You'll love Mashed Turnips with Bacon and Brown Butter! They're a great, low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes. Enjoy this turnips recipe on Thanksgiving or any time you need a delicious side dish!
Make them keto-friendly by substituting monk fruit sweetener for the brown sugar.
Turnip for what?
If you’re over 30 or don’t live with a teenager, you might not get the joke. But I assure you, it’s very funny! (“Turn down for what” is slang for being excited.)
My kids are cringing, but I’m sure they’ll forgive me, since these mashed turnips are divine. They’ve got a lightly sweet, savory and smoky vibe, thanks to the brown sugar, brown butter and bacon.
They’re a delicious low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes.
Have you ever tried turnips? Do you even know what turnips look like?
Until a few years ago, I had no clue. When our dear friend shared her mom’s mashed turnip recipe with me, I had to google a photo of turnips so I could find them at the grocery store!
But, once I learned how to cook turnips, I was hooked. Where had they been all my life?
What is a turnip?
A turnip is a root vegetable, because it’s the edible, round root of the turnip plant. Turnips can be white or yellow, but the ones pictured here are white underneath the skin.
Turnips are part of the mustard family, which includes rapini, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, mustard greens and collard greens.
What do turnips taste like?
Turnips taste similar to cauliflower but are sweeter, especially if the turnips are small. Turnips have a much higher water content than cauliflower, however.
Older, larger turnips can taste bitter. The brown sugar in this recipe offsets that, but some people add a halved potato to the pot when cooking turnips to reduce bitterness.
How to make mashed turnips
The process is similar to making mashed potatoes, but when boiling turnips, you'll use less water.
- Peel the turnips.
- Cube them.
- Boil the turnips in just a cup of water for about 20 minutes.
- Drain the boiled turnips.
Next, you'll mash the turnips and stir in bacon, brown butter and brown sugar. (Here's a nice masher (affiliate link) if you need one.)
For keto mashed turnips, you can substitute monk fruit sweetener for the brown sugar.
Brown butter is simply butter cooked just past the point of melting. The milk solids will brown and create a rich, nutty flavor in just 3-5 minutes.
How to make brown butter
- Place the butter in a small pan over medium high heat and watch it carefully as it melts. Lower the heat a bit and swirl the pan or use a spoon to stir the butter around.
- The butter will foam, and eventually, the milk solids will start to brown. Keep watching the butter so it won't burn.
- The butter is browned when it is a caramel color. As soon as it reaches that stage, turn off the heat and transfer the butter to a bowl. (Otherwise it will continue to cook and can burn.)
Can these be frozen or made ahead of time?
I’ve never tried freezing them, but this article explains what to do. If you want to make mashed turnips ahead of time, you can refrigerate them for up to four days. In fact, they taste better the day after you make them.
What to serve with them
These mashed turnips are the perfect side dish for Thanksgiving turkey. In fact, our friends refer to them as "Thanksgiving turnips."
But they're also delicious with maple salmon. They would be wonderful with glazed pork tenderloin too.
Frequently asked questions
Potatoes have nearly three times as many carbs and calories as turnips. However, the turnip nutrition profile contains less potassium and significantly higher sodium than potatoes.
Technically, you don't have to peel turnips, but I recommend doing so for better flavor and texture. If you want to keep the skin on for more fiber, make sure to buy turnips with thin skin, which is better to eat than thick skin.
Brown butter, brown sugar or bacon alone can make food taste delicious. Include all three in these mashed turnips, and you have a dish that sings!
More recipes like this
(Recipe Source: Adapted from a recipe given to me by our dear friend Marion, who got it from her mother, Mrs. J., whom we remember with much love. Originally published on February 4, 2015 and updated now with new photos and text.)
Mashed Turnips with Bacon and Brown Butter
- 2 pounds turnips (the smaller ones are less bitter)
- 1 cup water for boiling
- 1 ⅛ teaspoon salt (divided use)
- 3 strips of lean bacon
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar (or monk fruit sweetener for a keto option)
- Rinse the turnips in cold water and trim off the stem and root ends. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Rinse the turnips again and cut them into cubes.
