Leafy green vegetables are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. Besides green varieties, there are some other colors too and those do not lag behind in nutritional properties.
Aside from that, they are also quite flavorful, have a fantastic texture, and are one of the most versatile ingredients in the culinary world.
One of those veggies includes radicchio, a popular leaf chicory mostly used in Italy, but its popularity is present all around the world as well.
These are all the positive trades that make you want to use this fantastic veggie and incorporate it into most of your delicious meals. However, it is not very common in grocery stores and it can be quite expensive.
Fortunately, there are a lot of other leafy veggies that possess similar characteristics, so it is possible to find a great radicchio substitute.
Let’s see what those substitutes are.
The List Of 15 Best Radicchio Substitutes
Radicchio is a dark leafy vegetable that has a mildly bitter flavor, tender texture, and beautiful blood-red color. So let’s see what types of veggies resemble these characteristics and can replace radicchio to some extent.
1. Belgian Endive
First, let me start with one interesting fact about the Belgian endive. Although it has the adjective “Belgian” in its name, it actually comes from France.
Belgian endive is a lettuce head with a beautiful pale yellow color that can make any type of dish much more appealing – especially if you add it to salads. They look so incredible with the Belgian endive inside.
When it comes to flavor, it also has a mildly-bitter taste, but it is even milder than radicchio. That makes it a great alternative if you want a similar taste that is not too intense.
The crisp texture with a crunchy taste makes fresh Belgian endive an ideal addition to various types of salads.
Besides salads, this incredible veggie can also be cooked in various ways, like for example baking or grilling. No matter what cooking method you choose, once done, the endive will soften and its flavors will become mellow.
And that is what most resembles radicchio.
2. Curly Endive
And here is another endive, the so-called curly endive. It is a leafy veggie that has distinct curly leaves that can make any type of salad look way more beautiful, just like with Belgian endive.
The only difference is that curly endive has a distinctive green color, unlike Belgian endive that’s trademark is a nice pale-yellow color.
By now we already know that it is an excellent addition to salads, but what about its similarities with radicchio? Well, just like radicchio, curly endive also has a slightly crispy texture.
What’s more, similar to radicchio, curly endive softens when cooked as well.
Those are the similarities, but there are differences related to its flavor profiles. Namely, curly endive has a pleasant buttery taste that is only slightly bitter, i.e. it is much less bitter than radicchio.
So, if you want a substitute that will have a similar texture with a less bitter taste and pleasant buttery flavor, choose curly endive and you won’t go wrong.
Just like radicchio, it is a leafy vegetable that can be used as a decent alternative, especially in various types of salads.
The main reason for that is the fact that it has a similar texture that is a bit more tender, but still quite crunchy, which makes it a good radicchio substitute.
Aside from that, it is way easier to find arugula in most grocery stores and supermarkets and is also much more affordable than radicchio.
However, I also have to emphasize that the flavor profiles of these two leafy veggies are a bit different. Namely, arugula has a spicy flavor that is just a little bit bitter, contrary to radicchio, which has a much more bitter taste.
So, if you want a less bitter alternative that has that specific crunchy bite, you can freely use arugula.
Use it in a salad alongside other greens first, but you can also incorporate it into wraps and sandwiches to add some freshness and spice things up a bit.
Watercress is a type of leafy green veggie that grows in slow-moving water – very different from our radicchio veggie.
Aside from that, the flavor profiles of these two veggies are quite different since watercress has a tangy or spicy flavor with slightly bitter undertones of its leaves.
When it comes to texture, there are some similarities since, just like radicchio, watercress also has a crunchy texture. However, its texture is much more tender than the firmer texture of radicchio.
However, despite all of this, watercress has often been used as a substitute for radicchio because of its incredible nutritional properties.
Namely, aside from culinary uses, watercress has been used for medicinal purposes for many years since it is high in important nutrients, especially in vitamins C and K, as well as calcium and iron.
Watercress can therefore be described as a healthy substitute for radicchio.
