Deutsch: Steckrübe / Español: Nabo / Português: Nabo / Français: Navet / Italiano: Rapa

Turnip in the food context refers to a root vegetable known scientifically as Brassica rapa. Part of the cruciferous family, turnips are widely cultivated for their white, fleshy taproot, although their greens are also edible and nutritious. Turnips are a versatile ingredient in various culinary traditions, appreciated for their slightly sweet and peppery flavor.


Image demonstrating Turnip in the food context

Turnips have a round shape, typically with a white lower half and a purple, red, or greenish upper half where the root has been exposed to sunlight. Young turnips tend to be sweeter and more tender, making them suitable for raw consumption, such as in salads. Larger, mature turnips are more commonly cooked, which softens their texture and mellows their spicy flavor.

Application Areas

Turnips can be prepared in numerous ways and incorporated into a wide range of dishes:

  • Raw: Young, small turnips are delicious raw in salads or as part of a crudité platter, often served with dip.
  • Cooked: Turnips can be boiled, steamed, roasted, or sautéed and are often included in soups and stews.
  • Mashed Turnips: A healthier alternative to mashed potatoes, mashed turnips are creamy and slightly sweet.
  • Pickled: Pickling is another popular method, especially in Asian cuisines, to preserve and enhance their flavor.

Well-Known Examples

  • Turnip Greens: The leaves of the turnip plant, cooked similarly to mustard greens or collards and known for their rich, peppery flavor.
  • Bashed Neeps: In Scotland, turnips (or "neeps") are traditionally served mashed with butter and chives, often alongside haggis as part of Burns Night supper.
  • Turnip Cake: A popular dish during the Chinese New Year, made from shredded turnips and rice flour, and usually fried.

Treatment and Risks

Preparing and consuming turnips involves several considerations:

  • Preparation: Before cooking or eating, turnips should be thoroughly washed to remove any soil and pesticides. Peeling is optional depending on the recipe and personal preference.
  • Nutritional Value: Turnips are low in calories but rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly Vitamin C. Turnip greens are also a great source of calcium.
  • Digestibility: Like other cruciferous vegetables, turnips contain complex sugars that might cause gas and bloating in some people. Cooking them can help reduce these effects.
  • Allergies: Turnip allergies are rare but possible. Individuals with known sensitivities to other cruciferous vegetables should proceed with caution.

Similar Terms

  • Rutabaga (Swede): Often confused with turnips, rutabagas are larger, have a yellowish flesh, and are sweeter, especially when cooked.
  • Radishes: Another root vegetable that resembles turnips in appearance and texture but usually has a sharper flavor.


In culinary terms, a turnip is a root vegetable that serves as a nutritious and versatile ingredient in a variety of dishes around the world. Whether eaten raw or cooked, turnips provide a blend of flavors—from sweet to spicy—that can enhance both the taste and nutritional value of meals. Recognized for their edible roots and greens, turnips are a staple in both traditional and modern recipes, offering a combination of taste and health benefits.


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