roasted parsnips

roasted parsnips with cumin and honey

Parsnips will never win a beauty prize. They’ll never even place runner-up. And sadly, all too often they get passed up for a prettier-looking vegetable. Root vegetables have it rough, I tell ya.

Even Andrew wrinkled his nose in disappointment after finding out that I was planning on roasting parsnips for supper. “Wasn’t there anything else at the farmers’ market,” he grumbled.

Well, actually, no there wasn’t much more at my local market a few weeks ago, nor has the situation improved much last week. Which is why I kicked off my bimonthly “The Farm Stand” column over at Prospect Heights Patch, with something as homely and humble as a parsnip.

pretty they ain't

In fact, until about end of April, there’ll be a dearth of truly exciting “spring” produce at the market. Spring may be in the air, but the harvest certainly will make us wait to allow us to feel the seasonal shift on our plates.

But modest looks aside, this root vegetable is anything but boring. Roast it with a little citrus juice, honey and a couple of spices, and watch the parsnips come alive. Where they lose in appearances, they make up for in substance and taste.


Toothsome, almost nutty, and hearty – they taste of the promise of warmth amidst the March chill.

I made these parsnips as a side dish for my friend Anya’s birthday supper I was cooking one Sunday night. Most of my friends are now married with children, so when they come to dinner, their toddlers come with them, bringing their own tastes along.

all cut up and ready to bake

And while two-year olds are notorious for eating only a handful of things, Anya’s toddler just adored the parsnips, hungrily shoving pieces in her mouth. When she finished what was on her little plate, she reached for seconds.

Anya and her husband weren’t too far behind. And then I looked over, and Andrew was happily chewing along – I managed to change his mind on parsnips after all.

even toddlers clamor for seconds!

Perhaps I can change a few others – I’m feeling hopeful.

Roasted Parsnips with Honey and Cumin

3-4 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch coins (for wide pieces, feel free to half or quarter them)
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons mild honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl or cup, whisk together the orange and lemon juices, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and salt. Let stand for a minute or two before whisking in the oil.

3. Place parsnips in an oven-proof dish and pour the citrus-honey dressing over them. Mix well to combine. Cook for 45-50 minutes, basting from time to time, until the parsnips are golden and fork-tender. Serve immediately, with an extra drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, if desired.

Serves 4.


  • Teresa

    Thank you for sharing the recipe… I’ve never attempted to make/eat parsnips – but I am definitely going to try this. :)

  • Molly

    I’d never thought of adding honey, cumin and coriander to parships before. I love that idea! Parsnips are the saving grace of March: so sweet and lovely until we get the true vegetables of spring.

  • Sara

    I made parsnips last night, so it was all the more funny to open my reader and see this today. I cut them into little sticks and roasted them in nothing more than olive oil, salt, and pepper. They are amazingly sweet on their own, aren’t they? I love the idea of adding coriander. I’m going to offer these to my 3 year old and almost one year old today; we’ll see if they are as adventurous as Anya’s boy.

  • Delishhh

    Love parsnip. Buy it all the time, use it for my chicken stock etc. I believe it is a secret ingredient for my stock :) Great recipe.

  • Juanita

    I am a firm believer that roasting root vegetables is the secret to salvaging their bad reputation among haters…a little olive oil, sprinklings of salt and fresh herbs…a little crispness….a little softness. Transformed!

  • Winnie

    This looks so good! I adore parsnips and like the sweet/spicy idea of this. I’ve made a roasted parsnip and other root veggies recipe with maple syrup and cardamom- delish!

  • Lana

    I have managed to convert my Southern husband with parsnips and now we always have some in the fridge. I have roasted them together with the other usual suspects, but never by themselves. I don’t know why! Thanks for the inspiration – it has been pretty rainy and gloomy in SoCal lately:)
    My daughter is named Anya – Love that name!

