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The 11 Best Substitutes For Arugula

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Whether you know them as rocket leaves or arugula. There is no denying how delicious and potent this ingredient is. 

Arugula is so versatile that you will find it across many cuisines and a range of different dishes.

Owing to its peppery flavor, it is commonly used in salads, burgers, sides, and more. However, what makes this ingredient so great may also be the reason why others are put off by it.

Arugula has a strong flavor profile. It can be peppery, tart, and slightly bitter. While it isn’t considered to be an acquired taste, most people need some getting used to it before getting on board with this leafy green. 

Understandably so, you may want to skip on arugula if you don’t find the taste appealing or overpowering. You might also want to substitute this leaf vegetable if it isn’t readily available to you.

So, what are the best substitutes for arugula? There are many leafy vegetables that can replace arugula, such as spinach, kale, cabbage, dandelion greens, endive, basil, and radicchio. The main reason people usually substitute arugula is because of its peppery and overpowering flavor.

If you want to learn more about the different substitutes for arugula then we highly recommend that you read on to learn more!

Rocket Leaves

Arugula is known by many names. It is an edible plant hailing from the Brassicaceae family. Arugula is prized for its distinctive peppery and tart flavor.

The plant is also known to have bitter undertones which become more prominent as the plant ages. 

Rocket leaves are used in salad, pizzas and can even pair well with a lot of meat dishes. They aren’t served in abundance due to their strong flavor and are mostly used as a conscious culinary choice.

For example, most upscale burger joints will use Arugula for its unique peppery taste to compliment meat-based recipes. 

Similarly, arugula can also be broken and cut into pieces for salads and as seasoning.

The tart and peppery flavors are also very useful in flavoring stews and broths. However, this leafy green is usually used raw in a range of different recipes. 

This leaf vegetable is used prudently in dishes. Too much of it can be overpowering while too little will not add its signature peppery flavor. But the right amount will bring out the best any dish. 

For example, arugula is used extensively on pizzas and is considered to be a key ingredient in many soups and salads. 

If you are looking for the best substitute for arugula then check out our list below!

1. Spinach

This leafy vegetable has all of the nutritional benefits but none of the pepperiness. This is why spinach is considered to be a great power food for many people. It’s great in salads and can also substitute arugula in some dishes.

One thing to keep in mind is that spinach has a much milder taste compared to arugula. It isn’t punchy nor bitter but it does add a satisfying flavor and texture to a lot of dishes.

If arugula isn’t the main ingredient in your recipe, then spinach will replace it just fine. 

You can also alter the flavor of this leaf vegetable by adding in a few herbs. In some Asian dishes, spinach is also fried and cooked with spices for a unique curry.

It’s healthy, versatile, and readily available so we recommend you try it out instead of arugula. 

Also, baby spinach is another great option to consider if you want more flavor and presentation points for your dish. 

2. Kale

A close cousin to cabbage, kale is perhaps one of the most popular leafy vegetables in the world. It is easily available and can be prepared in many ways. 

Kale shares a similar flavor profile when compared with cabbage. While it doesn’t have the tart or peppery flavor of arugula, it does have somewhat a milder taste.

Not to mention, it has a much better and scientifically studied nutritional profile. 

Kale also offers a bit of crunch and can easily replace arugula in recipes where rocket leaves aren’t the main attraction. Also, if you are new to leafy greens then we highly recommend that you start here before graduating to arugula. 

3. Cabbage

Speaking of crunch, if you are looking for texture and taste then we highly recommend that you try cabbage instead of arugula.

While this leafy vegetable does not have the same flavor profile, it is great in many dishes. It can be boiled, sauteed, fried, and more. 

If you don’t like the overpowering taste of rocket leaves then we think that cabbage will do the job incredibly well. It has a very approachable taste with slight bitterness depending on how aged the vegetable is

Cabbage pairs well with a lot of savory and salad recipes. You can also throw in some herbs and spices to alter the taste of this amazing leafy green. Toss it in salads or add it to your burger. It’s going to be a great addition to every food! 

4. Watercress

If you want a similar tasting ingredient, then watercress will fit the bill. This leafy vegetable is easily available in many stores and can also provide the same bitterness and spicy flavor that arugula is famous for.

Although watercress can be slightly more bitter than arugula, they make for an excellent replacement for their peppery and spicy flavor.

This leafy vegetable is so close to rocket leaves that you might not even notice a difference when you replace arugula with watercress. 

Just like arugula, watercress must also be used as a culinary choice because of its overpowering flavor, it can greatly enhance or change the flavor profile of your dish so be wary of how much leafy greens you add to your recipe. 

5. Indian Cress

This leafy vegetable looks nothing like arugula and yet tastes so much similar to it.

If you don’t enjoy the bitterness of watercress then Indian cress offers the same flavor profile minus the bitterness. This ingredient is famous for its use in the culinary world and every part of this plant is considered to be edible. 

It has a more rounded look which sets it apart from rocket leaves but it has the same spicy and peppery flavor that you will find in arugula.

Use these in salads, meat dishes, and more for the same type of punch that you’d expect from rocket leaves. 

6. Dandelion Greens

Here’s another great substitute for arugula. These leafy vegetables have high nutritional value and are considered to be a great replacement for arugula thanks to how similar they look.

Dandelion greens offer a milder taste compared to arugula but can still add life to any dish.

Whether it’s salads, soups, or sandwiches, dandelion greens will do a marvelous job at replacing rocket leaves.

