Celery is a really great food and it’s also good for you but some people just aren’t fans. It can also be hard to keep celery on hand if you don’t eat much of it because it will go bad quickly just sitting in the fridge.
If you’ve found yourself craving a recipe that calls for celery and you don’t have any, you don’t have to just skip the recipe. For anything from chicken salad to soups and stews, there are plenty of swap options to choose from.
While celery can certainly be a healthy addition, it’s not for everyone and there may be a reason that you are trying to avoid celery as well.
So, what are the best substitutes for celery? Many options can be used as a substitute for celery. The best substitutes for celery include green pepper, water chesnuts, jicama, cabbage, green apple, carrots, bok choy, and cucumber. Consider texture, crunch, and flavor when selecting the right substitute in your recipe.
In this guide, we will share with you the best substitutes for celery. We have some really great options, including replacements for things like soup or perhaps something that is meant to have a crunch, like chicken salad.
No matter your reason for needing an alternative, we’ve got you covered!
Keep reading to learn the best substitutes for celery and more.
Choosing A Substitute For Celery
Before you just run out and grab the first substitution option on the list, keep in mind that certain items may substitute better for certain recipes.
For example, if you’re relying on celery or your substitute to give your dish a nice crunch, you need an option that is going to crunch like celery does.
The good news is that celery doesn’t have a ton of flavor to it on its own so you can typically choose from a variety of decent ingredients to make that substitute
Sometimes you can even leave it out completely and your dish will be just fine without it.
The first thing you probably should consider is whether or not your replacement needs to offer the crunch that celery has.
There are some dishes, like tuna salad and chicken salad, that add celery specifically for that crunch feature.
If the crunch is what you are after, you have a pretty open list of replacements. You can go with another vegetable like cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, or even cauliflower if you want.
Of course, you could also switch it out and use something else like apple, radish, pecans, or even water chestnuts.
It’s really up to your preferences here but the goal is to replace the crunch with another item that can give you a similar crunch.
Color In Your Dish
If celery is primarily used to add some color to a dish, then you might be able to leave it out completely.
Otherwise, you just need something that will also add some color without really taking away from or changing the flavor drastically.
If you think about what dishes might be using celery for the color, things like salad and stir-fry dishes, or even soups, are probably the most prominent.
There is some versatility here as to what you can use as a substitute.
Flavor Or Texture
Another common use for celery is to add a bit of flavor or to add some texture to a dish. This category is mostly relative to things like soups, stews, and even some sauces.
This can be trickier to find a substitute but there are options out there that work really well and we will share some of those here in a bit!
If the celery in your dish is used for seasoning purposes, this is the most challenging substitute to make work. Some people will use things like celery seeds or celery salt but these won’t work for everyone.
Thankfully, there are still some reliable substitutes that you can turn to. You might find that parsley or even lemon can do what you need.
Are There Celery Allergies?
There may be a variety of reasons that you can’t or won’t use celery. At times, it might boil down to an allergy or perhaps just a distaste for celery.
There are plenty of people who have allergies or food sensitivities that are directly related to celery.
In addition, there are individuals who have found that their bodies simply don’t tolerate celery well. Whether that is perhaps digestive issues or some other source of discomfort when celery is consumed.
There are some countries that actually require producers to clearly label when celery is part of the ingredients list, almost like what you see when nuts may be present.
The U.S. does not require this labeling but Europe does.
The Best Substitute Options For Celery
There several things to consider when looking for a suitable celery substitute. It’s not just about finding something similar but about replacing that ingredient in whatever you are making.
This guide will be slightly different than some of our guides. We’re going to break it down by categories and explain some of our choices to give you a number of different options.
Celery Substitutes In Soup Or Stew
If you’re making a good soup or stew, you have options. You can go with another similar vegetable or you can change it up completely.
Here are a few that we think work well.
Bok choy is sometimes harder to find but if you can find it, it can be perfect for things like soup or stew. Bok choy is very similar to cabbage but it tends to be crunchier.
If you want a close comparison, it looks and crunches a lot like Romaine lettuce might.
Bok choy is part of the turnip family, which includes things like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
It has fresh flavor and a hearty crunch. It won’t be overpowering in any way so it can be a great addition for soups and stew in replacement of celery.
Additionally, this crunchy substitute has some great health benefits. It’s rich in things like iron, potassium, calcium, and Vitamins A, C, and K as well.
Bok choy will work well raw or cooked as a substitute.
Carrots are great because they are crunchy and a lot of people love them. In fact, if you’re making soup or stew, you might already be using carrots in it.
You can add a little extra or you can just skip the celery because you’ve got the crunch there!
We love carrots because they have a light and refreshing flavor to them, they add some color to your soup and stew dishes, and they have that reliable crunch that celery provides as well.
Carrots tend to have just a touch of sweetness to them, especially if you add extra to replace the celery so you may need to season more to tone that down slightly.
