Everyone has their own idea of what makes the perfect Christmas dinner, whether it’s slow-roasted meats, savoury herb stuffing, crisp, fluffy roast potatoes, buttered greens or rich, aromatic gravy. But for most people, no Christmas dinner would be complete without a delicious helping of golden, honey-glazed roast parsnips. The earthy, nutty flavour of roast parsnips, with perfectly crispy outsides and sweet, slightly chewy centres, makes them the perfect partner for robust, roasted dishes and rich stuffings, which explains why they’re such a family favourite at Christmas.
Follow our simple and delicious recipe for perfect honey-roasted parsnips every time. These are always in demand at any family gathering, so a good tip is to make more than you think you’ll need. It's better to make too many than too few, and there are so many things you can do with leftovers.
If you do find yourself with more parsnips than your family can eat, try cutting them into small pieces along with your other leftover vegetables to make bubble and squeak. The mixture should be about half veg, half potato, so if you don’t have enough leftover potatoes, you may need to cook some more. Leftover bubble and squeak works great with sausage, bacon, a fried egg, field mushrooms and tomatoes as part of a lazy Boxing Day brunch.
Or, if you’re watching your calorie intake after a heavy Christmas lunch, you can make a spicy parsnip soup by blending the parsnips to a puree, then softening some onion and garlic in a pan, and adding the parsnips, some stock and garam masala.
Honey-roast parsnips: Ingredients
2kg (7oz) parsnips
10g (1tbsp) butter
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp olive oil
½ a bunch of fresh thyme, plus extra to garnish
Sea salt and black pepper
Honey-roast parsnips: Steps to make it
- Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 5 / 190C / 375F
- Scrub the parsnips until clean, remove the tops and bottoms, then slice in half lengthways. Try to select parsnips that are roughly the same size, to ensure they cook evenly.
- Fill a large pan with water and add some salt. Parboil the parsnips for 10 minutes, and allow to drain.
- Pick the thyme leaves, and toss all the ingredients together until the parsnips are well coated.
- Arrange the parsnips in one layer on a roasting tray and place into the oven. Make sure that none of the parsnips is touching. Roast for 40 minutes, or until golden.
- Pick some extra thyme leaves and sprinkle over the top, to garnish
- Serve, and enjoy.
Parsnips: other recipes
Parsnips also taste great paired with other roast vegetables. For a variation on our basic recipe, try making honey-roasted carrot and parsnips. All you need to do is add some sticks of carrot, roughly the same size as the parsnips, and use cumin, coriander (cilantro) and cinnamon instead of thyme, for a middle eastern flavour that goes great with lamb or mutton.
Another recipe that makes the most of the combination of parsnip and carrot is this savoury parsnip and carrot tart, made with a golden pastry case and a light, creamy filling with a touch of parmesan. Try a slice or two with a light leafy salad for a tasty and satisfying lunch. For more recipes using carrots and other root vegetables, check out our list of root vegetables and how to cook them.
Like most root vegetables, parsnips are incredibly versatile. They can be boiled, mashed, fried, roasted or grilled, and made into anything from wine to crisps (chips). If you want to know how to make parsnip soup, spicy parsnip soufflé, gluten-free parsnip fritters and other tasty recipes, take a look at our article on how to cook parsnips.
Parsnips were even used as a source of sugar in Europe before cane and beet sugars were available, and their sweet flavour means they taste great in desserts, too. This parsnip cake with cinnamon combines the sweet nuttiness of parsnip with a zesty lemon custard filling, and a spicy cinnamon and hazelnut crust. Delicious as a dessert or part of an indulgent afternoon tea.