15 Best Arugula Substitutes for Italian Recipes

Arugula is great in both salads and cooked foods. If you like arugula leaves but run out in the midst of a dish, don’t worry.

Here are 15 arugula substitutes that can provide the same peppery flavor to your meal.

  • Watercress
  • Kale
  • Baby Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Basil
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Nasturtium Leaves
  • Frisee
  • Endive

Don’t be concerned if you need to prepare a nice supper quickly to serve your hungry family. You only need to be creative in order to achieve arugula-like leafy greens while saving time and money!

What is Arugula Leaves?

Arugula is a bitter, peppery-tasting dark leafy plant related to cabbage and kale. It’s a popular element in Italian cooking, where it’s served with pasta or as a pizza topping.

With the classic Fettuccine Alfredo, an arugula salad is a must-have side dish. Its spicy taste complements fresh pizza toppings beautifully.


Arugula was formerly a popular herb in Rome and is still a popular green leaf in Italian cooking today.

Some individuals like the taste, but many don’t, so you may wish to acquire a substitute. Another downside is that it is not always readily accessible in supermarkets. If you need a replacement, choose one of the options mentioned below.

15 Great Arugula Lettuce Substitute

If you can’t locate your preferred arugula leaves for sandwiches or salads, shift your attention to these arugula substitutes.


Watercress, like arugula, is a member of the Brassicaceae family and has a somewhat bitter and peppery taste characteristic. Watercress’s scent is the main reason it performs so well as a replacement. Because of the similarities between the two plants, arugula is sometimes known as Italian cress.

Another reason watercress is a suitable arugula alternative is because the two herbs look so similar in a salad that they are almost indistinguishable. Arugula tops practically every nutritional category, although watercress isn’t far behind and has comparable levels of several components.

Watercress, like arugula, may be eaten fresh or cooked; however, exercise care while preparing it. It is a delicate herb that, unlike arugula, soon gets mushy. As a pleasant method to cook watercress, it may be pureed and used in soups.


Kale is another wonderful arugula substitute due of its availability. It is easily accessible in any store, making it an excellent alternative if you are in a hurry. This plant has a bitter flavor, but it is more potent than watercress.

Due to its bitterness, some individuals may find it too harsh to use in salads. Combining it with other leafy greens, on the other hand, may help fix the issue.

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Additionally, spicy sautéed kale is a fantastic side dish for spaghetti, pizza, or frittatas. This accompaniment will assist to maintain and elevate a touch of sourness and bitterness.

Baby Spinach

Baby spinach is a fantastic salad and smoothie component due to its freshness, a tinge of bitterness, and a variety of nutrients. Although it cannot replace the peppery flavor of arugula, the cooked taste of this arugula alternative will make your taste intense and explosive.

Due to its comparable nutritional content and ability to pair well with the other components, baby spinach may be used to substitute arugula in a variety of recipes, including fresh toppings for pesto soup, pizza, salads, and sandwiches.

In case you were wondering, baby spinach is not a separate kind of spinach. It’s just early-harvest spinach with sweeter, more delicate leaves.


Photo by Natasha Skov on Unsplash

Cabbage’s delicious leafy greens complement a wide range of other vegetables.

You may eat them cooked or uncooked. They may be used as a salad dressing, stir-fried, in soups, or as a sandwich or pizza topping.

You may make Keto stuffed cabbage. This meal has minced pork wrapped in melt-in-your-mouth cabbage and topped with a flavorful tomato sauce. A delightful blend of sweet taste, acidity, and flavor may win anyone’s heart.

Cabbage is high in vitamin C, which strengthens your immune system and protects you from sickness. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that might be very good to your heart health.


Basil is a delicious herb with layers upon layers of taste. Basil may be used in a number of recipes. It not only has a somewhat spicy flavor, but it also adds a slightly pungent taste, a touch of sweetness, and the freshness of mint to any food, especially salads.

If you can’t locate arugula leaves, use basil instead for a little spicy taste. It’s delectable!

Basil is still a herb, and using the same quantity as arugula may be too much. As a consequence, if you want to replace arugula in fresh recipes, it is better to use it as a topping.

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Dandelion Greens

Dandelion is another fantastic arugula replacement. While it lacks the peppery taste of arugula, it has a comparable bitterness and complements many of the same elements found in arugula meals.

Nasturtium Leaves

Nasturtium, often known as Indian cress, is edible in all parts. The leaves, on the other hand, may be substituted for watercress since they have a comparable peppery taste.

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The most well-known meal prepared from this vegetable is Nasturtium Pesto, which never goes out of style. The nasturtium leaves will provide a fresh, peppery, and earthy flavor to classic pesto.

When coupled with the sweet grilled nut, this dish will satisfy even the pickiest diners.

These leaves are abundant in vitamin C, which aids your immune system in its battle against germs and viruses. Furthermore, the iron in this plant may assist in the oxygen-carrying process.


Frise is a member of the chicory family, and its green, thin, and light leaves have a moderately bitter and slightly peppery flavor, similar to chicory.

Frise is suggested in a green salad with light dressings. The Frise salad is considered one of the greatest French classics that every chef should know. If you don’t want to use arugula leaves, you may serve your sandwich with a frise salad instead.

If you are sensitive to bitterness, you should pick a lighter-colored frise. The lighter the hue of the greens, the less bitter they are.



Endive is a fantastic option for grilling, roasting, or braising in addition to salad dressing. You can’t go wrong with a meal of braised Belgian endive.

