Known variously as radicchio, Italian chicory, or red endive, this colorful, bitter vegetable is a staple in Italian cuisine and salads around the world.

Whether you’re seeking substitutes due to dietary restrictions, to cater to different flavor preferences, or simply because it’s not available at your local store, you’re in luck. Here, we dive into the world of radicchio substitutes and the exciting flavors they can bring to your meals.

👅 Flavor Profile

Radicchio has a distinctive flavor profile, characterized by a robust bitterness that is balanced by a subtle sweetness. Its texture is crisp and succulent when raw, softening yet retaining a pleasant bite when cooked.

The flavor also mellows significantly when cooked, making it a versatile addition to a wide range of dishes.

🔄 The Best & Closest Radichio Replacements/Substitutes

belgian endive

Belgian Endive

Belgian endive is another good option, with a similar bitter flavor and crisp texture. Its paler color won’t give the same visual pop, but in terms of flavor and texture, it’s a close match.

Substitute in a 1:1 ratio. Belgian endive cooks faster than radicchio, so adjust cooking times accordingly.

Related: A Versatile Guide to Substituting Endive in Your Culinary Creations

red cabbage

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage makes for an excellent substitute. It provides a similar crunch and vibrant color, though with less bitterness. Substitute it in a 1:1 ratio; its milder flavor won’t overpower your dishes.

Cooking times are similar to radicchio, and its nutritional profile is comparable, with high levels of vitamins C and K.

Related: Can You Freeze Cooked Cabbage? A Comprehensive Guide

Can I Eat Cabbage Raw? An In-Depth Exploration of This Crunchy Delight



Escarole has broad, slightly bitter leaves that work well as a radicchio substitute, particularly in cooked dishes.

Use it in a 1:1 ratio, and expect a slightly shorter cooking time due to its more tender leaves. Nutritionally, it offers similar benefits, including good levels of vitamins A and K.



Frisée offers a similarly bitter flavor profile, although its leaves are more delicate.

Substitute it at a 1:1 ratio in raw preparations. For cooked dishes, consider a mix of frisée and a sturdier green like escarole or kale.

red leaf lettuce

Red Leaf Lettuce

Red leaf lettuce has a softer texture and milder flavor, but its beautiful red-tinted leaves can mimic radicchio’s visual appeal in salads.

Substitute it at a 1:1 ratio in raw dishes. It doesn’t stand up to heat as well as radicchio, so it’s best not used in cooked dishes.

Endive (Curly Endive)

Endive is a leafy green vegetable with a slightly bitter taste. It’s different from Belgian endive but still serves as a great alternative to radicchio, especially in salads. It provides a lovely crunchy texture which can be enjoyed both raw and cooked.

Arugula (Rocket)

Arugula, also known as rocket, brings a peppery flavor to dishes. Its spicy note can be a good replacement for the bitterness of radicchio. Ideal for salads, it can also be wilted slightly in warm dishes.

Mustard Greens

Known for their peppery kick, mustard greens can be a bold substitute for radicchio. They are more pungent, so use them judiciously depending on the dish.


Kale offers a robust texture that stands up well to cooking, similar to radicchio. While not as bitter, it brings a hearty earthiness that can complement many dishes. For a hint of color, consider using Red Russian Kale.


With its peppery undertones, watercress can be a refreshing radicchio substitute, especially in salads. Its tender leaves and stems provide a nice bite and are packed with nutrients.

⤵ Other Substitutes


A type of radicchio, Treviso is a slightly less bitter and more tender, making it a good substitute, particularly for raw preparations. Use it in a 1:1 ratio.

Dandelion Greens

Bitter and hardy, dandelion greens can substitute for radicchio, especially in cooked dishes. Use them at a 1:1 ratio.

💡 Tips and Guidance

  1. Think about the role of radicchio in your dish. If you need its bitter flavor to balance out other ingredients, stick to substitutes like Belgian endive or escarole that have a similar bitterness.
  2. If you’re substituting for radicchio in a cooked dish, consider how your substitute will stand up to heat. Softer greens like frisée or red leaf lettuce might not be the best choice.
  3. When substituting for radicchio in salads, consider the color of your substitute. One of radicchio’s key contributions is its beautiful purple color, which can be replaced with red cabbage or red leaf lettuce.

Now, let’s create some amazing dishes and explore these substitutes further!

🙋‍♂️ FAQ

How can I make radicchio less bitter?

One method is to grill or roast it, which caramelizes the sugars and imparts a smoky flavor. Another approach is to soak radicchio leaves in cold water for 15 to 30 minutes before using them.

Additionally, balancing the bitterness with sweet or acidic ingredients, such as fruits or a honey-balsamic dressing, can help counteract the bitterness.

Sautéing or braising radicchio with other ingredients can also soften its bitterness. Remember that while these techniques can reduce bitterness, radicchio will still retain some of its characteristic taste.

What is similar to radicchio?

Endive and Belgian endive are vegetables that are similar to radicchio in terms of their slightly bitter taste and crisp texture.

These leafy greens can be used as substitutes for radicchio in salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish. Their bitterness adds a unique flavor profile to dishes, making them suitable alternatives when radicchio is not available or preferred.

The Art of Substituting Radicchio: An Engaging Culinary Adventure by
Alex Bayev Photo
About me:

Hi, I'm Alex. I love to cook and bake, and I'm always looking for new recipes to try. I started this blog — to collect and share most delicious and easy recipes in one place. I remember, how many questions recipes raised to me, when I started cooking. To make sure that doesn't happen to you, I take step-by-step photos of the cooking process for every recipe so you can see how all the steps are supposed to go together, even if you're not following my recipes exactly.

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