Mashed rutabaga is a simple side dish that makes a great lower-carb alternative to mashed potatoes. This creamy, hearty and inexpensive root vegetable is paired with a garlic herb butter for extra flavor.

Mashed rutabaga with garlic herb butter in a serving bowl.
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Of all the root vegetables, rutabaga may be my favorite solely because of its name and how fun it is to say.

When the summer produce selection wanes this time of year and I want something other than broccoli or cauliflower outside of the leafy green family, I turn to root vegetables.

Most of the time I’ll roast them (like crispy roasted turnips), sometimes I’ll make soup with them (like creamy root vegetable soup), and every now and then I’ll mash them up for a potato substitute.

While I’ve made “alternative” mashes before with other ingredients like mashed vanilla carrot parsnip puree, I really love how well rutabagas mimic potatoes for a wonderful lower-carb side dish option.

Their creamy texture and milder flavor (compared to a turnip, beet or parsnip) lends itself perfectly for creating all the comfort food vibes you get from a serving of mashed potatoes in a “healthier” way.

Rutabaga on a wooden board.
Peeled rutabaga on a cutting board.

WHAT IS A RUTABAGA?

Rutabaga, also known as “swede” to the British, is a root vegetable from the Brassica napus family. It’s also sometimes called a Swedish turnip which lends to a lot of the confusion between the two root vegetables since they look very similar.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A RUTABAGA AND TURNIP?

Rutabaga were actually cultivated as a cross between turnips (brassica rapa) and cabbage.

Rutabagas are a colder climate crop that are harvested at a large size. Turnips can be grown in most climates and are harvested at a smaller size.

Color wise, turnips are white and bright purple/pink whereas rutabagas, as shown above, are more muted in color on the exterior.

On the inside, rutabagas are a golden yellow color. Turnips are more bright white.

From a taste perspective, rutabagas are creamy and sweeter than turnips which have a more pungent and bitter taste. This is the main reason why rutabagas are a better choice for mashing than turnips.

The green tops of both plants are edible and can be prepared simply like these sautéed Swiss chard and beet greens.

WHICH IS HEALTHIER – TURNIPS OR RUTABAGAS?

Both root vegetables have similar nutrition profiles as they’re high in fiber and rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin B6 and C.

Rutabagas have slightly more calories per cup than turnips (50g vs. 36g) but also 2g more fiber.

All in all, rutabagas and turnips are very comparable from a health standpoint.

Chopped and peeled rutabaga in a glass bowl.

MASHED POTATOES VS. MASHED RUTABAGA

Usually, cauliflower is used as a low-carb substitute for potatoes especially when serving mashed.

Heck, I’ve done it before a zillion times over (this creamy pumpkin cauliflower mash being one of my favorites) and I’m sure you have too.

So rutabagas are a welcome change of pace as a mashed potato substitute. They’re lower in calories and a cup has just 12g of carbohydrates.

Mixing rutabaga with potatoes is another great option if you want to cut back on calories and carbohydrates but still retain some potato taste and texture.

Mashed rutabaga and potatoes can be made the same way as this recipe that uses just rutabaga if desired.

If you’re looking for a mashed potato alternative that isn’t really lower-carb but happens to be paleo, Whole30 and AIP diet friendly, mashed yuca root is a great option!

Fresh sage, rosemary, oregano and peeled garlic cloves on a wooden plate.
Minced herbs and garlic with melted butter in a pan.

INGREDIENTS TO MAKE MASHED RUTABAGA

Like a simple mashed potato recipe, mashed rutabagas are just as easy to make.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled and chopped
  • butter or ghee (can be plant-based butter for vegan)
  • garlic cloves
  • fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme or a mixture)
  • milk of choice (dairy or plant-based)
  • salt and pepper

HOW TO MAKE THIS MASHED RUTABAGA RECIPE

Place the chopped rutabaga in a large pot and cover with cold, salted water. Bring the pot to a boil.

Once boiling, cover and cook until rutabaga are fork tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt half the butter over medium-low heat.

Add the minced garlic and herbs and cook until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Drain the rutabaga once tender and return to the pot. Add the remaining butter and milk and mash using a potato masher.

