Parsnip Substitutes: 16 Foods That Work GREAT

Parsnips are a great veggie for putting in winter soups, stews, and some broths, but they can also be sautéed, steamed, baked, roasted, mashed, and even fried. Indeed, parsnips are a versatile root vegetable that have a lot of nutritional value and yumminess. But whether you’re using parsnips in stews or as a side dish, it’s good to know about substitutions because this is one veggie that can be difficult to find.

Bunch of parsnip that can be substituted

What To Substitute for Parsnips

Our favorite parsnip substitute is parsley root, since its flavor and texture are very reminiscent of parsnips. A sweet potato also works as a great substitution for parsnips.

As a general rule, there’s a lot of veggies you can use as a regular parsnip substitute, and most of them have similar tastes and textures. The good news is that the list of vegetables you can substitute for parsnips is quite long, so if you’re unable to find some of them, you should be able to easily find others. Once you learn which veggies are good substitutes, you’ll no longer panic when you can’t find fresh parsnips.

Bunch of parsley root that can work as a parsnip substitute
Parsley root (shown above) can look very similar to parsnips, so make sure you double-check the label at the grocery store before buying.

Let’s take a look at a few food items that make a great substitute for parsnip:

Parsley Root

Using the stems of the whole parsley is a great option when you don’t have any parsnip. Although parsley root and parsnip are not in the same family, they do have a similar flavor and texture.

Celery Root

Also called celeriac root, celery root is white and has a roundish bulb shape. It is a bit on the starchy side when it comes to taste, and you can even use it as a substitute for mashed potatoes.


With a brown color and white in the center, salsify tastes sort of like artichoke and is used mostly in boiled and deep-fried dishes. It is not common in America, but it can be found in numerous European recipes and can work well as a parsnip replacement.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are usually available all year long, and you can choose between pale and darker versions. The darker ones are sweeter and drier than the lighter ones.

Sweet potatoes that work as a parsnip substitute
Sweet potatoes are a great choice for a parsnip substitute.


Carrots are available in red, orange and white color varieties and have similar taste and texture as parsnips, even though it may take you longer to cook your dishes with carrots.

Peruvian Parsnip

Also called arracacha, this veggie is used in many Australian recipes. It tastes almost exactly like parsnips, and it is even found in recipes for stuffed gnocchi and others.


If you’re cooking anything Mediterranean, you might run into recipes that require fresh turnips. The flavor of turnips is sweet and they have a crispy texture, especially if you use younger turnips, and they can be a phenomenal parsnip substitute.


Radishes can be red or purple and are recommended for roasted or stir-fried dishes, not dishes that are parsnip-based. They add just the right amount of sweetness to those dishes and can be an amazing parsnip alternative.

Kohlrabi Root

This veggie has a mild turnip flavor and becomes sweeter the older it gets. The plant is native to Northern Europe, but it is sometimes found in various stores. Kohlrabi root is a fine replacement for parsnip.

Other Parsnip Substitutes

Here are a few other veggies that can be substituted when you don’t have any parsnips:

  • Butternut squash
  • Rutabaga
  • Potato
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Yam
  • Jicama

There is a large selection of foods that can be used as a parsnips substitute. Most have tastes and textures similar to parsnips, whereas others seem to be completely different types of food. Either way, you have a lot of choices.

Can Daikon Radishes Replace Parsnips?

Many people wonder if daikon radishes are the same as parsnips, but there are a few differences between the two. The daikon radish has a sweet taste but one that is a milder taste than parsnips. With the exception of roasted parsnips, you can indeed substitute parsnips with these types of radishes. The reason it cannot be done with roasted parsnips is because they can be a bit spicy. Daikon radishes are popular in Asian countries and are a root vegetable.

What Is a Parsnip?

Parsnips are root vegetables that are similar to carrots in appearance, except that the base of the vegetable is a bit larger and it has a yellowish-beige color instead of orange. When you’re choosing your parsnip, make sure it is smooth and hard as well as free of any sprouts or soft spots. As long as it has those characteristics, the parsnip should be ripe and tasty.

Parsnips are filled with all types of vitamins and minerals, including fiber, potassium, and manganese, so they are incredibly healthy as well as tasty. In addition to tasting delicious, parsnips have a nice crunchy texture.

One thing you’ll want to remember about parsnips is that the outer layer of skin should be removed before you eat them. To start with, run the parsnips under running water and scrub them with a vegetable scrubbing brush, then peel them with a knife or vegetable peeler.

Peeled parsnip that can be substituted

If you’re not going to eat the parsnips immediately, leave them unwashed and put them in a plastic bag. You can refrigerate the bag for up to 10 days. Parsnips can often last longer than 10 days, but 10 days is the average.

What Does Parsnip Taste Like?

Parsnip is a winter vegetable, so it is used in numerous winter dishes, but if you’re not sure what it tastes like, just know that the flavor of parsnips is a little on the sweet side. It has a sweet and earthy flavor at the same time, with a bit of a nutty taste as well. In fact, before sugarcane came along, a lot of people in Europe used parsnips in numerous dishes to add some sweetness. Its hardiness and sweeter taste are what people tend to love the most about parsnips.


Parsnips are yummy vegetables that can add some oomph to winter stews and vegetable soup, but if you’re having trouble finding them, there are tons of other foods you can use instead. If you love parsnips, you’ll love a lot of other foods that can be used as an alternative to parsnips. It’s even fun to try different ones to see what kinds of tastes you can come up with!