17 Best Substitutes for Arugula

Best Substitutes for Arugula
Photo by Radek Grzybowski

Arugula is one of the healthiest greens, thanks to its high omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids. These nutrients help protect against inflammation, which can lead to heart disease and cancer.

But it also means that arugula has a very distinct flavor. Therefore, if you’re tired of eating your greens, try one of these substitutes for arugula to make your salad pop!

1. Frozen Spinach

Frozen spinach is one of the excellent substitutes for arugula in salads. It has a similar taste and texture and is just as healthy. 

Plus, it’s easy to find and usually cheaper than arugula. Here are some tips for using frozen spinach in your salad; 

  • Thaw the spinach on the countertop before use. 
  • Suppose you add thawed spinach to a hot dish (like pasta). Put it into boiling water for about one minute before adding it to the dish. 
  • Add extra seasoning or other ingredients (like lemon juice) after you’ve mixed the thawed spinach with other ingredients so they don’t get washed away.

2. Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are excellent substitutes for arugula because they have a similar bitterness. They’re also rich in vitamins A and C, making them a healthy option.

Nevertheless, to use dandelion greens in place of arugula, chop them up and add them to your salad. You can also use them in place of arugula in other recipes, like pesto or soup.

3. Radicchio

Radicchio is a slightly bitter leafy green that’s often used in salads. It has a deep red color and a crunchy texture. 

However, when choosing radicchio, look for leaves that are brightly colored and free of brown spots. Add radicchio to your salad by chopping it into thin strips and adding it to your other greens.

4. Mâche

Which is known as corn salad or lamb’s lettuce. Mâche is a delicate green with a slightly nutty flavor. It’s often used in mesclun mixes but can stand alone in a salad. Look for it at farmers’ markets or specialty grocers.

Nevertheless, Mache will tolerate colder temperatures than arugula and isn’t usually grown during the hottest months of summer.

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5. Belgian Endive

This leafy green has a similar texture to arugula but is slightly more bitter. Belgian endive is also a great source of vitamin K, C, and folate. To use it in a salad, chop it up and add it to the other greens.

6. Red Leaf Lettuce

A good substitute for arugula in salads is red leaf lettuce. It has a similar flavor but is a bit milder. This type of lettuce is versatile and can be used in various dishes. Plus, it’s packed with nutrients like vitamins A and C.

7. Bok Choy

Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, is a type of cabbage that is often used in Asian cuisine. It has a milder flavor than other types of cabbage, making it one of the good substitutes for arugula. 

However, Bok choy is high in vitamins A and C and is a good calcium source. You can use bok choy in salads, stir-fries, or soups.

8. Watercress

Arugula has a distinctively peppery flavor that some find too strong. Watercress is a good option if you’re looking for a more mild-tasting green.

It has a similar appearance to arugula, with small, round leaves, but its flavor is much more subdued. Nevertheless, Watercress is also rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy addition to any salad.

9. Radish Greens

Radish greens have a peppery flavor similar to arugula, making them a perfect substitute in salads. They are also rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. To use radish greens as substitutes for arugula, chop them up and add them to your salad.

10. Chicory

Chicory is a bitter green that’s often used as a coffee substitute. It has a slightly nutty flavor and can be used in arugula in salads. To use, simply chop or tear the leaves and add them to your salad. 

However, Chicory pairs well with other bitter greens, such as radicchio, fruits, and nuts. Try adding it to your next chopped kale salad for an extra punch of flavor!

11. Frisée

Frisée is a chicory family member with a slightly bitter, nutty flavor. It’s often used as a garnish or in salads with strong flavors to balance the dish. 

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Therefore, if you’re looking for substitutes for arugula that will add some flavor to your salad. A frisée is a good option.

12. Escarole

Escarole is a chicory family member and has a slightly bitter flavor. It’s often used in salads, soups, and stews. An escarole is a good option if you’re looking for substitutes for arugula. However, it has a similar texture and flavor, but it’s not as pungent as arugula.

13. Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce is a great option if you’re looking for leafy green similar to arugula in taste and texture. It has a slightly bitter flavor that pairs well with other salad ingredients. And its long, crisp leaves make it easy to eat. 

Plus, romaine lettuce is extremely versatile – it can be used in everything from wraps to salads to pasta dishes.

14. Purslane

This low-growing, succulent plant has a slightly sour taste and a crisp texture. This makes it perfect and counts among the substitutes for arugula in salads.

Purslane is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and C. So it’s a nutritious addition to any meal.

Here are some tips for using purslane in your salads:

  • Look for purslane at your local farmers’ market or grocery store.
  • Wash the leaves thoroughly and dry them before adding them to your salad.
  • Cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces or leave them whole if they’re small enough.
  • Add purslane to your salad and other greens like spinach or lettuce.

15. Nasturtium Leaves

These peppery leaves are excellent substitutes for arugula in salads. They have a slightly bitter taste that will add some zing to your salad.

Plus, they’re rich in vitamins A and C. To use, simply substitute nasturtium leaves for arugula in any recipe.

16. Baby Kale

Baby kale is a great option if you’re looking for a more mild-tasting green to top your salad. It’s also packed with vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. Plus, it’s versatile and can be used in various dishes beyond salads.

17. Basil

You can use either fresh or dried basil in this arugula substitute. If you have fresh basil on hand, add it to your salad like you would arugula.

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Therefore, if you’re using dried basil, crush the leaves before adding them to the salad so they’ll release their flavor. Either way, this is a great way to add a little extra flavor to your salad without using arugula.


An arugula is an excellent option if you’re looking for a peppery, nutty flavor in your salad. But if you’re not a bitterness fan, plenty of substitutes will give your salad the same flavor profile. From watercress to endive, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

However, it’s important to note that many of these substitutes will have similar flavor profiles. They’re not always an exact match. There are also certain dishes where you might want the particular texture or look that arugula provides. 

So be sure to try out your substitute before cooking with it on a momentous occasion. So next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up one of these ten substitutes for arugula and try it!

Frequently Asked Questions on Substitutes for Arugula

Can You Use Parsley Instead of Arugula?

In a pinch, parsley is one of the great substitutes for arugula. Just chop it up finely and sprinkle it on top of your salad. You can also use other leafy greens like spinach or kale. Therefore, try radishes or watercress if you want something with a bit more of a kick.

Can I Cook With Arugula?

Yes! Arugula is an excellent addition to any dish. Try it in pasta, on pizza, or in a frittata. You can also use it as pesto or chimichurri.

What is Arugula Most Commonly Used for?

Arugula is most commonly used as a salad green but can also be used in pesto and pizzas. And as a sandwich green. It has a peppery flavor that some find to be bitter. Therefore, if you’re not a fan of arugula or can’t find it at your local grocery store, don’t worry! Plenty of substitutes will give your dish the same flavor and nutrition.


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