Once mashed to your preferred texture, add the butter garlic and herb mixture and mash again until just incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mash to a serving bowl and garnish with some freshly cracked black pepper, coarse sea salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes and any extra herbs you have on hand.

If you prefer a more subtle garlic flavor, consider roasting it in the air fryer first.

Mashing boiled rutabaga in a pot with a potato masher.

CREAMY MASHED RUTABAGA

If you’re someone who prefers extra creamy mashed potatoes (think the texture of instant mashed potatoes), you may prefer these mashed rutabagas to be a similar consistency.

Use a food processor in that case instead of a potato masher to make the mashed rutabaga.

You can also adjust the amount of butter and milk to your preference.

Using heavy cream instead of milk and/or more butter will also result in a creamier consistency.

Mashed rutabaga recipe with garlic, herbs and butter.

WHAT DOES RUTABAGA TASTE LIKE?

Since rutabaga is a milder root vegetable, the taste of this mash is mellow.

When cooked, the rutabagas take on the flavor of a potato mixed with the earthiness of carrots and cabbage.

The garlic herb butter really becomes the main flavor component to the rutabaga mash and brings a nice sense of decadence to the side dish.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

Once prepared, mashed rutabaga can be refrigerated and frozen.

If freezing, leave a little room in the storage container for expansion since there is a bit of water content to the rutabagas.

If stored in the refrigerator, it will last up to a week in an air-tight container.

To reheat, either microwave or slowly heat on the stovetop in a sauce pot.

Mashed rutabaga side dish in a bowl with spoon.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH MASHED RUTABAGA

Rutabaga mashed potatoes are a wonderful side dish for any meal you’d typically serve mashed potatoes with.

It’s also a great healthier option for a Thanksgiving spread. A spoonful of slow cooker cranberry sauce would be a delicious pairing with the rutabaga!

Serving air fryer scallops over a plate of the rutabaga mash or alongside some baked wild sockeye salmon are two of my favorite options for easy dinners.

But whether it’s a simple weeknight meal or a holiday worthy main course like pan seared duck breast, apple butter roasted chicken, stuffed turkey roulade, mashed rutabaga is an easy, healthy and even keto-friendly side dish that still stands out in flavor.

Rutabaga mashed potatoes.

MORE MASHED RECIPES LIKE THIS TO ENJOY:

Mashed Purple Sweet Potatoes
Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower with Caramelized Onions
Goat Cheese and Spinach Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Creamy Parsnip Puree

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4.91 from 72 votes

Mashed Rutabaga with Garlic Herb Butter

Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Mashed rutabaga recipe.
Rutabaga stands in for potatoes in this mashed rutabaga with garlic herb butter side dish. It's a wonderful lower-carb option that brings all the same comfort food vibes.

Ingredients 

  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, etc.
  • 2 tablespoons milk or unsweetened plant-based milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch red pepper flakes, optional

Instructions 

  • Place chopped rutabaga in a pot with cold salted water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes.
  • While rutabaga boils, add 1 tablespoon of butter to a small skillet over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the garlic and herbs. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
  • Drain the rutabaga, return to the pot and mash with remaining tablespoon of butter and milk using a potato masher. Alternatively, place in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add the garlic herb butter mixture along with salt and pepper to taste. Mash or process again until just combined.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 126kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 3gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 117mgFiber: 3gSugar: 8g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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Recipe Rating




28 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So good! It was my first time using Rubataga and it’s definitely not my last! Can’t wait to try it again!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve never cooked with rutabaga before, but this recipe made it so easy to prepare. The mashed rutabaga turned out creamy and flavorful. Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I love this recipe and swear by it to everyone! I’m a big mashed potato fan but I find this recipe better and easier to make!

  4. 5 stars
    My first time using rutabaga and it is a great alternative for potatoes. I like the texture and the taste specially combines with the herbs and butter.

  5. 5 stars
    I’m a first-time rutabaga eater! I used coconut milk and omitted the red pepper flakes. This was delicious and I will be making this again!

  6. These were so much better than cauliflower mashed potatoes! Thank you! They had a slight sweetness that went well with my chicken marsala.