How to Take the Bitterness Out of Turnip Greens

Try these tips to take the bitterness out of turnip greens.
Try these tips to take the bitterness out of turnip greens. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Popular in the southern region of the United States, turnip greens are often considered bitter, similar in taste to mustard or dandelion greens. While the bitterness in the turnip greens is a key part of its flavor, it can also make this vegetable difficult to eat. You can use a few simple cooking methods or recipe additions to make your turnip greens less bitter and even more delicious.

Things You'll Need

  • Salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Bacon

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Cook the turnip greens by sauteing or slowly simmering them. Turnip greens are more bitter than other greens so you will need to cook them a little longer -- at least 10 minutes using a saute method and at least 30 minutes on simmer. Cooking the turnip greens disperses the bitterness into either the oil while sauteing or the water while simmering, so you can enjoy the turnip green flavor without the bitterness.

Use salt on your turnip greens. Salt eases the bitterness of turnip greens and helps to retain a little crispness in the vegetable. Just a dash of salt will suffice. If you are incorporating turnip greens into Asian dishes, use soy sauce to take out some bitterness. The salt and the spices in the soy sauce mask any tang in the turnip greens.

Add a little fat. Fat gets rid of bitterness and adds flavor to turnip greens. In this case, you’ll need to saute, not simmer, the turnip greens and add just a hint of olive oil or a little chopped bacon. Cook the bacon first and drain the grease from the pan, but don’t clean the pan. Instead, cook the turnip greens in it for a subtle, smoky flavor.


  • “Greens Glorious Greens: More than 140 Ways to Prepare All Those Great-Tasting, Super-Healthy, Beautiful Leafy Greens”; Johnna Albi and Catherine Walthers; 1996
  • “Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America's Farmers”; Sur La Table and Janet Fletcher; 2010
  • “The Best Vegetarian Recipes: From Greens to Grains, from Soups to Salads: 200 Bold Flavored Recipes”; Martha Rose Shulman; 2001
  • “Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables”; John Peterson; 2006
  • “Spinach and Beyond: Loving Life and Dark Green Leafy Vegetables”; Linda Diane Feldt; 2003
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