How to Cook Parsnips: Simple, Delicious Recipes (2024)

Parsnips, like Brussels sprouts, don't get much love or credit in the kitchen. Perhaps they're a bit misunderstood—after all, a parsnip looks like a white carrot, though the taste is quite different.

If you're not familiar with this root vegetable, keep reading to learn how to cook parsnips and discover parsnip recipes that will erase any preconceived notions.

How to Cook Parsnips: Simple, Delicious Recipes (1)

What Is a Parsnip?

A parsnip is a long, tapered root vegetable. It resembles a carrot in this way, and indeed they are part of the same family. But parsnips don't taste like carrots. They're sweeter—think sweet potatoes—and they have a delicious naturally nutty or earthy flavor.

Parsnips are typically available in the fall and winter. Farmers often leave them in the ground until after the first frost of the season. That's because they believe the cold temps actually help the parsnip taste better and convert the veggie's starches to sugar. Indeed, parsnips that are allowed to grow over winter are some of the sweetest you'll ever find.

How to Buy Parsnips

When you're shopping for a batch of parsnips, look for ones that grew straight and small (between 5 and 10 inches). Larger parsnips frequently have a woody core that is neither delicious nor easy to chew.

Beyond the size, look also for the health and vitality of the vegetable. Don't buy parsnips that are limp or shriveled. Avoid any that have splits in them or large brown spots.

Parsnips will last a while in your fridge. Trim off the greens at the top, and wrap in a paper towel. Keep chilled in the fridge for up to three weeks.


A great deal of a parsnip's flavor is just under the skin. Peeling it off, the way you might a carrot, will remove some of the most delicious flavor.

Instead, scrub each parsnip well with a vegetable brush under running water. Trim each end, about 3/4 inch into the vegetable.

Parsnips, like apples, will oxidize if you leave them in the air for too long. If you want to prepare parsnips before cooking them, simply submerge them fully in a bowl of water mixed with a bit of lemon juice.

Cooking Methods

Cooking parsnips is easy if you think of them like carrots or potatoes. Clean the skin, chop, and prepare in the way that matches your intended outcome. Boiled parsnips mash up beautifully for a potato-inspired side. Parsnips also roast well and develop an intense caramelization. You can even sauté parsnips in a skillet right alongside any proteins you're planning for dinner.


Boiled parsnips are easy to smash for a mashed parsnip-potato mix. They can also be blended into soups or stews to add creaminess and body without flour or cornstarch.

  1. Scrub the outer layer from each parsnip with a vegetable brush. Trim the ends of each parsnip. Cut into pieces slightly smaller than 1-inch wide.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 inches of water to a boil. Add parsnips. Cook parsnip pieces for roughly 10 minutes, until they are fork-tender.
  3. Return to the saucepan, or pour into a large bowl. Use a fork or potato masher to coarsely mash the parsnip pieces. You can season with butter and cream, the way you would mashed potatoes.


Like carrots and other root vegetables, parsnips turn richer and sweeter when they're roasted in a high-temp oven. The natural sugars caramelize, which lends roasted parsnips a just-right crispy crunch. Just as they are, they're delicious, but you can also coat them in a sweet-and-spicy rub of paprika, brown sugar, and a pinch of chile powder.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Scrub the outer skin of each parsnip with a vegetable brush. Do not peel. Trim the ends of each parsnip. Cut into pieces about 1-inch wide.
  3. Toss parsnips pieces with olive or canola oil, salt, and pepper (or any spice mix you prefer). Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the largest pieces are fork-tender.

You can roast parsnips alone or with other root vegetables. Just be sure the pieces are of equal size so everything roasts evenly.


Root vegetables can be sautéed on the stovetop. They just take a bit more time than quick-cooking options, like bell peppers or summer squash. However, the extra time allows you to build delicious flavors and work them into a variety of foods, like vegetable hashes or roasted vegetable medleys.

  1. Heat olive or canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Scrub the outer skin of each parsnip with a vegetable brush. Don't remove the skin. Trim each end, and cut the parsnips into 3/4-inch pieces. Alternatively, you can also cut parsnips into thin strips or matchsticks.
  3. Add parsnip pieces to skillet. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the pieces are fork-tender. Season with salt and pepper.

For more flavor, you can add fresh herbs, like rosemary or thyme, to the pan when you add the parsnip pieces. Finish with melted butter for extra richness.

Quick Parsnip Recipes

Potato-Parsnip Mash With Parmesan

Boil equal amounts of peeled, cut-up parsnips and potatoes until tender. Drain and mash with butter, milk, and grated Parmesan; season with salt and pepper.

Spiced Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

Toss carrot sticks and parsnip sticks with olive oil, ground coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 F, tossing once, until browned and tender.

Sautéed Parsnips With Rosemary

Cook sliced parsnips in butter with a fresh rosemary sprig and a splash of water in a large skillet until tender. Drizzle with honey and season with salt and pepper.

Creamy Parsnip and Apple Soup

Cook 1 chopped onion in olive oil in a large saucepan until soft. Add 1 pound peeled and cut-up parsnips, 2 peeled and cut-up apples, and enough chicken broth to cover. Simmer until the parsnips are very tender. Puree until smooth, adding water or broth as necessary to adjust the consistency.

How to Cook Parsnips: Simple, Delicious Recipes (2024)


What is the best way to use parsnips? ›

Parsnips are a classic ingredient in some chicken broths and soups, and can also be baked, sauteed, steamed, mashed or pureed, roasted, used in stews and fried. The parsnip is a root vegetable related to both carrots and parsley (and, come to think of it, don't the tops of carrots look a lot like parsley?).

Do I need to peel parsnips before cooking? ›

How to prepare parsnips. Young, small parsnips don't really need peeling – just scrub clean and serve whole. Older parsnips should be peeled very thinly with a peeler or sharp knife, then chopped into evenly sized chunks. If the central core is very fibrous, this should be cut away.

Do you boil parsnips before roasting? ›

Parboil the parsnips in boiling salted water for 10 minutes, then drain well. Pick the thyme leaves. Toss the parsnips with the honey, thyme, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, 10g of the butter and 2 tablespoons of oil. Tip into a roasting tray and arrange in one layer, then roast for 40 minutes, or until golden.

How do you cook Gordon Ramsay parsnips? ›

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, then add the carrots and parsnips and toss to coat in the oil. Add the thyme, cinnamon, star anise and some seasoning. Cook over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, turning the vegetables frequently, until golden brown and almost cooked through.

How do you take the bitterness out of parsnips? ›

Thick parsnips tend to have bitter, woody cores. Cut them in half length-wise and cut out the core if this is the case. Parsnips taste best during the winter months. They're sweeter when exposed to cold, so keep them in a bag in the fridge.

How do you prepare parsnips? ›

Trim each end, about 3/4 inch into the vegetable. Parsnips, like apples, will oxidize if you leave them in the air for too long. If you want to prepare parsnips before cooking them, simply submerge them fully in a bowl of water mixed with a bit of lemon juice.

When should you not eat a parsnip? ›

Store in the refrigerator in an unsealed bag for 3+ weeks. If a raw parsnip becomes soft and squishy, this is a sign of rot and it should no longer be eaten. For better flavor, cook the parsnip with the skin on—after cooking, you have the option to eat the skin or not!

How long does it take to boil parsnip? ›

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the parsnips and simmer for 10–12 minutes until tender. Drain well and leave to stand for 2–3 minutes to dry out.

Why are my roasted parsnips bitter? ›

However, if parsnips have been allowed to grow too big or remain too long in storage, they tend to get woodier and bitter. Thus, it is recommended that larger parsnips be peeled and that the “woody” core in the middle be cut out before preparing.

What do boiled parsnips taste like? ›

Parsnips have an amazingly sweet taste with a hint of earthiness.

Why are my roast parsnips soggy? ›

Make sure that your parsnips don't overlap each other during the cooking process, as this will steam them, rather than roast them, resulting in a soggy parsnip!

Are parsnips better for you than potatoes? ›

What sets parsnips apart is their low-calorie content and high fiber, making them an excellent alternative to starchy vegetables like potatoes. In fact, for two centuries, parsnips were the primary source of dietary starch in the US before potatoes took over. But there's more to parsnips than just nutrition.

What part of parsnip do we eat? ›

Parsnips look a lot like carrots, with green, leafy tops and a long, or sometimes bulbous, fleshy root. The root is the edible part of the plant.

Can you eat raw parsnip? ›

Yes, you can eat parsnips raw. In fact, they make a delightful alternative to raw carrot sticks for dunking into homemade houmous. Raw grated parsnip is also a tasty addition to salads. Just make sure you wash your parsnips well before chopping them and slice off any bits of skin that might look bruised or blackened.

Should you eat parsnip skin? ›

If you are going to consume a large amount of parsnips then you should peel them. Parsnips contain a group of natural toxins called furocoumarins which can cause stomach aches if consumed in large quantities. These toxins are concentrated on the surface of the parsnip so peeling them will help reduce the toxin levels.

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