Parsnip Puree is a tasty side dish featuring sweet and creamy parsnips combined with roasted garlic and rich butter, plus Parmesan and thyme. It’s easy enough for every day, yet impressive enough for holidays!

a big bowl of mashed parsnips with melty butter

Easy Pureed Parsnips with Roasted Garlic

This Parsnip Puree is in regular rotation this winter, a super delicious alternative to mashed potatoes!

Why did it take me so long to learn about the deliciousness of parsnips? It’s just not something I grew up with. But better late than never, I now know they’re darn delicious!

This pureed parsnips recipe is earthy-sweet, and beautifully flavored with roasted garlic and rich butter, plus Parmesan and thyme.

Serve mashed parsnips any time you please. The dish is easy enough for a weeknight meal, yet impressive enough to serve as a holiday side dish. They’re a little unexpected, with mashed potatoes being the expected – and with just a little garnish, these parsnips can have an elegant presentation.

What Do Parsnips Taste Like?

Parsnips are a root vegetable shaped like a carrot, but with a paler, cream-like color.

They have a very unique flavor that’s slightly sweet, plus earthy and nutty. Some people detect a hint of licorice flavor, which is not surprising as this vegetable comes from the same family as fennel and anise.

And they can be prepared just like other root vegetables: roasted, boiled, mashed, grilled, or fried.

Parsnips aren’t quite as starchy as potatoes, so they don’t have the same light and fluffy texture when mashed. So the secret to achieving thicker, creamier mashed parsnips is to actually add a potato to the mix!

While this is my first venture with parsnips, it definitely won’t be my last. I plan to throw some parsnips into the mix when roasting other root vegetables, and will add some to my next pot roast. I’m also looking forward to grilled parsnips next summer with grilled chicken and grilled steak!

Overhead view of parsnip puree ingredients

What You’ll Need

This parsnip side dish is made with less than 10 ingredients, with most of them being pantry staples. Scroll down to the recipe card for the measurements.

  • Garlic – We’re using lots of fresh roasted garlic in this recipe. When the garlic is roasted it becomes softened, mellow, and sweet – absolutely gorgeous with the parsnips.
  • Olive oil – Olive oil helps roast the garlic.
  • Parsnips – Parsnips are the star of the show! They’re available in most grocery stores or at farmers’ markets in the fall/winter and they look and taste similar to a carrot.
  • Yukon gold potato – Adding a little bit of potato to the parsnip puree is the secret to a thicker, creamier puree. It just gives the puree a bit of a creamy boost. If you don’t have a potato on hand, you can skip it, but I highly recommend adding one if you can.
  • Salt & pepper – Salt and pepper season the puree in a simple, classic way.
  • Half & half – Half & half adds creaminess and thins out the puree a bit.
  • Butter – Butter adds richness and delicious flavor.
  • Thyme – Thyme adds a bit of fresh herbaceousness. I also like to sprinkle a few thyme leaves over the top of the finished dish, for a pretty presentation.
  • Parmesan – Parmesan adds a salty, nutty, delicious cheesiness to the parsnips.

Recipe Variations

These mashed parsnips are super versatile. There are many ways to switch them up using ingredients you have on hand.

  • Use different herbs or seasonings. You can flavor these parsnips any way you like. Try swapping out the thyme for rosemary, sage, or tarragon.
  • Use fresh garlic. If you don’t want to roast the garlic, no problem! Just add 2 smashed and peeled cloves of garlic to the vegetables in step 4 and boil/puree the garlic with the parsnips.
  • Make it extra creamy. If you want to add even more richness and creaminess, try adding a big spoonful of creme fraiche or mascarpone.

How to Roast Garlic in the Oven

Roasting garlic is super easy and infuses these parsnips with irresistible flavor. The garlic is softened, with a milder flavor that’s rich and sweet – which really enhances dishes like this.

