Parsnips have a complex taste. Similar to carrots, they're sweet, but they contain more starch and have an earthier, nutty taste. There's a lot to take in when you bite into a parsnip. The flavor is starchy like potatoes, sweet like carrots, and bitter like turnips. In many ways the parsnip is the quintessential root vegetable: complex and earthy with a taste that's difficult to explain.