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8 Best Parsnip Substitute Options (Use These Instead)

Fortunately, there are many substitutes for parsnips that you can use in a pinch to get the same flavor and texture. In this article, you will be able to find the best parsnip substitute and to compare it to the original vegetable.

Parsnips are a sweet and nutty vegetable often used as an alternative to potatoes. They can be roasted, mashed, or even added to soups for a unique flavor and texture.

Whether you’re looking for an alternative because you don’t have any access to fresh parsnips or want something different in your dish, you’re sure to find a great option here. Most of them are common and can be easily found.

white cutting board with fresh parsnips.

What is Parsnip?

Parsnip, or Pastinaca sativa, is a root vegetable belonging to the Apiaceae family. This family is also where parsley and carrots belong.

Parsnips are a versatile root vegetable with long tapered taproots resembling carrots. The only difference is that parsnips have cream-colored skin and flesh.

This cream-colored root vegetable is nutritious because they have folate, niacin, and iron. Parsnips are great sources of fiber as well.

You’ll also get calcium, magnesium, and potassium from eating parsnips. Lastly, they have vitamins C and K, too.

What Does Parsnip Taste Like?

Parsnips taste starchy, sweet, and peppery, with nuances of nutty and earthy flavors.

People used parsnip as a sweetener before discovering sugar beets and sugarcane.

You can eat parsnips raw and add them to salads for a sweet element. Once you cook parsnips, they turn even sweeter. That said, these root vegetables lend a pleasant sweetness to recipes.

Best Parsnip Substitute

Here are the best substitutes for parsnips:

1. Turnips

Like parsnip, turnip is also a winter vegetable. That said, it isn’t surprising that turnips would make a great parsnip substitute. You do have to consider that turnips are not as sweet as parsnips. Turnips also tend to be on the spicier, more peppery side.

If available, use young ones instead of mature turnips. Young turnips have a milder flavor, so they do a better job replacing parsnips in dishes.

Like parsnips, they have a similar crunchy texture, so you can add turnips to salad in their raw form. Cooked turnips make great parsnip replacements as well when boiled or steamed.

Turnips are common vegetables, so you won’t have trouble finding them in grocery stores near you.

2. Celery Root

Also known as celeriac, celery roots are bulbous taproots with white insides. That said, celery roots look exactly like parsnips when chopped.

Like parsnips, you can also eat celery roots without cooking them. When eaten raw, celery roots offer a crunch like what you’ll get from parsnips.

They have a different flavor, though. Compared to parsnips’ sweet taste, celery roots are nutty with a celery-like flavor.

Using celeriac to replace parsnip will result in a flavor shift. This change in flavor can make your dishes taste more interesting, though. Plus, this different taste makes celeriac perfect for those who don’t like the taste of parsnips.

3. Parsley Root

Parsley roots look a lot like parsnips. They’re long, white, and tapered, which is why most people confuse them for parsnips often.

Parsley roots are also crunchy. That said, these taproots are perfect when only texture and appearance are important.

But regarding taste, parsley roots have a more earthy flavor. They taste like a cross between celery and parsley.

Nevertheless, you can use parsley roots to replace parsnips in mashes and purees. You can also use parsley roots in soups, as they are as versatile as parsnips. Do expect a change in flavor, though.

4. Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is a type of cabbage more commonly known as a German turnip. This vegetable is peppery and sweet, making it a great stand-in for parsnips.

Kohlrabi is also edible in its raw form, just like parsnips. Because of this, you can use it in raw and cooked dishes without issues.

There are several downsides to using kohlrabi, though. For starters, kohlrabi is less popular than the other options in this list. They are not likely to be available in small stores. You might have to head to big retailers with an extensive produce aisle to find them.

Plus, they have a slightly softer texture comparable to the stems of cauliflowers. This texture difference might change the overall consistency of your dish.

5. Jicama

Another great parsnip substitute is jicama. Also called Mexican turnip, jicama is also a root vegetable like parsnip. Most people describe jicama as a cross between potato and apples.

That said, jicama is sweet and crunchy – just like parsnips. Plus, jicama is also white, so chopping it up will give you something similar to parsnips.

Their biggest difference from parsnips is that jicamas have a fruity flavor. Because of this, you can only use jicama in limited recipes where a fruity taste is welcome, like salads.

