How To Cook Rutabaga

The Roots of Rutabagas
Botanical name: Brassica napus

Rutabaga Nutrition Facts

Rutabagas are only called rutabagas in the U.S. Throughout the rest of the world, they're known as swedes, neeps, Russian turnips or Swedish turnips.1 This ordinary root crop is thought to have originated in Bohemia in the 17th century as a hybrid between turnip and wild cabbage.2

Rutabagas are often confused with turnips, although there are noticeable differences. The flesh ranges from yellow to orange, with a purple-green skin and a sweet, earthy flavor.3 Rutabagas are more elongated, with thick, leafy necks and roots emerging from their undersides and the taproot. Turnips, on the other hand, have little or no neck. Rutabaga leaves are smooth, thick and bluish, while turnip leaves are thin, hairy and light green.4

As cool-weather crops that can be stored easily, rutabagas are grown primarily in the northern United States, Europe, Great Britain and Canada,5 requiring about 90 days to fully mature. The flavor is further enhanced by light frost, which is probably how they got their European moniker, having prolific growth in Sweden.6

Rutabagas can be roasted, sautéed, baked, fried, boiled, mashed and added to soups and stews. They can also be eaten raw as a snack or grated into salads or coleslaw. A mix of mashed rutabagas, potatoes seasoned with nutmeg, butter and salt makes a hearty, comforting dish.7

The Brassica napobrassica and other brassica crops such as rapeseed, kale and turnips are used as forage for livestock,8 and the seeds of some varieties are made into oil. Canola, a variant of this plant, was developed in Canada in the late 1970s for what was intended to be a more nutritious source of vegetable oil than rapeseed. However, canola is also genetically altered for resistance to glyphosate and glufosinate, so it is not the healthy alternative you might think.9

Health Benefits of Rutabaga

Based on studies, crucifers, including rutabaga, were found to contain anticancer10 and antioxidant properties. Its most significant nutrient, vitamin C, provides oxidant-fighting and immune system-supporting functions that can help protect cells from free radical damage.11 Vitamin C also helps enhance iron absorption and collagen formation that may protect against cellular damage, encourage wounds to heal, fight infections and promote healthy bones, teeth, gums and blood vessels. Furthermore, rutabaga contains iron needed to produce healthy blood on a daily basis.12

Beta-carotene-rich rutabaga is also an excellent source of manganese (for energy)13 and potassium, and is rich in fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6 (helps support the nervous system), calcium (for strong bones), magnesium (helps absorb calcium and combat stress) and phosphorus (helps metabolize proteins and sugars). Below is a list of nutrients found in rutabaga with corresponding amounts:14

Rutabaga Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
  Amt. Per
Calories 37kcal
Calories from Fat  
Total Fat 0.16 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat  0g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 12 mg
Total Carbohydrates 8.62 g
Dietary Fiber 2.3 g
Sugar 4.46 g
Protein 1.08 g
Phosphorus 53 mg Vitamin C 25 mg
Calcium 43 mg Magnesium 20g

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Studies Done on Rutabaga

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths after lung cancer.15 Results of one study suggested that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables such as rutabaga is linked to a reduced prostate cancer risk.16 In another study, a negative association between ingestion of brassica vegetables and incidence of colon cancer was shown in both men and women.17

How to Cook Rutabaga

Although rutabaga can be eaten raw, cooking it will make it more enjoyable. This method releases a sweet yet savory flavor — like a rich golden potato, but less starchy and more satisfying. Before cooking rutabaga, though, you must peel it properly. Here’s what you should do:18

  1. Wash the rutabaga thoroughly to remove any dirt.
  2. On a cutting board, slice the rutabaga in half through the central stalk using a sharp knife. Be sure to hold the knife properly so it will not slip.
  3. Lay the slices on their flat sides, and then cut into half-inch-thick semicircles. The first and last pieces may be discarded as they are covered in thicker skin.
  4. Using a paring knife, peel each semicircular piece, and then cut into cubes.

You can now use the peeled rutabaga cubes in your recipes. Make sure to check them frequently, as they may overcook and disintegrate. Try these methods to cook rutabaga:19

  • Baking — Place the sliced rutabaga pieces in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of water and bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.6 degrees Celsius) for an hour or until tender. You may place a layer of sliced onions over the rutabagas for additional flavor.
  • Boiling — Put the rutabaga pieces in a pot of boiling water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover the pot and let the water boil again. Let it simmer over low heat. Cooking time is approximately 20 to 35 minutes.
  • Braising — Place sliced or cubed rutabagas in a skillet with broth. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
  • Microwaving — Place a pound of rutabagas in a microwaveable baking dish then add 3 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook for seven to nine minutes, or until tender. Remember to stir them halfway through cooking time and wait for three minutes before removing them from the microwave.
  • Steaming — Using a metal colander or basket, steam diced rutabagas over a pot of water for 25 to 35 minutes, or until tender.
  • Stir-fry — Sauté diced rutabaga (or cut them into strips) in coconut oil for about seven minutes.

Rutabaga Healthy Recipes:
Autumn Harvest Soup

Rutabaga Healthy Recipes


1 butternut or acorn squash, cut in half

3 garlic cloves, ends removed but skin intact

2 cups rutabaga, peeled and diced

1 1/2 - 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced

✓ Coconut Oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon. pepper

1 small onion, chopped

3/4 cup walnuts

2 1/2 cups coconut milk

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

✓ 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon thyme



  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub the squash with coconut oil and place cut-side down on a baking sheet.
  2. Cut ends off garlic, coat with 1 teaspoon coconut oil, and then wrap in foil. Coat the rutabaga and sweet potato in oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Add both to baking sheet. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until softened, stirring diced veggies once.
  4. Sauté onion until soft and caramelized for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove roasted veggies from oven and blend together with the remaining ingredients in a food processor until smooth. The nuts may remain grainy, but that's OK. Add water to reach preferred thickness. Serves 4.

This recipe uses walnuts, which are considered a “superfood,” but remember to consume them in moderation as they have high protein content. Also, consider eating only a small amount of this soup as an acorn squash’s carbohydrate content may throw you off ketosis.

Rutabaga Fun Facts

A retired gardener in the U.K. claimed a place in the book of Guinness World Records in 2011 with the world's largest root vegetable, a swede (rutabaga), weighing in at a whopping 85.5 pounds.20


Rutabaga, known as swedes in most parts of the world, are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, manganese, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. These nutrients provide a combination of nutritional benefits to promote healthy function throughout the body, while lowering the risk of heart disease and cancer. In fact, clinical studies show that the risk of colorectal and prostate cancers can be lowered by ingesting healthy amounts of brassica vegetables, such as rutabaga.

If rutabaga is new for you, give it a try by roasting or sautéing it with raw grass fed butter, salt and pepper for a delicious, creamy taste.