An all-you-need-to-know guide to celeriac (a.k.a. celery root), the unsung hero of fall and winter root vegetables.

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Celery Root by Getty
Photo: Zuzana Gajdosikova / EyeEm / Getty Images

One of the best things about fall is the shift in available produce. Don't get me wrong, I live for stone fruit season, but there's something so exciting about the first fall vegetables appearing in farmer's markets and grocery stores to signal the start of the season. I know that sweater weather is officially here when I see a few bulbs of celeriac popping up in the produce section. This often overlooked root vegetable is my favorite best-kept secret of hearty fall and winter cooking.

What Is Celeriac? 

Celeriac is the root of a particular variety of celery plant — thus, it's also sometimes simply called celery root. Celeriac is a root vegetable, so it can be stored like any other root vegetable; ideally in a cool, dry place away from direct light for up to two weeks. When shopping for celeriac, pick firm, non-wrinkly bulbs. Pro tip: the less roots there are on the bottom, the easier the bulb will be to peel. Celeriac begins to be in season starting early fall with it's peak around December and January.

How to Cook Celeriac

So now that you've gotten your celeriac home, the next task is to peel and cut it — which may seem daunting initially, but is easy once you know what to do. The first thing is to cut off the gnarled root ends. Once you've gotten those away, peel the bulb with a kitchen peeler; it'll be messy and probably uneven, but that's OK. So long as you remove all the skin and dirt, you're in the clear. From there, you can cut it however suits your recipe: diced for roasting, sliced for gratin, or julinned for a salad. 

Most people who are familiar with this vegetable know of it in celeriac puree. Which, while one of my favorite applications, is not all celeriac can do by a long shot. Roasting is a great way to showcase the distinct flavor of celeriac. Toss some into your next tray of roasted root veggies or try it in pasta or as a topping for risotto. Celeriac puree is obviously tried and true, it's so versatile it can complement almost any fall meal. Try it as a base under pork chops or topped with crispy mushrooms or roasted veggies for a cozy, vegetarian one-bowl dinner.

Organic celery (root celery and leaves of celery)
Behold the nubby beauty that is celery root--also known as celeriac. Peel, dice boil and add to mashed potatoes to add depth of flavor

Where to Buy Celeriac

While celeriac can sometimes be difficult to find, fans of this veggie know it's worth the trouble. Farmer's markets and farm shares often have it and it can usually be found in well-stocked grocery stores (such as Whole Foods or Sprouts) during peak season. It may take a little extra work to track it down, but with the benefits of celeriac's high fiber and vitamin A content, plus its relatively cheap price tag — not to mention its versatility — it's more than worth the effort.

What Does Celeriac Taste Like? 

For something that looks like a dirt-covered, gnawed-on softball, it can pack a real punch in the flavor department. Celery root offers a perfect combo of light, slightly herbaceous celery flavor matched with the classic sweetness characteristic of root vegetables, and a bit of peppery bite similar to turnips. The texture is similar to a rutabaga or kohlrabi, which allows you to enjoy it cooked or sliced very thinly raw.

What to Do With Celeriac 

Celeriac is incredibly versatile and pairs well with most classic fall and winter flavors. Some classic protein pairings for celeriac are pork and duck. Produce-wise, celeriac plays very well with kale, fennel, apples, mushrooms, horseradish, and kohlrabi. Most herbs complement celeriac, but parsley and tarragon pair exceptionally well. Other flavors that pair well with celeriac are brown butter, hazelnuts, mustard, maple, and miso.

A few of my favorite easy and hearty winter celeriac recipes include:

Celeriac. Photo by Meredith
Celeriac. Photo by Meredith

My go-to celeriac recipe is one I threw together a couple years ago, and has become my standby for a quick winter dinner that feels special.

Cozy Weeknight Celeriac Toast

Serves 2

  • 1 bulb celeriac
  • 4 tablespoons room-temperature butter, divided
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced (reserve fronds)
  • Half a bunch of kale, sliced into thin ribbons
  • Half a green apple, sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 radishes, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Handful of parsley
  • 4 slices crusty bread
  • Hazelnuts, chopped

1. Peel and quarter the celeriac, boil until soft, about 10-15 minutes depending on size. Drain and blend with 2 tablespoons butter and a small splash of cooking water if needed until a thick puree consistency is formed; season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a large pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter; once melted, add in sliced fennel. Saute until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes, and add in the kale. Season with salt and pepper and saute until kale is softened, adding in a splash of water to steam towards the end. 

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, oil, and maple syrup in a small bowl; set aside. In a medium bowl, toss together the green apple, radish, and parsley; coat with the mustard dressing, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. 

4. To assemble, toast the slices of bread to your desired level of toastiness, spread on a thick layer of celeriac puree, then add the kale and fennel mixture, and top with apple slaw. Garnish with fennel fronds and chopped nuts.

For even more inspiration, be sure to explore our entire collection of Celeriac Recipes.