Parsnip Spice Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

This parsnip recipe isn't your usual roast, stew, or purée. Parsnip spice cake with ginger cream cheese frosting is basically carrot cake's cool cousin who's totally comfortable chatting it up with the farmers at the Sunday market. This cake, developed by our friend Jill Silverman Hough, is a terrific, unfussy fall or winter treat. We love it with the ginger cream cheese frosting, but it's also great naked.


According to The Produce Bible, parsnips were the most commonly used winter vegetable throughout much of Europe until the potato was introduced in the 18th century. 

Parsnip Spice Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

This earthy, perfectly spiced parsnip cake is a terrific and slightly unusual way to take parsnips beyond purées and braises. Think of it as carrot cake's cool cousin who's genuinely comfortable chatting with the farmers at the local farmers' market.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Serves Serves 12


For the parsnip spice cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tightly packed cups peeled, shredded parsnips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the ginger cream cheese frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk (if needed)


For the parsnip spice cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and salt. Whisk to combine.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed well. Stir in parsnips and walnuts.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean from the center of the cake. Cool completely on a rack.
  4. When cool, frost with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting, below, if you like.

For the ginger cream cheese frosting

  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, ginger, vanilla, and salt and beat until very smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, beating after each addition, until all the sugar is incorporated and the frosting is smooth. If frosting seems too thick, add milk and beat until smooth.
  3. Spread over Parsnip Spice Cake and serve.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 331 Total Fat:: 19.4g Carbohydrates:: 35.6g Fiber:: 2.2g Protein:: 5..2g