Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Parsnip and Walnut Cake with Chocolate Chips

Slice of parsnip and walnut chocolate chip cake.

Everyone’s heard of carrot cake. Indeed it’s said to be the nation’s favourite. So why not use parsnips in a sweet bake? This parsnip and walnut cake is so good, you might just prefer it. Especially as it contains chocolate chips.

It’s taken us a while, but we finally got around to digging up our parsnips. We needed to use them fast though. As you can see from the photograph below, they’re huge, misshapen and also somewhat manky.

It seems to me that parsnips would pair well with nuts for they have their own rather nutty quality. So I wanted to use one of the nut oils that I’d recently been given. I’d fancied making a parsnip cake for years and finally I got around to it. I had a trawl through my various cook books and surprisingly enough, I found quite a few recipes.

I didn’t, however, find anything that seemed right to go with chocolate, so I got my thinking cap on and came up with my own parsnip cake recipe.

Chocolate Chip Parsnip and Walnut Cake

So although you might expect to find walnuts in a parsnip and walnut cake, you won’t find any in this one. It’s made with walnut oil instead. This means it’s a super easy cake to make as you don’t need to cream butter and sugar together. I usually find that bit a pain as I never remember to get my butter out of the fridge in time so it’s usually rock solid.

As I used the terribly gnarly parsnip you can see below, it took me ages to clean it and cut the bad bits out. But luckily most of you won’t have do this.

The cake rose well and had a very light but moist texture. I was surprised to find I couldn’t detect the parsnip at all, either by taste or by eye. I can see why this was a good way of bulking out expensive cake ingredients in the past.

The cake did, however, have a lovely nutty flavour to it. But not particularly distinctive and definitively not walnut.The parsnips no doubt played their part. The chocolate worked well as did the orange sugar topping which was delicious, though it had a certain heady alcoholic quality to it. All in all, I’m pleased with my parsnip cake recipe.

Slice of parsnip and walnut cake.

If truth be told, a light cake was a bit of a novelty for me. I generally prefer my cakes to be a bit more substantial and I’ve not been a huge fan of using only oil in cakes. Until now. Despite this, I’d like to try it with half butter and half oil next time. That way, I’d hope to get a more substantial texture but keep the lovely nutty flavour.

Dairy Free

However, this parsnip cake is really good just as it is. And if dairy is an issue, these nut oils make for a good substitute. But you will need to substitute dairy-free dark chocolate for the milk chocolate. Or, dare I suggest it, leave it out all together!

Update – 5 March 2012

Charlotte of Go Free Foods adapted this quite significantly and came up with a pumpkin orange & cardamom cake which looks gorgeous.

Other Vegetable Cakes You Might Like

For more recipes and ideas on how to use vegetables in sweet bakes, head over to my Sweet Vegetable Bakes board on Pinterest.

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Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this chocolate chip parsnip and walnut cake, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or via social media. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.

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Parsnip and Walnut Cake. PIN IT.

Chocolate Chip Parsnip and Walnut Cake

Parsnip and Walnut Cake – The Recipe

Slice of parsnip and walnut chocolate chip cake.
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5 from 1 vote

Parsnip and Walnut Cake

Vegetable cakes are all the rage, so here's a lovely recipe for a chocolate chip parsnip & walnut cake. It's made with walnut oil and is a great winter bake.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Afternoon Tea, Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: cake, milk chocolate, parsnips, walnut oil
Servings: 10 slices
Calories: 371kcal


  • 200 g clean parsnips - grated
  • 100 g good quality milk chocolate 0 grated (I used Green & Black's 35%)
  • 150 g golden caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar)
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of fine sea or rock salt
  • 125 ml light walnut oil
  • 200 g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half plain)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Sugar Topping

  • 60 g golden caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar)
  • 3 tbsp orange liqueur (use orange juice instead if you prefer)


  • Beat the sugar with the eggs until thick and pale.
  • Add the salt and oil and beat some more.
  • Sift in the flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white), baking powder and bicarb.
  • Fold this in together with the parsnips.
  • Gently stir in the chocolate bits.
  • Scrape the mixture into a 22cm round silicone cake mould or lined tin.
  • Bake at 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4) for 40 minutes.
  • Spoon the sugar for the topping into a jug.
  • Add the orange liqueur or juice. Stir well and pour over the hot cake.
  • Leave in the mould or tin to cool completely before turning out.


