Are you looking for a delicious substitute for arugula? Luckily, there are several options that are the best substitutes for arugula! Maybe you don't have it on hand, or maybe you don't care for the bold taste of arugula. Either way, it's so easy to find an alternative!
Arugula is a popular leafy green vegetable, commonly found in salads. Arugula has a bold, peppery, bitter flavor. It's strong, peppery taste is the number one reason people look for a substitute for arugula.
Not only is arugula a common salad ingredient, it's also used as a pizza topping, mixed into pasta (like my Summer Tortellini Salad with Arugula), in egg scrambles, quiche, in soups, made into a pesto and on sandwiches.
Even though arugula is highly nutritious - it's rich in vitamin a, vitamin c and vitamin k, it's easy to find leafy green substitutes for arugula that are also rich in nutrients. I am a firm believer that you shouldn't eat something healthy just because it's healthy. You should enjoy the flavor as well!
So the next time you need an arugula substitute for your arugula salad, you can reference the list below!
Best arugula substitutes
- Romaine lettuce
- Baby kale
- Swiss chard
- Baby spinach
- Beet greens
- Curly endive
- Raw sprouts
- Dandelion greens
- Bok choy
- Mixed salad greens
- Fresh herbs
Romaine lettuce grows in tall heads, with sturdy leaves. Romaine is most commonly used in raw salads, particularly in Caesar salad. Romaine has a milder flavor than most salad greens. Similarly to arugula, romaine lettuce is rich in vitamins a, c and k.
How to use romaine lettuce: Romaine can be grilled, braised or seared quickly on the stovetop, in addition to being eaten raw.
Best substitute for: Romaine lettuce is a great substitute in salads and on sandwiches.
Try out my recipe for Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons.
Baby kale is harvested before the kale plant matures. This makes baby kale more delicate, sweeter and mild than fully mature kale. Baby kale is regularly found in most grocery stores in the packaged salad greens section. Olivia's Organics is a very common brand.
How to use baby kale: Baby kale can be eaten raw, blended, juiced, sautéed, baked and boiled.
Best substitute for: Baby kale is a great substitute for arugula in soups, green salads, pasta salads, pizzas, flat breads, egg scrambles and quiche.
Swiss chard is best identified by it's long, leafy greens and colorful stalks. Swiss chard is a member of the beet family, and can commonly be mistaken for beet greens. Swiss chard is available in grocery stores year-round but is in-season in early summer. When eaten raw, chard can be on the bitter side so it is best eaten cooked. I love to sauté swiss chard in a little olive oil and minced garlic!
How to use swiss chard: Swiss chard is best when sautéed or boiled.
Best substitute for: Swiss chard is a great addition to soups, stews, vegetables sautés and stir fries.
If you don't like the peppery flavor of arugula, then baby spinach is a good option. Similarly to baby kale, baby spinach is harvested before the spinach plant fully matures. This gives baby spinach a milder taste and tender texture, especially when compared to baby arugula. Baby spinach is a very common salad green and I think it's safe to say that baby spinach is one of the most popular green leafy vegetables!
How to use baby spinach: Baby spinach is incredibly versatile! It's delicious eaten raw, blended, juiced, sautéed, stir fried, baked and boiled.
Best substitute for: Baby spinach is your best bet when looking for an arugula substitute in pasta dishes, smoothies, fresh juices, soups, salads, pizzas, flatbreads, egg dishes, sandwiches, sandwich wraps and baked pastas.
If you like the earthy flavor of fresh beets, then you would enjoy beet greens as well. Beet greens have numerous health benefits because they are a good source of vitamins a and c and contain antioxidants. They're excellent for the immune system! Beet greens have green leaves and red stems, making them similar in appearance to swiss chard.
How to use beet greens: Beet greens can be sautéed, steamed, braised, boiled and eaten raw.
Best substitute for: Beet greens are a good arugula substitute in soups, stews, sautés and stir fries.
Curly endive, sometimes also referred to as frisee, is a green leafy vegetable with narrow stems and very curly leaves. Curly endive has a similar taste to arugula because like arugula, curly endive has a very bitter taste when eaten raw. This makes curly endive a great alternative to arugula.
How to use curly endive: You can eat curly endive raw, sautéed, braised or steamed.
Best substitute for: Use curly endive in place of arugula in salads, soups and mixed vegetable sautés.
