Buttered Rutabagas

Buttered Rutabaga ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

Buttered Rutabagas were a staple on our Thanksgiving table when I was growing up and I’m revisiting them today ~ these delicious pale orange turnips are misunderstood and probably the most overlooked veggie in the produce section.

Buttered Rutabagas are a delicious old time side dish for your holiday table! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

One of the best things about eating seasonally is the thrill of rediscovery.

It’s been a year since I’ve cooked with rutabagas and turnips, and I’m really enjoying our reunion.  Rutabagas are mild, slightly sweet, slightly bitter, and not at all starchy. When cooked properly, they’re utterly delicious.  This rustic root veg has been around for centuries, but my first experience of them was on my grandparent’s Thanksgiving tables.  There’s nothing fancy about these buttered rutabagas, but they have a deliciously satisfying flavor and texture that plays well with so many other foods.

buttered rutabaga is a simple, rustic side dish full of flavor and nutrition ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

Rutabagas (or neeps, sweedes, baigies, snadgers, or narkies, depending on where you live) originated as a wild cross between a cabbage and a turnip, and it happened somewhere in Scandinavia or Russia.

They’re not particularly attractive, to say the least, which might explain why they’re not more popular.  They’ve been associated with livestock feed and wartime shortages ~ and they’re definitely ‘homey’, but when you cook them until they’re just tender like I do, and top them with lots of butter and a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, they’re SO GOOD!

TIP: Don’t save rutabaga just for the holidays, they make a great side for everyday meals like chicken and pork.  I love to add them to soups in place of potatoes. 

Buttered Rutabaga, a quick and easy rustic side dish for the holidays ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

One of the things about raw rutabagas is that they are rock solid.  Like winter squash, these root veggies are dense and tough to cut.  I’m so glad I just received my sample of the new Misen knife.  It’s ultra comfortable in my hand, and razor sharp, in fact it glided right through the rutabagas that I’m so used to wrestling with.  These knives are affordable and stunning and I highly recommend them as gifts for the chef’s in your life.  (The packaging is jaw dropping, too, just wait and see!)  Check out their web site for the lowdown.

Buttered Rutabagas ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

I like to cut my rutabaga into a fairly small dice so it will cook quickly and evenly.  I think it looks pretty, too, but as I remember it, the rutabaga on my grandparents’ holiday tables was cut in large, uneven hunks.  Go with whatever fits your style :)

TIP: Rutabagas come in all sizes, from petite to giant.  I like to use the smaller ones when I can find them, they’re more tender and flavorful.

Preparing Buttered Rutabaga ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

If you don’t like rutabaga or turnips, there might be a scientific reason, some people are genetically more sensitive to the bitter tastes in root veggies and find them unpleasant.

I like the flavor, I think it’s more appealing than overly sweet and starchy sweet potatoes, for instance.  If you’ve never had them then there’s only one way to find out if you like or dislike them…give them a try!

TIP: You can eat rutabaga raw, too, try shredding it into a slaw

Cooking Buttered Rutabaga for the Thanksgiving table ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

You can serve rutabaga roasted, mashed, braised, boiled, or even fried!  I simply cover these in cold water and boil for just about 10 minutes, or until barely tender.  Drain, and add butter, salt and pepper.  It’s that simple.  You can keep them warm, covered, at the back of the stove until needed.

Buttered Rutabagas ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

TIP: You can definitely prep the rutabaga beforehand, peel and cut it the day before and store it in a zip lock baggie in the fridge.

Buttered Rutabaga

Yield: serves 6-8

Buttered Rutabaga


  • 2-3 lbs rutabaga
  • butter
  • salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper


  1. Peel the rutabaga. Trim the ends, and then cut into an even dice. I went with a 1/2 inch size, you can do larger if you like.
  2. Put the rutabaga in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat and cook until just tender, but not soft or mushy. Mine took only 10 minutes.
  3. Drain and return to the pan. Add butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Keep warm on the stove until needed.


don’t forget to pin it!

Buttered Rutabaga is an easy, nutritious, and delicious old time side dish for the holidays! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com



  • Reply
    Bev Ringhiser
    August 14, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Had a lot of rutabaga from a friend and found your recipe. I followed recipe but added garlic powder, a couple dashes of tumeric and sprinkled parsley. Delicious! Rutabaga will now be on our menu more often! Thanks!

    • Reply
      August 14, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      The garlic and turmeric sounds so good!

  • Reply
    June 14, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I love rutabagas this way. As a kid and adult I was one of a few who would eat them and I think it’s partly because folks aren’t familiar with rutabagas. I’ve added a little sugar with the butter for those who haven’t yet acquired the taste.

    • Reply
      June 14, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      Like so many acquired tastes, once you fall for them, you fall hard!

  • Reply
    Jules @ WolfItDown
    December 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I absolutely looooove turnip! It is awesome with tomato sauce. My mother and I could literally have that as a meal ^ ^ This sounds lovely! xx

  • Reply
    November 23, 2016 at 10:45 am

    My T-Gives menu is set, but I love this so much I know they will grace my table very soon. Buttered veggies is so reminiscent of my childhood. GREG

    • Reply
      November 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      Butter makes everything better ~ have a great Turkey Day Greg!

  • Reply
    John/Kitchen Riffs
    November 23, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Rutabagas and parsnips tend to be one of those things people eat for Thanksgiving. Then forget about for the rest of the year. Me too, too often, although I’ve gotten much better at using them than I used to be. So good! And these rutabagas look terrific — they really do take to butter, don’t they? Thanks! And Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    November 23, 2016 at 4:43 am

    My Mom insists that turnip be on every Thanksgiving table. She would love this simple, but delicious recipes! Happy Thanksgiving, Sue!

  • Reply
    November 22, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Nice idea for serving rutabagas. I haven’t cooked them in a while because my husband doesn’t seem to care much for them. My favorite way to prepare them is to roast them with olive oil and black pepper. Yum. I’ve been pushing my husband’s food boundaries since we married 8 years ago, and I’m thinking it may be time to push them again… Besides which he does like his butter on his veggies, so this preparation might work better for him.

  • Reply
    Joan Teskey
    November 22, 2016 at 11:13 am

    My maternal side of family emigrated to Canada 3 generations ago.from England
    we had wonderful buttered mashed turnips for many meals
    The problem is that only recently did we find out that those wonderful “turnips” were rutabagas!!!!!!!

    • Reply
      November 22, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Funny you should mention that, Joan, because I said that yesterday’s red cabbage came from my German great grandmother, and I think these rutabaga must have come from the British side of the family. I think rutabaga are called turnips in certain areas!

      • Reply
        Roy L Vestal
        November 23, 2016 at 12:10 am

        Some areas of NC call them rudabaga-turnips.

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    November 22, 2016 at 10:07 am

    This is quite embarrassing, but I’ve never eaten a rutabaga. Guess what’s going to be on my shopping list? I can’t wait!

    • Reply
      November 22, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Ooooh Chris, you need to get with the program, they’re so good!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    November 22, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Now I know why there was a run on rutabagas at the store! Not a one in sight :( I can’t believe how simple this recipe is with such a beautiful result. Love it! Happy Thanksgiving Sue!

  • Reply
    Angie@Angie's Recipes
    November 22, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Love rutabaga! So delicious when properly prepared. Yours looks fab.!

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