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I am baffled by the number of people who tell me they don’t like parsnips. 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 and beautifully designed they are for the coldness of winter with their rough and tumble exterior, housing the most exquisite of flavors- harmonious notes of sweetness, earthiness and depth.
Like my favorite kind of people. 😉
Yet you won’t know this unless you take the time to get to know them and experience their goodness for yourself. One thing I can do is share a parsnip recipe that might possibly convert even the most hardened of parsnip skeptics.
Parsnip Gratin Video
I’ve found, the smell alone, will melt away much of the resistance. To me, the aroma wafting from the oven when this is done, is heavenly.
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 & half for the heavy cream, or the gratin will end up watery.
- Using fresh thyme is essential.
- Using fresh whole nutmeg elevates, but you may substitute ground nutmeg.
- Pecorino or manchego cheese can be subbed for the gruyere.
- Feel free to substitute yukon gold potatoes or peeled russets for half of the parsnips.
- 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.
How to make Parsnip Gratin
It starts with peeling the parsnips.
Slice them very thinly– a mandoline makes this easy.
Thinly slice an onion. Generously butter a 6×9 baking dish.
Assemeble the Gratin
Begin layering parsnips, onion, gruyere and a little thyme.
It’s OK if this bottom and middle part is a little messy.
Reserve some of the larger more uniform pieces of parsnip for the top and arrange in nice, even, overlapping rows.
Make the Creamy Sauce
Heat heavy cream and whisk in minced garlic, salt, fresh nutmeg, white pepper, flour and thyme.
Pour cream mixture over the layered parsnips, tilting and shaking the pan 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 totally OK to use ground nutmeg, but whole will give the dish that extra special flavor.
Bake the Parsnip Gratin
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 began to understand how they got their rough exterior and could see beyond it, to their unexpected tenderness and sweetness? These are the parsnips of the world. The ones who nourish us in their own special way.
More recipes you may like:
Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 75 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Side dish, vegetarian
- Method: baked
- Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 2 1/4 –2 1/2 lbs Parsnips
- 1 medium onion- yellow or white
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream ( do not sub half and half or milk)
- butter for greasing pan
- 1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg ( or ground), more for the top
- 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 –8 ounces, grated gruyere cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Peel the Parsnips and using a mandolin, slice parsnips to 1/8 thin slices. The thinner the slices the faster this will bake. If you don’t have a mandolin, slice them as thinly as humanly possible! 😉 Thinly slice the onion and grate the cheese.
- Generously grease a 9 x13 inch baking dish with butter.
- Layer the parsnips and onion with 2/3 of the cheese and ⅔ of the thyme -saving the rest for the top- and reserving the more perfect pieces of parsnips for the final top 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 heavy 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 50-60 minutes on the middle rack until parsnips are fork tender. Check, 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 will need to cook longer with the foil on.) Also, don’t worry if it seems watery at this point.
- Once fork tender, remove foil and 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 up and thickens.
- You can also make this all ahead, and simply reheat before serving.
You can also substitute half of the parsnips with potatoes.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 524
- Sugar: 9.1 g
- Sodium: 481.9 mg
- Fat: 42.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 25.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 28.5 g
- Fiber: 6.8 g
- Protein: 10.8 g
- Cholesterol: 128.1 mg
Keywords: parsnip gratin , gratin recipes, parsnip recipes, best parsnip recipes, best gratin, vegetarian side dishes, holiday side dish,
I made this at Thanksgiving, and it was nominated to be forever in the holiday must-haves. A few months later, my college son wanted a pan of his own for his birthday rather than a birthday cake! Now I’m working my way through my CSA box and wondering if I could make this with the turnips? I’ve never made anything with turnips before and probably shouldn’t assume that just because they are also white roots that they are interchangeable, but what do you think Sylvia?
Yay! Great to hear, thanks! 😊
The victory garden has a wonderful recipe for scalloped white turnips and just like this parsnip gratin turns even the most reluctant veggie eater into a fan! So switch the veggies maybe switch the cheese too.
I have ever had parsnips. This recipe was amazing!
So glad you give it a try Amy!
This might go down as one of the bright spots in the dark days in our house. I don’t really like parsnips; have always found them a little too “perfumey “, but the CSA farm shop I scrambled to join when this coronavirus lockdown started sent me masses of the gnarly-looking tubers in lieu of potatoes, and so that led me to this website . It’s fantastic, thank you. I didn’t have any cream so I made a roux, and I used a mix of cheddar and Parmesan instead of gruyere, and it came out beautifully. I’m converted; I will now always make my gratin with parsnip rather then potato.
Great thinking with the roux, perfect way to adapt.
Hi! Can you share how to make roux (for cream substitute)? As I am now trying to cook with as low fat as possible (high cholesterol problem). Thanks!
I haven’t made this recipe yet, planning to tomorrow. But let me tell you, I am sooo excited! I wanted to ask, would it be plausible to to slice the parsnips during my prep today? If so, would you recommend the best way to store them, like in water for example?
You could totally do that. Or store in a bowl covered with a damp paper towel?
This will be our fourth year bringing this to Thanksgiving. Some years it’s more popular than others, but every year we look forward to enjoying this dish! It’s got savor and spice!
How do you reheat yours later? I was thinking of doing that this year…
I’m so glad you like it! I just reheat in the oven! 350F, covered, then uncover for a few if needed.
It was a big hit at Thanksgiving this year! Super yummy, super rich. Its a cholesterolollipalooza!
Just had to applaud ‘cholesterolollipalooza’! I’m a cardiologist and I agree with that message. (super yummy dish, just not for every day of the week! This is a special occasion dish!)
yes! glad you liked it!!!
Your “print recipe” link is broken.
Ok i fixed it! Thanks Judy!
Cooked the recipe today for a Boxing day treat! Second time as the first effort was a great hit. Keep the turkey and roll on Boxing day.
Do you think you could substitute sweet potatoes for the parsnips? I love the idea of parsnips, I’m just looking for a sweet potato dish for Thanksgiving and thought this might work. Thanks!
Honestly Im not sure. It might work? But the cooking time would be greatly shortened. They cook mush faster than parsnips. If you do try, let me know!
Ok, thanks! I think perhaps I should just stick to using the parsnips. Which sound lovely. 🙂
Making this for a family dinner this weekend! Only Im mixing parsnips with potatoes and swapping the cream for coconut cream. Hopefully it turns out as good as yours looks!
Wow, coconut…I never would have thought of it! I’m curious how it will turn out…let me know!
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!
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!
Thanks Emily!!! One of my favorite fall recipes for sure!!
The recipe says 6 x 9 pan, but the photo shows 9 x 13. Can you clarify?
Not the author here, but I’d recommend a 9 x 13 pan – I made this tonight in my smallest baking dish which was 7 x 11, and it it was heaped up over the top and spilled over the edges during cooking. Happy cooking!
Yes…9 x13. I’ll fix thanks!!!
We have a friend who is the king of gratin. I made this recipe for him and he honestly has not stopped talking about it.
Jeeez. I’m a parsnip lover and share your sensibilities. LOVE Parsnip People analogy. So true
Love parsnips! Such the perfect ingredient for this season. And, such a yummy looking dish!
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.
This is my go to holiday dish and it is always an “I HAVE to have this recipe” recipe!
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.
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”!
Made this tonight, absolutely delicious, thanks for the recipe! 🙂
Just leave the onions out! It will still taste great.