Fantastic Substitutes for Arugula You Can Use

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Arugula is a popular ingredient in salads and other dishes. And it’s even popular as a pizza topping! But depending on the season, it can be hard to find at some grocery stores. If you can’t find arugula at your local market, don’t worry! There are plenty of other greens that make for a great alternative. We will go over several of the best substitutes for arugula.

But before finding the very best arugula substitutes, you must understand its taste and characteristics to help you find its perfect replacement. So, let’s find out below!

What Does Arugula Taste Like?

Arugula is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the brassica family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, and kale. It has a peppery, slightly bitter taste that some people compare to radishes or mustard greens. Arugula is also sometimes called rocket or roquette. The taste of arugula can vary depending on the time of year and growing conditions. For example, the leaves are usually milder in flavor when they are harvested in the spring.

The leaves of the arugula plant are small and shaped, and they are usually a deep green color. Arugula can be eaten raw or cooked. When it is cooked, it loses some of its bitterness and takes on a more mellow flavor.

Since Arugula is a leafy green, it is commonly used in salads, garnishes, and toppings, but it can also be cooked and served as a side dish. I recently made arugula pesto, and it blew my mind how good it was. It’s quite a versatile vegetable, even though it’s so distinct in its flavor.

When choosing arugula at the grocery store, look for fresh, crisp leaves that are free of brown spots. Arugula can also be bought pre-washed and packaged in bags or boxes. And if you can find baby arugula…always go for that one! They are tender and delicious.

Key Characteristics to Look For:

Here are the key elements to keep an eye out for when looking for an arugula alternative. You may not find an exact match but aim for something with a couple of the same characteristics.

  • A leafy green vegetable that can be eaten fresh or cooked
  • Bright
  • Peppery
  • Bitter
  • Pungent

Arugula Substitutes

Substitutes for Arugula


Watercress is a leafy green vegetable that is often used in salads or as a garnish. Watercress has a similar peppery flavor to arugula, making it a great substitute in salads and other dishes.

Watercress is a member of the cabbage family, and it is related to mustard, radish, and garden cress. The plant grows in water or damp soil, and it is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Watercress was traditionally used as a medicinal herb, and it is still sometimes used as an herbal remedy for digestive problems or skin conditions.

Baby Spinach

You are probably very familiar with this green! Baby spinach leaves are smaller and more tender than full-grown spinach leaves. This makes baby spinach a good choice if you’re looking for a leafy green with a milder flavor. You will miss the peppery bite that arugula has, but you will have the ease of finding it at any major grocery store.

This is probably the milder of greens on the list. It does become more bitter when cooked, but still far more gentle than our other subs listed. This makes it great for those picky eaters, both young and old!

Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are a type of leafy green vegetable that is often used in salads or cooked as a side dish. The leaves are dark green and have a slightly bitter taste, yet tangy that pairs well with other strong flavors. Because of these bold flavors, it can be a good replacement for arugula.

Dandelion greens can be found year-round in most supermarkets, but they are most plentiful in the springtime. To select the best dandelion greens, look for leaves that are fresh and free of brown spots. When storing dandelion greens, wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in the refrigerator, where they will stay fresh for up to three days.

When preparing dandelion greens for cooking, it is important to wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt or sand. This goes for many greens that are tightly grown. To do this, simply place the greens in a colander and rinse them under cold water. Once they are clean, you can cook them using your favorite recipe or enjoy them raw in a salad.


Escarole is a type of endive with broad, dark green leaves. Escarole is a type of leafy green vegetable that belongs to the chicory family. It has a slightly bitter flavor and crisp texture. Escarole is often used in salads, soups, and other dishes.

The most common variety is called broad-leaved escarole, which has broad, dark green leaves. Other types of escarole include Batavian endive and curly endive. Like arugula, this green can be enjoyed fresh or cooked!


Radicchio is a leafy Italian vegetable that belongs to the chicory family. It is best known for its deep red color and crisp texture. Though some varieties are speckled with green. Radicchio is often used as a garnish or added to salads for a pop of color.

However, this versatile vegetable can also be cooked in various ways. When grilled or roasted, radicchio takes on a sweeter flavor that pairs well with meats and other vegetables. Radicchio can also be enjoyed raw, in which case its slightly bitter taste is more pronounced. No matter how it is enjoyed, radicchio is a healthy option that is low in calories and high in fiber. Making it a wonderful substitute for arugula.

arugula substitutes infograph

>> Check out the substitutes for leeks

Final Thoughts About Substitutes for Arugula

Arugula is a flavorful and healthy leafy green, but it can be hard to find sometimes or even pricey. If you can’t find arugula at your local grocery store, it’s ok! Your recipe will not be ruined!

There are plenty of other greens that make great substitutes. Watercress, baby spinach, dandelion greens, escarole, and radicchio are all great choices. They will all bring that bright, bitter flavor you need. So next time you’re looking for a substitute for arugula, give one of these greens a try! Happy Cooking!

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts