Sage-Infused Mashed Turnips

published Oct 31, 2021
Mashed Turnips Recipe

This creamy mashed turnips recipe will make a believer out of anyone skeptical of the root veggie.

Serves4 to 6

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 30 minutes

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mashed turnips on a plate with a green garnish
Credit: Tara Holland

Turnips — especially mashed turnips — can fall in the love-it or hate-it category. The bitter undertone can leave a lot to be desired, but if they are cooked the right way and with the right accompaniments, it can turn haters into lovers. 

This recipe for creamy mashed turnips has the addition of fried sage leaves, which are quick and easy and add a crisp texture to the soft mash. Sage and turnips are also a match made in (taste) heaven, which is why I add an additional large sprig to the pot while the turnips boil.

How to Make Turnips Less Bitter

Large turnips can be extra bitter, so try and look out for smaller ones if you can. I’m also a firm believer in not letting them hang out in your kitchen for too long and cooking them as soon as you can.

Just as I do potatoes, I boil turnips in a mixture of salted water, a dash of heavy cream (or milk), and some chicken bouillon to enhance the flavor. It’s also helpful to cook them with a chopped potato, which helps to absorb some of the bitterness. I tried this same technique with an apple. And while it added a slight sweetness, it wasn’t very effective. Instead, stirring in a teaspoon of sugar at the end helps bring out the sweetness, and adding butter and cream lends creaminess.

Turnips can release a lot of moisture, so it’s a good idea to thoroughly drain them and then return them to the pot over low heat to help dry them out a little more. 

The Difference in Flavor of Mashed Potatoes and Mashed Turnips

Turnips are known for their sweet-peppery flavor. Interestingly, when raw, turnips smell similar to horseradish or mustard. However, when cooked, they turn sweeter, with that slight bitter undertone (similar to radish) that it’s famous for.

The texture of mashed turnips is not as smooth as mashed potatoes, and they will retain a slightly more rustic texture, no matter how long you mash them. Unlike potatoes, turnips won’t take on a gluey texture, as over-mashed potatoes can. Mashed potatoes have a creamier taste and a much fluffier texture. 

Credit: Tara Holland

What to Serve with Mashed Turnips 

Tips for Freezing Turnips

Apart from roasting turnips, mashing them, or serving them raw as crudité, you can always prep and freeze them to use at a later date. Cut peeled turnips into 1/2-inch pieces, blanch in hot water for 2 minutes, then shock in ice water to cool. Drain and pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. If you have room in your freezer for a baking sheet, freeze the prepped turnips in one layer for a couple of hours (this will avoid them sticking together in a freezer bag). Then transfer to a resealable freezer bag (or airtight container) and freeze for up to 10 months.

Mashed Turnips Recipe

This creamy mashed turnips recipe will make a believer out of anyone skeptical of the root veggie.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 2 pounds

    turnips, preferably small

  • 1

    large russet potato (12 to 13 ounces)

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 6 cups


  • 1/4 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    chicken Better than Bouillon (or 2 bouillon cubes)

  • 14

    fresh sage leaves, divided

  • 2 1/8 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1/3 cup

    olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground white or freshly ground black pepper


  1. Trim and peel 2 pounds turnips, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Peel 1 large russet potato and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place the turnips and potatoes in a large pot. Cut 3 tablespoons unsalted butter into 3 pieces.

  2. Add 6 cups cold water, 1/4 cup of the heavy cream, 2 tablespoons Better than Bouillon, 4 of the fresh sage, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the turnips and potato are very tender when pierced with a fork, 12 to 16 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 5 of the sage leaves and fry until darkened in color and crisp, 10 to 15 seconds per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat frying the remaining 5 sage leaves. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt.

  4. When the turnips and potato are ready, remove and discard the boiled sage leaves. Drain the vegetables and let sit for 1 minute to ensure all liquid has drained.

  5. Return the vegetables to the pot over low heat. Mash with a potato masher or fork, constantly moving them, for 3 minutes to remove excess moisture. The turnips will start to loosen a little as you mash.

  6. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the butter and mash into the vegetables until melted. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream, remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

  7. Transfer to a serving dish and top with fried sage leaves. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

General tips: After frying the sage, reserve the infused oil for future use, such as salad dressings.

Substitutions: Rosemary can be used in place of sage, and 2 bouillon cubes (chicken or vegetarian) can be substituted for Better Than Bouillon.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. However, the sage leaves will no longer be crisp.