Learning to love TURNIPS and their ilk: delicious easy secret recipe!

turnip fries recipe

These aren’t actually turnips; they are small watermelon radishes, but it might take some coaxing to get your family to try them. They are in league with turnips.

If you fix turnips for supper, and you holler out “Supperrr’s ready!” and your family comes running (or ambling, or toddling, or whatever your family does) to the dinner table, and they ask eagerly “What’s for supper?” and you say “Turnips!” with a triumphant smile on your pretty (or handsome) face, what is the reaction of your family members?

  1. “Turnips!? Hoooray!” or
  2. “Turnips. Yuckkk!” (followed by rending of clothing) or
  3. “Um . . forgot to tell you, Mom, I was just heading out for pizza . . . (cough!)or
  4. (speechless gaping, followed by whistling for the dog . . . )
  5. “Turnips . . . ?? WHY TURNIPS??” (followed by loud wailing) (I think that was Mack’s reaction.)

Yup. My house, too. Here’s a family secret I’ll tell only you, gentle readers: many of my family members would be happier with dinnertime (and thus with the cook, that is to say, moi) if I just stuck to the basics: some sort of meat + a common veggie (corn and/or mashed potatoes) + some lovely gravy + fresh hot bread + maybe, maybe a token fruit (nothing exotic, please, Mom) + a toothsome, calorie-laden dessert to finish it all (say, warm pie–alamode). *burp*

And if there were no dishes to wash afterward, life would be perfect. Perfect!

But then. No chance, fam. I step in—I, the cook of the fam and the cray-cray gardener who raises all manners of veg, including (to cut to the blessed chase, already) turnips. And—excuse me, darling family--but I’m not going to toss beautiful organic turnips to the piggies (much as I love those piggies) while I feed ya’all frozen pizzas from the store. Sorry, Mack.

So the question is--when your family is downrightgrumpy less-than-enthusiastic about your beautimous garden offerings–or even the lovely veg that follows you home from the market or the store–the trick, of course, lies in finding a way to fix these less-common and less-attractive (to some!) vegetables, so your family will actually eat them.

Because, of course, your family will be heartier and healthier on a diet of turnips and sweet potatoes and watermelon radishes and their ilk than what they really want, which is, of course, Cheetos and Spaghettio’s and tater tots and Pop Tarts. But you already knew that.

I’m pretty sure the reason my dear hubs doesn’t like so many of these “fringe” veg (to our Western diets) is because his dear mother grew up in the deep South, where–at least during her girlhood–no veg was trusted to be edible until it had been boiled hard for at least an hour. Well, and then large dollops of bacon grease were added to them. So green beans weren’t bright green and with just a bit of crunch, they were a dull olive green and mushy, with the sheen of bacon grease. I’m not saying that they didn’t taste good (to be respectful to my hub’s dear mother) but they certainly were different than the way I fix them.

turnip fries recipe

Okay, so I do know where they keep the junk food in the grocery store, as you can see from this photo. These are my two girls, Amalia and Bethie, looking quite ebullient indeed, as we prepared all manners of junk food to eat while watching the new Gilmore Girls episodes last week. 🙂 (We all wore flannel shirts, too.) I had to throw in the apple slices and pickles, because: that’s who I am, baby.

This is my favorite variety of turnips to grow. I started growing them years ago in the fall, in my hoop house, and was startled to find out that I really love turnips! We usually dice them and roast them on a jelly roll pan in the oven, but I tried something different this week, and everybody loved it, so that’s why I’m sharing it with you.

Here we go, at last, the easy recipe I alluded to–are you ready? If your family doesn’t enjoy turnips or sweet potatoes or whatever: make them into fries. Yup. It works. Honest. Injun*. As my dad would say, you could take an old boot and cut it into strips and make it into fries and it would be tasty. Well, he says something like that. 😉 So here goes. I’m sharing with you my favorite turnip fries recipe.

*don’t read that line if you are concerned about strict political correctness. Thanks.

Of course some brilliant mother somewhere, many years ago, who despaired of ever getting her children to eat sweet potatoes slashed them into fries, tossed them with oil and spices and the rest, of course, is l’histoire, as they say. Everybody and their dog eats sweet potato fries now. I can eat enormous amounts of them, myself, whenever I can, wherever I can. Well. So turnip fries are just as good, if not as sweet.

turnip fries recipe

Ever experimenting, I tossed together strips of watermelon radishes, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, and turnips in this oven-fry melange. They were all good. 🙂 Remember the old boot tip.

