Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip

My husband loves potatoes in any form and thought he was eating French fries.

Until I told him he just inhaled a plate of parsnips.

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF) - A healthier way to make fries instead of potatoes. Crispy & so good!

What’s a parsnip, he asked?  Good question.

Parsnips are a root vegetable and they have more in common with carrots than with potatoes. Visually, parsnips resemble carrots and are those long, pointy vegetables with hash-marked skins that you’ve probably noticed them in the grocery store near the carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and fennel but may have dismissed them as a funny-looking blonder-hued carrot. Parsnips are usually pale in color, ranging from creamy tones to pale yellow, and are much lighter than their orange cousins, carrots.


Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF) - A healthier way to make fries instead of potatoes. Crispy & so good!

Parsnips tend to be sweeter than carrots and more buttery, which is accentuated in the cooking process. Parsnips have a slightly spicy flavor, in a similar way that ginger and cardamom pack some warm-toned heat and spice. Until Scott was hip to the parsnip bait-and-switch, he said he liked the ginger I used in the potatoes. Exactly.

Nutritionally speaking, parsnips are very high in vitamin C, and have ample amounts of manganese, potassium, and folic acid. They’re also excellent sources of soluble and insoluble fiber, something which potatoes lack.

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF) - A healthier way to make fries instead of potatoes. Crispy & so good!

To make the fries, I peeled and trimmed the parsnips, and at their thickest part, I kept the slices about one-quarter inch wide. Cutting them thin enough so they crisp up nicely, but not too thin so they don’t shrivel up into little char-broiled nothings, is important.

Then place the trimmed parsnips in a large bowl and sprinkle and toss them with a bit of cornstarch, which helps them to crisp up better as they bake. Transfer the coated parsnips to a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive or vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any optional seasonings from curry to cayenne that strike your fancy, and then bake.

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF) - A healthier way to make fries instead of potatoes. Crispy & so good!

After about twenty minutes of cooking, flip the parsnips over and drizzle with a few additional tablespoons of oil, if they’ve dried out. Bake for an additional fifteen minutes or until they’re as browned and crispy as you like.

I find the secrets to getting baked vegetable fries crispy is both the cornstarch and quite a hot oven. The oven needs to be at a higher temperature so it flash-cooks the vegetables and allows them bake up crispier, rather than a low and slow oven, which is geared toward tenderizing food. Because of the hot oven, watch the parsnips closely as the baking time draws near because they will have a tendency to go from browned to burned in those final moments.

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF) - A healthier way to make fries instead of potatoes. Crispy & so good!

Because of the fibrous nature of parsnips, the fries have plenty of texture and chewiness, much more so than a potato-based fry. All that texture makes for some great dipping. The more you chew, the more you want to dip. And dip again. I like a little food with my dip and the parsnips are firm enough to really dredge through a bowl of thick, creamy dip, and they hold up to it without caving or breaking, much like a thick-cut French fry can really hold up to maximum ketchup slathering.

The dip is a blend of balsamic reduction and (veagn) sour cream, or use Greek yogurt. I love balsamic vinegar and vinegar of any kind. Sometimes I let my homemade kombucha ferment just to the edge of turning into vinegar and relish in those tangy, pungent, sinus-clearing sips. Balsamic reduction is especially delightful because it concentrates the vinegar’s punch, yet the sharp tanginess is mitigated by brown sugar, and I really could eat the thick sauce from a spoon.

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF) - A healthier way to make fries instead of potatoes. Crispy & so good!

People tend to make a big deal about balsamic reduction and when I see jars of very overpriced balsamic reduction in stores, I cringe. My version takes ten minutes and costs pennies to make. Combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan, heat until they boil, and just allow the mixture to reduce. Because I keep the heat higher than just a low-grade simmer, the reduction goes very fast, in about five minutes, and it’s so simple.

Combine the mouth-puckering reduction with a bit of sour cream for a perfectly creamy and cooling dip. The cooling effect of the sour cream balanced the inherent warming qualities of the parsnips and it was a great balance. Plus, I liked the pale plum color of the dip. Bonus points for purple dip.

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF) - A healthier way to make fries instead of potatoes. Crispy & so good!

I started with two pounds of parsnips before trimming or cooking them and an hour later, every last morsel had been inhaled. My five year old loved them and dipped hers in ketchup, Scott liked his with Homemade Spicy Honey Mustard, and I was in balsamic reduction heaven.

Ever since I made these, Scott’s been asking for more parsnip fries. Not French fries; parsnip fries. And so I consider this recipe a success on more than one level.

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF) - A healthier way to make fries instead of potatoes. Crispy & so good!

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF) - A healthier way to make fries instead of potatoes. Crispy & so good!