  • Tamra

    I personally adore parsnips -my family on the other hand, not so much. I like to make French fries with parsnips instead of potatoes, or use a drizzle of maple syrup instead of honey when roasting them. Both these are well received by (most) kids, but I love the grown-up spices you’ve add here and plan to include them next time I cook parsnips. Thanks!

  • Sarah

    Roasted is definitely the way to eat parsnips. Boiling them produces a weird, not very nice smell, which I learned the hard way when I wanted them soft quick to make a mash I subbed for sweet potatoes in a cake recipe. It turned out nice, especially with Chinese five spice, but those pesky hard centers had to be picked out.

    Oh well, lesson learned! But yes, roasting brings out a sweetness in them and moistens them up.

  • Rachel

    I only ever have parsnips in my mother’s chicken soup, but I love them! This is definitely going to get made soon.

  • Claire

    Roasted parsnips are a staple of my mother’s roast lunches – I adore them and so does almost everyone who’s tried them (my sister is a weird exception) – they’re also good (in small quantities) in a beef stew – only one or two cause otherwise they’re too sweet but they add an interesting flavour to the other root vegetables that I use. I’m finally getting excited that winter is on its way.. :-)

  • Gretchen

    Root vegetables need a publicist or something! They are so delicious, and really the only local fresh produce you can get for many months of the year. I make a parsnip/white bean puree that goes really well with pan-seared salmon. It’s a little looser than mashed potatoes, but has that same warm, nourishing, comforting feel. And, my 2 year old and 4 old both will eat it!

  • Luba

    A woman after my own heart! I adore roasted parsnips and wish our CSA would grow some more (and maybe not so many turnips…) The recipe from with parsley horseradish butter is my favorite Thanksgiving side dish! By the way, is there a Russian word for parsnips?

  • Katie@Cozydelicious

    Parsnips remind me of my grandmother – but she never made them with such a lively dressing! I love the idea of bright citrus with the parsnips. Such a great flavor combo!

  • Sara

    Uf! My apologies to Anya. People keep thinking my almost-one-year-old boy is a girl, if that helps.

    I just saw a recipe for a parsnip cake, as in a dessert. Any thoughts on that? I’m not sure what to think.

  • Radish

    Sara – it was a funny mistake. I don’t know any parents who might get offended at that :) Certainly not my friends. Share the parsnip cake recipe – I’m intrigued!!

  • Sara

    I just got In the Sweet Kitchen from the library and saw it there. (By the way, how long until I break down and buy this book? The first half is amazing information on all sorts of baking ingredients, substitutions, flavor affinities…wow!) I guess if you can make a carrot cake you can make a parsnip cake?

  • Gretchen

    Here is my pasnip-white bean puree recipe at your request:

    Peel and cook ~5 medium sized parsnips any way you want until they are soft (I actually steam them in the microwave, but I think roasting them would be amazing). Drain & rinse 1 can of canellini beans. Use an immersion blender to puree together the parsnips, beans, ~1/4 cup olive oil, and 1/2 to 1 cup hot water (I use the water from steaming the parsnips). Season with salt. I usually heat the puree on the stove to keep it warm while I finish up the rest of my dinner–use more olive oil in the pan to keep it from sticking. Note: a lot of this is an approximation because I really don’t measure while I cook this, it’s more by feel. The end result should be looser than mashed potatoes, and there should be enough olive oil to make it creamy without overpowering the other ingredients.

  • Radish

    Gretchen – thanks!! I’m going to try it this weekend!! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

  • molly

    Indeed! Just wrote them up, myself. We’ve been roasting, and inhaling, parsnips for years (UH-mazing!). I’ve yet to doll them up, though, in anything but olive oil. WIll consider the citrus, next time.

  • Jennifer

    Great recipe! Can’t wait to try it….next year. Just harvested and ate our last parsnip. They are really easy to grow, for those who have a garden, and can stay in the earth all winter long. In fact, their taste improves tremendously after a few frosts.

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