Carrots do soften when they are cooked but they will still offer a crunch and can be used as a substitute for both hot and cold dishes.
If you’re looking for something that maintains that crunch effect in your soup or stew, even when it’s cooked, water chestnuts are perfect.
These can be found pretty easily but you may have to purchase a canned variety if your local grocer doesn’t carry them fresh.
These will offer a similar crunch and they don’t have much flavor at all, which makes them one of the best substitutes for celery in a soup or stew situation.
Jicama is another really great choice for a soup or stew. These vegetables look a lot like potatoes when they are whole but their flavors are vastly different.
The jicama is known for having a light and refreshing flavor that will never over power any dish you use it in.
These can be just slightly sweet, or even a bit on the nutty side, so you might need to adjust your seasoning slightly.
However, that slightly sweet and nutty flavor might actually really compliment your soup or stew as well.
If you’re looking for the crunch and a light flavor, don’t overlook jicama.
Green apple is an option you will see for salads later as well but you might be surprised to find that it’s a good substitute in soups and stews too.
You wouldn’t necessarily relate this to something you would cook but you might just be surprised.
You do need to be careful with how much green apple you might add to a soup or a stew because it tends to have a tart flavor.
However, the flavor is light and it might add just a little something extra to your stew in the end.
If you mostly want to mimic the flavor and you’re not as worried about the crunch, you can use a substitute like celery seed in your soup or stew.
These seeds give you all of the celery flavor but none of the texture or crunch that celery is sometimes used for.
You might even decide to use a substitute with a crunch but then add celery seed to help accommodate flavor preferences as well!
Additional Soup Or Stew Substitutes
Finally, here is a pretty good list you can use for reference that has a lot of great soup or stew substitute options to consider.
- White or yellow onion
- Fennel stalks
- Green peppers (commonly bell peppers)
Celery Substitute In Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad, And Other Salads
When you’re making something cold and you expect to replace that crunch of your salad addition, there are a number of suitable substitutes for celery to choose from.
You will find that some substitutes fall into multiple categories but we want to be sure you know where they may or may not really work as well.
We mentioned earlier you would see this one again. You can use a green apple as a substitute for celery and it’s great for any type of salad, from chicken salad to garden salads.
The tart flavor adds just a little something to any of these dishes and it has a nice crunch to it as well.
You can simply remove the stem and seeds and dice it up to bite-sized pieces within your salad.
Green apple is a common addition particularly for things like chicken salad and you will really love what it does to the taste!
In things like salad, another cold vegetable that offers crunch and a good texture or flavor for the mix is a cucumber.
These are lightly flavored and totally refreshing. They are best for cold dishes so they can be diced and used for your chicken or tuna salad or you can just slice them up and toss them in your garden salad as well.
While a cucumber doesn’t taste like celery, it gives you that crunch and doesn’t have an overwhelming flavor that is going to turn you off.
Bell peppers are perfect salad replacements for celery. They do have more flavor to them and even sometimes a bit of a kick but the flavor really sharpens the dish in the end.
You can use diced or chopped bell peppers in any type of salad, from chicken salad to garden salad.
You will get flavor that blends in perfectly with your dish and possibly even makes it better and you will also get that satisfying crunch and texture that celery tends to add.
Additional Substitutes For Salads
While these are our favorites, there are some crossovers and some additional options that can make a great substitute for celery in any type of salad.
Give one or all of these a try!
- Chopped pecans
- Water chestnuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Brussels sprouts
Now, the following sections breakout suitable substitutes for different uses of celery.
Substitutes For Celery When You Need A Crunch
What you will find is that you can typically replace celery with just about any other vegetable that offers crunch and it works quite nicely.
Here are some of our top picks for dishes that need a bit of a crunch to them.
- Water chestnuts
- Collard greens
- Cabbage or lettuce
Substitutes For Celery When You Need Flavor Or Texture
If you’re looking for something other than celery that will give you good flavor but will also have a texture that is relatable to celery, we have you covered.
Here are some of our top picks for you.
- Fennel stalks
- Bell peppers
- Other green peppers
Celery Replacements When You Need Color
Sometimes celery is simply added for the color of the dish, much like we discussed earlier in this guide.
Here are some great options to try if you need green in your dish.
- Bok choy
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green beans (fresh)
Celery Substitutes When You Need Flavor
While celery isn’t usually known for its massive flavor contribution, it does have a flavor, particularly when cooked into a dish.
If you need to give your dish some flavor but you need something besides celery, you might consider one of these options.
- Celery salt
- Celery seeds
- Cayenne pepper
- Dill seed
- Caraway seed
If you can’t or won’t eat celery for whatever reason, your dish doesn’t have to suffer.
Regardless of what you need celery for in a recipe, you can easily find a replacement that will either replace the color, texture, flavor, or even crunch that celery is often used for.
We hope that this guide presents you with a valuable resource for doing just that!
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