The difference in flavor, though, can also be an advantage. After all, people who do not like the parsnip taste can use jicama in their recipes instead.

6. Sweet Potato

Another excellent parsnip substitutes are sweet potatoes. Obviously, these potatoes are sweet, so they make great parsnip substitutes. Unlike regular potatoes, the sweet variety is perfectly safe for you to eat raw.

With this in mind, you can use sweet potatoes in raw and cooked recipes that call for parsnips. When raw, sweet potatoes are also crunchy, but they are much softer than parsnips when cooked.

The biggest consideration here is that the most common sweet potatoes have an orange hue. And even the so-called white sweet potatoes are not as white as parsnips.

Because of this, your dish will look different. But if you don’t mind a change in appearance, sweet potatoes are among your best choices.

They are widely available and don’t taste far from parsnips. You can mash, roast, or fry them just as you would parsnips.

7. Potatoes

Potatoes are versatile root vegetables that you can find anywhere. That said, they can work as quick parsnip replacements, especially when you’re in a hurry.

Potatoes aren’t as sweet, but you can use them instead of parsnips in most recipes due to their versatility. Use them in place of parsnips in soups, stews, and mashes.

A word of warning, though – raw potatoes might contain solanine, a poisonous compound. That said, you are better off using potatoes as a substitute for parsnip in cooked dishes.

Opt for other alternatives on this list for recipes that call for raw parsnips.

8. Carrots or White Carrots

When raw, orange carrots have a similar crunch to parsnip. So, they are a close substitute when it comes to texture.

However, raw carrots have a different taste than parsnips, so there might be a flavor shift. But once you roast them, carrots develop a sweet taste comparable to parsnips.

Because of this, roasted carrots are best when used to replace roasted parsnips. You can use white carrots if you need something closer to parsnips.

White carrots lack the orange pigmentation of the common carrots and taste milder. Nevertheless, they make a better parsnip substitute when appearance is significant.

The only downside is that white carrots are harder to find. You’ll have better luck finding them online than in regular grocery stores.

How To Pick The Best Parsnip Substitute

When selecting a substitute for parsnip, consider the flavor and texture of the dish you are preparing. While many root vegetables can easily be substituted in recipes, some may not suit the dish as well as others.

  • Carrots are an excellent substitution for parsnips in soups, stews and roasts since they have a similar flavor profile.
  • Celeriac, also known as celery root, is another great alternative for parsnip because it has a mild but earthy flavor that pairs well with most dishes.
  • Rutabagas are sweeter than parsnips and work better in some recipes where you don’t want the sweetness of carrots or the earthiness of celeriac. They also hold their shape better when cooked, making them a great choice for roasting.
  • When substituting parsnips in baked goods, you can use potatoes as an alternative since they have a similar texture and flavor. For example, mashed potatoes work well as a substitute for parsnip puree in cakes and muffins. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent choice for baking recipes, as they provide a sweeter and more moist texture than regular potatoes.

No matter what substitution you choose, it is important to adjust the amount of seasoning and liquid used in a recipe when using different vegetables. This will ensure that your dish tastes just as good.

Do Parsnips Taste Like Potatoes?

Yes, parsnips taste like potatoes because they are also starchy. Parsnips are way sweeter than potatoes, though. Plus, potatoes don’t have a peppery flavor as parsnips do. Even so, potatoes can substitute parsnips in most recipes due to their versatility.

Can You Substitute Carrots For Parsnips?

Yes, you can use carrots as parsnip substitutes. This substitution especially works for roasted parsnips. Roasted carrots have a similar sweet taste, after all. Using raw carrots to replace parsnips works because of their crunchy texture. But you should expect a shift in flavor as raw carrots have a bitter taste.

Do Turnips And Parsnips Taste Similar?

Somehow. Turnips and parsnips share some similarities in flavor. But they are not an exact flavor match. Parsnips have a sweeter taste than turnips, while turnips are spicier than parsnips. Even so, turnips, especially young ones, can be great parsnip alternatives.


When choosing a parsnip substitute, you have to look for two things. First, a great substitute should have a crunchy texture. Second, a great replacement should have a sweet taste. That said, looking for an alternative is easy. Many other vegetables satisfy these conditions, after all.

Among the best parsnip alternatives are turnips, carrots, kohlrabi, and jicama. If you’re in a hurry, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes can work for some recipes, too.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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