Top 7 Escarole Substitutes For Your Next Meal

If you haven’t heard about escarole, once you try it, you may fall in love with it. This vegetable is highly nutritious and has a unique flavor.

However, since its name usually doesn’t ring a bell for everyone, finding it can be quite difficult at times.

Instead of giving up your chosen dish or recipe, there are a few vegetables you can pick out as a substitute for escarole. Before we go on, though, let’s talk about the details that can help you make a good decision.

What Is Escarole?

This green, leafy vegetable looks very much like a head of lettuce, but its leaves are short and wide. The outside leaves tend to be dark green and tough, while the inside leaves are cream yellow and softer.

Escarole belongs to the chicory family and looks like lettuce, so it should be near the collard greens and kale.

Escarole is related to radicchio and endive, but it doesn’t look like them at all. This vegetable is great for Italian dishes, including soups, stews, and sausage pasta dishes.

If your recipe calls for escarole, the best thing to do is to look for a substitute with a similar bittersweet flavor and texture.

What Can I Replace Escarole With?

Let’s get cooking! Here are the 7 best substitutions for escarole you can find:

For Making a Tasty Pasta

#1. Arugula

Arugula is another bitter green that has made its way into many cuisines in the world. This traditional Italian vegetable has a peppery flavor with a lemony citrus aroma. This makes it a great alternative to escarole in dishes like salads, pasta, and tomato sauces. 

You can find arugula in any grocery store, usually with the spinach and spring greens. If you decide to use it as a substitute for escarole, use the same amount. As a tip, arugula works better with fresh ingredients, like cheese, tomatoes, and capers.

#2. Spinach

This green vegetable isn’t just a superfood full of nutrients like vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium, but also a good way to replace escarole. Keep in mind that spinach shrinks considerably when cooked, so for cooked dishes like soup and pasta, you will need double the amount.

Spinach is a great vegetable to use as a side dish, in pasta, soups, and stews. You can find this green at any grocery store any time of the year, but for fresh and bigger spinach, try the local farmer’s market. 

#3. Chard

This thick and crunchy green vegetable is famous for being nutritious and a very good source of fiber. It’s important to note that chard takes as long to cook and may not become as soft as the other greens in this list. You can usually find chard in the grocery store year-round, so it is a great alternative when no escarole is to be found. 

You should use chard in salads, risotto, pizza, and some pasta dishes. If you choose to use chard instead of escarole, use the same amount, but consider reducing it if there is too much fiber in your dish.

#4. Kale

Another superfood in this list, kale has become incredibly popular lately, and it can be a healthy replacement for escarole. Kale is full of micronutrients and fiber, but it can be a bit harsh and tough, so consider cooking it twice as long.

This vegetable is relatively easy to find in any grocery store, but you can try an organic market or farmer’s market too. 

Kale is also a bit bitter, which makes it a nice addition to certain dishes, like lasagna, pasta, soups, and dips. If you feel like experimenting, use kale to make healthy tips in your fryer or oven.

For Making Pizza or a Sala

#5. Radicchio

Don’t cross off radicchio from your list simply because it has purple leaves. This vegetable is related to escarole, so it does have a similar flavor, though the appearance looks different. You can find radicchio at almost every grocery store, but you can also try an organic market.

To replace escarole, use about the same amount of radicchio, but keep in mind that the color of your dish might change.

This vegetable goes well in salads, pasta, and some white pizzas, but make sure you taste first, as it may be too bitter for some.

#6. Frisée

This vegetable may not be common in many dishes, but it is highly nutritious and very tasty. Frisée can be used in salads or cooked, but it may take some time and the texture may not soften. Also, because it is mild, you may want to add more seasoning to closely resemble the flavor of escarole. 

You can use the same amount of frisée in place of escarole for dishes like salads or when used as a garnish, but use more if you are planning on cooking it. Make sure you try it first to see if the texture and mildness go well with the rest of the ingredients. 

#7. Mustard Greens

This last option is very similar in texture and flavor to kale. However, mustard greens do taste peppery like mustard. For this vegetable to shine, we recommend that you boil, steam, or saute it so it releases more flavor.

If you want to use mustard greens instead of escarole, use the same amount, but make sure to cook them. On the other hand, if the recipe calls for raw escarole, try one of these other options instead. Mustard greens are usually found next to the kale and spinach in the grocery store. 


How do you get the bitterness out of escarole?

Escarole does have a distinct bitter flavor but you can mask it by steaming the escarole in hot water for a few minutes. You can then remove it and soak with cold water, let it sit for a few more minutes. Once ready, you can continue to cook it or use it as is.

Is red chicory the same as radicchio?

Yes, the red chicory or Italian chicory is radicchio. This vegetable is related to chicory and used vastly in Italian dishes, which is why it is often referred to as an Italian vegetable.

Does escarole have another name?

Escarole is often also called broad-leaved endive, Bavarian endive, and Batavian endive. It is a member of the chicory family, along with frisée, radicchio, and endive. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, similar to how collard greens are prepared.


While escarole may not be a common ingredient in your home, if a recipe calls for it, then you should be aware of some close substitutions. These alternatives are great replacements, as they have similar texture and flavor.

escarole substitute

*Photo by Escarole/depositphotos

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