Autumn Recipe: Creamy, Smoky Whipped Rutabaga (2024)

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Faith Durand

Faith DurandSVP of Content

Faith is the SVP of Content at Apartment Therapy Media and former Editor-in-Chief of The Kitchn. She is the author of three cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-winning The Kitchn Cookbook. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and two daughters.


published Oct 3, 2011

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Autumn Recipe: Creamy, Smoky Whipped Rutabaga (1)


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Autumn Recipe: Creamy, Smoky Whipped Rutabaga (2)

I say, “Rutabaga!” Quick — what happens? If you have nothing to say, if the word “rutabaga” leaves you blinking at the screen with some measure of confusion or apprehension, then please trust me. You need to know this vegetable.

Rutabaga has an intimidating exterior, but look what happens when you whip up the innards with olive oil, milk, and a pinch of something smoky — this is creamy, smoky heaven in a dish right here.

What is a rutabaga anyway? The rutabaga (also called a swede, especially in Europe) is a root vegetable, usually found year-round in grocery stores with its skin coated in wax for preservation. It is a relative of turnips, but without most of the bitter spiciness that often characterizes turnips. It is far more popular in England, Scandinavia, and northern Europe than in the United States, which is a shame because honestly, I like it better than I like potatoes or turnips.

In my mind, the rutabaga is like a richer, sweeter potato — you can whip it creamy like potatoes, but it has a silkier texture and a warmer color and flavor (thanks to a bit of beta carotene). Rutabagas are often mashed together with potatoes, in fact, which is a nice change for your usual mashed potatoes.

But I prefer my rutabagas straight up, seasoned and creamy, with their sweet flavor getting full attention. Here’s my current favorite way to enjoy rutabaga: The rutabaga is peeled, cooked in milk, then mashed and whipped with cream cheese. The smokiness comes from smoked olive oil and smoked paprika; if you don’t have the olive oil add just an extra pinch of paprika.

This dish is indulgent enough to eat on its own, with a green salad beside it, but it also makes an excellent accompaniment for chicken or lamb stew.

This method will not get the rutabaga completely smooth, like finely whipped potatoes. It will have a light, creamy texture with some small nubs of solid vegetable still in the mix. I enjoy this texture, but if you want it completely smooth you can run the mixture through a food processor or a food mill. It will hold up better to this treatment than potatoes. That’s the other nice thing about rutabaga: You don’t need to worry about over-whipping them; you don’t have the danger of gluey paste the way you do with potatoes.

Rutabaga also reheats much better than mashed potatoes; there is virtually no texture degradation after a day or two in the fridge. For this reason I really like these more than potatoes for a big dinner; I can make them ahead and reheat them with no problems.

So, I hope I have convinced you; rutabaga looks ugly, knobbly, and intimidating — splotched and scarred. But know that there is a beautiful dish waiting within, and in that, it expresses the best of what autumn root vegetables have to offer.


Serves 8

Nutritional Info


  • 3 1/2 to 4

    pounds rutabagas (two small or one large vegetable)

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 4 cloves

    garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    whole milk

  • 4 ounces

    cream cheese, cut into small chunks

  • 2 tablespoons

    smoked olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons

    smoked paprika

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cut the rutabaga(s) in half crosswise. Place a half cut side down on a stabilized cutting board and carefully shave off the peel with a large chef's knife. (See an example of this method here, demonstrated with celery root.) Cut the peeled rutabaga into small slices about 1 inch thick. Repeat with the rest of the rutabaga.

  2. Heat the butter in a large, heavy 4-quart pot, set over medium heat. When the butter has melted, stir in the chopped rutabaga and the garlic. Stir to coat the vegetables in butter, then sprinkle them with the salt. Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the rutabaga is very tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let the vegetables cool for about 5 minutes.

  3. At this point you can either leave the rutabaga in the pot and use a hand mixer to whip it, or you can transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and use the paddle.

  4. Drop the cream cheese into the rutabaga and use the hand mixer or stand mixer to mash it into the vegetables. The rutabaga will crumble then slowly turn into a mashed potato consistency. Add the olive oil and smoked paprika and mix thoroughly. Taste and add more salt and some black pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.


Ingredient Spotlight: What’s a Rutabaga?

(Images: Faith Durand)

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Autumn Recipe: Creamy, Smoky Whipped Rutabaga (2024)


Is rutabaga healthier than potatoes? ›

Rutabagas, which are high in vitamin C and fiber, make a great alternative to potatoes in a low- carb diet: One cup of boiled and cubed rutabaga contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, while the same amount of boiled and cubed potatoes contain 31 grams of carbohydrates. A rutabaga has no trans fat or cholesterol.

Do you peel a rutabaga before cooking? ›

Rutabagas mix well with other root vegetables. Mix with carrots, pota- toes, and turnips to make a healthy vegetable stew. The wax and skin of rutabagas must be peeled before cooking. A sharp paring knife is better than a vegetable peeler.

What is the difference between a turnip and a rutabaga? ›

Rutabagas are also generally much larger than turnips. So for a quick rule of thumb, the brownish-yellowish ones are rutabagas, and the smaller white and purple ones are turnips. In terms of their flavor, rutabagas are slightly sweeter-tasting than turnips whereas turnips have a slightly more radishy flavor.

What is the best way to eat rutabaga? ›

They can be eaten raw, but are usually roasted, cooked and mashed (sometimes with potatoes or other root vegetables), and used in casseroles, stews and soups. They are high in vitamin C, a good source of potassium and high in fiber.

Who should not eat rutabaga? ›

Individuals with known sensitivities to cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage or broccoli should exercise caution when consuming rutabagas. It is crucial for individuals experiencing allergic symptoms after consuming rutabaga to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and management.

What are the side effects of eating rutabagas? ›

Adverse Effects

Like other cruciferous vegetables, rutabagas contain raffinose, a naturally occurring sugar that can cause bloating and gas. 14 If rutabagas have this effect on you, try eating them steamed (instead of raw).

Why does my rutabaga taste bitter? ›

If you try it and it tastes bitter, you probably have the gene that makes certain compounds in rutabagas taste bitter. The gene is relatively rare, but that gene may be causing your displeasure. For the rest of us, a well-prepared rutabaga can be a revelation.

Can you overcook rutabaga? ›

If they're overcooked, they will disintegrate [source: Leslie Beck]. Here are some ways to prepare rutabaga. Baking Slice the rutabaga and place it in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle it with a few tablespoons of water and bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.6 degrees Celsius) until tender.

Can you eat raw rutabaga? ›

Rutabaga flesh is quite hard, so cut it using a sharp knife. This vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked. Try rutabagas: Boiled and mashed with other root vegetables like potatoes or carrots.

Do the Irish eat rutabaga? ›

Boiled and mashed rutabaga is a favorite vegetable side in Ireland.

How do you take the bitterness out of a rutabaga? ›

Cook the rutabaga cubes in boiling salted water and the ½ teaspoon sugar. This will help take out some of the bitterness. Cook until the rutabaga is very tender.

Can you freeze rutabaga? ›

Rutabagas are best frozen. Canned rutabagas usually discolor and develop a strong flavor. Freeze by cutting into cubes and water blanch for 3 minutes. Cool, drain and pack into freezer containers or freezer bags, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Can you eat too much rutabaga? ›

‌Although rutabagas have many health benefits, they must be eaten in moderation. They can cause discomfort if you have irritable bowel syndrome or allergies related to cruciferous vegetables. If this is the case, talk to your doctor before adding them to your diet.

Who eats the most rutabaga? ›

Rutabagas are more popular in regions like Scandinavia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom because they grow better in colder climates. The name “rutabaga” comes from the Swedish word rotabagge, which means “baggy root.” Rutabagas are also commonly referred to as Swedes, Neeps, or Swedish Turnips.

Is rutabaga good for weight loss? ›

Adding rutabagas to your diet may aid weight loss. This root vegetable is very high in fiber and takes longer to digest, keeping you feeling full longer. This may prevent overeating and, ultimately, weight gain ( 20 ). What's more, a high-fiber diet is associated with a greater diversity of gut bacteria.

Can I eat rutabaga every day? ›

Rutabagas Are Healthy, But You May Want to Eat In Moderation (Along With Other Root Veggies) Knowing how to eat is just as (if not more) important as knowing what to eat. It's common knowledge that whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are far more healthier than nutrient-void, processed foods.

Is rutabaga a good substitute for potatoes? ›

Rutabaga (5 g carbs/35 calories per 100 g)

It's also known as a swede in Europe due to its popularity in Scandinavia. And yes, it's a great low carb replacement for potatoes. They're great in soups and stews and all manner of side dishes. And they're fantastic boiled, baked and roasted.

Is rutabaga good for your gut? ›

High in fiber.

Eating rutabagas can regulate your bowel movements and help you maintain a healthy gut. Including high-fiber foods in your diet can also help prevent colorectal cancer.

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