Mustard greens, also known as Brassica juncea, are a peppery, pungent leafy green well-loved in many cuisines worldwide. But when you’re out of mustard greens, face dietary restrictions, or simply crave a change in flavor, what can you use instead? The best substitutes for their unique, spicy bite are similar leafy greens such as arugula and kale.
👅 Flavor Profile
Mustard greens carry a distinct, peppery bite and an intense, spicy flavor that mellows with cooking. Raw, their texture is slightly crunchy, becoming more tender and almost velvety when cooked. Greens such as arugula, kale, and collard greens share similar flavor profiles and textures, making them excellent substitutes.
🔄 The Closest Replacements/Substitutes
Arugula, with its peppery and slightly bitter flavor, is a perfect raw substitute for mustard greens. Use it in a 1:1 ratio. Arugula wilts quicker than mustard greens, so factor that in while cooking. It’s packed with vitamins A, C, and K. It is easily available in grocery stores and is moderately priced. Use arugula in salads, sandwiches, and lightly sauteed dishes.
Taste and Texture: Arugula has a peppery and slightly bitter flavor, similar to mustard greens. Its texture is tender when raw and wilts down significantly when cooked.
Nutritional: It’s a nutrient-dense green that’s high in fiber and phytochemicals and offers a good amount of vitamins A, C, and K.
Price and Availability: Arugula is readily available at most grocery stores and farmers markets, and its price is relatively moderate.
Where to Use: Arugula works wonderfully in salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and as a topping on pizzas.
Kale shares a slight peppery kick with mustard greens but is a little sweeter. Its robust texture requires more cooking time. Substitute kale for mustard greens at a 1:1 ratio. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in vitamins A, K, and C, and is similarly priced and readily available. It’s great in salads, stir-fries, and soups.
Taste and Texture: Kale shares the peppery kick of mustard greens, but it leans towards a sweeter note. Its leaves are robust and hearty, needing more cooking time.
Nutritional: Kale is a nutritional powerhouse filled with vitamins A, C, and K, iron, and calcium.
Price and Availability: This green is widely available in most grocery stores and farmers markets. Its price is generally comparable to mustard greens.
Where to Use: Kale is versatile and can be used in salads, stews, soups, and stir-fries.
Collard greens have a milder, earthier flavor and a hearty texture. When substituting, use a bit more collard greens as they don’t wilt as much. Collards need longer cooking time and are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. They are typically cheaper than mustard greens and perfect for braising, stews, and stir-fries.
Taste and Texture: Collard greens offer a mild and earthy flavor. Their leaves are broad and firm, requiring more cooking time to tenderize.
Nutritional: Collard greens are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as being a good source of calcium.
Price and Availability: These greens are usually cheaper than mustard greens and are readily available in most grocery stores.
Where to Use: Collard greens are traditionally used in Southern cuisine, perfect for slow-cooked dishes, stews, and braised recipes.
Swiss chard has an earthy flavor with a slight sweetness, while the texture is akin to spinach, albeit with crunchier stems. Use Swiss chard in a 1:1 ratio with mustard greens. It cooks quicker and offers similar nutritional benefits. Swiss chard is reasonably priced and available, ideal for stews, soups, and gratins.
Taste and Texture: Swiss chard offers an earthy flavor with a slight sweetness. The texture is similar to spinach with crunchier stems.
Nutritional: Swiss chard is packed with vitamins A and K, and a good source of magnesium and iron.
Price and Availability: Swiss chard is commonly found in most grocery stores at a relatively moderate price.
Where to Use: Swiss chard is excellent in sautés, stews, and gratins.
Turnip greens, flavorful and more textured, have a peppery bite akin to mustard greens. Substitute them in the same quantity but expect a bit longer cooking time. They’re high in vitamins A, C, and K, and generally cheaper than mustard greens. Use them in soups, stews, and sautéed dishes.
Taste and Texture: Turnip greens are flavorful with a peppery bite similar to mustard greens. Their texture is a bit more textured but becomes tender upon cooking.
Nutritional: Turnip greens are high in vitamins A, C, and K and are a good source of calcium.
Price and Availability: Turnip greens are generally cheaper than mustard greens and are usually available in grocery stores.
Where to Use: They’re great in soups, stews, and sautéed dishes.
Don’t throw away those radish tops! Radish greens have a mildly spicy flavor and a texture that softens upon cooking. They can be substituted for mustard greens in a 1:1 ratio and provide similar nutritional benefits. Radish greens are generally cheaper and can be used in salads, soups, or stir-fries.
Taste and Texture: Radish greens have a mildly spicy flavor and a texture that softens upon cooking, similar to mustard greens.
Nutritional: Radish greens are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, and provide decent amounts of iron and calcium.
Price and Availability: Radish greens are generally cheaper as they come with the radishes and are often discarded. You can find them in farmers markets and well-stocked grocery stores.
Where to Use: They’re excellent in salads when young and tender or cooked in soups or stir-fries when mature.
⤵ Other Substitutes
🔪 How to Use Mustard Greens Substitutes in Recipes
These substitutes can be incorporated into a wide array of dishes:
Mustard green substitutes like arugula or young radish greens are perfect for fresh salads. Their peppery bite enhances the flavor of mixed green salads. You can pair them with goat cheese, roasted nuts, dried fruits, and a light vinaigrette for a delicious and healthy meal.
Soups and Stews
Hearty greens like collard greens, turnip greens, and kale work exceptionally well in soups and stews. Their robust leaves stand up to prolonged cooking times, making them an excellent addition to dishes like vegetable soups, bean stews, or even a pot of chili.
Swiss chard and radish greens can be great substitutes in stir-fry recipes. Their tender leaves wilt down nicely and absorb the flavors of the dish. They pair well with garlic, onions, bell peppers, and proteins like tofu, chicken, or shrimp.
Substitutes like kale and Swiss chard can be used in green smoothies. Their nutritional benefits and mild flavor blend well with fruits like bananas, pineapples, or apples. You can also add some ginger for an extra kick!
Pasta and Grain Dishes
Arugula and Swiss chard can be excellent in pasta and grain dishes. Think about a whole grain pasta with wilted arugula, lemon, and garlic or a hearty quinoa dish with Swiss chard and roasted vegetables.
Pizzas and Flatbreads
Arugula or radish greens can add a fresh, peppery flavor to pizzas and flatbreads. Top them on your favorite pizza after baking for a restaurant-style upgrade.
💡 Tips and Guidance
- Adjust Cooking Times: Hearty greens like collard greens and kale will need more cooking time than tender greens like arugula and Swiss chard. Keep this in mind when substituting.
- Balancing the Flavor: Some of these substitutes have a strong flavor that may overpower your dish. Balance it out with sweet (like roasted vegetables or fruit) or creamy ingredients (like cheese or a yoghurt-based dressing).
- Stems or No Stems: For tough-stemmed greens like collard greens and kale, consider removing the stems for a more pleasant texture, especially in salads and stir-fries.
- Use Fresh Greens: Fresh greens taste best. When possible, buy your green substitutes the same day or up to a day before you plan to use them.
- Storage: Store your greens in a loosely closed plastic bag in the fridge. If your greens have roots, place them in a glass of water like a bouquet, cover them with a plastic bag, and put them in the fridge.
- Washing: Always wash your greens right before you’re about to use them. Washing earlier can lead to faster spoilage.
Choosing a substitute for mustard greens depends on the dish and your personal flavor preference. Remember, the key is to taste as you go and adjust seasonings as needed. Feel free to get creative and mix and match different greens for a unique flavor blend. Happy cooking!