5 Delicious Parsnip Substitutes That Make The Perfect Side Dish

Have you tried parsnips before? If you have, then you must know that this root vegetable is hearty and mighty. If you haven’t tried them before, then you should give parsnip a chance, as it may surprise you and make this a regular ingredient in your household.

However, no matter if you like it or not, there are moments when your recipe calls for parsnip. If you don’t have any, this can seem like a big problem. 

Parsnip is a perfect choice for a good winter soup, or to use as a side dish in a summer BBQ. Whatever the reason, you will find good use of this vegetable, but they can be scarce at times, and so you should be aware of similar choices that can result in delicious recipes. 

What Are Parsnips?

This root vegetable is closely related to carrots and parsley, and it belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is cream in color and can be grown year-round, but it becomes sweeter with winter. Parsnips are used in soups, or served roasted, and even as a substitute for mashed potatoes. 

Because they grow easier in October to March, they are cheaper during this season, but they can still be found other times of the years. If you need some when not in season, finding them can become an adventure, but other ingredients could work to replace them.

What Can You Replace Parsnips With?

These are the best parsnip substitutes for making the best stews, side dishes, or soups:

#1. Carrots

Since these are cousins of parsnips it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are number one on this list. Carrots are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, and they have a low glycemic index.

They make for a great texture when grilled, sauteed, or even mashed. You can find carrots everywhere, but we recommend going with full-sized ones and not the baby carrots if you are going to serve them whole.

Carrots can replace parsnips in equal amounts to what the recipe calls for. They can also be cooked for around the same time, though they are a bit less tough, so you can adjust the time if you consider they will be ready early.

#2. Turnips

Another winter vegetable, turnips makes for a great substitute, as it is sweet and high in fiber as well. You can boil them, steam them, or stir fry them, and the nice thing about them is that they will absorb any flavor of ingredients you use as this one is pretty mild.

Turnips can be more tricky to find than carrots, but they tend to be available in grocery stores and organic markets during wintertime.

You can use this vegetable in equal amounts as parsnips, but consider that you can also eat them raw if you like. They do have a milder taste as said before, so you should add more seasoning too.

#3. Salsify

You may have never heard of this root, but salsify is very similar to parsnip, only longer and thinner. It belongs to the dandelion family and has a white creamy flesh with a thick skin.

It is more popular in Europe, where it is used as a winter food in stews and soups, but it can be found everywhere, you may just have to look for it in specialty stores or organic markets. 

This vegetable is often called oyster plant because it has an oyster-like flavor when cooked, but some recall a hint of artichoke-like aroma and taste as well. You should peel it after cooking, as the skin is too rough, but you can pretty much prepare it as you would potatoes.

#4. Sweet Potatoes

This starchy sweet tuber is sometimes mistaken to be part of the potato family but it is more like a cousin. There are two types of sweet potatoes, one that looks lighter and yellow, and a second type with thick skin, and a deep orange color.

While you can find it year-round, this is also a winter vegetable, which is why it is commonly used as a side dish for the holidays, or in stews and soups. 

You should prepare sweet potatoes just like you would potatoes, but keep in mind that the darker the color, the less sweet it is, so maybe you’ll need to adjust for this extra sweetness. 

#5. Celery Root

This root is a brown, white-colored root vegetable that is common in soups and stews everywhere. You are probably accustomed to using the plant part of this root, but the root is very tasty and has been described as sweeter than the plant, which is why you can use it as a side dish resembling mashed potatoes.

You can find celery root in grocery stores, but sometimes they only carry the celery leaves, so you could ask if they have the root or go to an organic market.

This is a very fibrous vegetable, so we recommend you cook it for almost ⅓ longer than you would potatoes, or perhaps double, depending on what texture you like.


Are parsnips similar to potatoes?

Yes, parsnips tend to resemble potatoes in that they are starchy and fibery, but they are also sweet, and depending on how you cook them, they can get bitter. This root vegetable is more complex than potatoes, so it can be versatile and used in many ways, grilled, mashed, boiled, raw, or sauteed.

What flavor do parsnips have?

Because this root vegetable is complex, the flavor is often hard to describe. Some people say it tastes like a carrot, but spicier, but it can be very sweet and earthy too. It all depends on how you prepare parsnips and what ingredients you use to go along with them.

Are parsnips keto?

Although vegetables are considered a healthy choice, those who are following the keto diet must know that they cannot eat just any vegetables like parsnips or other root vegetables like carrots and turnips as they are high in carbs.


Parsnips are a great food to prepare and eat, but they can be hard to find at times and may require some time to cook, so if you are looking for a substitute, choose one from this list. We recommend that you taste them first because some have a unique flavor that could be hard to adapt to. These are all easy to prepare though and may become a staple in your kitchen.

parsnip substitutes

*Photo by wal_172619/Pixabay

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