Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme

Parsnip Gratin Recipe

I am baffled by the number of people who tell me they don’t like parsnips. Somehow it feels like being socked in the stomach. It feels so personal. And of course there is no use in attempting to convince anyone into liking them, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying. It usually backfires. Isn’t it true, that once we make up our mind about something, or someone for that matter,  it’s nearly impossible to change it? So it won’t matter if I tell you how soulful they are. How wisely designed they are for the coldness of winter with their hardy physical makeup, or how their flavors are like a song about the earth, with notes of sweetness, and depth.  It is not something that can be told with words. It must be experienced.  But one thing I can do,  is share a parsnip recipe that might possibly convert even the most hardened of parsnip skeptics.

I’ve found, the smell alone, will melt away much of the resistance. To me, this baking in the oven, is heavenly.

If you are interested in experimenting more with parsnips, this Roasted Parsnip Soup is one of my favorites.

Normally with recipes, I recommend playing around with them. For this recipe however, there are few tips that will help ensure a successful outcome. Firstly, do not substitute whole milk or half and half, or the gratin will end up watery. Using fresh thyme is essential. Using fresh whole nutmeg is a nice touch, but you could substitute ground nutmeg. I have substituted pecorino and manchego cheese for the gruyere and it tasted great. I have also substituted yukon gold potatoes or peeled russets for half of the parsnips, and it works well. Using a mandolin makes this so much easier to make. If you don’t have a mandolin, slice parsnips as thinly as humanly possible. Lastly, it’s imperative to let this sit 15-20 minutes before serving, to ensure it sets up nicely and thickens.

This can be made ahead, baked ahead and reheated before serving. It’s actually quite good reheated.

Peel the parsnips.

Slice them very thinly.

Thinly slice an onion. Generously butter a 6×9 baking dish.

Begin layering parsnips, onion, gruyere and a little thyme. It’s OK if this part is a little messy.

Reserve some of the larger pieces of parsnip for the top and arrange in nice, even, overlapping rows.

Heat heavy cream and whisk in mined garlic, salt, fresh nutmeg, white pepper, flour and thyme.

Pour cream mixture over the layered parsnips, tilting the pan to so liquid coats all the nooks and crannies.

Top with the remaining gruyere, a sprinkling of thyme and a pinch of nutmeg.

Freshly ground nutmeg is more aromatic than the pre-ground spice. Buy whole nutmeg (often sold in jars in the spice section of supermarkets) and scrape it against the finest holes of a box grater, or use  a micro-plane grater. It’s OK to use ground nutmeg, but this will give the dish that extra special flavor.

Cover tightly with foil and place in a 400F oven. Bake 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15-20 minutes uncovered, until golden and bubbly. Let stand for 15-20 minutes before serving so it has a chance to thicken and set up.

When you get to know parsnips, allowing yourself to see beyond their rough exterior, you’ll discover an unexpected sweetness. It’s quite surprising.
Have you ever met someone, who perhaps, was a little rough around the edges, not someone you envisioned becoming close to, but after spending time with them, you found unexpected wisdom, and warmth, and even friendship? These are the parsnips of the world. The salt of the earth. The ones who nourish us in their own special way.

Thanks for reading! For more Feasting at Home … 



Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme

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Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme
by Sylvia Fountaine – Feasting at Home Blog November-1-2012
Parsnip Gratin with melty gruyere, garlic,fresh nutmeg, thyme… the perfect vegetarian side dish, great for holidays!
  • 2 1/4 lbs Parsnips
  • 1 med onion
  • 3 Cups heavy whipping cream
  • for greasing pan Butter
  • 1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg ( or ground)
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 T Fresh Thyme
  • 1 T Flour or Rice Flour
  • 3 large minced cloves garlic
  • 6 ounces, grated gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F
Peel Parsnips. Using a mandolin, slice parsnips to 1/8 thin slices. The thinner the slices the better. If you don’t have a mandolin, slice them as thinly as possible.
Thinly slice the onion.
Grate the cheese.
Generously grease a 9 x13 inch baking dish with butter.

Layer the parsnips and onion and 1/2 of the cheese and 1/2 of the thyme, reserving the bigger pieces of parsnips for the final layer. Press down and make sure layers are even. It’s OK if the inside layers are messy. Place the last layer of parsnip slices in nice looking overlapping rows.

