Whether you know it as arugula, roquette, rucola, or rocket, this peppery, nutty leafy green is a beloved addition to salads, pastas, and even pizzas.
But, what happens when you’re in the midst of cooking and you realize you’re out of arugula, or you’re dealing with dietary restrictions, specific flavor preferences, or ingredient availability issues? Fear not, for we’ve got a robust list of the finest arugula substitutes that will save your meal and maybe even introduce you to new delightful flavors.
👅 Flavor Profile
Arugula has a distinctive, peppery flavor that sets it apart from milder salad greens. It brings a certain spicy zest to dishes when used fresh, and a gentle nuttiness when cooked.
It possesses a crunchy texture when raw, and wilts beautifully under heat, making it a versatile ingredient for both raw and cooked dishes.
🔄 Best Arugula Substitutes
Spinach is a brilliant substitute for arugula, with a mild, slightly sweet flavor that can be a perfect backdrop for other ingredients in your dishes. The 1:1 substitution ratio will work both raw and cooked.
The nutritional profiles of both are similar, although spinach offers more vitamins A and K.
Watercress packs a peppery punch similar to arugula. Use it raw in salads, sandwiches, or garnishes at a 1:1 ratio. While it’s a bit more delicate and won’t hold up to cooking as well as arugula, it makes a solid raw alternative.
Young or baby kale can also serve as an excellent substitute. Its mild, slightly peppery flavor and somewhat tougher texture work well in salads, although it’s best to massage it a bit to soften it up. The substitution ratio is 1:1, and kale’s robust nature makes it great for cooking as well.
Dandelion greens are another excellent choice. They carry a bitter, tangy flavor somewhat reminiscent of arugula. For salads and other raw dishes, use a 1:1 ratio. They can also be sautéed, but their bitterness intensifies with cooking.
Spicy and peppery, mustard greens can mirror the flavor profile of arugula. They’re slightly more robust, so you may want to chop them into smaller pieces for raw applications. The ratio remains 1:1, and their rich, tangy flavor deepens deliciously when cooked.
Radish sprouts might be less common, but they’re worth seeking out for their similar peppery flavor to arugula. They’re best used raw, in sandwiches, or as garnishes, at a 1:1 ratio.
⤵ Other Substitutes
With its mildly bitter taste, Frisée or curly endive can replace arugula in a pinch. While it lacks the peppery notes, it brings a unique twist to dishes. Use it at a 1:1 ratio, mostly in raw preparations.
Swiss Chard has a mild, beet-like flavor and a slightly crunchy texture that can substitute for arugula, particularly in cooked dishes. Use it at a 1:1 ratio.
💡 Tips and Guidance
- Always consider the specific flavors and textures you want in your dish. If you’re after the peppery zing of arugula, go for mustard greens or watercress. If you’d prefer something milder, spinach or baby kale could be just what you need.
- When using a more robust substitute like kale or mustard greens, consider chopping it into smaller pieces for a more delicate texture, especially in salads.
- When using greens like dandelion greens that get more bitter when cooked, try pairing them with sweet or creamy ingredients to balance the flavors.
Whether you’re an experienced chef or a home cook, navigating the world of ingredient substitutions can be an exciting culinary adventure. Happy experimenting!