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.ย 

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 ๐Ÿ™‚
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.ย 

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
    August 10, 2021 at 9:43 am

    5 stars
    My kiddo is on keto diet to control his seizures; he loves butter and loves his potatoes, but canโ€™t have potatoes on keto of course. Found this recipe and it has been an instant hit! Thanks for introducing me to this vegetable that I honestly knew nothing about. If your reading this you have to give this recipe a it a try, super easy and fool proof.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      August 10, 2021 at 12:18 pm

      I’m so glad they provided such a great solution for your son, Sana. I’m not surprised, rutabagas are so nice and sweet when cooked.

  • Reply
    Lisa California
    March 4, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    5 stars
    Super yum. Super easy. I had never tried rutabaga before and yipeee, I am sure glad I did! Delicious. I was looking for a lower carb potato replacement and this is it! Thanks a bunch!

  • Reply
    January 1, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    5 stars
    Looking forward to trying it this way! My husband and I are crazy about rutabagas. His aunt makes a similar dish to yours every Thanksgiving. For Christmas, I do a recipe version I discovered very early in our marriage (about 20 years ago) from a Southern Living magazine: Smashed rutabagas & turnips with parmesan: after boiling and draining the diced rutabagas (3 lbs) and turnips (1.5lbs), add heavy whipping cream, butter, shredded parmesan cheese, salt and fresh cracked pepper. Whip/mash to desired consistency. Delish. I just purchased 3 rutabagas today and plan to make them a simpler way since my usual version is sooo rich. I’m so glad I discovered your recipe!

  • Reply
    November 22, 2020 at 9:26 am

    5 stars
    We ate a lot of rutabaga as a child, as a child not as much. Thanks for reminding me. Mom made them like whipped potatoes, and we always had them in stew.

    • Reply
      November 22, 2020 at 9:56 am

      I love them whipped, too Mary! Happy Holidays ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Suzanne Jonker
    November 22, 2020 at 7:53 am

    Glad to hear your review of Misen knives. Bought them for my daughter for grad school kitchen. Tossed the cheap ceramic ones! Just made mashed rutabaga for Thanksgiving dinner at work and everyone loved the misunderstood vegetable!

    • Reply
      November 22, 2020 at 9:57 am

      I’m going to have to do them mashed again, it’s been a while. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    Nikki Moranville
    November 22, 2020 at 7:47 am

    This is a Rutabaga household! We love them! Have checked out some new tips from the comments below. Might have to consider that salt pork water thing! Thanks for posting!

    • Reply
      November 22, 2020 at 9:57 am

      Happy Thanksgiving Nikki ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Kristi Dommer
    August 1, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    I usually steam rutabaga with a couple diced parsnips and then mash them together. It’s a flavorful combo!

    • Reply
      August 1, 2020 at 5:39 pm

      Nice combo!

  • Reply
    Cheryl Hamilton
    May 13, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had complications during the pregnancy and since my husband was out at sea stayed with his Aunt. His Aunt Cece had a vegetable garden and we spent the summer canning the vegetables. It was my job to Peel and Cut the rutabagas up and put them in the jar. They are yummy raw! For some reason I craved them and much to Aunt Cece’s dismay, more went into my tummy then her jars! Wonderful memory, thanks for reminding me.

    • Reply
      May 13, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      Great story Cheryl ๐Ÿ™‚ I had no idea rutabagas were good raw!

  • Reply
    Best Home Things
    April 20, 2020 at 1:22 am

    I love how easily you described this amazing recipe. Now I can definitely change my taste with something new in this quarantined days.

  • Reply
    Robert Morris
    April 15, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    5 stars
    Just like my grandmother made them back in Alabama! Delicious, but instead of draining them, I serve them with the liquid, and they are very tasty!

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