Fall and Winter, Intermediate, Side Dishes, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving, Vegetables

Mashed Rutabaga with Bacon and Cheddar Cheese [Low Carb]

Mashed rutabaga, loaded with bacon, cheese and green onions, is a healthy but delicious low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes.

overhead shot of four white ramekins with mashed rutabaga topped with green onions and cheese

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Rutabaga. I can’t say I’ve cooked a whole lot with rutabagas, but it’s one of those words that is fun to say, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, this vegetable doesn’t get a lot of respect.   I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone that was excited about rutabaga season.  I imagine this is because most people have only had them prepared one way – boiled until completely void of any texture, taste, or nutrients.

Case in point, as I’m unloading my produce in the checkout lane last week, the lady ringing up my groceries picks up my rutabaga and begins to examine it.

“What is this?”

Says The Husband enthusiastically, “It’s a rutabaga.”  He thinks rutabaga is fun to say too.  He was just hoping the checkout lady would ask so he could say the word rutabaga.

The checkout lady raised her eyebrows and lets out a, “Hmmph.  It’s been a long time since I had rutabaga.  I remember eating it when I was a little girl and I’d go over to my grandmama’s house.”

“I’ve never had it,” The Husband piped up.

“Really?”  Then she looks at me.  “You must know how to prepare it then.”

I was caught a little off guard because before this recipe I had never actually cooked a rutabaga.  But before I could answer, The Husband says, “We read it’s a healthier alternative for potatoes.”

The checkout lady laughed.  “Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve had rutabaga, but it sure don’t taste like no potato.”  Well, geez . . .

I only wish I could have taken one of these ramekins to the checkout lady at the grocery store. Grandmama obviously never prepared them like this.

mashed rutabaga ingredients including bacon, butter, garlic powder, cream, green onions shredded cheddar and one whole rutabaga

What is a rutabaga?

A rutabaga is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. Honestly, once you get to know rutabagas, they are actually quite friendly.  They are LOADED with nutrients, easy to store, keep for a long time, and if you are on a low-carb diet, really do make an excellent alternative to mashed potatoes.   

The texture more closely resembles a potato – more so, I think, than cauliflower.  They are also slightly sweet which I think only enhanced the flavor of the dish once you combine it with the rest of the ingredients.  Finally, they are very filling.  The first time I made this, I cooked it in a slightly larger ramekin and The Husband and I could only eat half. 

Cut the rutabaga

I prepped this in a way similar to when I make twice-baked potatoes. Raw rutabagas have a similar texture to raw potatoes – crunchy. Like a potato, we will need to precook them first.

I find it’s quicker and easier to cut the rutabaga into chunks and steam, rather than bake. Baking can take forever! Chopping into a whole rutabaga can be a little difficult at first. You’ll need a good, sharp chef’s knife. I usually have to make that first cut by placing my knife into the flesh of the rutabaga, then bang it on a cutting board until my knife gets all the way through. Once I’ve cut it in half, it’s easier to cut into sections. Rutabagas have a tough peel and most produce distributors coat them in a thin layer of wax. You don’t want to eat that. Use a knife or a vegetable peeler and cut all of that right off.

Steam the Rutabaga

There are three ways you can steam the rutabaga – on a stovetop, a microwave, or in an Instant Pot. For stovetop, you will need a steamer basket. Place a few inches of water in the bottom of a pot that the basket will fit in. You do not want the water to touch or seep into the steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil, then fit the steamer basket into the pot and place the cubed rutabaga in the basket. Cover and steam for 25-35 minutes until the rutabaga is fork tender, or you can easily stab it with a fork and the chunk slides right back off.

To microwave, place a few inches of water in a microwave safe bowl large enough to hold all the rutabaga pieces. Place the rutabaga in the bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for three minutes, carefully stir, replace the lid or plastic wrap, and microwave for three additional minutes. Let it rest for five minutes before removing the lid. If the rutabagas are not fork tender, repeat until they are.

