Have you found yourself ready to whip up a recipe that calls for earthy, sweet rutabagas, only to discover that your local grocery store has let you down? Or you're all ready to cook but realize you forgot to pick up the rutabaga in the first place. No worries! This guide is here to rescue your dish and help you find the perfect rutabaga substitute for every occasion. From roasted sides to crunchy slaws and everything in between, this guide has got your rutabaga substitutes covered.
What are Rutabagas?
Before we jump into rutabaga substitutes, let's understand the unique qualities that rutabagas bring to the table. Rutabagas, also known as Swedish turnips or "swedes", are versatile root vegetables with a mildly bitter, slightly nutty flavor and a creamy texture when cooked.
Being a cabbage-turnip hybrid, they belong to the cruciferous vegetable family, making them cousins to broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Rutabagas have a waxy skin and are typically characterized by a yellow or purple exterior.
Your rutabaga may be coated in wax to protect it from drying out or bruising. You can usually tell because the rutabaga will have a light-colored, hazy look outside, possibly with whiteish splotches. To remove the wax, rinse the rutabaga and chop off the flat ends. Then, use a vegetable or potato peeler or a paring knife to slice off the wax and skin.
Rutabagas are an excellent source of several essential nutrients, including dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamins E and C. Their slightly sweet taste and firm texture make them a favorite in various dishes, from roasted rutabaga to hearty stews. Now, let's explore the best rutabaga substitutes that will blend seamlessly into your recipes.
While it is typically best to replace by weight, most of us in the US don't usually use a kitchen scale, so I have also given approximations based on average vegetable sizes. If your recipe calls for grated, shredded, or diced rutabaga, cup-for-cup of your prepared substitute can be a great substitution strategy. Otherwise, follow my rough replacement recommendations below.
With their sweet and earthy taste, Parsnips make for an excellent rutabaga substitute. They can be used in various ways, from roasted sides to purées. Substitute 1 rutabaga with about 3 parsnips for a very similar texture and taste.
The humble turnip, a close relative of rutabagas, offers a similar earthy flavor and firm texture. Opt for the smaller, younger turnips for a milder taste more similar to rutabaga, as older turnips will have a stronger peppery flavor. Swap out about 1 rutabaga for 2-3 turnips for an excellent substitution.
For a sweet alternative with a creamy texture, sweet potatoes can work well. Their slightly sweeter flavor makes them a great substitute in dishes like fries or casseroles. Avoid using them in purees or raw preparations, as their higher starch content can make them unpleasant when overly mixed or uncooked. Replace 1 rutabaga with 1-2 sweet potatoes for a less bitter, sweeter rutabaga alternative.
Also known as celeriac, celery root provides a unique flavor profile with a fennel-type taste. Its firm texture makes it a good substitute for rutabagas in various recipes, such as soups or roasted vegetable medleys.
A celery root tends to be smaller than a rutabaga. Still, it is more potent in flavor, so use 1-2 celery roots depending on how much fennel or parsley-type flavor you are okay with adding to your dish.
Butternut squash's creamy texture and sweet flavor make for a pleasant rutabaga alternative. Ideal for soups, stews, and roasts, butternut squash can replace rutabagas in a 1:1 ratio by cup.
Like sweet potatoes, butternut squash offers a subtle sweetness without bitter taste. They are lower in carbohydrates than sweet potatoes, though, which may make them one of the best options if you are looking for something on the sweeter side but without the starchiness of a potato. Butternut squash can replace around 2 rutabagas in many preparations.
Add a crisp and slightly sweet element to your dishes using jicama as a rutabaga substitute. The crunchy texture of jicama can be shredded, sliced, or diced to replace rutabagas in salads and slaws perfectly. Jicama varies greatly in size, so try to select one roughly the size of a rutabaga. Usually, they are smaller than a rutabaga, so about 2 should suffice if you are unsure.
Another root crop that can substitute rutabaga is carrots. Mildly sweet with a soft texture when cooked, carrots can be an excellent substitute in roasts, soups, and stews. Though carrots are also crisp and tasty raw! Common in US households, you may already have carrots on hand to use. Depending on the size, 4 or more carrots can replace one rutabaga.
Also referred to as a white radish, daikon has a milder flavor than its red-colored relative. Slightly less sweet than jicama, daikon radishes are deliciously crisp. They are among the best substitutes for rutabaga in raw preparations like salads and slaws. If you are shopping at an Asian market, be sure to select daikon and not the stouter Korean radish or mu, as it has a more peppery flavor dissimilar to rutabaga. Daikon radishes vary significantly in size, but usually 2-3 can make an excellent rutabaga replacement.
Sharing a slightly bitter but overall mild flavor with rutabaga, cauliflower can work well in many rutabaga recipes. This versatile vegetable is popular amongst low-carb enthusiasts, as it can easily replace many starchy vegetables. One head of cauliflower can substitute a rutabaga sufficiently.
Best Rutabaga Substitutes by Common Use
Already have a rutabaga-based recipe in mind? These recommendations are categorized by use, ensuring you find the perfect substitute for your swede-centered dish.
Baking or Frying (Rutabaga Fries)
Try sweet potatoes, turnips, or parsnips for a delicious twist on root vegetable fries. I've even got a crispy parsnip recipe ready for you!
Roasted Sides, Casseroles, and Mash
Opt for sweet potatoes, parsnips, or turnips for a hearty, flavorful side dish or casserole. Cauliflower and celery root can also be great additions. Or, use a combination of a few of these!
Parsnip puree is delicious! Turnips, cauliflower, and butternut squash can also make luscious purées.
Soups and Stews
Replace rutabagas in your favorite soups or stews with turnips, celery root, parsnips, carrots, or butternut squash.
Salads and Slaws
Jicama, turnips, and celery root can bring a crisp texture to your fresh salads and slaws. Carrots are also tasty here, though they taste sweeter than the rest.
Cut jicama, turnips, carrots, or daikon into sticks for a crunchy and satisfying snack. Pair them with hummus to add protein, fat, and fiber for a snack that keeps you satiated for hours.
Smoothies and Juice
Sweet potatoes, carrots, and butternut squash add a sweet and creamy element to smoothies and juices. I like to pre-cook and then freeze them for extra-creamy smoothie additions.
Cabbage or collard greens can be a good substitute for rutabaga greens. Turnip greens also taste great in dishes, though they are a bit more peppery.
Among the vegetables mentioned, turnips are the most similar to rutabagas in taste and texture. Following turnips, parsnips are the runner-ups.
Sweet potatoes and butternut squash are suitable rutabaga alternatives that are not closely related if you have this uncommon allergy.
With just under 9 grams of net carbs per 100 grams, rutabaga is already pretty low in carbohydrates compared to other root veggies. However, jicama and daikon radishes are even lower in carbohydrates if you need a particularly low-carb alternative.
Cauliflower and butternut squash can both make tasty non-root rutabaga substitutions. Broccoli stems can also work well in a pinch.
Whether you're experimenting with rutabaga recipes or looking for a creative twist in your go-to dishes, I hope these rutabaga substitutes offer plenty of possibilities to get inspired by. So, the next time your local market leaves you without this versatile root vegetable, there's a rutabaga alternative waiting to take center stage in your culinary creation.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this guide for rutabaga substitutes helpful! Please let me know how your recipe's substitute worked out in the comments below. I'm happy to help with any troubleshooting!