Top 6 Endive Substitutes

Unlike some vegetables out there that pretty much everyone knows about (broccoli, for example), endive is less well-known. A lot of people don’t even know what endive is, let alone how to cook with it. 

With that being said, endive is a great vegetable to incorporate into your meals.

It’s versatile and can be used in a wide variety of recipes, and although it’s crunchy and has a mildly bitter flavor when raw, its tender texture and subtle sweetness when cooked makes it a delicious, healthy option. 

If you can get your hands on some endive, there are plenty of tasty and nutritious meals you can make, as we’ll discuss in more detail during this article.

However, endives can sometimes be difficult to find, in which case, you may have to look into some substitutes.

Today, we’ll be sharing the top 6 endive substitutes, plus the best ways to cook with endive or any of the substitute ingredients.

Top 6 Endive Substitutes

Endive: What Is It? 

First of all, you might still be wondering what endive actually is. Endive is a leafy green vegetable, and it’s a member of the chicory family. This vegetable is identifiable by its slender profile and compact rosette of green leaves.

While different kinds of endive can generally be swapped out without any issues, it’s worth bearing in mind that there are two primary varieties of endive: French endive, and Belgian endive.

French endive can be differentiated from Belgian endive because it has deeper lobes in its leaves, and the leaves also tend to be broader.

When uncooked, the flavor of endive is mildly bitter, but it’s also slightly nutty. The texture, meanwhile, is crunchy. This changes when you cook endive, at which point, it becomes more tender and the bitterness fades.

Endive may not be packed with as many vitamins and minerals as some other vegetables, but it is an excellent source of fiber and doesn’t contain many calories, so it’s a healthy choice that could benefit your digestive system. 

How To Cook With Endive 

As mentioned above, endive can be eaten cooked or raw. If you don’t want to cook endive before eating it, you can simply add it to salads or sandwiches. 

However, we recommend trying to cook with endive at least once, so you can see how the flavor and texture changes. Plus, when you cook endive, it’s much more versatile to work with. 

If you choose to cook endive, you can add it to a soup, or casserole. It also works well in gratins and stews. If you want to bring out more of endive’s sweetness, consider roasting it in the oven until it caramelizes. 

The Top 6 Endive Substitutes 

1. Romaine Lettuce 

Romaine lettuce might not be the closest substitute to endive in terms of flavor, but it has a very similar texture, and it’s easy to find this leafy green vegetable at most stores, so it’s the perfect substitute when your options are limited. 

Like endive, romaine lettuce is crunchy and crispy when raw, but tenderizes when cooked.

It’s not bitter like endive when uncooked, but it does have a slight sweetness to it that is similar enough to the flavor of cooked endive, minus the nuttiness. 

Romaine lettuce is also a very nutritious substitute for endive. It contains a lot of minerals and vitamins, and it’s also low-calorie, so it’s the perfect healthy addition to any cold or hot meal. 

You can make salads and sandwiches, as well as tasty wraps using uncooked romaine lettuce.

Usually, you wouldn’t cook romaine lettuce, but it is possible to sauté or roast it if you’re using it as a substitute for cooked endive in a hot dish. 

2. Chicory Leaves 

Because endive is part of the chicory family, it makes sense to use chicory leaves as a substitute for this vegetable. In terms of raw flavor, chicory leaves can mirror the taste of endive because of their slight bitterness.

If you’re looking for ways to add more vitamin C and vitamin A to your diet, along with a good dose of dietary fiber, chicory makes a great addition to your meals.

It’s also packed full of antioxidants, which are important compounds that can protect the cells in your body from oxidative damage. 

This vegetable can be used to garnish soups, or you can add it to pasta dishes. It also works well in salads and wraps. 

However, if you want to use chicory leaves as a substitute for endive, you should take care to pick leaves that are the right color. Ideally, you should only buy chicory leaves that are dark green and don’t have any brown spots on them. 

You’ll also need to take care to store these leaves properly so that they don’t go bad or lose their flavor and texture. Wrapping the leaves in a slightly damp paper towel and refrigerating them is the best storage solution.

3. Watercress

Watercress is fairly easy to buy from your local grocery store, and it also happens to make a wonderful substitute for endive. 

