The Best Substitutions for Broccoli Rabe

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

When it comes to cooking, there are times when you may find yourself without an ingredient that you need. This can be frustrating, especially if you’re in the middle of making a dish and don’t have time to run to the store. But not to worry! In this post, we’ll give you some great substitutions for broccoli rabe so that you can finish your dish without a hitch.

What Does Broccoli Rabe Taste Like?

Broccoli rabe is a leafy green vegetable that is related to the turnip. I know you are shocked! I was too when I realized it wasn’t related to broccoli. It has a bitter and slightly pungent taste that many people enjoy. The leaves tend to be the more bitter part while the florets are more nutty and pungent.

This makes broccoli rabe’s strong flavor is great for cutting through rich sauces and meals, especially Italian and French foods. If you’re looking for a substitution for broccoli rabe, it’s important to choose something that will add a similar flavor to your dish. You are looking for something leafy that is bitter, pungent, with slight notes of nuttiness.

Best Substitutes for Broccoli Rabe

Below are some of the best substitutes for broccoli rabe that will give your dish the same flavor profile. Remember when you use substitutions you will not have the exact taste profile as an original. The goal is to get close and make an amazing dish! Let’s get cooking…

Substitutions for Broccoli Rabe


Broccolini is a type of broccoli that is hybrids of regular broccoli and Chinese kale (a type of cabbage). And here we thought it was baby broccoli! It has a slightly sweeter taste than broccoli rabe but will still give your dish the bitterness that you’re looking for.

Chinese Broccoli

As its name suggests, Chinese broccoli is a type of broccoli that is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. When looking for a broccoli rabe alternative, chinese broccoli is a great substitute. It has a similar shape and appearance to broccoli rabe and can be cooked in the same way. In addition, chinese broccoli has a slightly milder flavor that will not be as overpowering in dishes. If you are looking for a good sub that will still provide the same nutritional value and taste, chinese broccoli is the great option.


Spinach is a widely available leafy green vegetable that has a much milder flavor than broccoli rabe. This is probably the easiest alternative to broccoli rabe, since it’s literally sold everywhere. While it won’t give your dish the same bitterness, it will add a similar level of sweetness but it will lack a lot of pungent qualities you have in broccoli rabe.

I want to give a little more credit to spinach because it can be a GREAT substitute for broccoli rabe when cooking for picky eaters and kids.

Turnip Greens

Turnip greens are the leaves of the turnip plant and have a slightly bitter taste. They make an excellent substitution for broccoli rabe as they have a similar flavor profile since they come from the same plant family.

Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are bitter greens that are often used in salads or as garnishes. They have a slightly sweeter taste than broccoli rabe but will still provide the bitterness that you’re looking for.

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are another type of leafy green vegetable with a slightly bitter taste that grows when cooked. They make an excellent substitution for broccoli rabe and will add a similar level of bitterness to your dish. But they do not have that nutty flavor and lack sweetness.

Chard Greens

Chard greens are known for being slighty sweet, earthy and having a hint of bitterness. Making this leafy green milder than our broccoli rabe. While they won’t give your dish the same level of bitterness, they will add a similar level of sweetness and pepperiness.

broccoli rabe alternative infographic for substitutes

Making it Perfect: The Best Alternative for Broccoli Rabe

If you’re looking for substitutions for broccoli rabe, there are several options available that will add a similar flavor to your dish. Broccolini, Chinese broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, and chard greens are all good substitutes for broccoli rabe.

The best substitute will depend on the application of broccoli rabe in your recipe and those who will be enjoying the meal. Be sure to choose something with a similar taste so that your dish turns out just the way you want it!

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts