Rutabaga vs Turnip: What’s the Difference?

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When temperatures drop and winter sets in, the go-to for every homebody is a steaming hot bowl of something delicious and enriching.

While potatoes are the default ingredient for any creamy soup or hearty stew worth its salt, there are plenty of other vegetables that make the cut if given a chance.

Difference Between Turnips and Rutabagas

The most underrated of them all is, no doubt, turnips and rutabagas. You’ll be surprised by just how versatile they are and their uncanny ability to transform your recipes into something that’s nothing short of magical.

Now, you’re probably thinking – aren’t those two the same thing? Let’s clear things up once and for all, shall we? Here’s everything you need to know about the rutabaga vs turnip confusion.

Difference Between Turnips and Rutabagas

Turnips, or Brassica rapa, are usually white with purple (or sometimes white) skin. On the other hand, rutabagas, or Brassica napobrassica, are typically yellow with a brown (or sometimes yellow) exterior.

They are both root vegetables and belong to the same Brassica family that broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, and cabbage belong to. However, rutabagas are generally believed to be a hybrid of a turnip and cabbage.

Although the two veggies might look similar and may even taste the same, rutabagas are a lot larger than turnips and tend to be sweeter. Turnips, on the other hand, have a more “radishy” flavor.

That’s not the only difference between them, though. As they get bigger, turnips become hard and woody, and the skin on the exterior gets thicker. This means that you may have to peel it first if you intend to use it in your winter salad recipe if it calls for raw turnips. They’re best used when they’re small and tender.

On the flip side, rutabagas usually remain soft and tender throughout their growth stages, even at larger sizes.

Rutabaga vs Turnip – How to Use Them

Brown rutabagas

When choosing the best rutabaga or turnip for your vegetable recipes, the two main things you need to consider are their weight relative to their size and whether or not they feel firm to the touch.

One of the great things about these particular vegetables is that they are extremely versatile. You can use them in a wide variety of soups and stews or roast them if you like. You can even serve them mashed, boiled, or include them in your favorite casserole recipe.

You simply can’t go wrong with them.  The next time you’re making mashed potatoes for dinner, try adding rutabaga to it and see the world of difference it makes.

It’s not just the root part of the vegetables you can use. Turnip and rutabaga greens are edible as well and are quite popular in the South. They are reminiscent of collard greens, although Rutabaga greens taste more like cabbage in both texture and flavor.

What Do They Taste Like?

As mentioned before, rutabagas and turnips are both members of the cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli family, so their flavor profile is characteristic of vegetables in that family.

Although the taste of raw turnips is somewhat spicy, rutabagas are a lot sweeter in comparison. Both vegetables, however, have an earthiness to them that you just can’t shake. Think – if cabbage and potato had a baby. That’s what their general flavor profile is like.

Keep in mind, though, that turnips tend to get slightly bitter as they get older, so it’s always better to buy or harvest the smaller ones. For best results, get the ones that are no bigger than four inches in diameter.


You can store rutabagas and turnips in a cool dark place like a pantry for up to a week in the same way you would onions and potatoes. However, they do tend to get squishy when stored this way.

You’re better off refrigerating them in the crisper drawer of your fridge set to humid. Rutabagas and turnips stored this way can last up to two weeks without losing their firmness.

Another great storage option would be to dice them into small one-inch pieces or puree them before freezing. You can store them for several months in this form.

Nutrition and Benefits

Turnips and rutabagas are excellent sources of Vitamin C. Rutabagas do contain a higher amount of carbohydrates than turnips, which is partly why they taste sweeter in comparison.

If you’re on a low-carb diet and are torn between eating rutabaga vs turnip, the truth is – you don’t have to be. They’re both excellent options compared to a similar serving of potatoes. Here’s a detailed breakdown of their nutritional content.

Rutabaga (1 Cup Raw)

Calcium66 mg
Cholesterol0 mg
Dietary Fiber3.5 g (14 percent of the Daily Value)
Iron1 mg
Potassium472 mg (13 percent of the Daily Value)
Protein1.7 g
Sodium28 mg
Sugars7.8 g
Total Carbohydrate11.4 mg
Total Fat0.3 mg
Vitamin C35 mcg (58 percent of the Daily Value)
Vitamin D0 mcg

Turnip (1 Cup Raw)

Calcium39 mg
Calories36 mg
Cholesterol0 mg
Dietary Fiber2.3 g (9 percent of the Daily Value)
Iron0 mg
Potassium248 mg (7 percent the  Daily Value)
Protein1.2 g
Sodium87 mg
Sugars4.9 g
Total Carbohydrate8.4 mg
Total Fat0.1 mg
Vitamin C27.3 mcg (46 percent of the Daily Value)
Vitamin D0 mcg

Final Thoughts

There you have it – rutabaga vs turnip. For most people, these are one of those vegetables that fall into the “completely-love-it” or “absolutely-hate-it” category. Nonetheless, there’s no denying how versatile they are beyond using them for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner.

Whether you’re mixing them in with your mashed potatoes, using them in an Irish-style mash, roasting them, integrating them into a casserole, or using them in a hearty stew, one thing is for certain – they’re the perfect accompaniment to any dish you want to serve.

Looking for a quick and easy way to make tacos? Check out our recipe for the best vegetarian tacos with quinoa. You’ll love them as much as we do!

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Greetings from the heart of Vie De La Vegan, where each dish we share is a chapter in a larger story of discovery, wellness, and the transformative power of a plant-based diet. My name is Julia, and I am thrilled to be your guide on this delightful culinary adventure.

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