Discover the Top 11 Substitutes for Arugula: A Guide to Delicious Alternatives

The 11 Best Arugula Substitutes

Arugula, also known as rocket, is a versatile ingredient with a distinct peppery and tart flavor. While it is widely used in a variety of cuisines and dishes, its strong flavor may not appeal to everyone. In addition, arugula is not always readily available. If you’re looking for alternatives to arugula, there are several leafy greens that can be used as substitutes. In this article, we will explore the 11 best arugula substitutes and discuss their flavors, uses, and nutritional benefits.

1. Spinach

Spinach is a leafy green that offers a milder flavor compared to arugula. It can be used as a substitute in many dishes where rocket is not the main ingredient. Spinach is versatile and can be used in salads, sautéed, and even cooked with spices for unique curry flavors. It is rich in nutrients and adds satisfying flavor and texture to many recipes.

2. Kale

A close cousin of cabbage, kale is known for its popularity and nutritional value. Although kale doesn’t have the peppery flavor of arugula, it offers a milder taste and can be a good substitute. It can be prepared in a variety of ways, and its crunchy texture adds an interesting element to dishes. Kale is also recommended for those new to leafy greens before moving on to arugula.

3. Kale

Cabbage is an excellent substitute for arugula when you’re looking for texture and flavor. While it doesn’t have the same flavor profile, cabbage is great in many dishes and can be boiled, sautéed, or roasted. It has a slightly bitter flavor that can vary depending on the age of the cabbage. Cabbage works well in savory and salad recipes, and you can enhance its flavor by adding herbs and spices.

4. Watercress

Watercress has a similar flavor to arugula and can be slightly more bitter. It is readily available in stores and can be used as a substitute for arugula’s peppery and spicy flavor. Watercress can be used in salads, meat dishes, and stews. However, it should be used judiciously, as its overpowering flavor can significantly affect the taste of your dish.

5. Indian Cress

Indian cress, also known as nasturtium, offers a flavor profile similar to rocket, but without the bitterness. This leafy greens is famous in the culinary world, and every part of the plant is edible. It adds a spicy and peppery flavor to dishes and can be used in salads, meat dishes, and more. Indian cress is a great option if you want a substitute that closely resembles the taste of rocket.

6. Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are another great arugula substitute. These leafy greens have a high nutritional value and a mild taste compared to arugula. They can be used in salads, soups, sandwiches, and even added to burgers. Dandelion greens come in several varieties, but they all share a similar flavor profile. They are great for presentation and can add vibrancy to your dishes.

7. Endive

Endive, with its slightly bitter and mild flavor, can be a good substitute for arugula, especially in soups. While it doesn’t have the same pungent flavor, it adds nutrition, crunch and flavor to dishes. Endive retains its flavor even when cooked, making it a versatile ingredient for soups and broths. Cooking endive can also reduce its bitterness, allowing you to control the flavors in your dish.

8. Radicchio

Radicchio may not look like arugula, but it offers a unique flavor and adds presentation points to your dish. It has a distinctive red and white color and offers a slightly bitter and earthy flavor. Radicchio can be eaten raw or cooked and tastes great in soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers. When used raw, it has a flavor profile similar to arugula.

9. Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce is known for its versatility, adding both flavor and texture to a variety of dishes. While it doesn’t have the soft texture of arugula, it can be a worthy contender as a substitute. Romaine lettuce can be cooked or eaten raw and has an earthy, bitter and rounded flavor. It works well in salads and sandwiches, and you can adjust its flavor by adding spices and herbs.

10. Basil

Although not a leafy green, fresh basil can be used as a substitute for arugula in certain recipes, such as aspasta dishes and salads. Basil has a distinct flavor and aroma that can enhance the flavor of your dishes. It pairs well with tomatoes and cheese, making it a great addition to caprese salads and pasta sauces. Use basil leaves as a garnish or incorporate them into your recipes to add a fresh, herbaceous element.

11. Mizuna

Mizuna is a Japanese leafy green that can be used as a substitute for arugula. It has a mild, peppery flavor and a delicate texture. Mizuna is often used in Asian cuisines and can be added to salads, stir-fries, and soups. It provides a unique flavor and can add depth to your dishes.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a substitute for arugula, there are several leafy greens that can provide similar flavors and textures. Spinach, kale, cabbage, watercress, cress, dandelion greens, endive, radicchio, romaine, basil, and mizuna are all excellent alternatives. Each substitute has its own unique characteristics and can be used in different dishes to add flavor and nutritional value. Experiment with these substitutes to find the ones that best suit your taste preferences and culinary needs.


What can I use instead of rocket in salads?

There are several leafy greens that can be used to replace arugula in salads, including spinach, kale, watercress, and dandelion greens. These alternatives offer different flavors and textures to enhance your salad.

Can I use arugula substitutes in cooked dishes?

Absolutely! Many arugula substitutes, such as spinach, kale, and collards, can be used in cooked dishes. They can be sautéed, added to soups, stews, and even pasta sauces for a similar vibrant flavor.

Are the nutritional benefits of arugula substitutes similar?

While the nutritional profiles may vary slightly, most arugula substitutes, such as spinach, kale, and watercress, offer a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are all nutritious options to include in your diet.

How do the flavors of arugula substitutes differ?

The flavors of arugula substitutes can range from mild and earthy (like spinach and kale) to slightly bitter (like endive and radicchio). Each substitute has its own unique flavor, so experiment to find the one that suits your palate.

Can I use basil instead of arugula?

Although basil is not a leafy greens, it can be used as a substitute for arugula in certain dishes, especially pasta recipes and salads. Fresh basil leaves provide a distinct flavor and aroma that can complement your dishes beautifully.