One of the frequently asked questions about rutabaga is regarding its substitutes.
Well, today, we’ll be discussing some of the best substitutes for rutabagas like turnips, daikon, kohlrabi, celery root, daikon, and broccoli stems.
Turnips appear to be the closest among all. Cooked rutabaga tastes pretty much like it. Moreover, they are texture-alike and can be used interchangeably in almost any recipe —whether baked or cooked in casseroles, stews, and soups.
However, if turnips aren’t available, you can also have a good idea of what rutabagas taste like using the other options.
Some might be Sweeter or milder than rutabaga, but one thing is guaranteed, non of them strays too far from rutabaga.
What Is Rutabaga?
Rutabaga is a famous root vegetable — a staple in Northern European cuisine from the mustard family (Brassicaceae).
Both Rutabaga and turnips look purple or brownish-yellow on the outside and yellow or white on the inside.
Most people consider it a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.
The taste is an interesting one — a strong, pungent flavor with an earthy aroma.
It tastes just like a turnip but milder when raw.
However, when cooked in stews, casseroles, or soups, it tastes sweet and buttery like sweet potato with a hint of bitter flavor.
They are nutritious in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant content.
You can either eat them raw, baked, or cooked in a wide variety of recipes.
But that is not the case, is it?
A recipe could call for rutabaga, but you’re don’t have it on hand, neither is it in stock at the local stores. Or maybe you simply don’t like the taste but want something similar.
In that case, let’s look at the alternatives that could suit your needs.
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Best Substitutes For Rutabaga
Turnip is our star substitute. Often they are mistaken for rutabaga and used interchangeably in cooking.
The truth is they are separate root vegetable species but are both members of the same family.
Unlike rutabaga, turnips have a smoother violet-and-white skin with white flesh. They taste slightly more radish flavor and are smaller in size.
Hence, if you are in search of that rutabaga sweet, nutty, and earthy flavor but with a more pungent-tasting, turnip is your go-to option.
Nutritiously, aside from rutabaga beating turnips hands down in the dietary fiber and potassium content, they are both high in vitamin C, fat and cholesterol-free, and low in sodium, making it the perfect replacement.
Wondering how you’re going to use turnips?
Use it as you would use rutabaga or potato — baked, boiled, or steamed. You can try them baked or boiled in stir-fries, stews, or soups.
Or better still, lightly steamed with some salt, butter, or lemon juice for an additional kick.
Lastly, turnips are available all year round, unlike rutabaga that is mostly available and harvested between October and November.
And ensure to use younger turnips for your swap. Mature turnips have more thicker skin and intense flavors. Plus, they are usually around the time rutabagas are in season.
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Radish (some radish per se) might just be another great substitute for rutabaga.
And why is that?
Well, they’re root vegetables and as well from the Brassica family. Aside that, they are easily obtainable than rutabaga.
There are types of Radish, and each varies in flavor (from very spicy to very mild), color (from red, black, white, yellow, pink, to purple), and shape (from round to long and narrow).
White radish from East Asia, particularly Japanese daikon, is worthy for salads, curries, as well as stir-fry dishes due to its crisp texture, sweeter, and milder flavor than the bitter rutabaga.
Also, the Chinese radish, which is bright pink, can do justice when rutabaga isn’t immediately available.
But among all, the Black radish is the most promising.
They taste like rutabaga. Just picture its zest and mildness of cabbage, along with the earthiness of a turnip — and you’re closer to rutabaga flavor.
Not only that, they are almost identical in nutritional content. Black radish is fat and cholesterol-free, high in vitamins C, and low in sodium.
Celeriac is the unsung hero of the root vegetable realm from the carrot family, except it has many small roots attached and a bulbous hypocotyl.
You can as well substitute rutabaga for this.
They have such a delicious crunch, with a nutty celery-like flavor that gets you coming for more.
Celeriac is versatile and matches almost all rutabagas needs.
Whether raw, sliced, sautéed, pureed, or roasted, you would love them in salads, coleslaw, stew, sauces, as well as soups.
Lastly, they have an impressive nutrient profile — an excellent source of fiber, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, molybdenum, vitamins B6, C, and K, to mention a few.
Like rutabaga, celeriac also is fat-free and cholesterol-free. So what else do you want?
4. Broccoli Stems
If you aren’t pleased with celeriac, maybe broccolis’ mild vegetal sweetness and slightly grassy flavor with a hint of bitterness at the end might win your heart.
Herbaceous and earthy, broccolis are low in fat and calories while high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.
Broccoli is an edible green plant as a whole from the cabbage family.
They contain more nutrients than rutabaga and can be used interchangeably.
You can add them to broths, shred them into rice, blitz into pesto or hummus, spiralize them into noodles, blend into soups, and roast them in french fries.
More reason why you should use broccoli is the stems offer similar crisp textures as rutabaga.
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Kohlrabi is another interesting one you should look out for.
This low, stout cultivar is a wild cabbage that might seem off but carries a signature of sweet-but-peppery flavor profile, along with the taste and texture reminiscent of broccoli.
I take it as more of a broccoli stem substitute rather than rutabaga. But they offer similar nutrients as rutabagas.
You can sub Kohlrabi steamed, stuffed, sautéed, roasted, creamed in casseroles, stew, or soup dishes.
Be mindful! Young kohlrabi tends to taste sweeter; the vegetable develops a sharper, while mature ones are more radish-like in flavor.
But if anything, endeavor to buy kohlrabi that is firm and solid, never squishy.
Parsnip is a distinctive root vegetable far from rutabaga —through a cousin to carrot and parsley, all from the Apiaceae family.
It might sound like a weird choice, but for roasting and mashing, parsnips can trade place with some root vegetables from the Brassica family, including rutabagas and turnips.
They are a long, tapered root vegetable that resembles a carrot but doesn’t taste like them.
Instead, parsnips are sweeter—think of them as sweet potatoes along with a delicious nutty or earthy flavor.
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The best rutabaga substitutes include turnip, some radishes, celeriac, broccoli stems, and kohlrabi.
Your experiences with some of these substitutes may not exactly match what you can get from the rutabaga, but I’m certain turnip offers similar flavors and nearly identical nutritional content that you will find in rutabaga.
That is the closest I can think of!