Need an arugula substitute? Whether you don't have it on hand, can't find it at the store, or don't like the taste, try one of these substitutions instead.
What is Arugula?
Arugula (also known as rocket, roquette, or rucola) is a popular salad green, even though it isn't actually lettuce. This tender leafy green vegetable is a member of the brassica plant family along with other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, and brussels sprouts.
It's native to the Mediterranean region, which is why this ingredient has been a long-time staple in Italian, Greek, and French cuisines. It has a spicy, peppery, slightly bitter taste that mellows out when cooked. For a milder flavor, choose baby arugula because as it matures, the leaves' spiciness intensifies.
The Best Substitutes for Arugula
Like arugula, watercress is another leafy vegetable in the brassica plant family which makes it a really great substitute. It has a similar distinctive peppery taste that arugula also has when eaten raw but mellows out when cooked, just make sure to trim off the thick stems first as they can be rather tough. Use in salads, soup, sandwiches, pizza, or as a garnish.
Escarole is a type of lettuce in the chicory plant family (also referred to as bitter greens). This lettuce bunch is sold near other heads of lettuce, but what differentiates escarole is its shorter structure with wider wavy-edged leaves.
And just as the plant name suggests, the flavor falls on the bitter side, which is why it's a great arugula replacement. Especially when used in soups.
Frisée, also called curly endive is also a member of the chicory (or bitter greens) plant family. Its frazzled-looking, sturdy leaves hold up well against dressings and sauces. This combined with its crunchy texture makes it a great choice for substituting arugula in salads, wraps, or sandwiches.
4. Radish Greens
Radish greens are usually overlooked or regarded as scraps, but these edible leafy tops have a peppery flavor making them a great substitute for arugula. They're a great choice for pesto or sautéed for a frittata.
5. Baby Kale
Unlike the large hearty leaves on a bunch of mature kale, baby kale leaves are tender with a slightly peppery flavor. The size of their leaves is comparable to arugula making it a really easy swap in a variety of dishes.
6. Baby Spinach
If you don't like the peppery, bitterness of arugula, spinach is a really great substitute. It's very mild in flavor and works well in all kinds of dishes from raw to cooked.