Endive looks like cabbage and has an earthy, somewhat bitter taste. It’s wonderful shredded in salads, but it’s best used as a compliment to other vegetables, like frise. Endive is most effective when added in soups to replace arugula greens. The taste of the endive softens as it cooks, and it works nicely in soup.


When looking for escarole at the grocery store, it may seem like a crown of lettuce, with leaves that are leafier than those of kale and a little bitter taste.

Escarole’s sharpness and pepperiness characterize it as a decent replacement for arugula.

Because the properties of escarole differ depending on whether it is grown inside or outside, your greens will not turn sticky when exposed to high heat. The outer leaves are darker green and stiffer than the inside leaves, which are softer and gentler green.

As a consequence, escarole remains a tasty and nutritious ingredient to soups and stews.

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Mche is a leaf plant endemic to Europe. It’s also known as lambs lettuce, nut lettuce, corn salad, and even rapunzel. This weedy leaf has a nutty flavor, acidic taste, and a mild bitterness.

It works well in salads, especially when combined with arugula leaves in a fresh mixed salad. Mche, on the other hand, should not be cooked since the leaves are so fragile that heat would ruin them.

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Purslane is another great arugula replacement. It works because of its flavor, which has a mustard-like taste similar to arugula. Though the succulent leaves are not as tender as arugula, they compliment most arugula meals.

While it may be substituted for arugula leaves in salads and certain cooked dishes, it is not the primary reason to use it. Purslane is high in nutritional value.

One of these benefits is that it is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Purslane includes minerals such as vitamins A and C, as well as magnesium, in addition to fatty acids.


This vegetable looks nothing like arugula due to its distinct red and white coloring, but it may provide a variety of flavor and presentation aspects to your dish.

While radicchio lacks the zippy peppery taste of kale, it does offer a comparable sharpness and an intriguing earthy flavor.

Radicchio goes well in soups and salads, and it may lend crunch to sandwiches and burgers.

This vegetable may also be cooked to enhance its flavor. Radicchio may be eaten raw or cooked, however for a taste profile comparable to arugula, we suggest eating it uncooked.

Radish Sprouts

Watercress and radish sprouts belong to the same family. It’s simple to see that they’re the same form and taste similar. These sprouts, on the other hand, have a stronger taste.

They are difficult to obtain in stores, but they may be grown fast from seeds.

These greens are often seen in salads. Try the Smoked salmon wrap with radish sprouts if you’re tired of them. The spice will hide the fishy flavor while emphasizing the delicacy of the salmon.

These small sprouts are abundant in chlorophyll and vital amino acids, both of which help prevent cancer. Even better, it contains folate, which assists in the development of red blood cells, which is very important during the early stages of pregnancy.

[Related Article: 9 Best Celery Substitutes for Soup or Cooking]

Romaine Lettuce

Although lettuce lacks a spicy taste, we put it on our list of arugula substitutes because of its flexibility. This leafy green is widely used in salads, so you may use it in place of arugula.

In addition to sandwiches and salads, lettuce may be used as a pizza topping.

Lettuce is high in fiber and low in calories, making it a good option for cholesterol-lowering diets. Consuming this vegetable might help you prevent the flu and cold due to its high vitamin C level.


What is the best substitute for arugula?

Greens from the dandelion. Dandelion greens have the same leafy texture as arugula but a milder flavor.
Frisée. On sandwiches, frisée is a great alternative for arugula! …
Spinach, baby.
Watercress. Endive.
Greens, mixed.
Kale in its infancy.

What lettuce is most like arugula?

The flavors of romaine, iceberg, and butter lettuce are all relatively moderate. As a result, although they have a similar appearance to arugula, they lack taste. Red leaf lettuce, on the other hand, has a moderate bitterness to it. It’s not as powerful as arugula, but it’s an excellent substitute if you want a tinge of bitterness.

Can you replace arugula with spinach?

Although arugula has a distinct taste profile than spinach, it works well as a spinach alternative in salads, soups, and pastas.

What is a good substitute for rocket leaves?

If you don’t like rocket, watercress leaves may be substituted; nevertheless, watercress leaves still have a spicy flavor. Otherwise, young spinach leaves are perhaps the finest substitute. They have a milder flavor and may hold up better in gravy than other more fragile leaves.

Which is healthier kale or arugula?

Did you know that kale has more calcium and zinc than arugula? It also offers the same amount of iron and magnesium as kale but less carbs and naturally produced sugars.

Does cooking arugula make it less healthy?

Cooking arugula may cause nutritional loss, such as vitamin C (arugula contains roughly six milligrams), but it can also boost absorption of other nutrients, such as vitamin A.

What peppery salad leaf is known as arugula?

Rocket, often known as rucola or arugula, is a spicy salad leaf.

What peppery salad is known as arugula in the US?

Arugula (American English) or rocket (Commonwealth English) (Eruca vesicaria; syns. Eruca sativa Mill., E. vesicaria subsp. sativa (Miller) Thell., Brassica eruca L.) is an edible annual plant in the family Brassicaceae used as a leaf vegetable for its fresh, tart, bitter, and peppery flavor.

Is arugula the healthiest lettuce?

Your healthiest choice is raw arugula. Arugula has the following nutrients in 100 grams: 0.7 gram of fat. Carbohydrates: 3.7 g.

Why don’t I like arugula?

It is the most abrasive plant. When you eat arugula, it wants you to feel like a sad, depressed herbivore. It has no elasticity and no taste. It does, in fact, have a flavor: bitter!

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