Chicory is another type of veggie that can be a great radicchio substitute. The first thing that connects these two is the fact that they are both part of the same chicory family.
Aside from that, they are both very nutritious. Similar to watercress, chicory is full of vitamin C, as well as some other vitamins like vitamin A, for example, which can be truly beneficial for your eyes and skin.
Both have a similarly crisp and crunchy texture and, aside from that, they are both bitter in taste. However, you should take note, in general, chicory is a little more bitter and some varieties tend to be much more bitter.
Because of the similar flavor and, especially, texture, it is best to use fresh chicory as a substitute for radicchio in salads and sandwiches.
However, if you use it in recipes, be careful not to use too much to prevent your dish from being too bitter and too strong in taste.
6. Romaine Lettuce
If you have ever eaten a salad, and I am sure you did, you certainly know about Romaine lettuce because this type of leafy green vegetable is a staple ingredient in almost any type of salad. And it is a main ingredient in one of the most famous salads, namely the Caesar salad.
Aside from that, it can serve as a great alternative if you don’t have any radicchio. The main reason for this is the fact that both of these leafy vegetables have a crisp and crunchy texture.
There are some differences in flavor profile since the flavor of Romaine lettuce is milder and less bitter. However, some people prefer this kind of flavor in their salad, so this alternative can even be better for them.
Aside from that, Romaine lettuce adds a slightly sweet undertone as well, which can be quite awesome in combination with some other types of greens in your salad.
Above all, Romaine lettuce is one of the healthiest foods out there since it is extremely low in calories and it possesses some essential nutrients including vitamins A and C.
7. Red Leaf Lettuce
There is another lettuce variety that can serve as an excellent radicchio substitute. It is very similar to the previously described Romaine lettuce, but with a different red color and almost purple leaf tops.
This amazing lettuce can be a perfect alternative for radicchio, especially in salads. Namely, it has a very similar crisp and crunchy texture that resembles radicchio almost perfectly.
Aside from that, its flavor profile is also very similar since red leaf lettuce has a mild, slightly bitter taste as well.
However, you have to take note that some varieties of red-leaf lettuce can have a higher level of bitterness.
In that case, it is important to adjust the amount you use, especially if you use it instead of radicchio in cooking.
On top of all this, red leaf lettuce finds its place on almost every shelf in the grocery store or supermarket and that makes it much more available.
8. Red Cabbage
Well, this one is very interesting. It is actually often mistaken for radicchio because of the almost same appearance, especially in terms of color.
At first, you might think that this is it. It is the perfect radicchio substitute and it can be easily found in many grocery stores.
However, although it can serve as an alternative for radicchio, it is not that perfect. When I say this, I particularly think about the flavor profile, which is in fact the most important factor.
Well, although red cabbage has a slightly bitter flavor as well, it also has a sweet and tangy flavor that can influence your dish differently, especially if it is cooked.
However, it can be a decent alternative in salads because it can provide it with a similar slightly bitter flavor and crispy and crunchy texture.
So, if you decide to use red cabbage as an alternative, try to use it fresh in your salads because this way you will be able to experience its true potential.
They have similar names, yes, but radish is really a little bit of an odd option as a radicchio substitute, mainly because it doesn’t have leaves and because it looks so much different.
However, radishes actually can provide your dish with a similar crunchy texture. And that is especially a good thing when you use it in salads.
Aside from that, radish also has a healthy dose of bitterness which makes it a decent alternative for radicchio in terms of flavor.
However, you have to take note that radish possesses some spicy notes as well, something that radicchio lacks. So if you are not a fan of spiciness, better avoid it and search for a more suitable alternative.
If you are, and if you are at the same time searching for a radicchio substitute, then radish is your best bet.
On top of all that, your body will be thankful too since radish is full of antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, which are all extremely beneficial for your overall health.
One of the popular dishes involving radish is a spicy Japanese classic known as Tan Tan Ramen.
If you know what treviso is, you obviously understand why it can be used as a substitute for radicchio. It is a part of the same family as radicchio and it’s, in fact, a type of radicchio itself.