Raw vegetable sprouts, like radish sprouts, broccoli sprouts and alfalfa sprouts are the germinated seeds of a vegetable. Sprouts are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. Sprouts give salads and sandwiches are wonderfully different texture.
How to use sprouts: Sprouts can be eaten raw and mixed into stir fry and fried rice recipes.
Best substitute for: Sprouts are a delicious arugula substitute in raw vegetable salads, fresh sandwiches and wraps and Asian stir fry recipes.
Mung bean sprouts would be a delicious addition to my Ground Pork Fried Rice recipe!
Dandelion greens are derived from that pesky dandelion weed you have growing in your back yard! Dandelion weeds don't have to be looked at as a nuisance though. They're actually edible plants with many health properties. The entire dandelion plant is edible, right from the root to the flower.
How to use dandelion greens: Dandelion greens can be steamed, braised, sautéed and eaten raw.
Best substitute for: Similarly to arugula, dandelion greens have a bitter flavor. They're best served with other flavor enhancers that will either mask or mellow out their bitter flavor. Citrus is wonderful for this.
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage and a cruciferous vegetable. Unlike many other leafy greens, bok choy does not lose volume when cooked. Baby bok choy is more mild in flavor, while a more mature bok choy and be slightly bitter.
How to use bok choy: Bok choy can be braised, steamed, sautéed and stir fried.
Best substitute for: Bok choy is best substituted for arugula in Asian recipes.
Escarole is another bitter, leafy green. It grows in heads that appear similar to green leaf lettuce. Escarole is a common addition to Italian cuisine, particularly Italian Wedding Soup. You'll usually find escarole in the grocery store near the kale and lettuces.
How to use escarole: Escarole can be eaten raw, grilled, sautéed and braised.
Best substitute for: Substitute in escarole in salads and soups.
Mixed salad greens include green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, romaine, and baby spinach. As the name implies, mixed salad greens would be best substituted for arugula in salads only. You could substitute them in sandwiches and wraps if you're in a pinch.
How to use salad greens: Salad greens are best eaten raw.
Best substitute for: Like I already said, salad greens will be best in... SALADS!
Green cabbage is a versatile, cruciferous vegetable. While green cabbage will resemble arugula in color, you could also substitute purple cabbage for arugula. Cabbage is crunchy, filling, mildly peppery, and has a slightly earthy flavor.
How to use cabbage: Cabbage can be roasted, grilled, steamed, braised, sautéed and eaten raw.
Best substitute for: Substitute cabbage in crunchy raw salads, roasted vegetable recipes, hearty soups, and vegetable stir-fries.
Fresh herbs include basil, parsley, dill, chives, green onion, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, and mint. Fresh herbs are incredibly aromatic and flavorful. They will definitely change the flavor of the dish you are adding them to. While they can be a good arugula substitute, you'll want to proceed with caution. Think about the dish you're making and whether or not the flavor of the fresh herb would lend itself well to the recipe.
How to use fresh herbs: Fresh herbs can be eaten raw and cooked.
Best substitute for: Fresh herbs can be added to all recipes!
Watercress is a dark, leafy green that is also a member of the cruciferous family. Like arugula, watercress has a peppery and slightly bitter flavor. Watercress is an aquatic plant that is often grown hydroponically, without the use of soil.
How to use watercress: Watercress can be eaten raw, sautéed, and cooked into dishes.
Best substitute for: Watercress can be added to raw vegetable salads, pasta, casseroles, and soups.
How to choose a substitute for arugula
As you can now see, there are so many popular leafy vegetables that can be substituted in place of arugula! The peppery bite of arugula leaves aren't for everyone, so just swap in a different leafy green instead!
You'll want to consider the dish that you're making before choosing your substitute. Certain greens are best eaten raw, while others lend themselves well to soups and pasta dishes.
You'll also want to think about why you're eliminating arugula. If you specifically don't like the bitter flavor, then choose a sweeter, more mild leafy green substitution instead. If arugula simply isn't available, but you like the taste of arugula, then I would choose one of the peppery, bitter greens like escarole, dandelion or curly endive.
Delicious arugula recipes
Frequently asked questions
The best substitute for arugula in soup would be spinach, baby kale, escarole, or swiss chard.
The best arugula alternative in smoothies would be spinach or kale.
Yes, arugula is a leafy green that has a strong, peppery flavor that could be substituted for fresh cilantro or parsley. However, cilantro and parsley still have very distinct flavors of their own, so the flavor of the dish would change significantly.