Turnip Burgers

June 16, 2015
3 Ratings
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 5 patties
Author Notes

After seeing a recipe for beet and farro burgers that called for puréeing the roots raw in a food processor, I tried the same method with my C.S.A. turnips. It worked beautifully. Everything—root and greens—goes into the food processor together with herbs and rice, which allows the patties to come together in a snap. Fresh breadcrumbs hold the patties together, and a mix of seeds gives the burgers a crunchy texture.

A few tips:

Turnips: I have been using hakurei turnips from my C.S.A. and the farmers market. As an experiment, I made a batch using purple top turnips from the grocery store—and woah! Big difference. The taste was so turnipy that I had to add a carrot and zucchini for sweetness. So, just taste your mixture before cooking—if it tastes super turnipy, which it shouldn't if you are using C.S.A. or farmers market turnips, maybe add a carrot or zucchini to cut the bite.

Seeds: I have been obsessed with this simple seed mix since reading about it the Prune cookbook: equal parts sesame seeds, poppy seeds, millet, and flax. It is so good sprinkled over buttered toast or thrown into any homemade bread or added to things like this veggie burger for texture—the millet especially adds such a nice crunch. Feel free to use any mix of seeds, however.

Use this recipe as a guide. I use it to clean out the fridge of tired herbs, carrots, zucchini, etc. I have only used sushi rice, but I imagine other grains would work well, too.

Finally, I have been serving them with hummus and these zucchini pickles. I think a homemade tahini sauce would be nice here, too. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • 3 to 4small turnips with greens (12 to 14 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups to 2 fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 handful Herbs, whatever you have
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/3 cup seeds, such as a mix of millet, sesame, poppy, and flax
  • 1 dash Freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 dash Grapeseed or canola oil for frying
  • 1 Buns or naan, hummus or tahini sauce, and/or pickles for serving
  1. Remove greens from turnips and set aside. Cut remaining stem end off root and discard. If turnips or greens are dirty, wash or soak briefly to remove dirt, then pat dry.
  2. If you haven't made your fresh breadcrumbs yet, pulse some bread in the food processor before it gets dirtied by everything else. Set crumbs aside.
  3. Roughly chop turnip roots, then pulse in food processor until finely ground. Add scallion, garlic, herbs, 1 teaspoon of salt, and turnip greens and pulse until combined, scraping down the sides of the processor as needed.
  4. Add the rice and pulse briefly to combine—you want the rice to have some texture. Transfer contents to a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs and seeds and mix to combine. Taste. Add more salt if necessary. Add more breadcrumbs if mixture seems too wet. Note: If the mixture is too crumbly, beat an egg and use it to help bind. Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, portion out 5 patties. Chill until ready to cook.
  5. Place two large sauté pans over high heat. Add a thin layer of oil to each pan. Season patties with salt and pepper on each side. Make sure oil is hot before adding patties. Patties should sizzle when they hit the oil. Immediately turn heat down to medium or medium low and cook for 5 minutes a side. Try hard not to disturb the patties as they cook — if you let them brown over medium low heat for 4 to 5 minutes, they will not stick, and they will brown beautifully. Depending on your pan, cook two to three patties at a time.
  6. Serve with buns or naan, hummus or tahini sauce, and/or pickles if you have them.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
  • Becky
  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • Yukie Takabatake
    Yukie Takabatake
  • Stephanie
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

