Substitute for Escarole — What to Use When You Can’t Get Any (Escarole)

Do you need a substitute for escarole?

Escarole is a leafy green vegetable. It is a member of the chicory family, which also includes radicchio, endive, and frisée.

While escarole can be used in several ways, it’s most often eaten raw in salads and sandwiches. It’s also popular in Italian cuisine, where it’s typically used as a base for stews and soups.

Whether you’re out of it, can’t find it in stores, or don’t like its taste, there are times when you’ll need to replace escarole with another ingredient. This article discusses the best substitutes for escarole, including endive, kale, beet greens, and more.

What Is Escarole?

Escarole is a leafy green vegetable that resembles endive and has a slightly bitter taste. It’s part of the chicory family, along with endive, radicchio and frisée.

There are two types of escarole: curly and broad-leafed. Broad-leafed escarole is more like endive, with a more open leaf structure and a bright green color.

The curly-leafed variety is what you are most likely to find in the grocery store or farmer’s market, with its curly leaves and white ribs. Escarole is popular in Europe, where it’s often used in stews, soups, and other dishes. It can also be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches.

SEE: Creative Ways to Reuse Vegetables and Repurpose Leftovers

Escarole Substitutes

1. Frisée

Frisée is an excellent substitute for escarole. Also known as curly chicory or curly endive, this vegetable has a similar taste and texture to endive but with a more delicate flavor.

The only disadvantage is that frisée is highly perishable. You should keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to use it and try to use it within a few days of purchase for the best flavor and texture.

2. Arugula

Another popular substitute for escarole is arugula (also called rocket). Arugula is a peppery green with flavorful leaves and stems that you can eat raw or cooked. It has a spicy flavor similar to radishes and tastes great tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.

3. Beet Greens

Beet greens are a great substitute because they have the same sturdy texture and a slightly earthy flavor. You can use them raw in salads instead of escarole or cook them as you would escarole.

There’s one catch to using beet greens, though. You have to get them fresh from the farmers’ market because the ones available in most grocery stores have already dried out or (even worse).

If you do decide to buy beet greens at the grocery store, look for ones with bright-green leaves. Avoid beet greens with yellowing leaves or any signs of wilting.

4. Cabbage

Cabbage is a very versatile vegetable, and you can substitute it for escarole in many recipes. If you are substituting cabbage for escarole in a soup or stew, you can use either green or red cabbage.

If you are substituting cabbage for escarole in a salad recipe, try red cabbage or savoy cabbage because they have a bit more flavor than green cabbage.

5. Chard

Chard is a leafy green vegetable that is available in two varieties: Swiss chard (also called silverbeet) and rainbow chard. Swiss chard has large, thick, dark green leaves with white stalks while rainbow chard has red, yellow, orange, or white stalks with dark green leaves.

Chard isn’t as popular as other greens, such as kale and spinach, because of its tougher texture. However, it should be one of your go-to substitutes for escarole because of its similar appearance and taste.

6. Endive

Another common substitute for escarole is endive (also known as Belgian endive). It has a slightly bitter taste and can be white, red, or purple (you can use all varieties as replacements for escarole).

Endive has a crisp texture and delicate flavor that works well in salads or as part of an appetizer platter with cured meats and cheeses.

The only drawback is that endives are more bitter than escaroles. When substituting endive for escarole, use less endive than the recipe calls for to avoid overpowering your dish with bitterness.

7. Kale

The texture and flavor of kale resemble that of escarole, which is why it is a suitable substitute for the latter. Kale is also more commonly available, and it’s typically less expensive than escarole.

You can substitute kale in any recipe that calls for escarole, including soup. You can also try sautéing it as you would escarole in olive oil. Kale stands up well to heat, so feel free to cook it for longer if you prefer it softer.

8. Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are part of the Brassicaceae family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, and watercress. They have a slightly bitter flavor and you can use them raw in salads to replace escarole.

You can also substitute mustard greens for escarole in soups and stews. However, you will need to cook them longer than escarole, as they are more rigid.

9. Radicchio

You can substitute radicchio for escarole in any recipe. It can be used in salads, shredded in soups and stews, sauteed, and braised. Radicchio’s rich color (which can range from dark burgundy to pink) also stands out in dishes, giving them a more appealing appearance.

10. Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are another type of vegetable that you can use in place of escarole. They also have a slightly bitter flavor but with notes of black pepper.

To use dandelion greens as a substitute for escarole in salads, try combining them with carrots and tomatoes to balance out the bitterness. You can also use dandelion greens in soups and sandwiches recipes.

SEE: Get a Free Sandwich At Honey Baked

11. Spinach

Spinach is great when you want a quick replacement for escarole since it cooks faster than the latter. It’s also more delicate and easier to cut than escarole.

Substituting spinach for escarole can be a great option in soups and salads. If you’re making a salad, be sure to use baby spinach, as regular spinach has a more bitter taste.

If you’re making a soup, you can use regular spinach but add it at the end of cooking so that its flavor does not become overpowered.

12. Collard Greens

Yes, collard greens are a good substitute for escarole in recipes. However, they are more bitter and heartier than escarole, which tends to be milder and tender.

In other words, you can use collard greens as a substitute for escarole, but you’ll want to keep an eye on how the dish turns out.

Why Does Escarole Need Substitutes?

There are many reasons why escarole needs substitutes. Escarole may be expensive in some areas. Some people may have a hard time finding it at their local grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Some people also may not like the taste of escarole.

SEE: Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Frozen Vegetables


Is frisée the same as escarole?

No, it is not. Frisée has feathery, lacy leaves that can be yellow or pale green with a creamy white base. Escarole, on the other hand, is flatter in shape, with broad, smooth leaves that range from pale green to dark green.

Can you sauté escarole and garlic together?

Yes, you can. As with most green vegetables, sautéing escarole and garlic together creates an amazing flavor that’s perfect as a base for many dishes or as a side dish itself.

Simply chop up some garlic and sauté it in olive oil over low heat. Then add in your chopped escarole and continue sautéing until fragrant (about 30 seconds)

Where can you get escarole?

Escarole is a leafy vegetable that you can find in the farmer’s market or produce department of most supermarkets. It should look fresh and crisp, with no signs of wilting or browning.

How do you store escarole?

Store it in your refrigerator, preferably in a dry spot away from vegetables with a lot of moisture, such as tomatoes. If you want your escarole to last longer, wrap it in paper towels or put it in a plastic bag before storing it in your refrigerator.

Can you use dandelion greens instead of escarole?

Yes, you can. You just need to make sure that you wash the dandelion greens thoroughly before using them as escarole substitutes. This is because they tend to have dirt particles on them even after washing due to their texture.


There are many tasty substitutes for escarole. Many of them taste even better than escarole and are easier to get. My personal favorite is beet greens: they have an earthy, slightly bitter taste, and they’re highly nutritious.

But even if you don’t want to try beet greens, there are many different options for you—maybe try kale, endive, or dandelion greens instead.

Thanks for reading.

Visit Cheffist today if you want to learn more about escarole and other vegetables.