I prefer using my Instant Pot. Place the rutabaga chunks in the metal insert. Add one cup of water (you could also use chicken broth for more flavor). Seal the lid, press MANUAL, and set the timer for six minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally or manually release.

cubed rutabaga about to be steamed in an Instant Pot

Mash the Rutabaga

While the rutabaga is still warm, go ahead and mash it. You can use a potato masher; however, this can leave lumps, so after I give it an initial mash I like to run it through my food mill. A slightly cheaper alternative to a food mill would be a potato ricer. Once you mashed the rutabaga, transfer it to a mixing bowl.

cooked rutabaga being run through a food mill

Bake

To the mashed rutabaga, add four slices of cooked chopped bacon, two tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, one teaspoon of garlic powder and ½ cup of heavy cream or whole milk. Next, add two sliced green onions and 1 ½ cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir everything together. Now is a good time to taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to your preference.

mashed rutabaga with cheese, green onions and bacon in an Instant Pot

Spoon the rutabaga mixture into (4) six-ounce ramekins. If you prefer, you can also bake it in a small casserole dish. Top each ramekin with a little more shredded cheddar cheese.  Then bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until the cheddar on top is melted and bubbly.

four ramekins of mashed rutabga in the process of getting shredded cheese added to the top

Prep Ahead

Mashed Rutabaga can be made a couple days in advance. Unlike certain produce such as potatoes or apples, rutabagas do not turn brown when exposed to air. Simply follow the recipe instructions up until the point you are ready to bake. Then cover the unbaked casserole and place it in the refrigerator. Remove the cover just before baking and follow the instructions as written.

How to Store Leftover Mashed Rutabaga

Allow the baked mashed rutabaga to cool before placing it in the fridge. But do make sure any leftovers are stored away within two hours. Mashed rutabaga should be consumed within five days.

Mashed rutabagas can also be frozen for up to six months. Additional liquid may accumulate after the rutabaga thaws. Because of this, I recommend freezing it without the additional shredded cheese on the top. You’ll want to give the mash a good stir first to mix in the liquid. Then you can top with the cheese and bake.

fork holding up a bite of mashed rutabaga over a white ramekin

What to Serve with Mashed Rutabaga with Bacon and Cheddar Cheese

baked mashed rutabaga topped with melted cheese and green onions in a white ramekin
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Mashed Rutabaga with Bacon and Cheddar Cheese

Mashed rutabaga, loaded with bacon, cheddar cheese and green onions is a healthy but delicious low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes.
Course Side Dish, Side dishes, Sides
Cuisine American
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 109kcal
Author Lisa B.

Ingredients

  • 1 (2 lb.) rutabaga peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 slices cooked bacon chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 sliced green onions plus more for garnish
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place rutabaga in a large microwavable bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the bowl. Cover loosely with a lid or plastic wrap and microwave on high about 3 minutes. Stir the rutabaga, cover again, and microwave for 4 more minutes or until rutabaga is fork tender.
  • Mash rutabaga using a potato masher or ricer.
  • Add the bacon, butter, garlic powder, and heavy cream.
  • Add the green onions and 1 ½ cups of the cheese. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Spoon the rutabaga mixture into (4) six-ounce ramekins. Top each with the remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheddar on top is melted and bubbly.
  • Garnish with additional green onions if desired

Notes

Make Ahead
Mashed Rutabaga can be made a couple days in advance. Simply follow the recipe instructions up until the point you are ready to bake. Then cover the unbaked casserole and place it in the refrigerator. Remove the cover just before baking and follow the instructions as written.
How to Store Leftover Mashed Rutabaga
Allow the baked mashed rutabaga to cool before placing it in the fridge. But do make sure any leftovers are stored away within two hours. Mashed rutabaga should be consumed within five days.
Mashed rutabagas can also be frozen for up to six months. Additional liquid may accumulate after the rutabaga thaws. Because of this, I recommend freezing it without the additional shredded cheese on the top. You’ll want to give the mash a good stir first to mix in the liquid. Then you can top with the cheese and bake.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 109kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 129mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g

8 Comments

  1. Father of the Bride

    Eureka, you found the taste of rutabaga. As a child you’d turn your nose up at it. We’ll have to try this recipe that converted you. Rutabaga is good raw too, with or without a pinch of salt.

    Growing up, no matter what day it fell on, St. Patrick’s Day always meant boiled corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and rutabaga for supper. I’d devour the rutabaga and pass on the boiled potatoes. The cooking water from the corned beef makes a good soup stock.

  2. Joyce Shaw

    I REALLY like your website with the different ways to cook meals !!! My hubby makes delicious mashed rutabaga and carrot sidedish !!

  3. I adore this recipe…because rutabagas and cheese!

  4. I always curled my lip up at the very odor of rutabagas – until I became a grown up and my taste buds finished maturing! Lol My friend taught me how to cube them and simmer until tender with smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey necks, salt & pepper and real butter.

    Totally changed my life!

    BUT – it never occured to me to prepare them as twice-baked until your post…guess what’s for dinner now!?!?

    Thanks for the great idea!

  5. I made this tonight and my husband loved it! Usually he will not try cooked rutabagas, but he likes raw rutabaga. Ours tasted like cooked cauliflower! So so happy I found your recipe! Thanks!

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