  • Cut the garlic. Cut about 1/4″ off the top of the head of garlic. Be sure to cut all cloves open while keeping the root and bulb intact.
  • Add oil. Place garlic bulb in the middle of a double layer of foil. Then drizzle the cut side of the garlic bulb with olive oil.
  • Roast. Wrap the garlic up with the foil and place it in a small dish or pan. Roast at 400° F for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and softened. Set aside.

How to Make Parsnip Puree

overhead photo of bowl of parsnip puree with melted butter

This healthy side dish comes together in just a few steps.

  • Roast the garlic. Roast the garlic as directed above.
  • Boil the parsnips and potatoes. Place the parsnips, potato, and a teaspoon of salt in a pot with just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-high. Boil for 17-20 minutes, until the parsnips are fork tender.
  • Add the other ingredients. Drain the vegetables. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cheese. Squeeze the garlic from the skin and add it to the pot as well.
  • Mash the vegetables. Use an immersion blender to blend everything to a creamy mashed texture. You can blend them as little or as much as you like, to enjoy a parsnip puree that’s a bit chunky or completely smooth.
  • Season. Fold in the Parmesan, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with additional fresh thyme leaves if desired.
A spoon digging into a plate of parsnip puree

Serving Suggestions

Mashed parsnips are a versatile side. You can serve them in place of mashed potatoes with most meals. The nutty, slightly sweet flavor pairs particularly well with roasted and grilled meats.

This parsnip puree would be great with Italian meatloaf muffins or meatloaf with chili sauce. It’d be delicious served with Swedish meatballs, or slow roasted with classic pot roast or hard cider pot roast. And perfection with a grilled steak or bacon wrapped scallops!

This recipe also makes an easy, elegant side dish for the holidays. Serve a steaming bowl of mashed parsnips with turkey tenderloin, a beautiful (and easy!) mustard pork loin roast, or stuffed pork chops.

A plate of parsnip puree with butter

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Store pureed parsnips in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave. You may want to add a splash of half-and-half to boost the creamy texture.

Can I Freeze Mashed Parsnips?

Yes, you can freeze this parsnip puree.

Allow it to cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Thaw overnight in the fridge then reheat on low in a saucepan, stirring frequently. You may want to add a splash of half & half as well.

More Easy Side Dishes:

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a bowl of parsnip puree with melted butter

Parsnip Puree

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Parsnip Puree is a tasty side dish featuring sweet and creamy parsnips combined with roasted garlic and rich butter, plus Parmesan and thyme. It's easy enough for every day, yet impressive enough for holidays!

Ingredients

  • 1 small head garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 cups peeled diced parsnips (about 5 large parsnips)
  • ½ cup peeled and diced Yukon Gold potato (about 1 medium potato)
  • 1½ teaspoons Morton kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¼ cup half & half
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
    2. Cut ¼” off the top of the head of garlic, making sure that all of the cloves are cut open and the root and bulb remain intact. Place garlic bulb on a double layer of foil, then drizzle the cut side of the garlic with olive oil.
    3. Wrap the garlic up loosely with the foil and place it in a small oven-safe dish. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the garlic is golden brown and softened. Set aside to cool.
    4. Add the parsnips, potato, and 1 teaspoon salt to a medium saucepan. Add enough water to just barely cover the vegetables and then place the pan over high heat.
    5. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium to medium-high. Boil for 17-20 minutes, or until the parsnips are fork tender.
    6. Drain the water and return the vegetables to the pan. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, half & half, butter, and thyme.
    7. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins and into the parsnip puree.
    8. Use an immersion blender on low speed to mash the vegetables. Increase the speed of the blender and continue to puree until you reach your desired consistency. Blend as little or as much as you like, from a bit chunky to completely smooth.
    9. Stir in the grated Parmesan and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving dish, if desired. Sprinkle with additional fresh thyme leaves, if desired. Enjoy hot.

Notes

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 353Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 731mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 8gSugar: 10gProtein: 8g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.

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a bowl of parsnip puree with melted butter