A Complete Guide On 6 Of The Very Best Escarole Lettuce Substitutes

In Italian cuisine, escarole lettuce is a popular and vital ingredient used in a variety of recipes.

A leafy green vegetable, Escarole is a member of the endive family. It is known for its slightly bitter flavor and crispy texture, and is commonly used in salads, soups, and stews. 

Classic dishes such as Minestrone and Insalata Calabrese are made with escarole lettuce as an ingredient.

In most cases, this vegetable is combined with other fresh veggies, including onions, carrots, and tomatoes. When added to a dish, escarole lettuce tends to add some sweetness.

A Complete Guide On 6 Of The Very Best Escarole Lettuce Substitutes

Sometimes, however, you may be unable to find escarole. Maybe you have a personal preference for a different type of leafy green, too?

The good news is that there are several excellent escarole lettuce substitutes that can be used in your favorite recipes. Many herbs can be used, such as basil, oregano, or parley, helping add a fresher touch to dishes, especially those that contain seafood.  

In today’s blog, we will be exploring some of the best escarole lettuce substitutes that can be used to add flavor, texture, and nutritional value to your dishes.

We will discuss their unique characteristics and how they compare to escarole. With a wide range of options available, there is sure to be a substitute that will meet your taste preferences and dietary needs.

What Is Escarole Lettuce?

Before we find out what the best substitutes for escarole lettuce are, it’s best to understand what this vegetable is first. 

Escarole lettuce is a leafy green vegetable with broad, curly, and slightly bitter leaves that are green in color and sport a crispy texture.

Escarole is commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly in Italian and French dishes. It is often eaten raw in salads or cooked in soups, stews, and sautés.

Escarole is a nutritious vegetable that is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, and potassium, making it an excellent addition to any diet.

As for its flavor, escarole tends to be quite bitter. This comes from compounds called sesquiterpene lactones, which are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, furthering the vegetable’s health benefits.

When selecting escarole lettuce at the store, you should look for leaves that are fresh, crisp, and bright green in color. Avoid leaves that are yellow or brown, as they may be wilted or spoiled.

Escarole can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, but it is best to use it as soon as possible to ensure maximum freshness and flavor.

If your escarole lettuce has spoiled or you haven’t got any on hand for your recipe, you can use an alternative instead. Below are our favorite substitutes for escarole lettuce that you can try at home.

We can guarantee that they work very well in most recipes that require escarole lettuce!

The Best Escarole Lettuce Substitutes 

1. Radicchio

We start with radicchio, a great substitute for escarole lettuce in many dishes. Radicchio is a type of head lettuce that can usually be found in the same section and aisle as other leafy greens at your local grocery store.

When selecting radicchio, look for tightly formed outer leaves with deep red or purple hues. The round lettuce features slightly crinkled leaves and has an intense flavor that is slightly bitter but not overpowering.

If you’re planning to use radicchio as a substitute for escarole, keep in mind that the delicate lettuce pieces may bruise easily.

To avoid this, you can opt for pre-separated leaves, which are commonly found in grocery stores.

With its distinct flavor and unique texture, radicchio can add depth and character to your salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.

Plus, like escarole, radicchio is a nutritious option that is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

2. Spinach

When you can’t find escarole lettuce, spinach is a great alternative that is readily available at any grocery store, usually in the refrigerated section.

If you wish to use spinach in palace or escarole lettuce in a salad, all you have to do is cut off any large stems, rinse under cold water, and gently dry by patting it. 

Spinach tends to have a milder flavor than escarole, meaning it pairs well with a host of other ingredients without overpowering them.

This makes it an ideal alternative for escarole lettuce and other similar leafy greens, such as kale or curly endive. When looking for fresh spinach in the store, look for deep green leaves that are vibrant.

The leaves should not be too tough but instead quite chewy. Also, avoid wilted or yellowing bags of spinach as they may be spoiled.

Besides being a great substitute for escarole, spinach is loaded with nutrition, including vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron.

By using spinach in place of escarole, you can boost your daily nutrient intake while adding flavor and texture to your favorite dishes.

3. Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce is another alternative to escarole lettuce that you may want to consider. This type of lettuce features pale green leaves with crisp, thick ribs on either side.

Compared to other lettuce varieties, romaine has darker leaves that are firm and crisp when fresh. If they appear discolored or a little wilted, it’s a sign they have gone off and should be avoided.  

When using romaine lettuce as a substitute for escarole, be mindful not to bruise the leaves when preparing your meal as they are quite delicate.

We love to use romaine lettuce in salads as, like escarole, it is a nutritious option that is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. It is particularly rich in vitamins A and K, and it also contains folate and fiber so your diet can get a healthy boost.

Whether you use it in a salad or as a sandwich wrap, romaine lettuce can be a refreshing and tasty addition to your meal.

4. Chard

Closely related to spinach and beets, Swiss chard can act as an excellent replacement for escarole lettuce in a range of dishes. It boasts deep green sharp leaves and has an earthy, slightly sweet flavor profile.

That is why some refer to this green as “chard-flavored spinach.” 

When selecting char in-store, make sure it is crisp and looks fresh. It should be firm to old with no wilting present. Its stalks should also be moist with a vibrant color to them.

If there are any signs of discoloration or blackening, the chard has spoiled and should be discarded. 

When it comes to substituting escarole lettuce for chard in a recipe, avoid packing its leaves together very tightly. By leaving a little space between the leaves, you will find it easier to work with.

And, as with any vegetable, begin the process by rinsing the leaves and draining them in a colander. If needed, you can then separate them into smaller pieces, depending on the recipe you’re making. 

5. Arugula 

Arugula is a good option when looking for an escarole lettuce alternative. This annual plant, also known as “rocket,” has a distinct bitterness that is similar to escarole.

While it may not perfectly replicate the taste of escarole, its peppery flavor can add depth and complexity to many dishes. Because of its versatility, arugula is an ingredient that is often used in salads, eggs, and pasta dishes.

It also pairs well with ingredients like walnuts, pears, and potatoes, as well as flavors like lemon, avocado, and olive oil.

Arugula goes by many names, including Italian cress, Mediterranean rocket, and wild rocket, and is widely available at grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

If you don’t have arugula on hand, other greens like dandelion greens, young mustard greens, and Belgian endive can also be substituted.

While the flavor profile may differ, these greens can still provide a similar texture and nutrient profile as escarole. Experiment with different greens to find the perfect substitute for your recipe.

6. Kale

Not as bitter as some other substitutes on our list, kale may be a better substitute for escarole in some dishes.

It tends to have a crunchier, tougher exterior than escarole as well as a more peppery flavor. This is what makes it a great alternative in lasagnas and soups. 

Known as “the King of healthy greens,” it’s no surprise kale has many healthy benefits and beneficial compounds and has been used medicinally for centuries.

When we consider it is a great source of vitamins A, K, B6, manganese, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and copper, it’s plain to see why it is recommended by many healthy experts to be part of a balanced diet.

It is also rich in antioxidants like Quercetin, so if you want something that helps reduce cholesterol and can lower the risk of heart diseases, kale is an exceptional choice! 

In Summary

We hope our six escarole lettuce substitutes have made it easier for you to decide what to use in your next recipe. 

Let us know what you like the most.

A Complete Guide On 6 Of The Very Best Escarole Lettuce Substitutes

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


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Cooking time






  • Radicchio

  • Spinach

  • Romaine Lettuce

  • Chard

  • Arugula

  • Kale


  • 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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