They come in many varieties but all of them share the same flavor profile. They are great for presentation and can also be added to a range of burgers. 

7. Endive

This particular leafy vegetable can be best described as having a similar flavor profile to cabbage. While it doesn’t have the same spicy flavor as arugula, it can easily replace it in several recipes, especially soups. 

Endive has a slightly bitter and mild taste compared to rocket leaves but can add a lot of nutritional value, crunch, and flavor to any dish.

This ingredient can also retain a lot of flavors even if it is boiled and cooked which makes it indispensable in many soups and broths. 

Also, cooking endives can make them less bitter so you can also alter and control the flavors offered by this ingredient by cooking it accordingly. 

8. Radicchio

This leafy vegetable looks nothing like arugula due to its distinctive red and white color but can add a lot of flavor and presentation points to your dish. 

While radicchio doesn’t have the same punchy peppery flavor, it has more or less the same bitterness along with an appealing earthy flavor.

Radicchio tastes great in soups and salads and can also add a bit of crunch to your sandwiches and burgers.

You can also cook this vegetable to make it even more delicious. Radicchio can be consumed either raw or cooked, we recommend that you use it raw to get somewhat the same flavor profile as arugula. 

9. Romaine Lettuce

It’s no secret that romaine lettuce adds both flavor and texture to any type of dish it’s in. it’s great in salads, soups, and even pizza. 

Romaine lettuce is perhaps the most versatile ingredient on our list because of how it tastes and looks.

While it doesn’t have the relatively soft texture of arugula, it is still a worthy contender, especially if you are looking to replace rocket leaves. 

It can be cooked or consumed raw. It adds a bit of earthy, bitter, and rounded flavor and can be great on many things.

We recommend trying romaine lettuce in salads and sandwiches, it won’t provide the same peppery flavor but you can easily alter its taste by adding in spices and herbs. 

10. Basil

We know, this can be considered cheating. 

Basil isn’t a leafy vegetable but an herb – and a flavorful herb at that! Fresh basil can replace arugula in some recipes like soups and salads but it should be used very carefully because of its prominent flavor. 

As a general rule of thumb, if your recipe calls for arugula in abundance then you might not want to use basil because of its overpowering flavor.

Rather, try using basil as a replacement for arugula in dishes where it isn’t the main ingredient and you will see the difference. 

It’s a much better substitute because of its approachable and familiar flavor profile. Just remember to use this herb sparingly because it can greatly affect the flavor of your dish if used in large quantities. 

11. Escarole 

Escarole has a very fresh flavor with a subtle hint of bitterness which can be perfect for people who don’t enjoy the comparatively more bitter flavor of arugula.

This leafy vegetable is great in soups, sandwiches and can also be added to the plate for presentation.

It can be both, cooked or consumed raw. We recommend dipping it in fresh water and then placing it on your sandwich, burger, or salad. It has a highly satisfying texture and works wonders in wraps. 

The slightly crunchy and earthy flavor will complement a lot of dishes and we have a feeling that people would want to first try out a milder version of arugula than jumping straight to rocket leaves. 


Now that you know the best substitutes for arugula, we can’t wait for you to enjoy and add a different twist to your recipes!

Arugula is a great leafy green that is well-known in kitchens around the world. Its distinct pepper-like flavor is the reason why so many people enjoy it, especially vegetarians. 

However, not everyone is a fan of rocket leaves which is why knowing these substitutes is going to come in handy, especially if you don’t enjoy arugula or don’t have it on hand.

In the end, it comes down to your flavor and cooking preference. 

For example, if you want a less potent leafy vegetable or if you want a similar ingredient that can also handle heat without losing its flavor profile then some of our substitutes will make a great fit for all your needs.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over the best substitutes for arugula, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

Are rocket leaves and arugula the same?

They are! Arugula is known by many names. It’s often called “rocket”, “eruca”, “rucoli”, “rugula”, and more. All these names refer to the same leafy vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae plant family. 

Arugula is commonly known as rocket leaves in many recipes and you will probably find the word “arugula” and “rocket” used interchangeably in different restaurants across the globe. 

Can arugula be replaced in soups?

Yes! Arugula can easily be replaced in soups and salads. This ingredient is bitter and has a peppery flavor.

A lot of leafy vegetables offer more or less the same flavor profile as arugula and can also arguably be better in some cases where it is required to cook the leaves in hot water.

Usually, cooking in boiling water can lessen the flavor and impact of leafy greens but many other substitutes can offer the same flavor without the added compromises. See our list above to learn more. 

Can you cook arugula?

Yes, you can cook arugula, but you would have to consider a few things like texture and flavor to see if it would be worth it for you.

Arugula can take on a slimy texture and can lose its unique flavor when cooked. This is why this leafy green is enjoyed raw in many dishes. 

Can cabbage replace arugula?

Yes, cabbage can replace arugula, provided that the recipe doesn’t call for a lot of arugula, to begin with. Rocket leaves have a distinct and overpowering flavor.

While you won’t find the same flavors in cabbage, you can add spices and herbs to make it taste similar.  

Is arugula a healthy leafy vegetable?

Yes, arugula has a lot of antioxidants and a higher calcium profile than many vegetables in the same category.

It is considered to be a healthy choice among diet-conscious people and can also be added to sandwiches and burgers to make them more nutritional friendly. 

Arugula is also rich in vitamin K and A, both of which help your body keep your bones healthy and your immune system strong.  

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