7 Best Substitute For Arugula

Arugula Substitute

Arugula, a vibrant leafy green known for its distinctive, peppery flavor, has carved out a significant niche in the culinary sphere. Celebrated for its versatility, it graces an array of dishes, from salads to pastas, imparting a delightful zestiness that tickles the palate. However, whether due to scarcity, dietary requirements, or a desire for variation, finding a fitting substitute for arugula can become a gastronomic quest.

This article endeavors to guide you on this quest, presenting a curated list of the best substitutes for arugula. These alternatives not only echo the crisp texture of arugula, but also bring their unique flavor profiles into play, ensuring your dishes remain flavorful and appealing. In defining ‘the best’, we consider availability, versatility in cooking, similar or complementary flavor profiles, and nutritional value. With this guide, your culinary creations need never fall flat for want of arugula.

What is Arugula?

Arugula, known by various names such as salad rocket, roquette, or rucola, is a leafy green with a distinct flavor profile. It’s a part of the Brassicaceae family, which includes other powerhouses like broccoli, kale, and cabbage. The arugula leaves possess a slight bite, offering a peppery flavor that can add a fantastic zing to any dish it graces, whether it be salads, pasta, or pizza.

Quick Leaf-through of Arugula Substitutes

  1. Spinach
  2. Watercress
  3. Endive
  4. Belgian Endive
  5. Radicchio
  6. Kale
  7. Dandelion Greens

Best Substitutes For Arugula

Uncovering the best substitutes for arugula requires an understanding of not just the texture, but also the flavor profile of each potential substitute. These chosen alternatives not only match the crispness of arugula, but also bring their unique tastes to your plate.


Arguably the most accessible leafy green, spinach is the first choice when considering arugula substitutes. Spinach shares a similar texture with arugula, though it leans towards the softer side. The flavor is milder, with a sweet undertone that counterbalances the lack of peppery zest from arugula.

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Spinach is a versatile vegetable, making it a staple in numerous recipes worldwide. It works well in salads, stews, smoothies, and even as a pizza topping. What sets it apart is its nutritional value – packed with iron, calcium, and a multitude of vitamins, spinach can give your meals a healthy boost.

Furthermore, spinach comes in several types – baby spinach, flat-leaf spinach, and savoy spinach, each carrying subtle differences in taste and texture. Baby spinach, for example, has a sweeter taste, and its soft, tender leaves make it a great fit for fresh salads.


Watercress comes in as a strong contender when seeking a similar flavor profile to arugula. It carries a peppery punch that mirrors arugula’s, making it a favorite substitute for those who adore that unique kick.

Watercress is commonly used in salads and sandwiches due to its crunchy texture and strong flavor. It also holds up well when cooked, making it a versatile choice in a variety of dishes. A dash of watercress in your soup can add an unexpected layer of flavor.

Like spinach, watercress is nutritionally rich. It contains a high amount of Vitamin K, essential for bone health, and Vitamin C, an antioxidant that promotes a healthy immune system. Its inclusion in your meals can turn them into a nutrient-dense feast.


Endive, with its crisp texture and slightly bitter flavor, serves as another excellent alternative to arugula. While the flavor is more bitter than peppery, it does provide a similar complexity that can intrigue your palate.

Endive is perfect for salads, providing a crunchy component that adds interest to the dish. It also shines as a cooked ingredient – you can braise, grill, or bake it, and it will still retain some of its characteristic crunch.

Endive is high in fiber, making it excellent for digestive health. It’s also a source of Vitamin A, an essential nutrient for eye health, and Vitamin K. The versatile nature and nutritional benefits of endive make it a valuable addition to your culinary arsenal.

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Belgian Endive

Belgian endive, also known as witloof, is a variety of endive but with a milder, less bitter flavor. Its pale, tightly packed leaves provide a pleasant crunch that closely mimics arugula’s texture.

Belgian endive serves as an excellent base for salads, can be baked, braised, or grilled, and is often used in soups and casseroles. Its unique boat-shaped leaves are perfect for fillings, making them a star player in appetizer recipes. The mild bitterness of Belgian endive offers a subtle contrast to sweet or rich ingredients, similar to how arugula functions in many recipes.

In terms of nutrition, Belgian endive comes loaded with fiber and vitamins, notably vitamin A and K. Its low-calorie count makes it a favorite among health-conscious eaters, and the presence of inulin, a prebiotic fiber, aids in maintaining a healthy gut.


Radicchio, with its beautiful red and white leaves, not only adds a burst of color to your dishes but also brings a flavor profile that stands up to arugula’s peppery punch. The taste of radicchio leans towards the bitter side but mellows down when cooked.

Radicchio is a go-to ingredient for salads, but its utility extends far beyond. It’s excellent when grilled, roasted, or braised, with the heat lending a sweetness to balance its inherent bitterness. When using radicchio as a substitute for arugula in salads, keep in mind that its stronger flavor can dominate, so adjust quantities accordingly.

Radicchio is a powerhouse of nutrients, boasting a high content of vitamin K and antioxidants. It’s also a good source of fiber, making it a healthy addition to your meals.


Kale, with its sturdy texture and slightly bitter, earthy flavor, serves as a good substitute for arugula, particularly in cooked dishes. Its leaves are more substantial than arugula, holding up well to heat, making it an excellent choice for soups, stews, and stir-frys.

Raw kale can be used in salads, but it benefits from a little extra preparation. Massaging the leaves with a bit of oil can help soften them and mellow their flavor, making them a suitable stand-in for arugula in raw dishes.

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Nutritionally, kale is a superstar. It’s rich in vitamins A, K, and C, and is an excellent source of fiber and minerals like potassium and calcium. Its high antioxidant content further elevates its status in the health and nutrition world.

Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens, often overlooked as merely a common weed, are indeed a culinary treasure. With their strong, bitter flavor and firm texture, they can serve as an excellent stand-in for arugula.

Like arugula, dandelion greens have a peppery kick but carry a more pronounced bitterness. They’re excellent in salads, offering a robust flavor that can stand up to other ingredients. Cooking dandelion greens, either by sautéing or blanching, can help reduce their bitterness.

In terms of nutritional value, dandelion greens are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, and are a good source of calcium and potassium. Their impressive nutrient profile makes them a healthy, if somewhat unconventional, substitute for arugula.

Substitutes for Arugula: Nutritional Profile

Here’s a quick look at the nutritional profile of the discussed arugula substitutes (based on a ¼ cup serving):

IngredientCaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Belgian Endive50.
Dandelion Greens250.4521.5


The journey of finding the perfect substitute for arugula is akin to an exploration of the vast and diverse world of leafy greens. Each substitute brings its unique flavors, textures, and nutritional profiles to the table. While they may not perfectly replicate arugula’s distinct peppery notes, they certainly add their own unique charm to your culinary creations. Whether you choose spinach for its mild and sweet taste, watercress for its peppery punch, or dandelion greens for their pronounced bitterness, remember that the essence of cooking lies in experimentation and enjoyment. So, don’t be afraid to play around with these substitutes and see which ones satisfy your palate the best. Happy cooking!

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