11 Best Escarole Substitutes

Escarole is an often overlooked vegetable. However, it’s actually a versatile green that can be eaten raw or cooked.

Escarole, also sometimes known as Chicory, is a leafy green vegetable that can be substituted in many recipes.

It has a slightly stronger taste than lettuce but also adds more flavor to dishes. It is often used in salads and soups because of its slightly bitter taste.

While this bitterness might not be for everyone there are many other options to choose from when looking for the best escarole substitutes.

Some of the best substitutes for escarole are Arugula, Kale, Iceberg lettuce, Radicchio, Frisee, Spinach, Chard, Mustard greens, etc.

From adding it to pasta recipes to topping your sandwich with this veggie – I’ve got all sorts of ideas in store for you!

What is Escarole?

Escarole is a leafy green that belongs to the chicory family. Escarole is a type of endive that can range from green to yellow depending on the season.

This vegetable has been used in European dishes for thousands of years. Escarole is also known as a sword or broadleaf endive.

Its slightly bitter taste makes it a favorite when cooking hearty Italian soups and pasta. It can be eaten raw or added to hearty stews, soups, and braised dishes.

It’s often used as a bittering agent to liven up recipes and add more flavor.

Similar to lettuce, escarole is packed with nutrients and vitamins. Escarole is rich in fiber, folate, beta carotene, and vitamin A.

11 Best Escarole Substitutes

Below, I will show you how to get the most out of your escarole at home with these simple substitutions.

1. Arugula

Arugula Substitutes

Arugula, also known as rocket or roquette, is a leafy green that has gained recent popularity.

Arugula isn’t always found in the average grocer but can be found at most specialty stores. Arugula can be found year-round but is most abundant during the summer months.

It’s popular because of its peppery flavor. This bitter green can be used as an alternative to escarole in many recipes.

Arugula makes a great addition to salads, soups, and pesto recipes. Try pairing it with olives or citrus fruits.

Arugula is a much stronger-tasting green than iceberg lettuce. It has a sharp, almost spicy flavor that makes it a perfect addition to salads and sandwiches. 

2. Chard

Swiss Chard Substitutes

Chard is another leafy green that substitution escarole when cooking various dishes.

Chard, also known as Swiss chard or silverbeet, is a leafy green vegetable that is similar to its cousin spinach. This green has large crinkly leaves and can be found in most grocery stores. It’s often located near the other greens like arugula and escarole.

Chard makes an excellent addition to any dish that calls for escarole or spinach. It is especially delicious in casseroles, pasta, and soups.

Chard can even be used to substitute escarole in stuffed cannelloni recipes!

3. Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg lettuce may not be the most nutritious green to add to your recipes, but it’s certainly one of the easiest to find in grocery stores across the U.S.

Iceberg lettuce is very mild-tasting when compared to other greens. It’s also very tender and juicy, making it an easy substitute for escarole in recipes that call for wilting or sautéing greens.

Iceberg lettuce can be found year-round, though it is most abundant during the winter months.

Iceberg lettuce is also more affordable than escarole making it ideal for those on a budget. If iceberg lettuce just won’t cut it in your recipe, you can pair it with more flavorful greens like chard or kale to increase its flavor profile.

4. Kale


Kale is a healthy leafy green that also makes an excellent substitute for escarole. Kale and its sister, collard greens, are part of the cabbage family.

This superfood has gained popularity over the past few years thanks to its high levels of vitamins. Like most greens, kale is loaded with fiber and is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K.

The most nutritious part of the kale plant is the leafy green foliage that sprouts from its stalk. These leaves can be eaten raw or cooked into various recipes like soups and casseroles.

Kale can also be sautéed with olive oil for a quick side dish.

5. Frisée

Frisée is a beautiful green that has finely chopped curly leaves with a bitter, tangy flavor. It’s also known as curly endive or chicory. This green boasts nutrient levels almost on par with kale but can be even more bitter to the taste due to its slightly more potent flavor.

Frisée can be used as a substitute for escarole in most recipes. It makes a perfect addition to salads and soups and can even be sautéed with meats and vegetables.

This green is also great for making classic French dishes like Moules et Frites (mussels and french fries).

6. Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are high in calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K. This green is also low in saturated fat and sodium which makes it a perfect addition to many healthy dishes.

