Arugula is a delicious leafy green that is perfect for salads and sandwiches. However, if you are all out or don't have time to run to the store, there are plenty of substitutes for arugula that will add a pungent kick to your dishes. Keep reading to learn my all-time favourite substitutes for arugula.
Arugula, also known as rocket salad or rucola, is a leafy green vegetable with a slightly peppery flavor. It is often used in salads, sandwiches, and as a garnish on soup, pizza, or pasta dishes. It's also commonly used for pesto.
When looking for an arugula alternative, you want to find an option that matches in flavour and texture. From mustard greens to romaine, there are several ingredients you can swap in that you probably already have in your kitchen.
Scroll down to see the full list of substitutes for arugula.
If you're in a rush, I get it. Below are my two favourite arugula replacements that you can find at your local grocery store.
- Dandelion greens
Want to know more? Keep scrolling for all the details on how to use these two substitutes for arugula and so much more.
1. Dandelion greens
Dandelion greens can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Arugula and dandelion greens are very similar looking leaves, to the point where people often wonder if they're the same green.
- Like arugula, dandelion greens are slightly bitter and earthy.
- Dandelion greens are also often used in salads, sandwiches, and as a garnish. So, they can be interchanged pretty easily in these dishes
- Dandelion greens have a slightly more bitter flavor than arugula. So, you may want to reduce the amount of greens or other strong-flavored ingredients to compensate.
Watercress can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Like arugula, watercress has a slightly spicy flavor profile.
- Watercress and arugula are both nutritious leafy greens. Watercress is a good source of vitamins C and K, and also contains calcium, iron and folate.
- Both greens are used in salads, sandwiches, and as garnish. So, they can be interchanged fairly easily in these dishes.
- Watercress has thin, delicate stems and small, round leaves, while arugula has larger, more elongated leaves and a more robust texture. So, consider the role appearance and texture play in the dish before making the swap.
3. Mustard greens
Mustard greens can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Mustard greens are a type of brassica, which means they are related to vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts. Like arugula, they have a spicy, slightly pungent flavor.
- Mustard greens can easily replace arugula in salads or as sandwiches. Because they are fairly hearty, they can also be used in dishes like stews and casseroles.
- Mustard greens have a slightly spicier taste than arugula (think spicy like mustard). So, you may want to reduce the amount of greens or other strong-flavored ingredients to compensate.
Radicchio can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Radicchio is a type of chicory with a slightly bitter flavor. It's best used as a substitute for arugula in salads or as a topping for sandwiches, as the flavour mellows and sweetens when it's cooked.
- Like arugula, radicchio is a nutritious leafy green. It is a good source of vitamins K and C, and it also contains some folate and potassium.
- Radicchio has firm leaves and a slightly crunchy texture. So, its texture is different than arugula. Consider the role this plays in your dish before swapping.
- It has dark purple or red leaves, which again is quite different than arugula. Consider the role color plays in your meal before replacing.
Frisée can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Frisée and arugula are both leafy green vegetables with a pungent taste, although frisée is generally stronger.
- They have a similar appearance, with long, thin leaves that are green in color.
- Frisée has a stronger flavor than arugula. So, you may want to reduce the amount of greens or other strong-flavored ingredients to compensate.
Kale can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Kale can be eaten cooked or raw, and its mild flavor makes it a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.
- Kale and arugula are both leafy greens that are packed with nutrients. Kale is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, and it also contains some calcium, iron, and potassium.
- If you're simply looking for a green leafy vegetable to round out your dish, kale is a perfectly acceptable substitute for arugula. It's best used as a replacement in sandwiches and salads.
- The flavour differs between the two leafy greens. Arugula has a more peppery taste, while kale has a more mellow flavor. It may not be the best substitute if you're looking for a specific flavor profile.
- Kale has a sturdier, crunchier texture than arugula. So consider the role texture plays in your recipe before swapping.
- I wrote a guide on how to make kale stay fresh longer. Check it out here.
7. Romaine lettuce
Romaine lettuce can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Romaine lettuce is a type of leaf lettuce that's crunchy with long, dark green leaves and a slightly bitter, slightly sweet flavor.
- Like arugula, it's a good source of nutrients, being particularly strong in vitamins A and K, as well as folate, iron, and calcium.
- If you're simply looking for a green leafy vegetable to round out your dish, romaine lettuce is a perfectly acceptable substitute for arugula. It's best used as a swap in sandwiches and salads.
- Romaine lettuce has a much milder flavor than arugula, so it won't add as much zest to your recipe. Because it doesn't have the same peppery kick as arugula, it may not be the best substitute if you're looking for a specific flavor profile.
Spinach can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Spinach has a mild flavor that’s easy to pair with other ingredients.
