Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce

Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce in Bowl

I seem to get into ruts when making vegetables, so am always on the lookout for recipes for some of the less common vegetables. When I saw a recipe for Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I decided to give it a try.

The recipe turned out well. The sweet, nutty, earthly parsnips were cut into strips about 2-inches long and cooked, and then embedded in a rich, buttery sauce.

Recipe for Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce
Source: Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1923)

I was surprised that the old recipe for the Drawn Butter Sauce called for water and flour. Today, Drawn Butter is generally just a clarified butter – but apparently it was a thickened butter and water sauce a hundred years ago.

When I made this recipe, I made half a recipe for the drawn butter sauce. I used hot water rather than fish stock. I peeled the parsnips rather than scraping them. (Does anyone scrape parsnips – or carrots for that matter – anymore?)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 pound parsnips (about 4 medium parsnips)


1 teaspoon salt + 1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

dash pepper

3/4 cup hot water

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Peel parsnips and cut into pieces two inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Put in a saucepan, cover with water; add 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until tender.

Melt half of the butter in a saucepan using medium heat; stir in the flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Gradually add the hot water while stirring constantly. Bring to a boil while continuing to stir, reduce heat and continue to stir while the mixture slowly boils for 5 minutes. Stir in remaining butter and the lemon juice. Immediately remove from heat and pour the sauce over the cooked parsnips. Gently stir to combine.

19 thoughts on “Parsnips with Drawn Butter Sauce

  1. I had to look up ‘drawn butter’. I’d never heard this term before. I agree your modification sounds nicer. Fish stock in this context doesn’t appeal at all, even if the dish were served with fish.

    1. I just couldn’t picture this vegetable side dish with a sauce made with fish stock – though perhaps it would have made the parsnips more flavorful.

    1. The strips were nice. It made the dish seem a little fancier. I’ve always scraped or peeled parsnips and carrots, but it sounds like I won’t need to if I carefully scrubbed them.

  2. Very interesting recipe. I liked how the old recipe called for scraping the parsnips, a term we don’t hear anymore, replaced by “peeling.” This old recipe was a bit confusing to follow and I liked how you wrote it more clearly, Sheryl. I had never heard of “drawn butter” and appreciated your translation comments re ghee. Your photograph is great and the parsnips look creamy and yummy.

    1. The parsnips were yummy. I used to scrape root vegetables using a paring knife held at an angle – but I haven’t done that in years because it’s so much easier to just peel the vegetables, though I still scrape new potatoes in the summer because I like the way they look and taste when I scrape them.

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