23 Reviews

laura April 15, 2021
These are a brilliant idea. I used CSA hakurei turnips, and unfortunately they were still too turnip-y for my taste!
Agree that the seed mix is KEY. After adding the seed mix, there was hope. I also added an egg to bind.
I personally didn't end up loving the end result, but I fed these to my 9 month old, and my husband loved them!
Lindsay-Jean H. June 30, 2020
Ali, these are genius! I'm already looking forward to topping a leftover patty with a fried egg for lunch. (I just can't believe I waited 5 years to try them!)
Alexandra S. June 30, 2020
Oh yay! So happy to hear this, Lindsay! I have been getting bundles of turnips in my CSA, but have yet to make these this season ... maybe tonight. xoxo
Becky July 28, 2019
This recipe is a new go-to for me. I've made it 5 or 6 times in the past couple months. It's so flexible and EASY! I've been using dried breadcrumbs, and they have been working great (using a little less than the recipe calls for with the fresh ones). Sometimes, I use beets instead of turnips if that's what I have on hand, or through in some different greens if the turnip's greens aren't looking great. Coworkers who see may lunch keep asking me for the recipe! Shared it with some friends who came for dinner, too, and they can't stop talking about it.
amy P. November 17, 2018
I went for gluten-free dried breadcrumbs (ok, leftover ground cheerios) and they weren't crumbly at all. The seeds are key! I'm going to try other (light) greens with the turnips I have, and baking next time. The pickle is a perfect foil.
Alexandra S. November 18, 2018
Wonderful to hear gluten-free breadcrumbs (or cheerios :)) work! Would love to know how baking them turns out.
Joanna February 18, 2018
Do you think these would freeze okay?
Alexandra S. February 20, 2018
I imagine they would. I am not the best freezer, so maybe look into this further, but my only concern would be that they might release a lot liquid upon thawing? You'd freeze them pre-cooking, right?
Taylor S. November 15, 2015
These were great! I couldn't believe how much flavor they had. I didn't really go by exact measurements which is probably why they fell apart a little... next time I would add an egg if I had the same problem. I also baked these in the oven at 350 until they were brown on top and crispy on the edges - phenomenal!
Alexandra S. November 15, 2015
So happy to hear this, Taylor! Yeah, once you get the method down, you really don't need to adhere to the quantities. I may amend this recipe to have an egg. I've been making beet burgers using a similar method, and they hold together so much better with the addition of an egg — I think I always try to avoid things like eggs, because I always get questions about what to substitute for the egg, but if allergies aren't an issue, nothing works better than an egg. I'm also wondering if dried breadcrumbs might work better than fresh.
Alexandra S. November 15, 2015
So great to hear about the baking method too!
Yukie T. August 31, 2015
I came across this turnip burger through Alexandra's Kitchen - what a lovely recipe! I'm planning to make veggie burgers for a barbecue and was wondering if these can be cooked on an outdoor grill?
Alexandra S. August 31, 2015
Hi Yukie,
Thank you! I worry a little bit about grilling these. Do you have one of those vegetable baskets or fish baskets that makes flipping easy? If you don't, I would suggest trying one out alone. Then, if it's problematic, you may be able to rescue it without going through the trouble of having to salvage a number of burgers. Let me know how they turn out!
Yukie T. August 31, 2015
Ok, thank you for the tip! I might try putting a sheet of foil down on the grill if they come out delicate. Looking forward to trying these!
Alexandra S. August 31, 2015
I was going to suggest that actually, but didn't want to complicate things. When my mom grills salmon, she makes a "sheetpan" out of three layers of heavy duty foil — no sticking and easy to lift up. Works like a charm. Good luck!
Stephanie June 29, 2015
Can you really use just plain millet as seeds here, or does it have to be cooked?
These look like a wonderful use of my CSA bounty!
Alexandra S. June 29, 2015
No need to cook it! Millet adds the best crunch. I throw the seed mix (discussed above) on everything — buttered toast, into bread. I fell in love with millet when I lived in Philly right around the corner from Metropolitan Bakery, which served the most delicious millet muffins.

And yes re CSA bounty! Use the recipe as a guide — beets, carrots, zucchini can all be used here.
elle June 29, 2015
is it possible to bake without oil?
Alexandra S. June 29, 2015
Absolutely. Frying these in a pan crisps up the edges and adds a bit of flavor, but you could easily bake these until they are heated through — 350ºF for 10 minutes or so.
andrea June 27, 2015
These are DELICIOUS!
Alexandra S. June 27, 2015
Yay! So happy to hear this.
calebcrawford June 21, 2015
Have you tried adding chickpeas or black eyed peas to the mix for some more protein? I know the seeds add some. Like a traditional falafel or accara?
Alexandra S. June 21, 2015
I have not but I think that is a fantastic idea. I actually make veggies burgers using the falafel technique — soaking the chickpeas overnight, then puréeing them (uncooked) — and I was thinking some sort of hybrid recipe with this one would be really good. But yes, cooked beans would be great, too. Here is the recipe for the chickpea burgers if you are curious: http://www.alexandracooks.com/2014/07/31/chickpea-quinoa-veggie-burgers/