Parsnips are great roasted, baked and they also make comforting soups. But what to do if your recipe calls for parsnips and you don’t have any in the pantry?
We used to get a vegetable box from a local farmer’s shop, which was a great way to get different types of vegetables each week. Although I loved our food subscription box, it was sometimes tricky to cook a recipe I planned, as the box might not include all the ingredients. Which is why I ended up experimenting with different vegetables to replace the one that were missing.
There are lots of ways you can replace parsnips and the best replacement depends on what the purpose of parsnip is in the dish.
You’ll need to choose the best replacement based on the texture and the flavour of parships and what you are trying to cook.
Before we get into more details about each parsnip substitute, here is a quick list of what to replace parsnip with:
- carrots – any kind including baby carrots
- salsify root
- celeriac – celery root
- sweet potato (or regular potatoes)
- sweed – rutabaga
- butternut squash
- radishes – white radishes
- Kohlrabi – german turnip
How to replace parsnip in your recipe
Use the same amount of your replacement vegetables as you would with parsnips.
What is parsnip
In case you are not familiar with parsnips, they are white root vegetable which is mainly used in savoury dishes or as a side dish. When cooked it has a mild sweet taste, which is more deepened when roasted.
Parsnips belong to the same family as carrots, celery, dill, parsley or fennel, which gives you an idea what type of vegetables are suitable for replacement.
Parsnip is probably more popular in the UK and Europe than in the USA.
In the UK, roasted parsnip is part of Sunday Roasted Dinner and it would be perfect with something like a Lemon Roasted Chicken. You can also find it in the shops as crisps (often with other root vegetables like carrots and beetroots).
Carrots – any type, including baby carrots
Carrots are probably the easiest parsnip replacement, not only it’s a budget friendly vegetable, you’ll also find it available in any shop or vetegable stall.
It has much sweeter taste than parsnip, but texture wise, it does behave in exactly the same way. You can even get white carrots which will look like parships, if you are for example making a soup.
Like with other parship replacements, think about the recipe you are trying to cook. If it’s something like Parsnip & Carrot Soup, replacing the parsnips with another lot of carrots won’t give you much flavour (it will be just a carrot soup), so go for something like a turnip or a kohlrabi, which will work great with the carrots instead of the parsnip.
Carrots can replace parsnips in baking, especially if you are making a parship loaf cake or parsnip biscuits. These recipe were originally based on carrot recipes, so the carrots will fit right in!
RECIPES WITH CARROTS
Salsify root is probably not something you will readily find in your local shop, but I wanted to list it here if you do come across it.
Salsify root is white (when peeled) like a parsnip and has a similar dense texture. It can be used in exactly same way as parsnip, but I’d recommend that you use it mainly for roasting or soup making. Whilst it’s not completely unsuitable for sweet baking or cakes, it does have a kind of fishy taste (similar to oysters), which can be a little overpowering in sweet baking.
Turnips are firm in texture and white in colour, so they can be used exactly in the same way as parsnips. The taste is slightly sharper, spicier and closer to radishes. Peel them and use them instead of parsnips in your recipe.
Celeriac – celery root
Celery root is quite hard and you need to cook it for much longer than regular parsnip. If you are replacing parsnip with celeriac, I would recommend to pre-cook it and then use it in the recipe (and carry on cooking or baking.
Because celeriac has quite a strong flavour, I wouldn’t use for cake or biscuit baking.
Sweet potatoes are much softer and sweeter than regular potatoes. They are perfect for roasting, mashing and making sweet potato chips. They do have a different flavour to parsnips, but you can use them to compliment a recipe that requires sweetness or orange colour.
Sweet potatoes are not going to be that great replacement when it comes to replacing parsnip in baking, as they won’t keep their shape and will go very soft quickly. They are also naturally gluten-free and although not as starchy as regular potatoes they do contain starch, which can make cakes softer than the original recipe with parsnips.
Sweed – Rutabaga
Sweed can be easily swapped for parsnip, because it’s the same firmness and colour. It can taste a bit bland, but you can always add more spice or pepper to your recipe.
Butternut squash is a great replacement for parsnip if the recipe is for roasted, pureed or baked parsnip. You can also use butternut squash instead of parsnip in soups, but it depends on what other ingredients you already have in your recipe.
Butternut squash is similar to pumpkin, but it has a milder taste and it’s not as sweet as a pumpkin. It’s usually available during autumn, winter and early spring.
To replace parsnip in your recipe, use the same amount of butternut squash (peeled).
Kohlrabi – German Turnip
Another hard turnip like vegetable, which like radish can be eaten fresh and uncooked. It’s usually white or lightly green and sometimes you can also see darker purple ones too. It taste similar to radishes, but it’s not always as spicy.
I’ve only started to notice kohlrabi in specialist vegetable shops (and certainly not in a regular supermarket). In Europe, it’s a common root vegetable, which is used for salads, soups, baking, frying or just eating as it is. My grandfather would always grow some for me, because I really like it when I was little. My grandmother would slice it to a very thin slices and then sautee it with butter and served it as a side dish with roasted chicken.