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, gluten-free)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Parsnips fries are slightly sweet, with just a hint of spiciness and a peppery nature. They're more buttery than a white potato and have loads of extra nutrients. Baking, rather than frying, keeps them healthier with sacrificing flavor. The balsamic reduction comes together in minutes and when sour cream is stirred in, the cool and creamy, tangy, dip pairs perfectly with the hot fries right out of the oven.
Serves: Makes about 4 servings
  • For the Parsnip Fries
  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled and trimmed into fries about 5-inches long by about ¼-inch wide (2 pounds is shown in the photos, reduce batch size if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 4 tablespoons+ olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed (either light or dark), or to taste
  • ½ cup sour cream, or to taste (vegan or regular sour cream may be used; Greek yogurt may be substitued)
  1. For the Parsnip Fries - Preheat oven to 425F and line two baking sheets with Silpat liners, aluminum foil, or parchment paper; set aside. Peel and trim parsnips into fries, about 4 to 5 inches long, and about ¼-inch wide (they do shrivel, but not as much as carrots or sweet potatoes).
  2. Place parsnips in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with corn starch and using your hands, toss to coat evenly. Transfer parsnips to prepared baking trays, divided evenly, about one pound per tray. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil over each tray and toss parsnips with hands to disperse and coat evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Prior to baking, arrange parsnips on the trays so they are not touching each other and have air space between them; air circulating allows them to crisp up better in the oven.
  3. Bake on the first side for about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove trays from the oven, flip parsnips over with a tongs, drizzle with about 1 tablespoon oil over each tray, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until parsnips are browned and crispy. Baking times will vary greatly due to size parsnips were trimmed, the moisture content in them, how thick the cornstarch was applied, how much oil is used, and personal taste preferences. They will be prone to burning in the final minutes of cooking so keep a watchful eye as this is a very hot oven. Remove from oven and serve immediately with ketchup, mustard, Homemade Spicy Honey Mustard, barbeque sauce, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, or balsamic reduction or creamy balsamic reduction dip.
  4. For the Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip - While the parsnips are baking, combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium to medium-high heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Allow mixture to come to a boil and boil fairly rapidly for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until volume has reduced by about half, stirring intermittently while it boils. Keep a watchful eye so mixture doesn't boil over, which its prone to doing.
  5. Immediately transfer the reduction to a heat-safe container or bowl and do not let it cool in the saucepan because it will be prone to sticking to the saucepan as it cools and it will turn into a sticky, hardened mess on the saucepan and the scrubbing becomes epic; transfer immediately to a container and then soak the pan.
  6. After balsamic has cooled for about 10 minutes, combine about 2 tablespoons balsamic reduction with sour cream, to taste, playing with the ratios as desired. Stir until mixture is smooth. Serve immediately with fries. Extra balsamic reduction will keep for months in an airtight container in the refrigerator. After balsamic reduction has been combined with the sour cream, I suggest consuming it within a week.

Related Recipes:

Caribbean Citrus Roasted Sweet Potatoes – Yams and sweet potatoes can do no wrong and I played up their naturally sweet attributes by roasting them with Caribbean-themed spices

Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Peanut Soup (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free) – I roasted the carrots and peppers in this soup until they were very well-done, and pureed them with coconut milk, peanuts, and peanut butter, for a soup was a smokey, hearty, easy, and robustly flavored

Roasted Sweet Potato Fries (vegan, GF) – I’ll never tire of good old-fashioned roasted sweet potatoes and strongly prefer roasted sweet potatoes to roasted white potatoes

Sweet Potato Graham Cracker “French Toast” Sticks – Don’t judge a book by it’s cover because you’ll miss out on how to turn sweet potatoes into French toast sticks, complete with their own baked-in streusel topping. This recipe was included in the Trader Joe’s cookbook I was a contributing author in, and if potatoes can be dessert, this recipe is how

Roasted Grapes and Balsamic Reduction with Cheese and Crackers – Roasting grapes brings out their natural sweetness and they absorb just a bit of the olive oil while roasting. If you ever have grapes that are a bit past their prime, roasting them is a great way to use them. Drizzled in balsamic vinegar, and served with cheese and crackers, this is an easy holiday party appetizer

Tempeh and Cucumbers on a Stick with Brown Sugar Balsamic Reduction Dip (vegan, GF if GF tempeh is used) – My love of balsamic reduction means I’ll dip almost anything into it, from parsnip fries to tempeh and cucumbers

Have you tried parsnips or made any non-potato based fries?

Balsamic vinegar fan?

I’d love to hear about your favorite parsnip recipes or recipes for baked fries of any sort.

Or hear if you love vinegar and vinegar recipes as much as I do.


105 comments on “Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip”

  1. They sound really good! I’ve never had roasted parsnips but you make me want to try. They definitely look like French fries! I bet cinnamon and butter would go great with them too?

  2. Pingback: Vinegar Recipes and Balsamic Glaze

  3. Parsnips are awesome! I love how they have a little funky bite. Josh just tried them for a first time and is a fan. I roasted them, but will make them more fry like next time!

  4. I make parsnip fries all the time! I love them. I also make butternut squash fries (just posted about them recently), and turnip fries.

    I’ve also made my own balsamic reduction, but my husband can’t stand how potent the whole place smells afterwards. So, I’ve gone back to buying it…..but you’re right, it’s expensive, and sometimes difficult to find one that doesn’t have added ingredients that I don’t want in there.

