This simple yet delicious Turnip Casserole is layered with savory caramelized onions, creamy bechamel sauce and Parmesan cheese. With only 20 minutes of hands-on time, it is a relatively effortless recipe to keep in your repertoire! It makes a great side dish to serve with roasted meat and poultry or for an elegant holiday meal.

turnip casserole in scalloped white baking dish with serving spoon and ingredients

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Why We Love This Turnip Casserole Recipe

Here in Vermont, the weather is quickly changing and there is no doubt that fall is in the air.  For us, when cooler weather comes, there is something so comforting about enjoying a healthy, hearty, and oh-so-delicious casserole. It just warms you from the inside out.   

And over here, a dish that is making its way to our table quite frequently is this simple Turnip Casserole.  It’s an effortless, savory, decadent dish that pairs so well with a weeknight baked chicken recipe but is also fancy enough to serve alongside your Thanksgiving turkey or at your next holiday celebration. 

We know that many of you have never ventured down the turnip path before and may feel intimated about purchasing and cooking these scrumptious little root gems but not to worry!  This Ultimate Turnip Guide has so many great tips, tricks, and recipes to answer all your root-y needs! And in case you are wondering, yes, there is a difference between a turnip and rutabaga. Also be sure to try my simple Roasted Turnip recipe too! It’s great for beginners.

Key Ingredients For This Recipe

Turnips

This recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds of turnips. A good rule of thumb is that 1 pound of turnips is equal to 2 to 3 large turnips or 4 to 6 smaller turnips. Also, smaller turnips tend to be sweeter in taste more liken to a carrot while a larger turnip is more peppery in flavor similar to a radish.

Onion

While any onion will caramelize, yellow (like I used) and sweet onions, like Vidalia, caramelize the easiest and are most versatile in dishes. I also find that their sweet flavors complement the spicy undertones of the turnips really well.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To make this lower in saturated fat, we used good quality extra virgin olive oil instead of butter when caramelizing the onion.

Unsalted Butter

Salt content in butters varies from brand-to-brand. In a recipe, salt either enhances or masks flavors. To control the salt in this dish, be sure to use unsalted butter. However, if you are unable to locate unsalted, just reduce the amount of additional salt by a 1/4 teaspoon of salt per 1/2 cup of butter.

All-purpose flour

To thicken the sauce, we used all-purpose flour. For gluten-free alternatives, we suggest using a cornstarch slurry instead of trying to use gluten-free flours. 

Milk

You can use regular milk or lactose-free milk. To keep this lower in calories, we used fat-free (skim) milk, but any type of milk will work.

Half and Half

You can use full-fat or fat-free half and half. If you would like to make the roux extra creamy, you can use heavy cream.

Salt

Note that we recommend table salt for this recipe. You may use kosher salt instead, but you will want to double it.

Black Pepper

Black pepper has a distinct earthiness to its flavor that pairs extremely well with the spiciness of the turnips and sweetness of the onions. But feel free to use white pepper when making the béchamel sauce to avoid having the black flecks in the sauce.

Thyme

To season the béchamel, I used fresh thyme. If you are unable to locate fresh, feel free to substitute in 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme instead.

Parmesan Cheese

Freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano is used in the layers of this casserole. I find that the distinct nutty flavor of this hard Italian cheese pairs well with the flavors of this dish, however; if you are not a fan of this Parmesan feel free to substitute in Pecorino Romano.

Panko Bread Crumbs

For crunchy golden topping, use panko breadcrumbs instead of regular fine breadcrumbs. If you can find it, use whole-wheat for a tiny bit of additional fiber. If you are looking to make this gluten-free, you can substitute in your favorite gluten-free panko. I prefer Ian’s brand

Paprika

Paprika is used to season the breadcrumb mixture and give it a slight color.

Parsley

To garnish and to give the dish a pop of color, fresh parsley is finely chopped and sprinkled on top. If you are unable to locate fresh, feel free to leave off.

Step By Step Instructions To Make This Recipe

Step 1: Caramelize Onions

In a cold oven, place an 8-inch square baking dish on the middle rack and preheat to 400F.  Once preheated, remove the baking dish and add sliced onion, oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss to coat, cover with foil, return to oven.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Step 2: Prepare Turnips

Peel and thinly slice turnips, using a mandoline or a sharp knife, into 8-inch rounds. To make cutting with a knife easier, cut the turnips in half, then place the halves on their flat-cut side for better stability. Cut them into thick half-moons.    

Step 3: Make Bechamel Sauce

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in flour until lightly golden.  Gradually whisk milk and cream until sauce is thick and bubbling.  Stir in thyme, salt and pepper and remove from heat.  

Step 4: Assemble Casserole

Remove baking dish from oven and transfer onions to a large bowl.  Reduce oven temperature to 350F.  In an even layer, place half of the sliced turnips and half of the caramelized onions on the bottom of the dish.  Spread half the sauce over the vegetables and add half the cheese.  Repeat the layer one more time.  Cover with foil and place back in the oven.   

Step 5: Prepare Panko Topping

Bake casserole until turnips are tender.  While the casserole is baking, melt the remaining butter in a small microwaveable bowl.  To the melted butter add in panko and paprika.  Mix until panko is moistened and evenly covered with paprika.  

Step 6: Finish Casserole

Once turnips are tender, sprinkle panko mixture over casserole.  Bake, uncovered until top is golden brown.  Let cool before serving.  Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and enjoy!

FAQ And Expert Tips For This Turnip Casserole

How do I store leftovers?

Leftover turnip casserole can be stored it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Can this casserole be made ahead?

This is a wonderful make-ahead dish, making it a wonderful side for any of your holiday celebrations. To make ahead, prepare through step 4. Cover with foil and place in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, continue with the last two remaining steps on the recipe card, keeping in mind that the dish may need any extra 10 to 15 minutes to warm all the way through in step 5.

Is there a faster way to caramelize the onions?

Yes! You can caramelize onions using the traditional stovetop method. In a covered saucepan over medium-low heat, cook sliced onions until soft and golden brown – usually around 15 to 20 minutes. If you notice they are browning before softening, add in a tablespoon of water.

How do I peel a turnip?

Due to their thin skin, raw turnips aren’t difficult to peel. However, their shape can make them a bit wobbly on a cutting board. To avoid injury, using a sharp knife cut off the top and bottom. Now there is a flat base to work with, making it easy to pare away the peel in strips using a vegetable peeler.

More Delicious Recipes To Try

Parsnip, Potato, and Leek Gratin is a lighter healthier version of the classic potato au gratin.

This gluten-free, low-carb yet ridiculous delicious Creamed Turnip Recipe is the perfect side dish to any holiday buffet table or with a simple weeknight meal.

This make-ahead Easy Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole is a healthy and delicious option for a covered dish for the holidays. 

This Roasted Pork Loin would be a delicious entertaining main course to this recipe or any turnip dish you may love!

Easy Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Apple Skillet is a simple paleo-friendly and grain-free one pan recipe for entertaining during the holidays or for a weeknight meal. Pair with this turnip casserole for a complete meal!

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter for healthy recipes delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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turnip casserole in scalloped white baking dish with serving spoon

Turnip Casserole

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 30-35
  • Total Time: 45-55
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This simple yet delicious Turnip Casserole is layered with savory caramelized onions, creamy bechamel sauce and Parmesan cheese. With only 20 minutes of hands-on time, it is a relatively effortless recipe to keep in your repertoire! It makes a great side dish to serve with roasted meat and poultry or for an elegant holiday meal.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 ½ pounds turnips
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups milk, warmed
  • ½ cup half and half, warmed
  • 35 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only or ½ teaspoon dry thyme
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Place an 8-inch square or 2-quart baking dish on middle rack of oven and preheat to 400’F. Once the oven is preheated, remove baking dish from oven and add the onion, oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat then carefully cover with foil and return to the oven. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden and tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and slice turnips into 8-inch rounds. You can use a mandoline or a sharp knife. To make cutting with a knife easier, cut the turnips in half, then place the halves on their flat-cut side for better stability. Cut into thick half moons. 
  3. While the onions cook, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly golden, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and cream and continue to stir until sauce is thick and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Stir in thyme, remaining salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  4. Remove baking dish from the oven and transfer onions to a bowl. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Caution the baking dish will be hot. Layer ½ of the turnips and ½ of the onions in the baking dish. Spread half of the sauce over the vegetables and add about half the cheese. Repeat the layer one more time. Cover casserole with foil.
  5. Bake the casserole until the turnips are tender when pierced with a knife tip, about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Add in panko and paprika and mash with a fork until the panko is evenly moistened with the butter and the paprika has colored the panko evenly.
  6. Sprinkle panko mixture over the casserole. Bake, uncovered until top is golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Notes

Caramelizing Onions

While we love caramelizing the onions in the oven, because it is so hands off, it does take a little longer than the traditional stove top method. To speed up the prep time, you can cook the onions in a saucepan over medium-low heat, covered, until soft and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Splash in a tablespoon of water if they are browning before softening. 

Make Ahead

Prepare through step 4 up to 1 day in advance. Because the casserole will be cold, you will need to bake it for an additional 10 to 15 minutes in step 5.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2/3 cup
  • Calories: 208
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Fat: 13g
  • Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 7g
Turnip Casserole