Escarole, a member of the chicory family, is a dark, leafy vegetable with a slightly bitter flavor. A popular ingredient in Italian cuisine, the dark green outer leaves of escarole should be fried, braised, or sauteéd for recipes with beans and lentils. The light green inner leaves are great in salads.
Dark, leafy vegetables like kale, chicory, spinach, and curly endive make good substitutes for escarole because these vegetables have a similar bitter flavor and provide us with many of the same essential vitamins that escarole does.
Best Substitute for Escarole: Kale
Kale is the best substitute for escarole because it’s also a leafy green vegetable with crispy, dark green leaves and a bitter undertone.
Sauté or braise the dark outer leaves of kale and use them as a substitute for escarole at a 1:1 ratio in cooked casseroles, pasta, soups, and stir-fries. Add raw, light green inner kale leaves to salads as a crunchy replacement for escarole.
Other Escarole Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
Use numerous leafy green vegetables in place of escarole in salads and cooked foods.
Endive is a leafy green vegetable that makes a good substitute for escarole because the two vegetables have a similar bitter flavor and crunchy texture.
Add endive leaves to salads in place of escarole for a similar crispy texture and a hint of bitterness.
Use endives instead of escarole at a 1:1 ratio in soups, stews, and meat dishes.
There are numerous varieties of chicory — a vegetable with pale green, crisp leaves, and a bitter flavor. Because chicory and escarole have a similar flavor and texture, chicory works well as a replacement.
Use chicory as a 1:1 replacement for escarole in salads and cooked foods.
Spinach, a leafy vegetable popular for its many health properties, is similar to escarole in flavor, texture, and nutritional value.
With its bitter flavor and crunchy texture, spinach works as a 1:1 escarole substitute in salads and cooked dishes, and pairs well with eggs and cheese.
Romaine lettuce is a good substitute for escarole because it’s also a leafy vegetable with crunchy leaves and a bitter flavor.
For a delicious, escarole-like crunch in salads, use romaine lettuce leaves in place of escarole.
Sauté or braise romaine lettuce to use as a 1:1 replacement for escarole in soups, casseroles, and meat dishes.
Iceberg lettuce is a light green leafy vegetable with a crispy texture and sweet flavor. Although iceberg lettuce lacks escarole’s bitterness, this lettuce makes a good substitute for escarole in salads.
Chop or slice iceberg lettuce and add to salads in place of escarole at a 1:1 ratio. Sauté iceberg leaves and use in place of escarole in stir-fries, but avoid using icebergs in stews and soups that cook for a long time.
Napa cabbage, a popular Chinese cabbage used in Chinese cuisine, has a mildly sweet flavor and crunchy texture, making this leafy vegetable a suitable replacement for escarole.
Because napa cabbage is sweeter than escarole and doesn’t have escarole’s bitter undertone, use napa as a 1:1 replacement and add extra spice to the dish.
Chop napa cabbage and add it to salads instead of escarole for a delicious crunch.
Arugula, a little-known leafy vegetable with a peppery flavor and strong lemony aroma, works as a substitute for escarole because of its similar texture. Arugula is less bitter than escarole and has a strong lemon flavor.
Add fresh arugula to salads in place of escarole, and use arugula as a 1:1 substitute in pasta, sauces, and stews.
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable with a slightly sweet undertone. There are numerous varieties of Swiss chard, with white, orange, or red stalks. All the varieties have a similar flavor and can be used in place of escarole.
Because Swiss chard leaves are bigger and thicker than escarole leaves, Swiss chard takes longer to cook. Add sautéed or braised Swiss chard leaves to soups, casseroles, and meat dishes. Slice or chop raw Swiss chard leaves and add to salads.
Use Swiss chard as a 1:1 replacement for escarole.
Frisée, often referred to as frisée lettuce, looks similar to lettuce but is a member of the endive family. Also known as curly endive, frisée works as a substitute for escarole because the two have a similar bitter flavor and crispy texture.
Frisée has a milder taste than escarole, so use more of this vegetable when substituting for escarole in cooked foods like soups and stews. Add frisée at a 1½:1 ratio to escarole.
Chop or slice frisée and use it as an equal substitute for escarole in salads.
The leaves of the mustard plant, known as mustard greens, have a strong peppery flavor that adds a sharp tang to cooked foods when used as a replacement for escarole.
Mustard greens aren’t as bitter as escarole but they work as a 1:1 replacement in soups, casseroles, and meat dishes.
Because of mustard green’s sharp peppery flavor, avoid using these leaves in place of escarole in salads.
The highly nutritious leaves, known as beet greens, of the beetroot plant have a similar flavor to escarole and can be used as a substitute at a 1:1 ratio. Add sautéed or braised beet greens to stews and stir-fries.
Because beet greens have a similar crunchy texture to escarole, use raw beet greens in place of escarole in salads.
Radicchio, also known as Italian chicory, is a leafy vegetable with a stronger bitter flavor than escarole, but it works as an escarole substitute.
Radicchio has purple leaves with white ribs, making these leaves a pretty addition to salads.
Use radicchio in place of escarole in soups, stews, and meat dishes. Because of radicchio’s strong bitter flavor, use less than the amount specified in the recipe.
Bok choy, a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking, is a leafy vegetable with a similar flavor to cabbage. Bok choy has a milder, less bitter flavor than escarole, but can be used in place of escarole in many recipes.
Add chopped bok choy to salads, and braise or sauté the leaves to use as a 1:1 replacement for escarole in cooked foods like soups and stews.