What is the difference between a turnip and a rutabaga? One of my family members asked me this question a few days ago. We hastily all pulled out our smartphones (What would we do without those brilliant pocket-sized-problem-solvers) and tried to find the best explanation. Aside from the obvious differences i.e. they look different, are generally different sizes, they’re called two different names, and are planted differently- we wanted to know when you’re at the grocery store and are forced to make one of those life-altering rutabaga or turnip decisions- which one do you choose… and why?

Here in this post you will find what I hope is some handy information on how to differentiate between these two root vegetables.


Interestingly enough, both turnips and rutabagas come from the same family- “Brassica”. Cabbage is also a member of that family and many botanists suggest that rutabagas are a hybrid between cabbage and turnips. When cooking with these vegetables, they can be used quite interchangeably. The only key difference is that while turnips tend to be sharper tasting, rutabagas are sweeter. Both have a similar snappy taste like you would find in a cabbage. You will also notice that turnips tend to be more of a summer vegetable, while rutabagas tend to be a winter vegetable.

So there you have it- although they look quite different from each other, the difference between these two vegetables is very minimal… And who would have thought they were related to cabbage?! Next time you are at the grocery store you will be armed with enough material to talk the regular root vegetable buyer’s head off. Hope you all enjoyed this post!

See you next time 🙂