The Difference Between Parsnips And Carrots

If you put a carrot and parsnip side by side, you may think you're looking at two different colored carrots. But while it's true that carrots come in a variety of colors, including purple, red, white, yellow, and of course, orange, which is the most common hue, as outlined by Horticulture Magazine, parsnips are not simply a paler version of the common carrot.

Both carrots and parsnips are root vegetables and they each have the same long, tapered shape, but there are some key differences between them, including their texture, flavor, and nutrients, that set them apart. According to Foods Guy, carrots and parsnips both have a sweet taste but parsnips also have a distinct flavor with spicy undertones. Additionally, carrots are commonly eaten raw while parsnips are usually served cooked — although they can be eaten uncooked. And the differences don't stop there.

Parsnips were used as a sweetener

Allrecipes reports that parsnips were used as a form of sweetener in Europe before cane sugar was widely available. Although they're no longer typically thought of as an additive to sweet dishes, parsnips have their place at the table in a variety of recipes. One popular way to cook parsnips is by including them in potato dishes to give the dish an additional zip. Or, if you're looking to cut back on carbs, serve up mashed parsnips as a substitution for mashed potatoes since their cooked texture mimics the creaminess of a potato.

As outlined by Organic Authority, parsnips have a distinct flavor that is similar to cinnamon and nutmeg, yet carrots have a milder, sweeter flavor that is similar to winter squash. In addition to their spiced flavor and creamy texture, parsnips are good for you. HealthLine reports that parsnips are loaded with vitamins and nutrients including, vitamin K and magnesium, and also contain fiber and antioxidants.

Carrots are versatile

Whether served grated in a salad, eaten raw as a snack, or served as cooked rounds as a side, carrots are prized for their vibrant color, texture, and sweet flavor. While parsnips come in one variety and color, carrots are much more varied. As reported in an article by Butter n Thyme that lists 45 types of carrots, the varieties are plentiful and range from varied shapes (from the shorter, broader variety, to the more common long, tapered type) to numerous colors.

With so many types to choose from, carrots can be used in more recipes than parsnips, as explained by Taste of Home, which details 25 recipes using carrots. And, if you're looking to add some nutrients to your diet, eat more carrots. Like parsnips, there a number of health benefits associated with eating carrots. According to Eating Well, the health benefits to consuming carrots include improved eye health, help with your immune system, and assistance with reducing inflammation, among other benefits. 

Each vegetable is healthy, delicious, and has their own unique flavor. While they're a bit different from each other, if you like both carrots and parsnips, you can't go wrong consuming each on their own, or served together.