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Glazed turnips are a simple side dish for winter. Learn how to cook turnips in this quick and easy recipe.
Turnips are a vegetable that I had avoided for a while, but when you are getting boxes from your local farm in the winter, avoiding becomes pretty difficult.
Over the years I’ve discovered that it just takes a little bit of experimenting to enjoy a food.
I’ve done this glazing technique with carrots and tofu, so I thought it was worth trying out. The turnips stay just firm enough, and don’t get overly sweet — the presence of turnipness doesn’t get lost. Best of all, they take less than 30 minutes to prepare.
Varieties of turnips
You might not be familiar with turnips, but these brassicas come in many different varieties.
Your local grocery store likely will have Purple Top White Globe turnips. This is the most common variety, with a white bottom and purple near the leafy top. You also might recognize it from Animal Crossing: New Horizons!
Scarlet Queen turnips are often mistaken for radishes. These small turnips have some of the bite of a radish, while the interior is sweet.
I like Hakurei, or Japanese, turnips the best. It is one of the sweetest varieties of turnip, so it’s a great way to dip your toes into enjoying this oft-neglected vegetable.
This recipe will work with any kind of turnip. Depending on what kind you have, the color might be slightly different once cooked, but just as tasty!
Turnip or rutabaga?
Rutabagas are sometimes called turnips, but we’re not using rutabaga in this recipe.
You can tell the difference between turnips and rutabagas by looking at the top of the bulb.
Rutabagas have a “neck” between the root and the leaves, while the leaves of a turnip come directly out of the top of the root.
Rutabagas are usually larger than your hand, while turnips can come in many sizes and shapes.
If you have a rutabaga on hand, try my mashed rutabaga with parmesan!
How to cook turnips
I love this turnip recipe because it’s really easy and only requires a few staple ingredients.
It’s great for preparing when you’ve already got your main roasting in the oven and need something simple on the side.
Trim and peel the turnips. I tend to peel mine before trimming the ends, as it makes it slightly easier to have something to hold on to while peeling.
Peeled vegetables can be slippery, so make sure to peel onto a cutting board, not over the trash can!
Cut the turnips into bite-size chunks. Try to make the pieces uniform in size. This will help them cook evenly in the pan.
Add the turnips to a large nonstick saute pan. Arrange them in a single layer for even cooking.
Pour in the water, then scatter on pieces of butter and brown sugar.
Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Stir as the butter and sugar melt to mix.
Once it is boiling, cover and boil turnips for about 10 minutes. Stir every few minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove the lid and continue to simmer. You want to continue to cook, stirring every so often, until the liquid has evaporated and the turnips are cooked and tender.
Depending on the size of your turnips, this can take between 10 and 20 minutes, so be watchful.
Once the turnips are cooked, add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. You can also add a sprinkling of fresh chopped herbs, or just serve as is.
This recipe uses 1 ½ pounds of turnips, but is easily doubled. Make sure if you are doubling the recipe that you have a saute pan large enough for the turnips to sit in a single layer.
Be sure to use a saute pan with a lid for cooking glazed turnips. This will ensure the interior of the turnip gets fully cooked, not just the outside.
If you like, you can swap the brown sugar for honey, agave, granulated sugar, or even molasses. Each one will give a slightly different flavor.
This turnip recipe is easily made vegan! Swap the butter for plant-based margarine.
If the turnips are cooked through but the liquid has not yet evaporated, increase the heat.
Handle the glazed turnips carefully to prevent mashing them in the pan.
If you like, you can let the turnips cook further at a high heat to caramelize the pieces slightly, but make sure to not scorch them.
Try variations by adding other root vegetables, such as beets, and fresh herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, or even a sprinkling of dried herbs de Provence.
These glazed turnips are a quick addition to any meal. It might just change your mind about turnips!
- 1 1/2 pounds turnips
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs, optional
- Peel turnips and dice into 1-inch chunks. Arrange turnips in a single layer in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Pour in water, and scatter butter and brown sugar over the top. Cover, and let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove lid and continue to cook until liquid is evaporated, stirring to keep turnips from sticking. Once liquid is evaporated, salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle on herbs if using.