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Mashed Turnips Recipe – The Scottish Way (Neeps / Swedes)

This is how my grandmother made her turnips.  I know the supermarkets call them swedes, and in England they may be just that, but up here they’re more widely known as neeps or turnips.

We grew our own this year in the plot and have been pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out.  I like them simmered for up to 2 hours which makes the flavour more intense and darkens the vegetables.  I didn’t have long enough for this recipe, so they’ve only been simmered for about 40 minutes and are quite light in colour.

Mashed Turnips 2

I was surprised at how easy it was to peel and chop our own fresh turnip straight from the ground in comparison to the bought ones from the shops.  The taste is also much sweeter and more attractive to the kids.  I know the picture doesn’t show them as how nice they look, but you get the idea of how they work.  They’re fabulous  alongside the vegetables for roast dinners, haggis and chicken meals.   One of my boys just likes potatoes with his.

Our neeps from the plot are fairly big.  I only needed one for 6 of us.  I usually have to use 2 or 3 from the supermarkets for us all.

Mashed Turnips (Neeps / Swedes)

Lesley Smith
4.50 from 4 votes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Sides


  • 1 - 2 Turnips
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • As simple as it can be. Peel and chop the turnips (or swedes if that's what you call them) and put them in a big pan with boiling water. Add salt and pepper and simmer for up to 2 hours. Remember to replace the water as often as you need to. The neeps will be ready anytime after around 20 - 40 minutes, depending on your cooker and the size of chunks you cut your vegetables into, as well as your preference. We like long boiled darker mashed neeps here..
  • When cooked, the neeps will be easy to put a knife into and simply mash them with a little butter until the lumps are all out. Some people add a little milk, but I prefer mine without.
  • If you want to keep them hot while you are making a full meal ready, just put a knob of butter on the top, cover with tin foil and put in the oven on a low heat.

12 thoughts on “Mashed Turnips Recipe – The Scottish Way (Neeps / Swedes)

  1. 5 stars
    Love Neeps n Tatties didnt realise they got darker the longer you boiled them. Thanks for that

  2. 5 stars
    i love easy, unpretentious recipes like this!

  3. 5 stars
    Swedes are Swedish Turnips. I remember asking my Granny when i was wee what the difference was. Origin and colour. Simples

  4. 3 stars
    If you use turnip instead of Swedes(rutabaga), your result is a very white neeps, unlike your serving photo….

    1. For sure Dennis. The post is about cooking swedes and turnips. I happened to use swedes for my image, but turnip has the same effect when cooked the same way, but is simply lighter in colour. In Scotland, we tend to intermix the terms for turnip and swede, and mean both options for the different versions of root vegetable. I guess that happened as white turnip doesn’t do well in frost, where the swede is usually better after the first frost of the year, and Scotland can be fairly cold, which limited the life for the more delicate turnip in years gone by, when veg was most often locally sourced unless the family had money to import. Both swede and turnip are referred to as turnips to most Scottish people over 40. The post is about the cooking method, but a post on the difference between swede and turnip could definitely have a place on my blog too.

  5. We have them with a Canadian Scottish twist – add a small amount of maple syrup when mashing. This adds a bit of sweetness that really compliments the turnips. Less than 1/4 ciup for a large turnip is all that is needed.

  6. Your dish looks nice. Why don’t you give more illustration photos or video to show everyone how this great dish is made?

  7. Thanks for this recipe. Can you give us an idea of how much salt, pepper, and butter we should use? If I’m cooking 4-6 store bought turnips,bhow much of the other ingredients do you suggest?
    Many thanks.

    1. Sorry Dave, salt and pepper is a very personal thing, as is butter. Turnips could be any size too, so I’d need to know the weight before I could tell you how much I would use at those levels.

  8. That looks delicious x

  9. we had mashed turnip for teat tonight as well but I bought mine

    1. Love mashed neeps. It’s been fab having our own as it’s probably my favourite vegetable.

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