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How To Easily Peel And Cook Rutabaga (Boil & Roast)

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2 whole rutabagas with a leaf of kale on a autumn colored piece of flannel material for How To Easily Peel And Cook Rutabaga (Boil & Roast)

I cannot remember a Thanksgiving dinner that didn’t have a steaming hot dish of rutabaga. It is a perfect side dish for any roast, turkey, or any other meal. Rutabaga is deliciously creamy, earthy, peppery, and sweet with a fun texture. This post will show you how to easily peel and cook rutabaga (boil &roast).

You can usually find rutabaga in the grocery store or at a farmer’s market in autumn. Most of the time they are coated in a paraffin wax to prevent them from drying out and to extend storage life. The easy way to remove the waxy skin is to peel it. 

2 bowls of rutabaga one mashed in a white bowl and one roasted in a green bowl on a wooden board for How To Easily Peel And Cook Rutabaga (Boil & Roast)

Peeling them seems like a daunting task because of the tough exterior, but it can easily be done with a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler. I will show you in step-by-step photos how to peel rutabaga and two different ways to prepare them – mashed and roasted. Get yourselves a rutabaga and follow these easy steps to peel and prepare these yummy round root vegetables.

What is A Rutabaga

2 whole rutabagas on a wooden board for How To Easily Peel And Cook Rutabaga (Boil & Roast)

A rutabaga is a root vegetable that is similar to a turnip. It is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, and it has purple or yellow skin and creamy yellow-white flesh. Rutabagas are a good source of vitamins A and C, and they are also a good source of fiber.

They can be eaten cooked or raw, and they are often used in soups, stews, and mashed dishes. In relation to potatoes – they have half the carbs and 4x the fiber! Rutabagas are a peppery vegetable with a unique sweetness that shines through when cooked.

Other root vegetables include:

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Beets
  • Radishes
  • Kohlrabi

History Of Rutabaga

There is much debate about the origin of rutabagas. Rutabagas are thought to be a hybrid of a turnip and wild cabbage. Some say the first rutabagas were cultivated in parts of Scandinavia and Russia sometime in the 1500s.

Map section of Scandinavia

Some say that rutabagas are believed to have originated in Sweden (as a Swedish turnip) in the 16th century and were brought to England and the rest of the United Kingdom in the 17th century. 

Reports show that rutabagas were introduced to the United States in the early 19th century to rural New York farmers. It then slowly became a staple crop and one that could be depended on through cold winters. Because it grew readily in the northern parts of the US, it was a good choice for cultivators. 

Where Is Rutabaga Cultivated

Rutabagas are now grown in many parts of the world, including the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. The largest producer of rutabagas worldwide in the world is China. It takes anywhere from 80-100 days to grow just one rutabaga. 

part of a map showing the great lakes

Rutabagas prefer to be grown in cooler climates and they grow abundantly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan (maybe I should try some in the garden next year??) Askov, Minnesota is known as the rutabaga capital of the world with celebrations and fairs to celebrate this delicious root vegetable. 

How To Peel A Rutabaga

Peeled rutabaga on a wooden board with a red peeler and a chefs knife

There are a couple of ways to peel the waxy purplish-yellow rutabaga skin off. I use two different methods – a peeler and a knife.

How To Peel A Rutabaga With A Vegetable Peeler

1. Start with a proper-sized cutting board and set the rutabaga with the flat side down.

rutabaga on a wood board being peeled with a red peeler

2. Take a vegetable/potato peeler. and the best way to do it is to hold the top and do small strokes to remove smaller pieces of the skin. There isn’t that much wax so the peeler should remove it easily. 

Up close of a red peeler peeling a rutabaga

3. Work your way around the rutabaga and then pick it up to peel parts of the bottom. Raw rutabaga can be somewhat slippery so be careful not to let it slip. (I once cut my thumbnail with a peeler when I was about 10 years old – let’s just say that I am still cautious to this day.)

4. Using a vegetable peeler is a more simple way and you save more of the yellow flesh. 

How To Peel A Rutabaga With A Knife

1. Set the rutabaga flat side down on a cutting board.

rutabaga on a wooden board being cut with a knife

2. Select a knife (paring knife, chef’s knife– my choice, or your favorite sharp knife).

3. Cut the outer skin working in sections from the top to the bottom. It is easy to remove a thick layer so try to keep a steady hand and move the knife with the curve of this vegetable. 

4. Cut the ends off, removing any wax or skin. The bottom is a tough layer so use caution with a knife. 

How To Cut A Rutabaga

cut halves of rutabaga being cut at various stages.

Rutabaga is tough to cut much like a sweet potato is. It is one of the harder root vegetables. The simple method is to begin by cutting it in half from the root side down. 