- Like arugula, spinach is a leafy green with great health benefits. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as iron.
- Spinach is also often used in salads, sandwiches, and as a garnish on things like soup or pizza. So, can be interchanged pretty easily in these dishes.
- Arugula has a more distinct flavor than spinach. If you need the peppery taste of arugula, spinach won’t be the best substitute.
- The texture of arugula leaves is firmer than spinach, making it a better choice for dishes where you want the leaves to retain their shape.
9. Mesclun greens
Mesclun greens can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Mesclun greens are traditionally a mixture of baby greens including arugula, lettuce, chervil, and endive. So, you'll get some of the traditional peppery flavor of arugula in your dish.
- If you're simply looking for a green leafy vegetable to round out your dish, mesclun greens are a perfectly acceptable substitute for arugula that are best used as a replacement in sandwiches and salads.
- The flavor and texture of mesclun greens can vary depending on the specific types of greens included in the mix. So, the flavour profile will often include more mellow and bitter flavors than if you were to use arugula alone. If you only want the peppery taste of arugula, this won’t be the best substitute.
Endive can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Endive is a type of chicory. It has a slightly bitter flavor, similar to arugula, which makes it a good a substitute in salads or as a topping for sandwiches.
- Endives have a unique oval shape, and soft, satiny texture. The leaves are usually dark purple or red. So, consider the role appearance and texture play in your recipe before replacing arugula with this leafy green.
Escarole can be used in place of arugula in a 1:1 ratio.
- Escarole is a member of the chicory family that has a slightly bitter taste, like arugula. Although, it's not quite as peppery as rocket lettuce.
- Escarole works well as a replacement in sandwiches and salads. Because it's a sturdy green, it's also good in soups and stews.
- Escarole has broad leaves and a crunchier texture than arugula, so consider the role appearance and texture play in your dish before swapping.
Ultimately, the best substitute for arugula will depend on the specific recipe and your personal taste preferences. Experiment with different options to find the one that works best for you.
Here's a guide to the best substitutes for arugula:
- To mimic the spicy, bitter taste of arugula most closely, use dandelion greens, watercress, mustard greens, frisée, radicchio, endives or escarole.
- If color is important, avoid radicchio and endives.
- To imitate the appearance and texture of arugula most closely, use frisée or dandelion greens.
- If you're simply looking for a replacement leafy green to round out your dish, you can use any of the options listed above.
What is arugula?
- Arugula, also known as rocket or roquette, is a leafy green from the Mediterranean region.
- It has a slightly bitter, mustard-like flavor and a slightly spicy kick.
- Arugula has elongated leaves and a slightly more robust texture than many other greens, such as romaine or spinach.
- It's a good source of vitamins A and C, and it also contains some calcium, iron, and potassium.
- Arugula is most commonly used in salads or sandwiches, where it adds flavor and crunch. It is also used as a garnish in dishes like pasta, pizza, and soups.
- When purchasing arugula, look for fresh, crips leaves that are not wilted or yellowed.
- Arugula should be stored in the refrigerator. Be sure leaves are dry before storing to extend the shelf life.
How to use arugula
I’ll share some of my favourite recipes using arugula below. But, to make you the master of your own kitchen, I want to share a few ideas on how you can start using arugula in your kitchen today.
- In salads: Arugula is a common ingredient in salads, where it adds a slightly bitter, mustard-like flavor and a crunchy texture.
- In sandwiches: The leafy green is a tasty addition to sandwiches, where it adds flavor and crunch.
- In pasta: Arugula is often used as a topping for pasta, where it adds flavor and nutrition. It pairs well with creamy sauces, as well as grilled chicken and seafood.
- On pizza: Similarly, arugula is a popular topping on pizza, where it adds flavor and a slightly peppery kick. It's usually added to the top of the pizza after it is cooked.
- On top of soup: Arugula is a popular garnish that's stirred into soup after cooking to add add flavor and nutrition.
- In pesto: Arugula is often used in place of basil to make pesto, a tasty sauce that cis added to pasta, sandwiches, and meats.
Is arugula healthy?
Arugula is a leafy green that often finds its way into salads, wraps and other healthier dishes. With it's unbeatable peppery taste and unique texture, arugula stands out among many of the other greens you might find at the store.
It has numerous health benefits, making it a worthwhile addition to your diet. Studies have shown that the mixture of vitamins and minerals found in arugula can help reduce inflammation and even fight certain types of cancer cells.
Additionally, it contains high levels of folate which helps keep our cells healthy and also assists in nourishing women during pregnancy. Arugula also contains antioxidants which aid in preventing problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
With all these potential benefits, I think it's a no brainer to add this delicious superfood to your diets!
Have you tried any of these subs for arugula? Do you have any of your own? Please take a minute to leave a comment below with your suggestions.