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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,
Made this with Christmas dinner. While slicing the parsnip took a lot of time, it was delicious. Well worth the effort. Everyone had seconds!
Made this for Christmas Day, mostly with Gruyere but also with some Jarlsberg cheese. Bought myself a mandoline for the job as I’ll need it for the very many times I’ll be making this in the future. Totally awesome, like everything else on FeastingatHome. (Btw, today I typed in “fasting at home” in error, which might well be what’s required 🙂
Haha, I feel the same. Glad you liked this one!
This was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. It was the hit for Thanksgiving! Have to admit the expectations were low for a parsnip dish from the others—-but, all were raving over it! So gooood!
Yay Tad! Great to hear and hope you guys had a lovely Thanksgiving. x
This did in fact become a new favorite dish that I’ve since made a couple of times, and passed on to people who also loved it when they tried it. Followed the recipe to the letter, and everything was perfect. Another vegetarian dish that you can serve devoted carnivores without annoying them (or really even raising their suspicions).
Glad you have enjoyed this and thanks for your comment. 😉
I am very excited about making my first parsnip dish, but am only cooking for 1.5. Is there a way to halve the recipe?
Yes Jordan, feel free to halve the recipe!
This is the third or fourth time I have made this recipe and people just Rave about it it is so good but it’s so so bad for your arteries but what the hell it’s only once a year and I’m still alive with no artery problems.
Haha, yes, I hear you. It’s pretty decadent. I recently made it with a bechamel sauce using nut milk trying to do a lower fat version. It just wasn’t quite as good.
The recipe states to not replace heavy cream. Would a thicker bechamel with reduced fat milk not work here though? Really want to make this for the holidays but would like to make it a bit lighter if possible.
Hi Daniel- this might work! I havent tried it, but seems like it should be OK? I’ll try to give it a test run this week. 🙂
Love all your recipes! Want to try making this for Thxgiving but want it a bit lighter.. it says to not substitute milk for heavy cream. What about making a thicker bechamel with lower fat milk, would that not work?
Hi Derek, I haven’t tried, but seems like it should work fine!
As the principal cook in a household of three twenty-somethings, two of whom are vegetarian, it can be difficult to find things that all three of us enjoy equally. I can happily say that this recipe has made the list. It was delicious!
I used applewood smoked gruyere (about twice as much as the recipe intended if I’m honest). Will definitely be using this to show off at thanksgiving!
Yum! Sounds tasty!
Very tasty. However, I wouldn’t recommend the method of pouring the sauce on last thing. It doesn’t filter through to the bottom layer properly. I would recommend pouring a small amount of sauce over each layer before adding the second half at the end.
I see your point here Ryan. Thanks for the feedback!
A perfect and delicious fall side dish. I love the subtle richness and the thyme is the perfect compliment. Thanks 🙂
Thanks so much and happy you enjoyed this Sabrina!
Hi Dan did you use heavy whipping cream?
This is a delicious recipe and very useful as a vegetarian main course. Next time I make it I’ll halve the parsnip, or double the cream. Other than that it’s very very good and makes a fine accompaniment to meat dishes.