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The Best Way to Cook Turnips (Naturally Gluten-Free)

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Turnips seem to be one of those things you either love or hate. Personally, I love them! Through the years I’ve discovered the best way to cook turnips, and… they are naturally gluten-free!

I won’t go into all of the health benefits, however, if you do a little research you’ll quickly find that this autumn root vegetable really is nutritious!

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Recently, one of our neighbors supplied my parents and me with a bag of fresh turnips. Now I have to admit that I haven’t had them in years so this was an exceptional gift and treat! 

It’s interesting that some people enjoy slicing and eating raw turnips on salads while others enjoy roasting them in the oven. Me, on the other hand, I like to cook mine on the stovetop. Allow me to show you how I make them and the secret that makes all the difference!

Speaking of secrets… check out The Secret to Fluffy Baked Potatoes

Step 1

Okay, the first step is pretty obvious. Cut off the leafy greens then remove any dirt by rinsing the turnips under cool water. 

Step 2

The second step is to peel the turnips, just like you would potatoes. Because the skins are super tender, you can easily use a paring knife, however, I like to use a vegetable peeler because I think it’s a quicker and safer method.

Step 3

The next step is to cut the turnips into chunks. You can make them any size you like. I personally like mine a little bit on the larger size, however, smaller chunks do tend to cook a little faster. 

NOTE: It’s important to use a large saucepan. (I’ll explain why later!)

Step 4

Next, add water and a little salt to the pan and cook until they are soft and tender. 

Cooking Time

The cooking time depends on the size of your chunks and the number of turnips you are cooking. Usually, the time frame is about the same as when cooking potatoes. 

Step 5

Now, here’s the secret to removing the bitterness from the turnips; turn the temperature down on the burner and add a little baking soda to the pan. (The amount depends on how many you cook.)


It’s important to note that when the baking soda hits the hot water it begins to bubble and foam, and that’s a good thing. The baking soda helps remove the bitterness. Stir for a couple of minutes then dump the pan of turnips into a colander and allow the water to drain off.

Step 6

Next, rinse with warm water to remove any excess baking soda. I also rinse the saucepan to remove any residue. Place the rinsed turnips back into the saucepan. 

Step 7

Return the pan back to the stovetop and add butter (I use salted butter) and a little granulated sugar. Because you want the butter and sugar to melt into the turnips you may need to reheat them over medium-low heat for just a couple of minutes. 

Step 8

Finally, now is the time to mash them if you want them creamy like mashed potatoes or you can serve them just as they are. I personally like them left chunky but they certainly are delicious either way. 

Ready to Serve

I really do think this is the best way to cook turnips and I love the fact that they are naturally gluten-free! That makes them even better and a perfect side dish for the upcoming holidays. 

The Best Way to Cook Turnips (Naturally Gluten-Free)
Yield: Approx. 8 Servings

The Best Way to Cook Turnips (Naturally Gluten-Free)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

A delicious and easy way to fix fresh garden turnips.


  • Approx. 6 cups chopped turnips
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to tastes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar


  1. Remove leafy greens and roots from turnips; discard. Rinse turnips under cool water to remove any dirt.
  2. Peel, then chop turnips into chunks; place into a large saucepan. Add salt and just enough water to barely cover turnips. Cook over medium heat until soft and tender.
  3. Add baking soda to turnips (it will bubble and foam - you may want to do this in the sink); stir for 1 - 2 minutes. Pour turnips into a colander; rinse well with warm water (rinse out saucepan too). Pour turnips back into the saucepan. Place pan back onto the stovetop and reheat just until warm.
  4. Stir in butter and sugar. Serve hot.
  5. Refrigerate leftovers.

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