Radish vs turnip - what's the difference? These two root vegetables do have a lot of similarities, but are used in different ways. In this comparison post, we'll look at how radishes and turnips are different, as well as how they're similar!
Radish vs Turnip: How are they the same?
Both the radish and the turnip belong to the brassica family, which includes a variety of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. These vegetables are known for their nutritional value and disease-fighting compounds.
Radishes and turnips both have tap roots - this is the main root in a root system that grows vertically downward. And, similarly, with both of these plants, the tap root is the part most often consumed.
Both root veggies have a crisp texture and a peppery, sometimes sweet flavor with turnips being the sweeter of the two (especially when cooked!) and radishes the spicier.
Radish vs Turnip: How are they different?
The main difference between radishes and turnips is their appearance. Radishes come in a wider variety of colors and shapes, ranging from pink to purple white, and from round to oblong. Turnips tend to be larger and rounder, with white flesh and a slightly earthy taste.
Turnips are a cool-season crop and can be planted in early spring or late summer to grow through the winter, while radishes are a fast-growing, early spring vegetable.
Radishes are also typically harvested earlier than turnips, as they mature in just three to four weeks. While small varieties of turnips can be harvested early, many take 55-75 days or even longer, to reach maturity.
Varieties of radishes
There are a number of different varieties of radishes, varying by color and size. While radishes tend to be on the smaller side when compared to turnips, there is a beautiful rainbow of color in the different varieties, and I think these are some of the prettiest vegetables out there!
Classic red radishes have a crisp, crunchy texture and a spicy, peppery taste. These are the ones you're most likely used to seeing in the grocery store or in salads at restaurants as they are the most common variety.
The watermelon radish, as the name suggests, has a pinkish-red flesh that resembles a watermelon and a slightly sweet taste. When you cut into them, they are green around the outer edge and pink in the middle, resembling...you guessed it, a watermelon!
In my opinion, these are the prettiest radish. They make an excellent salad garnish when thinly sliced and they are super easy to grow. And just look at those colors! 😍
Daikon radishes are an Asian radish that is larger than most and white with a more mild flavor than most smaller varieties.
The long black Spanish radish is dramatically black on the outside with crisp white flesh on the inside.
Remember, these are just a few of the many, many varieties of radishes. While most will be hard to find in stores, radishes in my opinion are one of the easiest things to grow and mature super quickly, so you can order some seeds and grow some in a pot! My favorite place to get unique seeds is the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
Varieties of Turnips
There are over 30 varieties of turnips! They come in a whole load of shapes and sizes. Here are the most common varieties of turnips you might come across. The names are often chosen based on the color of the turnip roots, as you can see!
Purple Top Turnip
The purple top turnip is the most common, and the one you are likely to find in your grocery store. It has a slightly bitter, earthy taste that is mellowed when cooked.
Baby Bunch Turnip
The baby bunch turnip is smaller and white all the way around, like smaller white balls.
Scarlet Queen Turnip
Scarlet turnips are small and brightly colored, magenta and purple skin and a fleshy white interior. These are mild and sweet, and a perfect turnip for salad and raw eating.
Gold Ball Turnip
Golden turnips have a flavor reminiscent of almonds and The turnip is mild, sweet, and mellow with an almond aftertaste. I've never had one of these but they sound delicious and now I am on the hunt!
Raw or cooked?
Both turnips and radishes can be eaten raw, either sliced thin or grated into salads. Radishes are the more common of the two to eat raw.
Raw radishes have a sharp, peppery flavor that can be tempered by soaking them in cold water before eating. You can slice smaller turnips and radishes thin and add them to salads or coleslaw for a crunchy, flavorful texture.
Younger turnips are best for eating raw. When eaten raw, turnips have a milder taste with a sweet, slightly earthy and bitter flavor.
The stronger flavor of the turnip root takes on a sweeter, more mellow flavor when cooked, and the texture becomes tender and silky. Larger varieties of turnips and older turnips are usually better cooked than raw, as once they get larger they tend to get tougher.
When cooking both radishes and turnips, you can roast, sauté, or boil them. They pair well with other root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, as well as with meats and fish.
Try roasting them in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil with herbs and spices for a flavorful side dish. You can also pickle them for a tangy, crunchy snack.
I recommend pickling radishes, and then for your turnips, choosing one of these three recipes: mashed turnips, turnip fries, or roasted turnips. These are all basic, easy to do, and will introduce you to turnips in a simple and flavorful way.
For me, the fries are the best way to get a load of veggies in and still feel indulgent!
Radish vs Turnip: What about the greens?
Both the radish and the turnip have edible greens. The leafy greens aren't something you want to eat in their raw form, though, as they can be pretty bitter.
Turnip leaves, often referred to as turnip greens, are the more commonly eaten of the two. Similar in flavor and texture to mustard greens, these are often cooked down and used in similar ways to spinach or kale. Here is a great basic recipe for making turnip green soup.
Radish greens can also be cooked, but this is not as common as turnip greens. Here is a great post on storing and cooking radish greens, and a great radish green recipe.
There are many health benefits to both of these vegetables. Both radishes and turnips are low in calories, low carb, and high in fiber, making them a great choice for those looking to lose weight, improve heart health, improve their digestion, or strengthen their immune system.
Turnips are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and calcium, while radishes are high in vitamin C, folate, and potassium. They are both also a great source of dietary fiber.
If you aren't going to use your turnips or radishes right away, try storing them in a perforated plastic bag. This will allow them to breathe while not getting dried out. If you want to use the greens also, be sure to separate them from the root right when you bring them home to get the most life out of both.
Greens can be stored in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel to extend their life until you're ready to use them.
If you want a bit of spice and crunch, go for radishes. If you want a milder, more tender root vegetable, go for turnips.
Next time you're in the grocery store, don't shy away from these two root vegetables. They have a lot to offer and can be used in a number of different ways. Take a chance and try something new. And if you're not sure how to cook those bigger turnips, I've got you covered!
I love subbing turnips in for white potatoes for a lower carb option. Check out my turnip recipe roundup for some recipe ideas!
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