Hybridizing of the optimization algorithms provides a scope to improve the searching abilities of the resulting method. The purpose of this paper is to develop a novel hybrid optimization algorithm entitled hybrid robust differential evolution (HRDE) by adding positive properties of the Taguchi's method to the differential evolution algorithm for minimizing the production cost associated with multi-pass turning problems. The proposed optimization approach is applied to two case studies for multi-pass turning operations to illustrate the effectiveness and robustness of the proposed algorithm in machining operations. The results reveal that the proposed hybrid algorithm is more effective than particle swarm optimization algorithm, immune algorithm, hybrid harmony search algorithm, hybrid genetic algorithm, scatter search algorithm, genetic algorithm and integration of simulated annealing and Hooke-Jeevespatter search. (C) 2012 Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved.