We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Complete Christmas dinner menu

How to roast parsnips

By Grace Kindred

Article 7 of 7

Your guests are sure to be asking for seconds this Christmas with our top tips on roasting parsnips.

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

Whether you're cooking beef, chicken, goose or gammon, parsnips are the perfect winter root vegetables to add sweetness to your Christmas dinner.

Read on for how to prepare and roast your parsnips, as well as Jamie Oliver’s parsnips recipes, Delia’s alternative twist, and how Heston Blumenthal can help you make your parsnips hot stuff. 

Plus, find out what you can do with any roast parsnip leftovers, including parsnip soup, and alternatives on the traditional roast parsnips. How about parsnip mash or parsnip purée?

If you're thinking of growing your own veg, visit our guide to growing your own vegetables, for everything you need to know. It includes a list of monthly jobs and tips on how to save money by growing your own veg.

In this article 

How to roast parsnips 

  1. Preheat the oven to: 200ºC/180ºC fan/gas 5
  2. Line a roasting pan with foil and add the recommended amount of fat (around 2 tbsp of fat per four parsnips). Place in the hot oven to heat the fat.
  3. Toss the prepared parsnips in the roasting pan and fully coat them in the hot fat. 
  4. Ensure to spread the vegetable chunks evenly in the roasting pan, so they all have a chance to go crispy. 
  5. Roast for 35-40 minutes until golden and soft in the middle, regularly basting them in the hot fat throughout cooking.

Choosing the right fatty ingredient will stop your parsnips from going dry while roasting, such as olive oil, vegetable oil or beef dripping. For a really thick crispy layer, goose and duck fat works well (or you can place your parsnips in the same pan with the turkey and use the turkey fat).

Goose or duck fat will make your parsnips really crispy.

You'll also want to factor in what your oven is like, as this could change the timings. When we've tested ovens, we've found that some overheat by up to 30ºC more than the temperature set - enough to throw off your Christmas Day timings. 

If you're looking to replace your oven, find one that will cook accurately and evenly with our built-in oven, freestanding cooker and range cooker reviews.

How to save time cooking parsnips? 

Parsnips can be boiled or half-roasted the day before and kept in the fridge. Or prepared further in advance and frozen. If you don’t have space in the fridge, Rick Stein’s parsnips recipe suggests simply preparing the night before and leaving in cold water.

You can half-roast your parsnips the day before and keep in the fridge, Mary Berry recommends re-roasting in a hot oven at 190ºC/Fan 170ºC/Gas 5, for about 20 minutes.

Parsnips can be par-boiled or half-roasted the day before to save time.

It’s easy to roast the parsnips in one tin with similar root vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots - though, bear in mind, they take less time to cook than potatoes.

To boil, or not to boil? 

If you have prepared your parsnips on the day, place them in a saucepan with cold water (most chefs recommend adding a pinch of salt) and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, the parsnips will need less than five minutes to parboil, or between 5-10 minutes until cooked through.

If you’d prefer not to boil, Nigella puts her parsnips straight in a roasting tin with oil and roasts for 35 minutes.

If you're cooking lots on your hob for Christmas, you might want to consider a Best Buy hob – they’re easy to control and adjust, a world away from some hobs that we've found a pain to keep to the right temperature.

How to prepare parsnips? Should you peel them? 

There’s no right or wrong to peeling parsnips. Young/baby parsnips generally don’t need peeling - just scrubbed clean in the same way as potatoes. 

Older parsnips with a softer skin (which tend to be flexible/limp) and those with a waxy coating should be peeled thinly. Some can have a tough, fibrous core which is chewy to eat, so is best cut out and discarded.

Once the parsnips are washed, cut off the tops, slice in half lengthways and cut the strips in half. Though for extra crunchy roasted parsnips, Mary Berry’s parsnip preparation tips suggest cutting each one into eighths rather than quarters so there are more corners to pick up the fat.

Parsnip recipes from top chefs  

Jamie Oliver’s parsnip recipe uses runny honey and recommends adding rosemary and orange before roasting, for a festive flavour combo.  

For a twist on the classic roast parsnip, Jamie Oliver’s alternative parsnip recipe suggests tossing blanched parsnips in some flour and finely grated Parmesan, before roasting in the oven.

‘It is strange, I agree, to add honey to what is already the sweetest of vegetables’ says Nigel Slater in his roast parsnips with honey and thyme recipe. But adding honey to parsnips is the most popular way of preparing this winter root for your Christmas dinner table.
Gordon Ramsay spices up classic honey-glazed parsnips with sprigs of thyme, a cinnamon stick and star anise - quintessentially festive.

Delia has three alternative parsnip recipes. In one, she foregoes honey to add sweetness to her parsnips and uses maple syrup instead. But to add another layer, she pairs them with wholegrain mustard. 

She's also on a similar wavelength to Jamie Oliver when it comes to parmesan - she too uses it to pep them up. 

Fancy something a little hotter? You can try curried parsnips. Delia Smith uses curry paste as the accompaniment. 

You can find Delia's mustard and maple glazed parsnip, parmesan parsnip and curried parsnip recipes on her website.

Heston Blumenthal’s parsnip recipe also goes for a spicier take on the Christmas classic. He opts for curry-glazed parsnips - topped off with a sea salt and curry powder sprinkling.

Many well-known chefs add spice to their roast parsnips for a kick on Christmas Day.

Going against the traditional cooking method, Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, says: ‘I never roast parsnips in the oven because they toughen. Instead, I fry them ahead, which is much quicker, and then glaze them with honey.’

Parsnip soup recipe for leftovers 

Any leftover parsnips can be blended with other vegetables into a quick and easy soup, add some extra flavour with onion, garlic and a stock cube. Deliciously Ella combines a variety of spices in her roasted parsnip soup recipe, with subtle hints of tangy apple cider vinegar.

If you're thinking about using left overs to feed your family after Christmas day, it's worth considering getting a soup maker or jug blender.

The best jug blenders will help you whizz up even the toughest of ingredients in no time, leaving you with a smooth and delicious soup. A Best Buy soup maker will go one step further than blending - it'll warm the soup to just the right temperature too.

How many parsnips to buy? 

Supermarket parsnips often come in a bag of about 500g, Jamie Oliver recommends 2kg (around 4.4lbs) of parsnips to serve 10 people. For reference, 1lb of parsnips is equivalent to about four medium parsnips. 

So you don’t end up with some burnt roasted ones, it’s best to pick the parsnips of an even thickness, rather than ones with a particularly skinny end.

Fresh parsnips are pale and evenly-coloured, those with dark spots could mean that the vegetable is starting to rot.

Parsnips with splits and long thin roots (measuring millimetres in width), can have a tough woody texture with pithy centres. Choose your parsnips as you would carrots.

How long do parsnips keep for? 

Parsnips wrapped in a paper towel or in a plastic bag can last up to two weeks in a refrigerator. If you cut off the tops of freshly-picked ones and store them in a tub layered with dry peat moss in a cool part of your house (a garage or cellar work well) they can last for around six months.

Cooked parsnips can be kept in the fridge drawer and used within around three days. Parsnips can also be frozen, once they’ve been cooked and cooled down.

How long your food lasts in the fridge will depend on how good the fridge is at cooling food quickly and keeping it at the same temperature. Unfortunately, we have found models that don't manage to do these things very successfully.

If you're looking for a new fridge, visit our fridge freezer reviews before you buy.

SHARE THIS PAGE