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. These look awesome! I tried parsnips for the first time last year and loved them. I will have to try them this way!

  2. You are so brilliant! I never would have thought of this. And That dip sounds amazing!

  3. I love that you just came out with this recipe! I have left over parsnips that I did know what to do with!

  4. I’ve tried parsnips a few times, roasted even, and I am not into them for some reason. I am not a hug carrot fan either. Maybe it’s a texture thing? I’m weird.

    And usually I am all about anything roasted!

  5. I have made parsnip fries, but not for a looooong time. Yours sound and look awesome! I love the idea of a creamy balsamic dip – haven’t had the balsamic flavour in a creamy form before. I definitely am a fan of balsamic vinegar.

  6. You turned Scott and Skylar into parsnip lovers without them knowing–genius. I totally need to try these because you had me fooled, too! I saw “French fries!!” and then realized they were not potatoes, but in fact, a veggie I’ve never tried before. And that balsamic reduction dip… holy yum. I am already in balsamic dip heaven and I haven’t even had it yet!

  7. I love how different root vegetables other than the standard potato are making a foray into our favorites list. This recipe is exactly the reason why. Gorgeously drool worthy.

  8. love fall vegetables like parsnips

  9. We always have parsnips at home, but I never thought to make them into fries before!!! We usually just toss them in soups and such. This is such a fab idea, Averie!

  10. I make sweet potato fries all the time. I tried parsnip ones once but wasn’t a fan. I’ll have to give them another shot after this rave review. Sometimes it takes a couple times of trying something to like it.

  11. I love parsnip fries and yours look all browned and crunchy, just the way I like them. They would be perfect paired with a burger. I tried baking them once, but they didn’t brown up the ways yours did. I will follow your recipe next time I make them up.
    Jackie :)

  12. These sound so good! I think my husband could be tricked into them!

  13. Those look fantastic!
    I am a huge fan of parsnip chips but will have to cut them into fries next time!

  14. We think in like minds. Just posted my small roasted Brussels sprouts. Let’s spread the word of these healthy Thanksgiving and winter “sides”.

  15. Great idea! I am a big fan of all root veggies so these are right up my alley. Love the reduction!

  16. I think I’d inhale these too! Great tip about tossing in a bit of cornstarch. :)

    p.s. I Love the tables (and cutting boards?) that you use in your photos!

  17. Wow Averie those look amazing! And that dip? Even more amazing! :)

  18. I’ve never really known what to do with parsnips, so I never buy them. This looks like a really fantastic recipe, and I love the bait-and-switch idea! Can’t wait to try this out on my family!

  19. I am amazed! These parsnip fries look exactly like regular fries… well actually much MUCH better. I’m adding parsnips to my shopping list for sure. I just recently attempted to make sweet potato fries.. Not very successful unfortunately. I can’t make them crisp! Anyway, I’m so jealous of your parsnip fries! hehehe

  20. I love this so much I can hardly stand it. I love how crispy the fries look, I love that you used parsnips, and I love, love, love the Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip! I’m going to put a plate of this in front of my husband this weekend (he’s also a potato and balsamic lover) and then laugh with glee when I tell him that he’s actually eating parsnips!

  21. I was excited to make the parsnip fries so I had some for lunch. They were soo good (perfectly crispy on the outside). I’ll be happy to make another batch along with the kabocha tonight to share with my hubby! I saved some balsamic reduction to drizzle on salads but also like the creamy version.

  22. Can you believe I’ve never had parsnip before?! I totally need to try it now and make this ASAP along with that heavenly dipping sauce. And I want to give this to Jason and see if he thinks it’s potatoes too! He’s a bit of a fry fanatic so I wonder if the parsnips can fool him!

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  24. Averie, this is one of my favorite root vegetables (I have a few). They are very tasty roasted indeed. My favorite would be a parsnip roasted over a campfire. If you never tried it, I am sure you would love it. I am still learning to love a sweet potatoes. For our taste it has too much sweetness. My mother, when they came last year with the visit, added some to the soup and was very disappointed with it’s taste. My husband completely refuses to eat it, and only teenager and I would go from time to time for a roasted sweet potato “fries”.
    There is one variety though that we all love, but it’s hard to find in the stores: Murasaki. It is smaller that a regular sweet potato, and has a white flash, but it tastes just fantastic.
    Averie, how is your cast iron pan doing? Did you find a way to season it? I don’t remember if I told you this, but I found out that unrefined sunflower oil tends to work the best out of all oils: it doesn’t get rancid so fast. Grapeseed oil is number two with reservations: if you use your pan every week.
    Have you tried coconut oil? If you did, does it make all food smell coconut?
    Have a lovely time with your family! :)

  25. you are such a good girl
    i never ever would have thought about using parsnips.
    what a clever ( and healthy) idea.
    gold stars on your creative chart!!

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