It's best to use a light walnut oil in this cake, ie one that's diluted with another oil such as rapeseed. Full on walnut oil might be a bit overpowering and it's also quite expensive.
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on exact ingredients used.


Calories: 371kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 79mg | Potassium: 163mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 71IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2mg


I’m submitting this parsnip and walnut cake to Ren’s lovely Simple and in Season event found at Fabulicious Food.


  1. Johanna GGG

    4th March 2012 at 9:21 am

    I love parsnips and have had a parsnip cake in a cafe that I have wanted to try to make but never managed it. So I love seeing this one. The one I had was covered in cream cheese frosting that worked well, which might add a bit more substance. Love your parsnip – your garden sounds full of goodies

    • Choclette

      6th March 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks Johanna. having tried this one, I really want to do try more parsnip cakes. As for the garden, all it’s got in it at the moment are a lot of weeds! hey ho, spring is fast approaching.

  2. chilliandchai

    4th March 2012 at 9:30 am

    Truly, great minds think alike, parsnip cake season is here! And they are the best cakes ever! I am often asked for the good old parsnip cake by family for get-togethers. Love the idea of cardamom in there, one of my favourite spices. Great recipe.

    • Choclette

      6th March 2012 at 8:57 pm

      How, I’m wondering, has it taken me so long to recognise the poor parsnip as an excellent cake ingredient? Cardamom is one of my favourites too, after cinnamon. Must be the C that does it cos I love chilli too!

  3. Sushma Mallya

    4th March 2012 at 9:33 am

    wow cake looks so moist and lovely , lovely recipe i have never tried to incoporate parsnips in a cake…would love to try this recipe out, thanks so much for dropping by , was really happy to c u 🙂

    • Choclette

      6th March 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Thanks Sushma. I wasn’t sure if you were still blogging or not, so paid a visit to see if you were. Lovely to see you here again too 🙂

  4. MissCakeBaker

    4th March 2012 at 9:38 am

    I’ve never used parsnips in cakes but will have to give it a go. the cake looks great.

    • Choclette

      6th March 2012 at 8:59 pm

      He he, it’s not the most obvious cake ingredient is it?

  5. Charlotte Pike

    4th March 2012 at 9:43 am

    What a fantastic recipe, I love it. You are so creative! I adore parsnips in cake (and most root vegetables for that matter) and love the different flavours you have going on here; cardamom, chocolate and orange. Yum!

    • Choclette

      6th March 2012 at 9:01 pm

      Thank you Charlotte and thank you too for taking a leap of faith and baking your delicious cake based on this one – much appreciated 🙂

  6. Chele

    4th March 2012 at 10:45 am

    I love parsnips so I will need to give this recipe a try … it is surely the best way known to get one of your five a day in while still enjoying yourself lol

    • Choclette

      6th March 2012 at 9:02 pm

      So all we need to do is devise 4 other vegetable cakes and we’re away 😉

  7. Hazel at Chicken in a Cherry Sauce

    4th March 2012 at 11:23 am

    Sounds like a wonderful recipe creation! At uni we are doing a new product development module. One group is making a low fat, low sugar and high fibre cake, and they are using parsnip as their fat substitute. They’ve used cocoa, lemon and crystallised ginger in their recipe too and I think I’m their biggest fan! I’m pretty sure I’d love this just as much 🙂 I say bring on the parsnip cakes!

    • Choclette

      6th March 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Now that combination of flavours sounds really interesting. It’s interesting to how so many fruit and veg can be used as a fat substitute – the black beans worked really well as did squash.

  8. The Caked Crusader

    4th March 2012 at 5:47 pm

    my god – you’ve grown mega-parsnips! Nice to see them put to such a good use too

    • Choclette

      6th March 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Ha ha, mega ugly parsnips 😉

  9. Hannah

    4th March 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Thats one amazing parsnip! Gorgeous looking cake too 🙂

    • Choclette

      6th March 2012 at 9:14 pm

      That’s a very nice way of putting it Hannah, but it did make for an excellent cake!

