Swede chips (rutabaga fries) are nutty and delicious. The honey and mustard coating adds sweetness and a hint of heat, turning a humble root vegetable into a real treat.
Autumn and winter mean the shops are well stocked with hearty root vegetables. To keep my menu varied, I like to use them all, making the most of swedes and turnips, as well as carrots, potatoes, celeriac and so on.
There is so more to swede than the bashed neeps served with haggis at a Burns supper. They do mash well, and I love the nutty flavour as a change from potatoes. However, I like variety, hence my gorgeous sticky mustard swede chips (rutabaga fries to the Americans).
These chips are a great way of enjoying this cheap and healthy vegetable. They are sticky, caramelized and warming and are perfect as the nights draw in, a more local variation on sweet potato fries.
Just one thing, though: they don’t go crispy (or at least they don’t in my gas oven). That’s why it’s better to cut them good and thick. I serve them with ketchup, BBQ sauce and mayonnaise.
Swede, Rutabaga or Neeps?
I’ve always called them swedes, but in Scotland they’re neeps or sometimes turnips, and in the USA and Canada, rutabaga. What you need for this recipe is the big round root vegetable, with a purple skin and cream-coloured flesh that turns yellow when cooked. You don’t want white turnips.
Unlike potatoes, swede counts as one of your five-a-day vegetables. It has a lower GI/GL than potato (72/2 rather than 85/14 when boiled).
It also contains more vitamin C, calcium, and folic acid. I love the fact that swede chips come with far fewer food miles than the sweet potato version. While sweet potatoes are usually imported into the UK, cheap and plentiful swedes fill our fields in autumn, and their tops double as animal feed so there is no waste.
How to Make Swede Chips (Rutabaga Fries)
Step one – Grab your ingredients
Step two – three – Prepare the swede – peel, slice and cut into chips. Swede is tough, so you need a good sharp and heavy knife and a certain amount of determination!
You can cut neat, regular chips as we have done here, or go more rustic to use up the whole root.
Step four– Gently simmer the swede chips for about 5–8 minutes in a large saucepan of salted water, until they just start to soften.
The trick is to simmer very gently, with the water barely moving. You don’t want them to fall apart.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/GM 6.
Step five – Drain the swede, and allow to stand for a minute so the water steams off.
Step Six – Transfer to a large roasting tin with the oil. You need plenty of space around the chips so they roast, rather than steam. Turn the chips to coat evenly with oil and roast for 30 minutes. Turn every 10 minutes with a spatula.
Step Seven – Add the honey and mustard. Turn again to coat evenly. Cook for a further 10 minutes (so 40 minutes in total).
The timing of this is important, so don’t try to cheat and add it at the start. Adding the honey and mustard towards the end of cooking makes a delicious sticky coating. If you add it at the start, it burns horribly and sticks to the pan.
Step Eight – Serve immediately, as a side dish or with dips as a snack.
Hints and Tips for Swede Chips/Rutabaga Fries
- You can cut the chips ahead of time and keep in a bowl of water in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, freeze the chips once cut and roast from frozen. If you do this, add an extra 10 minutes to the cooking time.
- The chips will have an uneven shape, thanks to the shape of the swede. If you prefer uniform chips, cut off the edges to make a cube and cut your chips from that.
- The trimmings will keep in a bowl of water in the fridge for a day. If you want to keep them longer, dice and freeze them. Use them up in mash, either on the side or as a topping for a pie. Alternatively, add to stews, soups, vegetable bakes and cobblers. Or you could experiment with vegetable crisps (chips to the Americans!).
- Make it vegan by swapping the honey for maple syrup.
- Toss the chips with grated Parmesan or other Italian hard cheese and some rosemary instead of the honey and mustard.
Swede Chips (Rutabaga Fries) With Sticky Mustard Coating
- 1 swede (rutabaga)
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 tsp grain mustard ((heaped))
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- Peel the swede. Cut into half, then quarters. Slice each quarter lengthwise, and cut into batons.
- Boil the swede chips very gently in a large saucepan of salted water for about 5–8 minutes, until they just start to soften. Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/GM 6.
- Drain the swede and transfer to a large roasting pan with the oil. Turn with a spatula to coat each chip evenly. Place in the oven.
- Every 10 minutes or so, turn the chips.
- After 30 minutes, add the honey and mustard. Turn the chips so they're evenly coated with the mustard mixture. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately, as a side dish or with dips as a warming snack.
- The chips will have an uneven shape thanks to the shape of the swede. For uniform chips, trim the edges of the swede and cut the chips from the centre of the vegetable. Dice and freeze the trimmings, and add to stews, soups, and vegetable bakes and cobblers. Alternatively, make swede mash as a side dish or as a topping for cottage pie.
- If you don't eat honey, use maple or agave syrup.
- You can cut the chips ahead of time and store in a bowl of water in the fridge overnight.
- This recipe is 4 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion.
Add swede trimmings to our no fat slow cooker vegetable soup
And serve the chips with easy sticky lamb chops.
Update Notes: This recipe was originally posted in 2011, but was rewritten and republished with new photos, step-by-step instructions and hints & tips in September 2019.