Then cut into wedges.

Finally, cut into cubes.

Cut cubes of rutabaga on a cutting board

There are other ways to cut a rutabaga such as:

  • Thick slices
  • Paysanne cut (smaller bits)
  • Julienne cut (match sticks)
  • Thin slices
  • Strips

Ingredients And Instructions On How To Easily Peel And Cook Rutabaga (Boil & Roast)

Rutabaga can be cooked in a variety of ways much like other root/ thick-skinned vegetables. It is delicious mashed, roasted, or steamed. The first two ways are my favorite way to eat them and I’ll show you how I do it to get the best results. Cooking rutabaga is not hard, it’s similar to cooking potatoes.

To Make Mashed Rutabaga

To make delicious mashed rutabaga it needs to be peeled, chopped, and boiled. This is one of the easiest ways to prepare these large purple-skinned vegetables.

Ingredients to make mashed rutabaga on a wooden board.

1. Peel the fresh rutabaga, cut it into cubes, and place them into a large saucepan.

2. Fill the pot with cold water (for more even heating) and set on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Be sure to fill the pot with plenty of water so it doesn’t dry out. Add salt to the pot of water. 

raw cubes of rutabaga with a stream of water going into the pot.

3. Cover the pot leaving it slightly askew to let some steam escape and boil for 30-40 minutes until fork tender. 

4. Drain the water and mash with a potato masher, or electric mixer, or briefly in a food processor with the following ingredients until mixed.

pan of rutabaga being mashed with a hand masher


  • 1/4 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon of salt  – depends on the amount of rutabaga and taste
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

To Roast Rutabaga

To roast rutabaga, it needs to be peeled first, cut, and then roasted at high heat in the oven.

1. Peel rutabaga as shown above and cut it into 1-inch cubes (or small cubes).

Drizzling olive oil onto a pan of cubed rutabaga

2. Place the cubed rutabaga in a single layer onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and/or melted butter. 

3. Season with salt and black pepper and roast in a 400-degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until fork tender. 

Roasted cubes of rutabaga on a parchment paper


  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil (or a mix of the two) Butter has an excellent flavor. 
  • Salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Add additional seasonings if you like.


– For either cooking method, the cooking time depends on the size of the cut. Large chunks of rutabaga will take a long time to soften whereas thin slices will cook faster.

–  Be sure to taste as you season with spices and herbs. 

Seasonings For Rutabaga

– Other seasonings and ways to enhance your rutabaga recipe include:

  • Garlic Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Coriander
  • Curry
  • Chili Powder
  • Maple Syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Fresh herbs like chives, basil, or thyme
  • Creole seasoning

What To Serve Rutabaga With

​Rutabaga is one of those side dishes that goes with just about anything. It has graced our Thanksgiving tables for as long as I can remember and is a tradition in our family. We make everyone try it! 

Green jade bowl of roasted rutabaga for How To Easily Peel And Cook Rutabaga (Boil & Roast)

Here are some suggestions what to serve rutabaga with:

Up close view of rutabaga on a fork

How To Store And Reheat Rutagaba

Store Rutagaba

Rutabaga can be stored in a few different ways. 

Whole: To store rutabaga trim any leaves off and place whole rutabagas in a cool, dark, and dry space. They should keep well for several months.

Cooked: Rutabaga stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and freezes well in an airtight container for up to 6 months. 

Lone rutabaga on a wooden board.

Reheat Rutabaga

There are a couple of ways to reheat rutabaga. Here are some suggestions:

1. Stovetop Method – place the desired amount in a saucepan and heat on low stirring often until hot. Add a splash of water if needed.

2. Microwave Method- put rutabaga in a microwave-safe dish and cover with a damp paper towel or one of these silicone lids (they are awesome!)

3. Oven Method- place the rutabaga in an oven-safe dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Heat at 325 degrees until hot – about 15 minutes. 

Wrapping Up How To Easily Peel And Cook Rutabaga (Boil & Roast)

Have I mentioned yet that rutabaga is one of my favorite side dishes? Not just at the Thanksgiving table but any time of the year. It is a subtle blend of savory and sweet and goes well with a lot of different dishes. By following some basic methods to peel and cook rutabaga, you can make a dish that the whole family will love. 

White bowl of mashed rutabaga for How To Easily Peel And Cook Rutabaga (Boil & Roast)

One rutabaga will feed about 4-5 people, and 2 rutabagas will feed a lot of people. Mashed rutabagas go a long way and are delicious.

Try making this old world rutabaga vegetable as a side for your next meal – you will love it! 



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  1. Wow , what a great descriptive post. I love the maps. Thanksgiving is coming and rutabaga will be served!

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