This easy Cheesy Rutabaga and Carrot Casserole makes the perfect make-ahead side dish. (Also known as Cheesy Carrot and Swede Mash!)
This casserole is for you if you are looking for unique side dishes this holiday season. It's easy to make for a crowd, can be made up to a day in advance, and is perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
This comforting casserole is the food of my childhood, sweet, savory mashed veg, topped with cheese and baked until bubbly and golden.
Whether you are serving this up for the holidays or a standard Sunday roast, this side dish is sure to be a hit.
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Did you know not all casseroles are casseroles?
In some parts of the world, a casserole is a stew cooked in the oven rather than on the stovetop. It is much more of a meat and gravy dish than a baked dish.
In the United States, it is more encompassing and refers to anything baked in a dish in the oven.
So this Cheesy Rutabaga and Carrot Casserole could be called Cheesy Rutabaga and Carrot Mash. But whatever you call it is so good.
What is a rutabaga?
Firstly, let's take some time to repeat the name.
I love it! Here in Australia and England, a rutabaga is called a swede (in Scotland, they call it a Neep). Rutabaga is such a better name!
And it makes the most sense. It comes from the Swedish word rotabagge, whereas Swede is the name given because the Swedish first introduced the vegetable.
So this is Cheesy Carrot and Swede Casserole/Mash/Bake for those in the UK.
So, what is a rutabaga/swede?
It is a root vegetable that first came from Sweden and is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. The root is more widely eaten, but the leaves can be cooked similarly to greens.
How to pick a good rutabaga
When looking in the grocery store, pick smooth and hard rutabagas. The wrinkly and soft ones are past their best and will be much less sweet.
Rutabagas are a heavy vegetable, so 2 will be enough for this recipe, which will easily serve 8-10 people, possibly even more if it is on the Thanksgiving/Christmas table with lots of other delicious side dishes.
So, is this a mashed carrot dish?
No, you don't want this as smooth as mashed potato. This casserole needs some texture, or it becomes a little like baby food.
The best way to do this is to use a potato masher and lightly crush everything together. You can use a food processor, but keep it on pulse so you don't end up with mush.
The picture below shows the texture you are looking for.
Not only does this make it much nicer to eat, it gives the top of the casserole an uneven surface, which, when baked in the oven, gets the nice crusty bits on it. (Best bits!)
What cheese to use on your Rutabaga and Carrot Casserole
As the name suggests, we want this good and cheesy. I have two suggestions for this.
- A nice layer of cheese on the top that can get golden brown when baked.
- As an optional extra for cheese lovers, add some small cubes of cheese stirred through the vegetables so you get pockets of cheesy goodness when you scoop into it.
You want a good melting cheese like:
- Monterey jack
- Cheddar jack
- Gruyere & Mozzarella
I don't suggest mozzarella on its own here as it is a bit bland for the dish, but you could use it mixed with gruyere, which is quite a strong cheese.
Cooking the carrots and rutabaga
Carrots and rutabaga cook at about the same time, so when cutting up your veg, aim to cut them into similar-sized chunks. Around 1 ½ inches (4cm) is about right.
Then they are boiled until just fork tender. This means they keep their shape when crushed and don't end up like baby food.
They will take around 15 minutes in boiling water.
How to make ahead of time
If you know you will be pushed for time, this casserole can be made up to 48 hours ahead.
To do this:
- Cook the veg in boiling water for 15 minutes.
- Lightly mash it and add the butter, horseradish, and seasonings.
- Allow to cool.
- Stir through the cheese cubes (if using) and smooth into a casserole dish.
- Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until needed.
- To cook, cover with foil and cook for 15 minutes before removing the foil and sprinkling over the cheese and cooking for a further 10 minutes.
If you are going to be really pushed for time, you can heat the casserole in the microwave and then finish it in the oven with the cheese topping.
Can I freeze it?
You sure can! To freeze the carrot and rutabaga mash, transfer it to an airtight container. It will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reacting thoroughly.
To reheat, spoon the casserole into a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Top with extra cheese and put the dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to melt the cheese.
For more Holiday sides check out these mouthwatering recipes:
Get the Recipe
Cheesy Rutabaga and Carrot Casserole
- 2 small rutabaga
- 10 carrots
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup cubed cheese (optional) - see note 1
- 1 ½ cup grated cheese - see note 2
- Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC
- Top and tail the veg, then peel and cut into 1½ inch (4 cm) chunks.2 small rutabaga10 carrots
- Place the veg in a large saucepan, cover with boiling water and cook for 15 minutes until just tender.
- Drain well and return to the pan. Add in the butter, horseradish, salt and pepper.2 tablespoon butter1 tablespoon prepared horseradish¾ teaspoon salt¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Use a potato masher to rough mash the veg. It wants to have some texture left (see bulk of post for a picture)
- Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.
To cook immediately
- Stir the cubed cheese through the veg (if using) and then transfer everything to a casserole dish.½ cup cubed cheese
- Cover with the grated cheese and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden.1 ½ cup grated cheese
To make ahead.
- Allow the mashed veg to cool completely then stir though the cubes cheese (if using)½ cup cubed cheese
- Transfer everything to a casserole dish, cover and leave in the fridge for upto 24 hours.
- Remove from the fridge and cook covered in foil for 10 minutes. (or reheat in the microwave)
- Remove the foil, sprinkle over the cheese and bake for a further 15 minutes until bubbly and golden.1 ½ cup grated cheese
- The cubes of cheese do make for a delicious casserole, but it is super tasty without.
- Pick a cheese that you are using on top or mix it up and use two different cheeses. You want a good melting cheese like:
- Monterey jack
- Cheddar jack
- Gruyere mixed with mozzarella
Nutrition is per serving