Here's What You Can Substitute For Escarole

While it can be fun to experiment in the kitchen, it can also be supremely frustrating to have to buy a bunch of ingredients you don't typically have or use just to test out a new dish. Luckily, there are nearly always substitutes for less commonly used ingredients, including escarole.

As Bon Appetit explains, escarole is a leafy green that typically comes in bunches, and can be found in the grocery store where you'd usually find heads of lettuce and kale. It's a favorite for soups, and is often served simply sautéed with some basic seasonings as a flavorful side dish. The vegetable has a slightly bitter bite, which is why it's often sautéed or cooked in some way. If you're not the biggest escarole fan or you simply don't want yet another green hanging around in your fridge, there are quite a few substitutes for escarole you can try out.

One substitute that you may very well have on hand, Taste Essence notes, is spinach. The one thing to keep in mind is that if you're sautéing or wilting the leaves, you may want to go for regular spinach rather than the baby spinach you reach for when crafting salads. Another good swap is kale, although kale has a bit of a stronger flavor, so be mindful as to not overpower your dish.

A few other escarole substitutes

While spinach and kale are the escarole substitutes that the majority of home cooks would likely have on hand, there are a few other options. If you're looking for something with a bit of a peppery edge to mimic the bitter tinge in escarole, arugula could be an ideal swap (via Chew The World). A similar level of pungency can be found in mustard greens, which are best used in recipes that require the greens to be steamed or sautéed.

Also from the endive family, frisée is an option that may work for some dishes according to Taste Essence, particularly if you're using it raw or as a garnish. Or, if you're looking for a punch of color, go with radicchio, which is known for its vibrant pinkish-purple hue. It may not be the ideal fit for every dish, but it has a bit of a bitter edge that mimics what you'd find in escarole. Looking for even more options? Chew the World notes that beet greens and chard are two other leafy greens you can use.

When determining the ideal escarole substitute, just think of the preparation method. As The Spruce Eats explains, the interior leaves of escarole are less intense in flavor, which means they're better for serving raw. A slightly milder substitute, such as spinach, may serve well in that case. If your recipe calls for cooking the more bitter, chewy outer leaves of escarole, feel free to swap a peppery chard or kale.