Celery Root as a Potato Substitute

What’s tasty, healthy and easy to prepare?

It’s also shockingly underrated. Everyone knows celery; not many are familiar with celery root, or celeriac. Maybe because it’s ugly?

Head of celery root (celeriac) i

Can you say gnarly? Meanwhile, its nutritional value is a thing of pure beauty:

Per 100 g of Celeriac, cooked, boiled, drained: Calories 27, carbs 6g, fiber 1g, protein 1g

Compare to that of a similarly prepared PotatoCalories 65, carbs 15g, fiber 1g, protein 2g,

…and you are likely to agree that this is a case of beauty hiding within.

How does it taste? Depends on what you do with it. Slice it thin and use in a salad for a subtle fresh taste reminiscent of celery with slight nutty notes. Or cook it for a flavor closer to that of a sweet potato, only less sweet. There are quite a few ways to use this versatile vegetable, and I am sure we will return to it in the future for more healthy deliciousness. In particular, I want to experiment to create a version with crisp crust. Today’s recipe is a roasted cubed savoury celeriac.

The one I bought for this photo-cooking session weighed 1.5 pounds – that’s on the largish side. I picked it on purpose, to test and report how the leftovers perform when heated up the next day. It takes a little effort to skin it, although with a minute of practice it becomes easy, especially in the upper half that has no knots. The skin is not too firm; you can use a usual potato peeler or a thin knife. Most of the work goes into the bottom part – that’s what you see on the photo above. Chop it off until you see no crevices.

Now dice the flesh into half-inch cubes. Don’t worry about exact size, it’s a very forgiving dish. A mandoline is very handy for this job, but a sturdy knife will do just as well. Here is a plate with a few slices and cubes:

Celery root (celeriac), sliced


Pour olive oil in the frying pan, put it on high heat, add celeriac, pressed garlic, salt, black pepper and rosemary. If you have other favorite herbs, feel free to experiment with them; celeriac willingly soaks in any flavors. Jamie Oliver suggests lemon thyme which must be delightful.

Fry for 5-10 minutes to create some crust, stirring to coat evenly. When you see most of the cubes goldening nicely, turn the heat down and add some water. Use the amount roughly equal to that of the oil you used, maybe a tad more. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes. At this point it’s going to be tender enough to be mashed with a spoon. I prefer to leave it in cubes but if you like the mashed version, go right ahead.

Pan-fried celery root (celeriac) on a dish

You can have it as a side dish with a meat of your choice or scrambled eggs, or you can top it with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy it as a standalone meal. Add a forkful of sauerkraut or a pickled cucumber.

Roasted Celery Root Recipe

Servings: 4.  Time: 40 min.       Download PDF

  • Celery root – 2 pounds
  • Olive oil – 3 Tbsp
  • Garlic – 2 cloves, pressed
  • Salt, black pepper, rosemary – per taste
  • Water – 4 Tbsp

Peel and cut celery root in half-inch cubes. Pour olive oil in frying pan and put it on high heat. Add celery root, stir to coat and add spices. Fry for 5-10 min until golden. Add water and cover. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.

Next day’s leftovers can be reheated in microwave for the same texture. Alternatively, put it in the oven for 5-7 min at 375F and finish under the broiler on high for a minute or two to firm it up a bit. I actually held this post for a day to test that, and I can attest  – it’s fantastic.

Move over, potato.
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6 thoughts on “Celery Root as a Potato Substitute

  1. I grew up on potatoes and they are one of my favorites. It wasn’t until later when learning about diabetes that I realized it was my #1 enemy. One would think that sweet potatoes would be even worse but for me, I get less of a spike when eating sweet potatoes.

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