Turnip vs Rutabaga: Difference and Comparison

Turnip and Rutabaga are both root vegetables and members of the Brassica genus, which explains why many people are perplexed by the distinction between turnip and rutabaga.  

Even though they come from the same genus, but they have different species. They also have different appearances, nutritional values, and tastes. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Turnips have a mild, slightly sweet taste, while rutabagas boast a richer, earthy flavor.
  2. Turnips are smaller and more round, whereas rutabagas are larger and slightly elongated.
  3. Rutabagas have yellowish flesh and purple-tinged skin, while turnips have white or pale yellow flesh with white skin.

Turnip vs Rutabaga

The difference between turnip and rutabaga is that turnip is a part of the Brassica Rapa species and is white-fleshed along with white skin, whereas rutabaga is a part of the Brassica napobrassica species and is yellow-fleshed along with yellow skins. Both are mild in taste, but rutabaga is comparatively sweeter. 

Turnip vs Rutabaga

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The turnip is a cool-season crop with a short growing season.

Turnips are sown in moderate climates either in early spring or late summer and develop quickly enough to yield a crop before summer or late fall weather extremes emerge. It is sometimes produced as a cattle feed crop.

Turnips are ideal when they are small and sensitive, about the size of a tennis ball. They become woody as they grow in size. 

Rutabagas are biennial plants. They have waxy and smooth leaves with an expanded base. They have distinct necks and well-defined leaf scars.

The roots are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, and their flesh is solid and well-preserved during winter. It can be eaten raw or pickled. The leaves are frequently prepared in the same way that other mustard greens are. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Turnip Rutabaga 
Species Brassica Rapa Brassica napobrassica 
Common Name White turnip Yellow turnip 
Color White-fleshed with white skin Yellow flesh with yellow skins. 
Usage Small varieties that are tender are meant for human consumption and large varieties are used as feed for livestock. The leaves and taproots are meant for human consumptions. 
Taste Mild Comparatively sweeter 
Size Smaller Larger 
Calories 36 calories per cup 50 calories per cup 
Sugar 4.9 g 7.8 g 

What is Turnip? 

Turnip, known as white turnip, is a hardy biennial mustard family plant that is grown for its fleshy roots and soft growing tops.

The turnip is said to have originated in central and eastern Asia, but it is now farmed across the temperate zone.  

Young turnip roots are consumed raw or pickled, whereas young turnip leaves are cooked and served. When cooked and either whole or mashed, the roots are frequently used in stews. 

A turnip’s skin and flesh are both white. The protruding part above ground is purple or greenish in color. Other tomato shapes have been observed occasionally, but the root is normally conical. There are no side roots on turnips. 

Turnip leaves, which have a flavor similar to mustard greens, are commonly consumed as turnip greens. Turnips are harvested at smaller sizes, and baby turnips are very desirable.

These feature yellow, red, and orange meat that can be eaten fresh in salads. 

The thickening of the seedling’s primary root and the base of the young stem immediately above it results in the formation of the turnip root.

During the first year, the stem is short, and bears leave that form a rosette-like bunch at the root’s tip. The leaves are grass-green and covered in coarse hairs. 

Turnip is a vegetable that can be found in salads, soups, and casseroles. Larger types are fed to farm animals as fodder. In Turkey, turnips are used to flavor carrot and spice juice. In the Middle East, they are used as pickles.

Turnip has therapeutic qualities and is thought to lower body temperature. 


What is Rutabaga? 

Rutabaga is a mustard family root vegetable cultivated for its fleshy roots and tasty leaves.

Rutabagas are thought to have originated in Russia or Scandinavia during the late Middle Ages as a cross between turnips and wild cabbage. It is also known as yellow turnip, wax turnip, Swedish turnip, swede, or neep. 

White-fleshed species have rough green skin and an irregular shape, whereas yellow-fleshed species have smooth green, purple, or bronze skin and are more regularly structured.

If the plant is allowed to grow for a second season, it produces cross-shaped blooms with four petals ranging in color from mild to brilliant yellow to pale orange. 

Its flesh is yellow in color. It has a denser root system and multiple lateral branches. Rutabaga leaves are waxy and smooth and grow from the plant’s aboveground part.

Rutabaga has a prominent neck and a noticeable crown. Vegetables in larger sizes are harvested. 

Rutabaga is roasted and eaten with meats, but it is also a key ingredient in Swedish casserole, used as a flavor enhancer in soups and salads, and baked or boiled with potatoes.

Rutabagas, like potatoes, can be peeled ahead of time. Rutabaga is used in a variety of dishes, including Rotmos, Smalahove, Raspe ball, and Potch. 

Rutabagas retain their tenderness as they grow in size. Even if you find any small ones, they are normally collected when they are grown. 

They are cold-hardy and are only sown as a major or late crop. The plants are commonly grown in Canada, the United Kingdom, northern Europe, and, to a smaller extent, the United States, as a cattle feed crop. 


Main Differences Between Turnip and Rutabaga 

  1. Turnip is part of the Brassica Rapa species, whereas rutabaga is part of the Brassica napobrassica species. 
  2. Turnip is commonly known as white turnip, and rutabaga is commonly known as yellow turnip. 
  3. Turnip is white in color, and the rutabaga is yellow. 
  4. Small varieties of turnips are used for human consumption, and larger varieties are used as livestock feed. On the other hand, rutabaga’s leaves and tap roots are meant for human consumption. 
  5. Both are mild in taste, but rutabaga is sweeter. 
  6. Turnip is harvested when it’s smaller in size, whereas rutabaga is harvested when it’s larger. 
  7. Turnip has 36 calories per cup, along with 4.9 g of sugar. Rutabaga has 50 calories per cup, along with 7.8 g of sugar. 
Difference Between Turnip and Rutabaga


  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-56901-2_7 

Last Updated : 24 November, 2023

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