In a small pot heat 3 Cups whipping cream. Whisk in salt, nutmeg, the remaining thyme, white pepper, flour and the garlic and when it just comes to a simmer, pour over the layered parsnips, slanting the baking dish to get the cream in all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, a few more leaves of thyme and a little sprinkling of nutmeg. Cover securely with a lid or foil and bake for 50 minutes on the middle rack. Remove foil, pierce with fork, parsnips should be al dente. (If not- your parsnips were perhaps cut thicker that 1/8 of an inch, and you may need to cook longer with the foil on. ) Don’t worry if it seems watery at this point, bake another 15 minutes uncovered , or until golden and bubbly. It is important to let it sit at room temp for 15-20 minutes before serving, so it sets and thickens.


Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield:6


thanks for sharing!
thanks for sharing!


  1. says

    While I have nothing against parsnips, I cook with them very rarely – mostly because I haven’t found the right recipes yet, I think. This looks like a great way to way to prepare parsnips, although I don’t think you can ever go wrong with cream, cheese and thyme when cooking with vegetables. I’ll definitely be trying this as soon as possible!

  2. says

    This looks truly delicious. I have a confession; I have never eaten a parsnip. But I will soon! Thank you for sharing. Also, I am eyeing mandolins. Do you have one you recommend?

  3. Anonymous says

    I love parsnips. Usually I simply roast them with a little honey or maple syrup but this gratin sounds heavenly – can’t wait to try it.

  4. says

    I actually like parsnips, but almost never cook them. This gratin really does sound heavenly, though. Now I just need to get my hands on some parsnip before I can try it.
    I just found your blog via tastespotting, and have to say I really love it. Beautiful photography!

  5. says

    I love parsnips! The combination of parsnip and thyme is always delicious – even in a soup! This gratin is right now in my oven and it smells sooo good.
    Thanks for sharing this great reicpe! Your pictures are lovely, too!


  6. says

    This looks delicious! I am making it for a crowd of my best friends and their significant others. I got parsnips in my CSA delivery, but only 1 lb. I also got sweet potatoes and butternut. Do you think it would taste good if I did 1/2 parnsip and 1/2 butternut or 1/2 parsnip and 1/2 sweet potato?

  7. says

    Yummmmm…you have me salivating. I’m on a mission to introduce more and more veggies to my family. We’re trying things we’ve never tried before and I just happened to pick up some fresh parsnips the other day. Now I need to get some fresh thyme and heavy cream and I’m set!

  8. Kelby says

    I just made this for the first time today for Thanksgiving dinner and it was so good! Everyone loved it. And they were all excited to try parsnips because most people had not ever before. Thanks for this recipe!

  9. says

    We’re pretty big on root vegetables in my house so I was instantly drawn to your recipe. I love grueyere and was worried that the parsnips would make the whole dish taste too sweet and carroty, but everthing was so well balanced and for whatever reason, the dish just works…marvelously! I loved the way this turned out and can easily see making it again and again!

  10. Dawn Michelle says

    It’s snowing here in Denver, and I decided to give this recipe a try. So yummy! I will definitely make this again.

  11. says

    Carole’s Chatter is collecting links using parsnip and/or pumpkin today. This is a nice one. I do hope you pop over and link in. This is the link . Cheers

  12. says

    I only recently discovered Parsnips and quickly feel in love with them! I can’t wait to give this recipe a try. It sounds divine!

  13. Anonymous says

    Parsnips I love. Onions not so much. I know they add a very distinct flavour, but can onions be left out? I’ll even give over on the pepper (again, not much of a fan) but onions… can’t do it.
    Any suggestions would be great :)

  14. Laurie says

    I always need to tweak, so forgive me, but I:

    1) combined turnips with the parsnips for a little zing
    2) made the sauce lower-fat with milk + cornstarch instead of the cream, and
    3) added turkey sausage to make it a main course

    It was fantastic! (Although next time I’ll use seasoned ground turkey to keep the meat from getting the “washed out” taste.) Thanks for creating a great recipe to use as the “bones”!

  15. says

    we already love parsnips but nearly always eat them simply roasted with some balsamic and EVOO. But this week I’m going to try this — sounds excellent and I can already tell this is a new ‘company’ dish to serve.

  16. says

    Thanks for sharing! I recently moved out and I probably should eat more vegetables, this looks like a great meal to accomplish eating more while still liking what you’re eating.

  17. says

    I just came across this on pinterest and it totally caught my eye! Such a beautiful gratin and love the parsnips. Your photos are beautiful and the lighting is gorgeous!

  18. Pamela says

    I can not wait to make this! I make a similar dish but it also has carrots, leeks and sage. I think this will replace it, I am going to use leeks instead of the onion. Thanks for posting!

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