Best Asparagus Substitutes & When To Use Them

Looking for an asparagus substitute? Whether you don’t have it on hand, can’t find it at the store, have an allergy, or don’t like the taste, try one of these substitutes for asparagus instead.

What is Asparagus?

Asparagus, also known as garden asparagus, is a spring vegetable with a bright green color, long, pointy spears, and a tough woody stem near the bottom. Unlike most vegetables that need to be planted each season, asparagus is a perennial. This means it grows back year after year, which is why people hunt for wild asparagus.

Green asparagus is by far the most commonly found variety, but there are also white asparagus and purple asparagus. The taste varies depending on the season and variety, but it generally has an earthy, unique flavor. It contains vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber, and antioxidants.

Fresh asparagus is best eaten blanched, grilled or roasted with olive oil and kosher, and is used in various ways such as saladsside dishes, main dishes, frittatas, bowls, risotto, and more!  

Best Asparagus Substitutes

Green Beans

A colorful Italian green bean salad with cherry tomatoes, toasted almonds, and fresh basil leaves.

Italian green bean salad

Green beans, also known as string beans or snap beans, are an excellent substitute for asparagus. They have a slightly sweet, mild flavor and a similar crisp texture. If buying whole, untrimmed green beans, you need to trim off the tough ends first before cooking with them.

Substitute green beans for asparagus in recipes like stir-fries, salads, and blanched, grilled, or roasted vegetables. French green beans, known as haricots verts can also be substituted for fresh asparagus.

For more ideas, see what goes with green beans.


A plate of sautéed broccoletti with garlic and lemon wedges.

quick sautéed broccoletti

Broccolini (also called broccoletti), is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale and shares some flavor characteristics with asparagus such as tender broccoli stems and broccoli florets making it a great substitute.

Use broccolini in place of asparagus in recipes such as pasta dishes, frittatas, or roasted vegetables

Sugar Snap Peas

A bin of sugar snap peas.

Sugar snap peas offer a crunchy texture and a subtle sweetness, making them a good replacement for asparagus. Incorporate sugar snap peas into stir-fries, fried rice, sauteed vegetables, or salads.

Brussels Sprouts

Rinsed Brussels sprouts in colander

Brussels sprouts have a slightly bitter flavor and firm texture reminiscent of asparagus. Substitute Brussels sprouts for asparagus in recipes such as roasted vegetables, sautéed side dishes, or hearty salads.

For more ideas, see what goes with Brussels sprouts.

Bok Choy

Bok choy, also called pak choi, is a vegetable with light green stalks and leafy greens. The stalks have a light, crisp texture and a mild flavor. It’s one of the best substitutes for stir-fries, salad, roasted or sautéed vegetables, and risotto.


Zucchini has a slightly softer texture than asparagus. However, because its flavor is so mild, it’s an incredibly versatile vegetable and can be used in bowls, sautéed vegetables, risottopestoSpanish omeletssalad, and more.

For more ideas, see what goes well with zucchini.

Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddlehead ferns are the tightly coiled tips of early spring ferns. They’re sweet like asparagus with a slightly grassy flavor, and a snappy texture similar to a green bean.

They have a very short season in Spring and because of this, can be expensive and aren’t available at many grocery stores. To prepare them, peel away any brown on the stems and remove any papery brown skin. Submerge them in a bowl of cold water and move them around to remove any dirt. 

Ferns are toxic and must be cooked (for at least 10 minutes) before consuming them. They’re best steamed, braised, sautéed, or roasted and tossed with a simple vinaigrette. If sauteing or roasting, boil them first for 10 minutes then proceed with your cooking method.

Garlic Scapes

A bowl of sauteed garlic scapes with a squeeze lime half and a fork.

sautéed garlic scapes

Garlic scapes have a similar texture, shape, and color to asparagus with more of a garlicky flavor. They’re great sautéed or used in a stir fry.

Green Bell Peppers

Green peppers have a crunchy texture and slightly bitter taste when raw. When cooked they soften and any bitterness mellows out. Use as a substitute in pasta and stir-fries. 

Leafy Greens

A bowl of massaged kale with olive oil.

Swiss chard, kale, and spinach have an earthy flavor, but mellows out as it cooks and their texture becomes very tender. They’re a delicious asparagus substitute if you need some green veggies in the form of a quick side dish.

Cook them with olive oil, kosher salt, a splash of vegetable or chicken broth for more flavor, and a squeeze of lemon juice after you remove them from the heat. 

Green Peas

Green peas have a great crunchy texture and are best fresh or blanched in salads, or added at the end of a stir-fry to retain their crisp texture.

What is the Best Substitute For Asparagus?

When it comes to substituting ingredients, it all comes down to availability, seasonality, and personal preference. There’s not one best alternative when it comes to substituting asparagus. It depends on what you’re making. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a substitution:

A bowl of warm roasted asparagus and potato salad.

warm potato asparagus salad with roasted garlic vinaigrette

Texture  is it important that your substitute has a similar texture to asparagus? For example, if you’re roasting vegetables, broccolini or Brussels sprouts are similar enough that they’d make a great replacement. However, vegetables like green peas or leafy greens aren’t the best choice for roasting.

Cooking time – the cooking time varies with each green vegetable, so it’s something to keep in mind if you’re following a recipe.

Flavor profile  does it need to have a similar flavor profile or is there some wiggle room? Will your substitute complement the other flavors in the dish?

Season to taste – no matter what a recipe says, season to taste according to your own personal preference. A dish always needs salt, but other times it also needs a few of the 5 basic tastes.

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