This leafy green vegetable isn’t exactly bitter like endive, but its flavor can be described as a little peppery, so it has an interesting flavor that can add something extra to a lot of different dishes.

In terms of texture, watercress is surprisingly similar to endive. It’s crisp, although slightly more delicate, and it’s even more hydrating compared to endive. 

Vitamins K, C, and A are the main vitamins you’ll get from a serving of watercress, and the vegetable also contains a few important minerals. 

Because the flavor profile of watercress is different from endive, it’s best used as a substitute in dishes that have sauces or dressings so that the flavor difference isn’t too noticeable.

For example, it works well in salads and wraps. If you find that the difference in flavor is still prominent, simply add more dressing. 

To make sure you’re getting as much flavor and optimal texture from your watercress as possible, choose leaves that are brightly colored with no yellowing or wilting. Refrigerate the watercress in a sealed bag until you’re ready to use it.

4. Radicchio

Radicchio is part of the chicory family, like endive. This makes it an excellent substitute, even though the vegetable looks very different. 

Radicchio is usually a deep purple or red color, and like endive, it has a bitter flavor when raw, so it’s the perfect substitute for salads and cold wraps, as well as sandwiches. You can also use it as a garnish for a variety of dishes. 

Being high in antioxidants and fiber, radicchio is extremely beneficial for your health.

If you’re looking for an endive substitute because the bitterness of raw endive is too much for you, don’t be put off by the fact that radicchio is also bitter.

This vegetable is actually less bitter than endive, so it’s more gentle on your palate. You can also lessen the bitterness by adding a creamy dressing or pairing it with sweet flavors.

Radicchio might not be as easy to find as romaine lettuce, for example, because it’s native to Italy. However, you should be able to find some radicchio locally if you’re not able to find any endive. 

5. Napa Cabbage 

If you’re looking for an endive substitute that you can use in cooked dishes, consider using Napa cabbage. This vegetable looks similar to endive, and also has a similar flavor to that of cooked endive because it is slightly sweet. 

You can choose to add raw Napa cabbage to salads, sandwiches and wraps, or use it as a garnish. Alternatively, you could cook the cabbage into a soup or mix it into a stir-fry. It’s commonly used as a dumpling wrapping, or as a filling. 

This low-calorie, low-fat vegetable is also full of essential vitamins, particularly vitamin K and vitamin C. It also contains a good amount of fiber. 

Bear in mind that in terms of texture, Napa cabbage is more tender compared to endive, so while it can be cooked, it’s best to use it raw if you want to mirror the flavor and texture of endive accurately. 

6. Arugula 

You might also know arugula as rocket. This is a leafy green vegetable that is packed with flavor. It’s slightly peppery, so if you’re looking for a way to replace the unique taste of endive, arugula can work very well.

It’s not bitter, though, so it won’t be an exact replication of endive’s flavor. 

It’s important to remember that arugula is not the best substitute for endive in cooked dishes.

This is because it tends to lose its flavor when exposed to heat, so it works better as an endive substitute in cold dishes such as sandwiches and salads. 

You should also bear in mind that because arugula has a very unique flavor, it could be tricky to find flavor pairings that work well.

Using arugula as a substitute for endive will probably take some experimentation and trial-and-error, but this is a nutritious vegetable that can contribute to cold dishes in its own way, so it’s worth a try.

Final Thoughts 

Endive isn’t always the easiest vegetable to find in stores, but the good news is that the 6 vegetables we’ve recommended in this guide can work wonders as substitutes. 

If you want to replicate the flavor of endive closely, it’s best to choose chicory leaves or radicchio. Napa cabbage can also work well to replace cooked endive. 

Watercress and arugula have slightly different flavors, but can make good replacements in terms of texture. The same can be said for romaine lettuce, which is also extremely easy to find in local grocery stores.

Top 6 Endive Substitutes

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


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Can’t find any endives in your local grocery store? Here are the top 6 endive substitutes you can use instead, with delicious results. Click to learn more.


  • Romaine Lettuce

  • Chicory Leaves 

  • Watercress

  • Radicchio

  • Napa Cabbage 

  • Arugula 


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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