Here’s how I make these tasty turnip fries*:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Grab a few turnips, and/or a couple sweet potatoes, a watermelon radish, whatever root crops you have handy.
  2. In a large bowl, toss a couple tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, lots of pepper, 1 tsp chili power, and mix. Quickly. It’s nearly supper time, baby.
  3. Peel turnips and cut into strips, taking care not to lop off the tip of your finger. Pat dry with clean towel.
  4. Toss turnips with spices and oil. Hum as you work. This is happy work, after all.
  5. Spread in a SINGLE LAYER (to be honest, I have as much trouble limiting myself to a single layer as I do going the speed limit, as you can see from the photo) on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake 15 minutes, turn fries over, bake 15 minutes more, or until desired golden brown deliciousness is obtained. You want them to be roasted enough to be eaten out-of-hand, naturally. 🙂
  7. Taste and add more seasonings if necessary.
  8. Taste again. Analyze. Assess. Maybe you’ll need a bowlful of tastings.
  9. One more taste.
  10. Call the fam “Supppperrrrr!” and prepare for compliments.

turnip fries recipe

See? How delish do they look? Pretty doggone delish, that’s what.

Now go, dear gentle reader. Go and make turnip fries!


I field questions nearly every day: how do you make money with your blog? Why do you spend all that time writing? One way I can contribute to the family income is by putting ads on my blog, like the Amazon ad below. How it works is simple: if you click on the link below, and then do a little shopping on Amazon (’tis the season), Amazon will pay me a tiny commission, though your order won’t cost you a penny more! Pretty nifty deal, eh? So, when it’s time to do your online shopping, click through my blog, baby, and thank you in advance! *hugs*



10 thoughts on “Learning to love TURNIPS and their ilk: delicious easy secret recipe!

  1. Chef William Chaney

    I really do enjoy Turnips. Not always the case but that is a story for around the campfire. I like them best when mashed and presented like mashed potatoes with melted butter, salt and freshly ground black pepper. They are also an item I add when making a healthy soup like when I or the wife has a cold. Perhaps I will try some fried, via the oven, soon. Great recipe thanks for sharing.

  2. Heather D.

    Sounds delicious. I often make oven fries with spuds, but I’ve never tried turnips. I just haven’t been successful in growing them yet – any tips would be appreciated! One thing I do when roasting veggies is to rub a thin coat of butter on the pan first before adding the oiled veggies. The milk solids in the butter help the veggies crisp up and prevent them from sticking to the pan (I don’t use foil). You know they’re crispy on the bottom when you shake the pan and the veggies move on their own without having to be pried up by a lifter.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Excellent tip, Heather! Thank you! I will try that the next time I make fries. Regarding growing turnips; the only tip I have for you is that I seem to have better luck when I grow them in the fall. I sow mine in late summer–I’ve grown them lately in my hoop house, but they would grow fine out in the garden, too, if you have space open–be sure to thin then as they won’t do as well if they are crowded.

  3. cookinmom

    My problem is not the taste but the smell of the turnips. My hubby can’t stand the smell when they’re cookin’. However, when he goes on a trip, yumm…for me!! :0)

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Not all turnips are created equal. There are turnips (a friend gave me some, so I know they exist!) that have a very mild and non-offensive smell and taste. You might look around for them–for your husband’s sake.

  4. Katrina Rivett

    You are soooo funny and ‘a girl after my own heart’.
    My family definitely do Not reflect the no 1. comment above. Grin. Much more the no.s 2, 3, 4 & 5 responses, among other things!
    I was raised on swedes so I think the purple top turnips I grow and rather tame but after a big pot of turnip soup when the kids were young,…wellll….I’ve never lived it down! Mind you, I thought it was a lovely soup and ate it for days.
    I still dice turnip very small and add it in meals when they come to visit…hahahaha…sometimes I get away with it but other times ‘Not’.
    I had to laugh this season, here in Oz, as my daughters came to visit bringing my new grandson. I put him in the wheel barrow and surrounded him with fresh picked turnips and, of course, took many pics for posterity.
    I convinced Toni to mash some with his other veges for lunch one day and he loved it! Ha! Mother Triumphs….hahahaha.
    I sent them home with some turnips in tow and now she is asking for more when I go to visit soon.
    What a wonderful grandson he is. It just makes me laugh out loud at the daughters’ expense. Too wonderful. I’ll teach that boy to grow turnips yet!
    Love this site and will bookmark.

    Love Kat. (Another cray, cray gardener)
    From North Queensland in Oz.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Nice to meetcha, Kat! You do sound like a Kindred Spirit, down to the turnip tomfoolery. I have a plethora of summer squash this year in my garden, and my squash-disliking family doesn’t squawk too loudly when I chop them up into pieces and cook them with potatoes. Mack last night: “You can almost not even tell the difference between the squash and the potatoes!” ha! I love your story about the photo op with your new grandson. I’d love to see those pictures!! I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody from Oz before (hoho). Actually, you’re the first person from North Queensland that I believe I’ve heard from. Thanks so much for your fun comments. Have a good one!

  5. Dortha Britton

    I was eating out with a friend and served some raw sticks of a veggie. I tried them and asked what I was eating. Turned out they were turnips. I actually didn’t like turnips until I tried them raw. Very good.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Dortha, there are varieties of turnips that are grown primarily for eating raw! They are very mild and don’t have the bitter taste that is so often attributed to turnips!

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