profile, according to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

However, turnips also have a slightly peppery taste because they contain sulfuric amino acids, as referenced in a 2023 study. A different study published in Molecules in 2022 noted that when fermenting or overcooking, those amino acids break down and release a sulfurous odor. You might think it means the turnips are rotting, but it’s a natural part of their chemical makeup.

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If the sulfurous odor remains in your home after you finish your turnips, it could mean your water has sulfur. The smelly element can contaminate unchlorinated water by forming bacterial colonies, per Culligan Water. It’s important to remember since the experts at Mulligan Water recommend filtering sulfurous water to make it safe for drinking again.

Person pulling turnips from the earth.
Source: iStock
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Do turnips taste like potatoes?

Turnips contain sulfur, giving them a peppery taste that potatoes lack. However, the flavors are so similar that some people replace potatoes with turnips in recipes like casseroles to create healthier meals, per Spend With Pennies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that 100 grams of potatoes (332 calories) has more calories than 100 grams of turnips (117 calories).

What do turnip greens taste like?

Foods Guy notes that turnip greens have the same peppery flavor as the rest of a turnip but can range in flavor between mild and bitter, depending on when harvesters pick them. If you buy turnip greens and discover they’re too bitter, add a sprinkle of salt. Salt suppresses bitterness in cruciferous vegetables like greens, per Appetite.

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Turnips on a table.
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Learn how to cook turnips.

Once you know what turnips taste like, you can make fun recipes. You could roast them in the oven for 25-30 minutes before topping a quinoa salad with the heart root vegetable, according to Naturally Ella.

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You could also make a warm casserole side dish. Chop turnips and apples before combining them with breadcrumbs and baking them for 25-30 minutes, as outlined in Veggie Desserts.

Don’t forget to try subbing turnips for potatoes. The Delicious Spoon notes how to make turnip French fries in the air fryer with paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper.

Enjoy culinary adventures with turnips.

Give turnips a try the next time you’re feeling adventurous. Making one of the recipes above could expand your list of favorite foods with the extra hint of peppery goodness within each turnip.

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