10 Incredible Escarole Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Escarole is a type of endive and a member of the chicory family. It has wide, bright green leaves that curl and is often mistaken for a kind of lettuce. Of the endives, it is the least bitter and is a popular ingredient for many soups and pasta dishes due to its mellow taste and sturdiness. However, if you’re unable to find escarole in your local grocery store, there are several other types of leafy greens you can choose from for an excellent escarole substitute.

Best Escarole Substitute

There are many good escarole substitutes out there, but matching the precise flavor profile can be difficult depending on the meal you’re preparing. Radicchio is a great escarole substitute for salads. You can also use other greens of the chicory family like spinach, arugula, curly endive, mustard greens, and borage.


Radicchio is recognizable for its purple and white leaves. It looks like a small red cabbage, but the crunchy leaves have a slightly bitter taste that is similar to escarole, without being overpowering. This makes it a great substitute for any cold dishes or salads. [1]

A bowl of spinach leaves on a gray background

Fresh spinach leaves Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Spinach Leaves

Spinach leaves make a wonderful substitute for escarole. They are an especially good replacement for soups, stews, and casseroles. The leaves lose their bitterness when cooked, but keep a good texture. Additionally, spinach is a superfood, full of vitamins and minerals like potassium, B6, iron, and vitamin K.


This leafy green can be much easier to find at the grocery store these days, thanks to growing knowledge of its impressive nutritional content. Kale will cook in much the same way as escarole, but the leaves are bigger and slightly tougher. Kale comes in a few different types, but for the best substitute, use curly kale in your recipe that calls for escarole. [2]


Chards have much broader leaves with a red stem as compared to escarole. The taste is also much earthier and sweeter than escarole, and the leaves take longer to cook. However, chard cooks down to an excellent texture, and this is a good substitute for any dish where escarole is the star ingredient.


A sharp and bitter plant, frisee has delicate bright green leaves and is sometimes called curly endive or chicory. However, frisee leaves are shaggier and smaller than escarole. They are mostly used for garnishes or salads, though occasionally, they can be found cooked. [3]


Another sharp plant, this one has dark green, narrow leaves that have a peppery flavor. It is usually prepared cold or lightly sautéed and can be found in salads, egg dishes, and pasta. Arugula is paired best with strong flavors that can stand up to the bitterness such as garlic, lemon, blue cheese, or beet.

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens have a mild peppery flavor and they can easily imitate escarole, especially when you want a pungent bite. These leaves taste best when fried, sautéed, or boiled.


Borage is a flavorful herb that can be used in various soups and salads like carrot soup.

Romaine Lettuce

Adding romaine lettuce in your salad if you are unable to find escarole is a great choice. It can easily spike up the nutritional value of your dish.

Beet Greens

While you are making your favorite vegetable soup and you find that there is no escarole in your veggie tray, beet greens can definitely help you.

Other Substitutes

You can also get creative with other green vegetables like bok choy and dandelion greens.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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