This leafy green is often used as a salad base but works well in soups, casseroles, and stir fry recipes too!

Mustard greens can be used as a substitute for escarole in most recipes. It has a very strong, pungent flavor that makes it a unique addition to many dishes!

7. Spinach


Who doesn’t love this leafy green?

Spinach is a much milder tasting green than escarole, but it still makes an excellent addition to various recipes.

This green has been one of the most popular greens for generations because of its delicious flavor and many health benefits. Besides being high in vitamins A, K, and C, spinach also contains iron.

Spinach can be used as a substitute for escarole in most recipes. It is delicious sautéed into pasta dishes like lasagna or stuffed shells.

Fresh spinach can even be eaten raw in sandwiches or salads.

8. Radicchio

Radicchio is one of the most popular bitter greens that can be found in many grocery stores across the U.S.

This green boasts beautiful red leaves with white veins running through them. Its unique flavor makes it a great addition to salads, pizzas, and even risotto dishes.

Radicchio is also rich in fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, K, and C.

Radicchio can be used as a substitute for escarole in most recipes. It is delicious raw in salads but also works well sautéed with meat or vegetables to create healthy side dishes!

9. Chinese Cabbage

Chinese cabbage, also known as Napa cabbage, has garnered attention over the past few years for its delicious flavor and antioxidant-rich nutrients.

This green is most popular in Asian cuisine where it is used in dishes like kimchi, soups, and stir fry recipes. This leafy green can also be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches.

Chinese cabbage can be used as a substitute for escarole in most recipes. Its flavor makes it perfect for stuffing or casseroles!

Read More: Best Cabbage Substitutes

10. Butterhead Lettuce

Butterhead lettuce is another green with a milder flavor when compared to escarole.

This green has very tender leaves that are covered with a thin, soft texture that adds elegance to salads and sandwiches!

Besides being delicious, butterhead lettuce is also high in vitamins A, C, and K.

Butterhead lettuce can be used as a substitute for escarole in most recipes. This green is perfect when served raw in salads and sandwiches!

11. Endive


Endive is a type of perennial plant that has broad leaves and small yellow flowers.

This green makes the perfect addition to salads for its slightly bitter taste and chic appearance!

Besides being delicious, endive is also high in fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, K, and C. This green can also help reduce the risk of diabetes and combat osteoporosis.

Endive can be used as a substitute for escarole in most recipes. This green is perfect when it’s thinly sliced or shredded to create salads or side dishes!

What Does Escarole Taste Like?

Escarole is a vegetable that looks similar to lettuce but is slightly more bitter in taste. It is often used as green for salads or as a delicious addition to many kinds of pasta and casseroles.

Escarole has thin, smooth leaves with a crisp texture and a light green color. The flavor of escarole has been described as sweet, bitter, and slightly nutty.

How To Buy Escarole: Shopping Tips for Beginners

Escarole can be found in most grocery stores year-round. It’s often located near the other bitter greens like chard, radicchio, arugula, and kale.

When purchasing escarole look for crisp dark green leaves with white ribs. Avoid any bunches that contain limp or yellow-tinged leaves.

The peak season for escarole is from late fall through early spring. But don’t let this stop you from adding it to your favorite home-cooked recipes!

Is Escarole Similar to Kale?

Yes, they are both greens that boast deep green color and a sturdy texture. Escarole is slightly more bitter in taste than kale but can be substituted for most recipes with either one of these ingredients.

These greens also make the perfect addition to soups, casseroles, side dishes, and salads!

How Do You Clean and Cook Escarole?

Escarole needs to be washed carefully before it is cooked as the leaves will often contain some dirt. It can then be boiled, steamed, sautéed, or added raw to salads!

How Do You Cook Escarole So It’s Not Bitter?

Escarole is often described as having a sweet, nutty flavor with a slightly bitter taste because of its texture. It can be boiled or sautéed in order to minimize the bitterness!

What Lettuce Is Like Escarole?

Escarole can be used as a substitute for lettuce in most recipes. Iceberg, romaine, leaf, and butter are some lettuces that are not bitter in taste but have a sturdy texture.

Final Words

Do you have a recipe that requires escarole but don’t know what to use as an alternative? Or are you just looking for some new options in your pantry?

Either way, we hope this article helped, and if not, feel free to reach out! We’re happy to help.

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

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