How to cook parsnips

How to cook parsnips
(Image credit: Getty)

From peeling to roasting, from mashing to storing, here's everything you need to know about cooking parsnips.

Parsnips are a popular root vegetable traditionally served in the winter months and are often roasted. In season from September to March, it is said that the best-flavoured parsnips are those that have been left in the ground until after the first frosts.

Parsnips are a versatile vegetable that can be mashed to make a tasty pie topping, added to soups and stews, or simply served as a side as part of your roast dinner spread. However you choose to serve parsnips, our guide will help to make preparing them and cooking parsnips much easier.

When it comes to choosing parsnips from your local supermarket or greengrocers we'd recommended opting for small to medium-sized parsnips if possible. Large ones tend to be tough and fibrous in the middle.

*How to prepare parsnips *Do you have to peel your parsnips before roasting them? *Can you prepare parsnips the day before cooking? *Can you roast parsnips without boiling them first? *How to cook parsnips *How to roast parsnips *How to steam parsnips *How to make parsnip mash *How to store parsnips *How do you store parboiled parsnips overnight? *How to serve parsnips *Our best parsnip recipes

Roasted carrots and parsnips cut into rounds in a dish with a spoon

How to prepare parsnips

To prepare parsnips for cooking first wash and peel them. Trim the ends and discard. Next, cut into equal-sized pieces. This will ensure that they all take the same time to cook.

If roasting the parsnips either cut them into halves and quarters lengthways or if you prefer cut the peeled parsnips into rounds. This will not impact the taste so just choose the look you like best.

Do you have to peel your parsnips before roasting them?

We'd recommend peeling parsnips before roasting them, especially the larger ones. If you leave the skin on, you'll likely end up with a tough, woody texture that no one really wants. If you have very small, younger parsnips you could probably get away without peeling them if they're proving difficult.

Can you prepare parsnips the day before cooking?

You can prepare parsnips the day before roasting them. In fact, you can get them entirely ready to go into the oven. Once you have prepared the parsnips following the steps above and then put them into a large bowl. Mix with oil, seasonings, and any other extras you are adding (such as herbs or mustard).

Mixing the parsnips together with the additional ingredients will ensure that all of the parsnips are evenly coated. You can now arrange them in a roasting dish and cover them with clingfilm. Store in a cool place or the fridge if preferred until ready to cook the next day. To cook remove the clingfilm and roast for the desired time.

Can you roast parsnips without boiling them first?

Most people like to parboil their parsnips first as they are less likely to be dry and chewy after the roasting process. But if like us you prefer firmer parsnips or are short of time we suggest skipping this step.

To parboil parsnips put the parsnips into cold water, bring them up to the boil, and cook for roughly 5 mins. Drain and then continue with the roasting step.

How to cook parsnips

Although parsnips cook a little more quickly than potatoes you can generally cook them in the same way. Peel (or just scrub baby ones), halve, quarter, or cut into chunks and then boil, roast or mash.

Our recommended way to cook parsnips is by roasting them. Roasting parsnips enhance the natural sweetness of the vegetable. To balance this sweetness you could cook parsnips with spices such as fresh chilli, harissa paste, or curry paste. Or if you want to enhance their sweetness, coat them in honey and mustard which will caramelise during roasting for extra stickiness.

How to roast parsnips


  • 4-6 medium-sized parsnips
  • 3tbsp fat, this can be vegetable oil, olive oil, or if you have it goose fat
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper


How to cook roast parsnips: Step 1

How to cook roast parsnips: Step 1

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Fan 180ºC/Gas Mark 6. Peel the parsnips and trim off both ends. Cut them in half or quarters lengthways depending on their size and place them in a roasting tin.

The parsnips will cook faster and more evenly if they are not overlapping so try to find a baking tray that has enough space to arrange them neatly in rows.

How to cook roast parsnips: Step 2

How to cook roast parsnips: Step 2

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

Parsnip and tomato gratin recipe

Parsnip and tomato gratin

(Image credit:

For something a little different we love this. It's so easy to make. The tomatoes and parsnips taste great together. And it gives the parsnips a more summery feel.

Get the recipe: Parsnip and tomato gratin recipe

Rose Fooks
Deputy Food Editor

Rose Fooks is Deputy Food Editor at Future Publishing, creating recipes, reviewing products and writing food features for a range of lifestyle and home titles including GoodTo and Woman&Home. Before joining the team, Rose obtained a Diplome de Patisserie and Culinary Management at London’s Le Cordon Bleu. Going on to work in professional kitchens at The Delaunay and Zedel.