Parsnip Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

The other day my daughter walked into the kitchen and started laughing. I was in another room and asked her what she was laughing at. She said, “daddy, you have white carrots on the counter. Where did you get the white carrots?” They were not carrots, but were parsnips.

Do you cook with parsnips much? If not, you should try.

Parsnips are a highly underused root vegetable. They have a sweet and spicy flavour and are wonderful in many different dishes.

  • Add some cooked and mashed parsnips to mashed potatoes.
  • Add parsnips to chicken noodle soup.
  • Roasted carrots and parsnips are an amazing side dish to roast pork or chicken

How about substituting parsnips in carrot cake?

I love carrot cake. The moist cake with the hint of cinnamon and toasted nuts are wonderful and cream cheese frosting is the perfect topping. I swapped the carrots for parsnips and the cake turned out great. I wanted to punch up the flavour of this cake and turned the topping into a chocolate cream cheese frosting. The end result is a cake that is sweet and moist with a hint of spice and a wonderful chocolate kick for any chocoholics out there! This cake is a winner for sure.

Parsnip Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 18
Author Steve Cylka


  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups peeled and grated parsnips
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans , chopped
  • 1 8 oz brick of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter , softened
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate squares
  • 3 cups icing sugar


  • Preheat oven for 350F.
  • Grease and flour a 13x9 cake pan.
  • Mix together the oil, milk, sugars, eggs and vanilla until creamy and smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until fully combined and no longer lumpy.
  • Mix in the grated parsnips and pecans.
  • Pour the batter in the cake pan and bake for 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted should come out clean. Bake a little longer, if necessary.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Melt the chocolate squares in a microwave or double boiler and then mix the chocolate with the cream cheese and butter. Slowly beat in the icing sugar. The frosting should be smooth and spreadable.
  • Once the cake is completely cooled, spread on the frosting.


About Steve Cylka

Steve is the author of The Black Peppercorn. He is a recipe developer and food photographer. His recipes have been featured on websites like Bradley Smoker, Times Picayune, Buzzfeed, and Basil & Salt. He has also authored and co-authored a couple cookbooks.


  1. What a novel use for parsnips, I’m so intrigued!

  2. How creative of you to use parsnips for a cake! This is the first I have seen of it and it works deliciously by that photo. This does make you think of a parsnip in a different way. Well done Steve!

  3. I would have never thought to make a cake from parsnips, but it looks delicious so I can just imagine how good it tastes!

  4. Oh, In love parsnips and they do look like white carrots! I bet this is a fantastic cake.

  5. What a clever idea! I love me some parsnips, but I’ve only ever used them for savoury applications… though in retrospect, the resemblance to carrots should’ve been a dead giveaway that they’d make a pretty amazing cake. 🙂 Adding this to my must-bake list ASAP.

  6. I’ve never put parsnips in a cake but I adore them roasted.

    I agree with Isabelle, they look like carrots so we should be making cake with them.

    You’re way ahead of us!

  7. Whhh…What?? Parsnips in a cake…. you are Amazing!! First of all I don’t know if I have ever had a parsnip… I need to venture out and try it for sure. Second… what a fantastic idea to put it into a cake…. well done for getting some veg into dessert. 🙂

  8. I love the idea of using vegetables in sweet recipes. This parsnip cake looks delicious. It looks so moist and with chocolate cream cheese frosting…what a super tasty combination.

  9. The only time I cook with parsnips is when I make chicken soup. But as a carrot cake fanatic, I would love to try your recipe…it makes a lot of sense to use parsnips in place of carrots~

  10. When I saw this I had to check it out as I am a fan of including vegetables in delicious desserts! I have always wanted to try parsnips in a cake, and yours looks delicious! That chocolate cream cheese topping is the perfect finish.

  11. i’ve never had a cake made from parsnips! Brilliant! And it looks so SO good!

  12. “White carrots”! – That’s precious, Steve. Parsnips are a fantastic root with a unique and wonderful flavor. Great cake idea!

  13. Cream cheese is something the best! This recipe seems interesting, but not so simple for me. Anyway i will give it a try!

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