Turnip vs. Radish

Turnips and radishes are so similar, they can get mistaken for one another. They are both root vegetables that have related nutritional profiles, like vitamin K and potassium. But they have different flavors, uses, and appearances.

Radishes and turnips are closely related in the same plant family. Eaten raw, they may taste similarly. But turnips and radishes are used for different cooking purposes and when cooked, their flavors are different.

What are Turnips?

Turnips come from the vegetable called Brassica, the same family that radishes come from. Cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are also from this family. Turnips are spherical in shape and their flesh is white and crunchy. Raw, this flesh can taste similarly to cabbage. 

If a turnip root is exposed to a lot of sunlight during its final growing stages, its top may become purple. Turnips are a common fall and winter vegetable, as they are harvested from October to March. In some parts of the UK and Canada, the word turnip is a reference to rutabaga, a vegetable in the same root family that is yellow in color.

Ways to Use Turnips

Turnips may be eaten cooked or even raw. Always wash your vegetables before eating in any context, but raw turnips make for a healthy addition to salads. They can also be blanched for a vegetable platter. 

Turnips can also be treated like potatoes, in the sense that they can be mashed or roasted. When cooked, turnips have a stronger taste than potatoes, so sometimes they are preferred. Their taste is slightly sweet and nutty. 

Turnips have a much lower carbohydrate content than potatoes. They are perfect for wintertime stews and soups.

The green leaves of turnips can also be eaten. Braised turnip greens are a popular food to eat in many Southern cuisines. Turnip leaves in particular are very high in Vitamin C and K. The leaves of turnips can also make a nice touch to soups.

What are Radishes?

Radishes also belong to the Brassica family. The radish plant is biennial, meaning its life cycle is two entire years long. But, they can also be grown annually. Because of this, radishes have two growing seasons; spring and winter. 

There are a few common types of radish. These include horseradish, daikon, and round radish. In addition to the vitamins C and K that turnips have, radishes are also high in magnesium, potassium, and vitamin A.

Ways to use Radishes

While turnips are most commonly cooked, the most popular ways to eat radish involve it being raw. They make for a nutritious addition to salads and sandwiches. Because they are bright red in color, radishes add pleasantly to vegetable platters as well.

Radishes can also be cooked, though it does take away some of the flavor. The best way to roast radishes is to first wash them, then slice them in half. Soak them in a mixture of olive oil, pepper, and salt. The longer you bake them, the softer they become, but a general amount of time to cook radishes is fifteen minutes.

Main Differences


Both radishes and turnips are crispy and crunchy when eaten raw. Turnips are usually sweeter, whereas radishes tend to be on the spicier side. When cooked, the flavor of turnips may be enhanced, but cooked radishes will have a more dull flavor.

As radishes grow and mature, they become spicier. But as turnips mature, they tend to become more starchy, like potatoes.


Radishes are often much smaller than turnips in size. A fully grown radish can be as small as a quarter, and turnips are around the size of a fist. The color of radishes is much more vibrant. Radishes are known for being a deep red or purple color. The color of turnips is tan or off-white, with light purple coloring near the stem.


Technically, both turnips and radishes can be cooked or consumed raw. But because of their slightly different properties, turnips are often roasted and radishes are most commonly eaten raw.

The Takeaway

Turnips and radishes come from the same family of plants. Turnips tend to be more sweet, and radishes more spicy. Their colors are also very different, while turnips are dark red, radishes have an appearance more similar to an onion.

 In addition, they are used for different culinary purposes. Turnips are roasted more often than not, whereas radishes are usually served raw as an ingredient in salads.