  5. what a great idea! and i LOVE balsamic reductions, but never thought about serving them as a dipping sauce for fries! fabulous – will be making these as soon as possible!!

  6. I love the bowls you used for your peanut soup, where did you get those, they’re amazing!

    I totally forgot about parsnip fries, they’re SO good and Kevin likes them, too!

  7. I love the little side stories about Scotts confusion, they are always quite amusing lol! Men will be men and they are typically easy to please through their stomachs.

    • He’s frequently highly confused about the food, which is FINE! I actually would go nuts if I was married to a ‘foodie’ who over-analyzed things (like I do). We’d never eat…we’d just talk about the food, dissect it, belabor the preparation & methods, etc. Lol We’re a good balance that way :) And yes, most men are quite confused – about everything. Not just food. Lol

  8. I’ve tried parsnips maybe a couple of times and just wasn’t blown away by them. But these really look fantastic and that dip….yum! I love balsamic anything really.

    • Between your love of balsamic (thought of you when I was typing this as I know we could both literally eat it with a spoon!) and your love of sweet taters/fries, this is perfect for you. Try ’em again and see what you think!

  9. These sound lovely! Great recipe Averie!

  10. Oh–these look so much like regular French fries and they will be made tomorrow for dinner! I also have a kabocha squash (I FINALLY got my little mitts on one of those–they are hard to find here)! So–I’ll do both because that creamy balsamic dip will be great with pretty much everything. I have roasted parsnips with turnips, rutabaga and other roots but at a lower temp because of my ultra sensitive smoke alarm. Now that I can actually run my oven over 400 with my avocado oil, I’m excited to get some crispier parsnips!

    • My smoke detector is the world’s MOST annoying. Omg. It goes off ALL the time! Anything over 400F usually but with these, they don’t seem to set it off as bad as other roasted veggies. I also kept the oil to the bare minimum and it also really soaks into the uber-porous parsnips so less to just sit there and char and heat to the smoking point. Funny you say that about kabocha squash. Everyone in other parts of the country says that but here, they’re easy to find. A little pricey but easy. We are spoiled here :) The creamy balsamic is super universal. The color, in person, is on the gray-mauve side. Not exactly ‘gorgeous’ but it sure tastes good. LMK how it all goes!

  11. These sound fabulous, I’ve never baked parsnips before but need to add them to my shopping list now!

  12. YUM! I never know quite what to do with parsnips, but fries are always the best options to get those veggies in!

  13. Look at theeeeese oh I’m dying!

  14. These look soooo good. I’ve been wanting to try parsnip fries for a while now but I’ve had trouble finding good looking ones in the store.

  15. I’ve roasted parsnips before but never made them into fries. And I’m always looking for ways to get more vegetables into my family. They’re suckers for “fries” so I’ll have to try these. I didn’t know about that cornstarch tip to help crisping. Would that work with making sweet potato fries?

  16. I know I love sweet potato fries…never thought of using parsnips…awesome! Going to have to try it soon..

  17. I have not had luck using corn starch to yield a crunchy baked fry. I don’t mind because I actually like non-crispy fries, but my husband does not. Maybe I’ll have to give it another go.

    • Well nothing is going to get a baked fry as crispy as frying them in oil, but…as baked fries go these are pretty crispy! I also cook them to the point of being quite well done in a high heat oven. All the little tricks all add up :)

  18. My husband is a potato lover, too. So are our boys. These look like such a fresh and fun alternative to regular french fries! I love how crispy and perfect they look and that dip!! AWESOME. I agree that you need a little food with your dip and this dip looks like the perfect pairing to me. I like the one reader’s suggestion, also, that a little butter and cinnamon and possibly sugar could make those babies delicious, too!

    Fantastic recipe and delicious photos! (As always!) ;-)

  19. I don’t think I’ve ever had parsnip fries! Roasted parsnips with other root eg, yes; parsnip fries, no. That balsamic dip sounds amazing!

  20. Yum, I love the balsamic reduction dip!

  21. I looove parsnip fries! Haven’t made them in forever, and now of course I’m craving them.

  22. Parsnips roast up too sweet for me, but kohlrabi or green beans would be awesome with this sauce!

  23. this is weird to say, but I’ve never actually had a parsnip . This sounds yummy though!

  24. Oh Averie! These homemade parsnip fries look and sound amazing. And I like Skylar’s style…. ketchup all the way!!!! Your Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip undoubtedly sounds incredible though too. Balsamic Reduction is like sweet candy. I like it with brie cheese and pears! And yes, I like a little food with my dip, thankyouverymuch. Lovely photos – second row FG WOOHOO!! You somehow always manage to make VEGETABLES look as incredible as chocolate glazed pumpkin cake. I want to come over for dinner and stuff my face with these and have soft CCCs for dessert and a side of cinnamon swirl bread. Can you tell I’m hungry??

  25. I LOVE parsnips. My favorite is that slight spice that they have when they’re raw and how they mellow out when they’re roasted. Endless options with this recipe.

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