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.
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  • Reply
    Roy Burnam
    February 5, 2020 at 6:36 am

    I put some fresh hamhocks in a pot of water with three chicken buillion cubes. Cook hamhocks untill tender, then add the cubed rutabagus

    • Reply
      February 5, 2020 at 9:27 am

      I bet that adds tons of flavor.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    It has always been a tradition on the Holiday Table growing up…I have continued that tradition with my family now..They were always made by my me…Not sure how she prepared them, but mine seem similar…I dice and boil in salted water with a whole chopped sweet onion…I whip them with a lot of butter, salt and pepper and a little half and half…love them so much…Memories ?

    • Reply
      December 14, 2019 at 5:38 pm

      I need to do a post on whipped rutabagas, I’m not sure I’ve had them that way. Aren’t food memories the best?

  • Reply
    December 2, 2019 at 8:13 am

    Just cooked rutabaga to add to my Turkey soup (we did Thanksgiving meal 2 days ago). Can not make turkey soup without it! Goes great with barley also. Didn’t cook any for the Thanksgiving dinner this year though. Some good ideas in this comment section, I will try adding bacon or sugar sometime,..

  • Reply
    Olin Batchelor
    November 28, 2019 at 6:32 am

    5 stars
    HI, I am a 86 year old widower who live alone and cooks for myself.
    Your recipe for rutabaga is wonderful. I sampled it while preparing for a
    Family gathering later today. I am excited to know how some family like it.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    • Reply
      November 28, 2019 at 6:43 am

      I’m so happy to hear that Olin, I hope you have a lovely holiday!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    My family loves mashed turnips — thanks to my Irish Mom and Grandmother! I will be making them this Thanksgiving for 15 adults. Can you suggest how many pounds of rutabagas I will need to make them?

    • Reply
      November 19, 2019 at 4:20 pm

      You’ll generally need 1/3 pound per person, so for your your crowd, I’d estimate 5 pounds. Although I always add extra, you never know when you’ll get an unusually hungry crowd 🙂

  • Reply
    Sue Dawson
    November 19, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Sue, I am a yankee in the south. So when my family ate rutabagas at a potluck I had to learn to cook them. I used your recipe with one change. Instead of water I cooked them in chicken broth. They were an instant hit. Thank You so much for your recipe.

  • Reply
    Linette Arnold
    October 15, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Because they can be a bit bitter, my mom always added a little sugar when she mashed them. Yummmmmmy!!

    • Reply
      November 13, 2019 at 6:59 pm

      Nice! I think honey or maple syrup would also work.

      • Reply
        January 8, 2020 at 8:11 am

        I came across a recipe roasted @ 390F for 45 mins with s&p, maple syrup and thyme.

        • Reply
          January 8, 2020 at 8:15 am

          Sounds delish 🙂

    • Reply
      Gretchen Szemreylo
      December 22, 2019 at 12:44 pm

      My mom always adds sugar to ours as well! YUM!!

  • Reply
    Susan cernanec
    October 5, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    I love this easy recipe for rutabagas doing right now as a matter of fact. Thanks so much. Susan

    • Reply
      October 5, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      I need to go get some, I haven’t had any since last winter!

  • Reply
    September 1, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Can you cook white turnips (not the greens) in the same way you cook rutabagas? Is there a method for cutting that makes the job easier? Thanks.

    • Reply
      September 1, 2019 at 7:43 pm

      Yes, although turnips cut and cook a little easier and quicker, they’re less dense than rutabaga. Buttered turnips are amazing.

    • Reply
      Robert Morris
      April 15, 2020 at 2:33 pm

      The easiest way I have found to peel and chop them is to invite a neighbor over for dinner, and when they say, “Can I help you?,” hand them the rutabaga, a knife and a cutting board.
      NOTE: This usually only works once per guest…

      • Reply
        April 16, 2020 at 1:30 pm

        Haha, I can imagine!

  • Reply
    August 6, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    I love rutabagas. They always graced my grandmother’s table on Thanksgiving. My grandmother was from Alabama and they were always cooked with rinsed salt pork, water and a “spec” of sugar as she used to say. Once cooked, they were mashed and served; absolutely delicious.

    • Reply
      August 6, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      Thanks for this Kim, the salt pork water is so interesting!

    • Reply
      October 28, 2020 at 10:29 pm

      5 stars
      That’s how my mom cooked them! I cook mine that way as well. I love them.

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