However, you should know that they have some differences. First, radicchio is a larger vegetable.
Aside from that, although it has a slightly bitter taste as well, the level of bitterness is much lower so treviso is considered a much milder vegetable.
If you decide to use it as a substitute for radicchio in your dish, you will have to adjust the amount of it.
Although crunchy as well, treviso is more tender than radicchio. So, when you add it to salad instead of radicchio, it is not out of hand to add some other crunchy green, like for example lettuce, to make up for that.
Aside from salads, treviso can also be added to sandwiches for some extra bitterness and crunchiness, as well as pizzas and pasta dishes, both cooked and raw.
This green is actually a type of chicory, with delicate, yellow-green leaves.
It can be a decent substitute for radicchio because of its slightly bitter flavor. However, you should also know that radicchio has a stronger flavor, so you may need to adjust the amount when using it in your dishes as an alternative.
What’s more, frisee has a more tender texture, so it is not ideal to use in salads. It is much more suitable for soups and stews, especially as a background ingredient because of its lighter flavor.
Aside from that, it is often used in braised and grilled dishes as well.
12. Mustard Greens
Here is yet another type of green leafy vegetable named mustard greens.
This specific veggie is most often used in African American cuisine but is becoming more and more popular in many other cuisines, especially when used in soups and stews.
Of course, it is also becoming more and more popular as a radicchio substitute. Although it doesn’t have similarities in all aspects, this leafy green veggie can mimic the flavor of radicchio very well.
It has a slightly bitter flavor as well, with a hint of spiciness and pungent flavor that can enrich almost any dish.
Because of the slight bitterness and crispness when raw, mustard greens can be a great alternative in salads with other types of greens.
However, if you want to make them less bitter and more tender, you can cook mustard greens as well. They work best in soups and stews, but they can be braised or grilled, as well as stir-fried.
I also have to emphasize that these greens are very healthy since they are full of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals such as iron and calcium.
You can easily find them in almost every grocery store or supermarket as well.
13. Dandelion Greens
The leaves of the dandelion plant known as dandelion greens are commonly used in cooking, especially in European and Mediterranean cuisine.
They can also be a decent alternative for our radicchio, mainly because they have a slightly bitter taste combined with nutty and peppery flavors.
Aside from that, dandelion greens also have a slightly crunchy texture. Their slightly bitter flavor and crunchy texture make raw dandelion greens a good substitute in salads.
However, I also have to emphasize that the bitter flavor of raw dandelion greens can be too overwhelming for some people. In that case, it is not a bad idea to cook it with some other greens to balance that.
It is true that the texture won’t be that crispy anymore, but if you are okay with a more tender and slightly chewy texture, it can be a perfect solution.
It is best to add them to soups and stews, but you can also add dandelion greens to stir-fries for slight bitterness and crispiness, and you can consume braised or grilled dandelion greens as well.
Escarole is one of those leafy green veggies that can be used as a substitute for almost any other leafy veggie that has a slightly bitter taste. Radicchio is no exception and they both come from the same chicory family as well.
Although also bitter in taste, escarole has a milder, less bitter flavor and some sweet undertones, something that radicchio lacks.
It also has a more tender texture than radicchio, but it is still crunchy enough. That makes it a decent substitute for various types of salads.
But, it can also be used in soups and stews where its milder flavor and tender texture can complement other ingredients.
On top of all this, escarole is available all year round, which makes it accessible and easy to find.
At the end of this list is one less-known vegetable from Asia. It is mostly known as tatsoi, but some people refer to it as “Spinach mustard” or “Spoon mustard”.
It is becoming more and more popular here in the West and one of its best purposes is its usage as a substitute for radicchio.
It is mostly used in salads because of its slightly bitter taste and tender texture that can add a healthy dose of crunchiness.
It can also be used as garnish for soups and stews. However, I have to emphasize that its flavor is a lot milder than that of radicchio, so you will have to add a bit more of it to your dish in order to achieve the bitter flavor.
The biggest disadvantage of tatsoi is the fact that it is not that widely available outside Asian countries.