- In a medium pot, place one cup of hot water and a teaspoon of salt on the stove over high heat to boil. When the water is boiling, add the turnips. When the water comes to a boil again, lower the heat and cover the pot. Cook the turnips for 20-25 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain.
- While the turnips are cooking, cook the bacon in the microwave on a plate between paper towels. The bacon is done when it just becomes crispy and is no longer pink. Pat the cooked bacon with a clean paper towel to absorb excess grease, and using kitchen scissors if you have them, cut the bacon into small pieces and set them aside.
- To brown the butter, place the butter in a small pan over medium high heat and watch it carefully as it melts. Lower the heat a bit and swirl the pan or use a spoon to stir the butter around. The butter will foam, and eventually, the milk solids will start to brown. Keep watching the butter so it won't burn. The butter is browned when it is a caramel color. As soon as it reaches that stage, turn off the heat and transfer the butter to a bowl. (Otherwise it will continue to cook and can burn.)
- When the turnips are drained, return them to the pot and mash them with a potato masher. Stir in ⅛ teaspoon salt, the brown butter, black pepper, brown sugar and bacon. (If you wish, you can reserve some of the bacon to sprinkle on top before serving.)
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to four days.
I am over 30 and live with teenagers, but the joke flew over my head like a 747! Haha. The recipe however looks amazing, I will definitely give it a try next weekend.
Hi Bella - Hahaha! Enjoy.
You should try turnips and parsnip mash! Even lighter and equally delish!
Hi Don - I'll have to try that! Thanks for sharing.
Love turnip, parsnip and potato mash, sometime even throw in a carrot or two!!
Hi Carolyn - I need to try it with the parsnips and carrots!
Andrea, thank you! I know GrammieSeymour would love this! Love Hugs Peace!
Colleen, you're welcome! Love, hugs, and peace to you too.
Andrea, glad you like the turnip dish! This is one of my mom's best dishes. I'm sure she's smiling down on you for jumpin on the "turnip truck" with us. I usually can't wait for the winter months so I can start making mom's turnips!
Marion, thank you for sharing your mom's recipe! It's so special to make something that reminds us of her.
Savita @ ChefDeHome
I'm a die-hard fan of turnip! just love it! Mashed turnip with brown butter sounds so yumm! thanks Andrea! have to try this soon!
Yay, Savita! I'd be curious to learn how you've been making yours.
I can't believe I got that "turn up" reference! It's only because of my young nieces and nephews on Facebook. The other day one of them said something was "on fleek." Every time I turn around, there is a new phrase. What happened to "the bomb"?? We're not doing that anymore?? My husband and I want to try for children next year and I am cringing at the idea of being dragged back into teenage slang when the time comes, lol! Well, I am always looking for mashed potato substitutes and I adore brown butter, so I will definitely give this a try! 😀
Too funny, Tekesha! Turn down for what! I had to look up "on fleek," and apparently, my eyebrows need some work, lol. I'm too old for "the bomb," but everything is "cool." That's still in, right? You will be such a fun mom! I hope you enjoy the turnips. 🙂
Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
Andrea - you without a doubt make my day! In the South we eat turnips and greens as a terrific side dish! The photo of what a turnip looks like is about the cutest thing I have seen this week thus far from my blogging buddies! Yo, you discovered a great side dish I am proud of you my friend! Yum! Everything is better with Bacon...Cheryl
Haha Cheryl, I'm always happy to entertain you! It must be a regional thing, because no one I've asked has eaten turnips before. In fact, my grocery store only stocks a small amount, and whenever I buy them, I clear them out. Maybe they'll become trendy now... 🙂
Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
Hi Andrea, I am so surprised that turnips are so unknown? My Grandma made them often. There are so many ways to smash and mash. Have fun with them. They're readily available down here in Florida year round. Ah you do make me smile Andrea...That's a good thing my friend. Have a great weekend, Your Bud always, Cheryl.
Kathy@ Olives & Garlic
Sounds like I have to give mashed turnips a try. 🙂
Kathy, we were so happy to discover them, and I plan to make them a regular part of our side dish rotation. Heck, I even made a meal of them for lunch. 🙂