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!
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’s a turnip anyway?
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.
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.
Are they better for you than potatoes?
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.
How to make mashed turnips
The process is similar to making mashed potatoes, but you'll use less water. You'll peel the turnips, cube them, and boil them in just a cup of water for about 20 minutes. (Technically, you don't have to peel turnips, but I recommend doing so for better flavor and texture.)
Then you'll drain the turnips, mash them and stir in bacon and brown butter. (Here's a nice masher (affiliate link) if you need one.)
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
Brown butter, brown sugar or bacon alone can make food taste delicious. Include all three, and you have a dish that sings.
(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 1/8 teaspoon salt (divided use)
- 3 strips of lean bacon
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 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 1/8 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.