Delicious Buttered Rutabagas

Buttered Rutabaga ~

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! ~

buttered rutabagas are a simple classic

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 ~

what are rutabagas?

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 ~

how to cut rutabaga

One of the things about raw rutabagas is that they are rock solid. Like winter squash, or beets, these root veggies are dense and tough to cut. The first thing you need to do is peel them. Rutabaga have a thick peel, and they are often waxed to preserve them longer.

  1. Use a good sharp chef’s knife to cut the ends off the rutabaga.
  2. Remove the peel with a vegetable peeler. Be sure to remove all the green layers, right down the the orange flesh.
  3. Slice the rutabaga first, then dice the slices. The width of your slices can vary depending on what size dice you want.
  4. 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 🙂
Buttered Rutabagas ~

how to choose rutabaga

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, flavorful, and easier to peel.

Preparing Buttered Rutabaga ~

what do rutabaga taste like?

The flavor of rutabaga is mild, buttery and somewhat sweet. It has a less intense flavor than beets or turnips, and I think more appealing than overly sweet and starchy sweet potatoes. If you’ve never had them, there’s only one way to find out if you like or dislike them…give them a try!

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.

Cooking Buttered Rutabaga for the Thanksgiving table ~

how to cook rutabaga

You can serve rutabaga roasted, mashed, braised, boiled, or even fried! I love it simply boiled, with lots of butter! Simply cover diced rutabaga in cold water and boil for just about 10 minutes, or until barely tender. Check this with the tip of a small sharp knife. 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.

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

Buttered Rutabagas ~

prep rutabaga ahead of time

You can definitely prep the rutabaga beforehand, it keeps well. Peel and cut it a day or two before you need it and store in a zip lock baggie in the fridge. You can freeze rutabaga but must blanch it in boiling water for a few minutes, first. Then cool and pack in heavy duty freezer bags.

Buttered Rutabagas are a delicious old time side dish for your holiday table! ~
3.11 from 309 votes

Buttered Rutabaga

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.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Calories 113kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 3 lbs rutabaga
  • 4 Tbsp butter, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Drain and return to the pan. Add butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Keep warm on the stove until needed.


Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 361mg | Potassium: 521mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 178IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
e book

You Might Also Like


    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • 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

    5 stars
    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

    5 stars
    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

    5 stars
    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
        February 3, 2020 at 1:33 pm

        I thinly slice my fresh rutabagas, boil and then pour off water, recover with fresh water to make sure bitterness goes “down the drain”. Then I re-drain them, add lots of butter, some salt, pepper and a tablespoon of brown sugar and mash vigourously till nice and smooth. They are delicious and a favourite especially with fowl dinners. OR every fall, I do about 10 at once but, after the second boiling, I bag them and freeze for future meals. Then just heat for 10 to 15 minutes straight from frozen and prepare as for fresh rutabaga or turnip.Every bit as good from frozen.

        • Reply
          February 3, 2020 at 3:25 pm

          I love the idea of that stocked freezer!

  • 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
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    November 22, 2016 at 3:09 am

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

1 2 3 5

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!


Get my tips, tricks & recipes for easy

foolproof baking


logo png