  10. Fabulicious Food

    4th March 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Wow, what a parsnip! I bet that did take ages to sort out. Still, well worth is as the cake looks yummy!

    • Choclette

      6th March 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks Ren. Now if it had just been the one parsnip, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but I had several like this and it wasn’t my favourite job!

  11. Maggie

    4th March 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Great idea for a cake, would never have thought to use parsnip but they are naturally sweet and moist.

    • Choclette

      7th March 2012 at 7:34 am

      Yes and they have a certain nutty quality too – they work surprisingly well.

  12. Dom at Belleau Kitchen

    5th March 2012 at 9:08 am

    MAN… that is one UGLY parsnip… I am intrigued by this… not entirely bemused though, seeing that carrot cake is so good… and parsnips being very sweet, I imagine this would work well… look nice and densely moist if that makes any sense!…

    • Choclette

      7th March 2012 at 7:34 am

      Don’t be so mean!!! It’s just had a a bit of a hard time. Dom try parsnip, works brilliantly well.

  13. thelittleloaf

    5th March 2012 at 9:23 am

    Very impressed with your vegetable growing skills…a baker and a gardener! This cake looks really interesting and love the idea of using parsnips…isn’t it funny how grated parsnip looks just like grated cheese?!

    • Choclette

      7th March 2012 at 7:36 am

      Not sure you should be too impressed with my gardening skills – don’t think my parsnips would have been allowed in a show, never mind winning any prizes! Didn’t pcik up on the resemblance between cheese and parsnip, but observation has never been my strong point!

  14. Kit @ i-lostinausten

    5th March 2012 at 10:01 am

    Another great recipe & looks very appetizing indeed! I’ve never grow parsnip before, perhaps I’ll try this year! Have a lovely week! 🙂

    • Choclette

      7th March 2012 at 7:37 am

      Oh parsnips are lovely, although not that easy to grow big, long, straight ones 😉

  15. avillagepantry

    5th March 2012 at 10:01 am

    Sounds like a gorgeous combo of flavours and it looks delicious too. Don’t envy you the parsnip peeling though. You’ve given me an idea for cardamom sugar also, thanks!

    • Choclette

      7th March 2012 at 8:23 pm

      Ha ha Sheelagh, never peel parsnips, just cut out any bad bits. Did have to cut out an awful lot of this one though – very fiddly.

  16. The Viking

    5th March 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I love carrot cake for its moistness and this looks like it would be just as good. Can’t wait to try it

    • Choclette

      7th March 2012 at 8:24 pm

      Carrot cake – bah! Who needs carrots when they can have parsnip!!!

  17. laura@howtocookgoodfood

    5th March 2012 at 7:18 pm

    What a good looking cake made from parsnips that have a lot of character. I love the idea of this cake and have a bag of wholemeal flour that could be used just for this recipe along with the wonderful sounding cardamom sugar……..Love it! x

    • Choclette

      7th March 2012 at 8:25 pm

      Did you grow any parsnips last year Laura? These were a first for me and despite the many problems, it was very satisfying using our own. Do let me know if you give it a go.

  18. Phil in the Kitchen

    5th March 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Really nice idea. I’ve not used parsnips in a cake before because I thought they may overwhelm the taste of anything else, but I can see I was wrong. I like the sound of that orange topping and the nutty edge from the oil.

    • Choclette

      7th March 2012 at 8:28 pm

      Yes Phil, I did wander about this too, but it really doesn’t, although the oil was quite strong.

  19. Jo

    6th March 2012 at 12:48 am

    I’ve never tried baking with parsnips, I imagine they work really well with walnuts in flavour. That is quite a creepy looking parsnip though! I’m glad you managed to turn it into a pretty cake. I suppose that makes you some sort of a Fairy God Mother of vegetables..?

    • Choclette

      7th March 2012 at 8:29 pm

      Jo, thank you, but I’m not sure my veg think I’m much of a fairy godmother – I produce scary parsnips and beetroots that all got eaten by voles. Now the voles might think I’m a fairy godmother!


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