Endive Substitute Here’s 6 Ideas For Your Next Salad

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7 Top 6 Best Endive Substitutes

Made an amazing bowl of colourful, delicious salad but missing endives? It’s hard to let them go as they provide the character, flavour and personality to the mundane salad bowl.

So, we require a substitute or several substitutes to recreate its flavour and appearance! It entirely depends on your preference, as for some people endives are lovely earthy greens whereas for some they are the bitter ones to avoid.

But first, in order to substitute endives wisely, we need to comprehend certain things. What are endives? What do they exactly taste like? How to prepare Endives?

What Are Endives?

Endives are super-nutritious leafy greens that are utilised around the world for some excellent food preparations.

Endives come in two types namely Belgian and Curly.

The Belgian Endives are the most popular and probably the most common type of endives. They have a white and pale yellow-green colour and are elongated in shape. This shape is the result of the upward movement of the plant in search of sunlight as it grows in dark conditions.

Whereas, the curly ones have a ruffled curly edge as a result of natural mutation and are grown in full sunlight. These are well known for their looks adding a dash of elegance and playfulness to the dish.

What Do Endives Taste Like?

With slight sweetness and a hint of bitterness, Endives have an earthy flavour. Complimenting this earthiness, the leafy greens contain a fresh clean flavour and a lot of moisture.

As Endives are a member of the chicory family, their taste vaguely reminds you of chicory or coffee beans.

Endives can be a completely acquired taste. Yet, they work fantastically to complement and balance the sweet and sour flavours and add a dash of bitterness and leafy freshness.

Cooking endives transform its flavour and texture to a great extent. It turns from crunchy, yellow-green to soft, mellowy and brown upon cooking.

The flavour of endives depends upon its harvesting time as well. Generally, young tender leaves have perfectly balanced earthy and fresh flavour whereas the older ones feature cardboard-like texture and unpleasant dense bitterness.

How To Prepare Endives?

Generally, Endives are available as a whole head or bunched. Remove damaged or marked outer leaves if any and wash them properly. Then cut off the base and chop them into desired lengths after washing them again. Ideally, for cooking, use 300-400 gms per person and for having it raw, take 100 grams per person. Following are the timings for perfect preparation of Endives in various cooking techniques:

Cooked: 10 – 13 minutes

Sautéed: 6 – 8 minutes

Microwave: 5 – 6 minutes

Grilled: 7 – 8 minutes

Steamed: 12 – 15 minutes

Top 6 Best Endive Substitutes

Arugula, radicchio, watercress, chicory leaves, and napa cabbage are the top 6 substitutes for endives. Each of these substitutes, depending on your dish can provide the flavour, crunch and beautiful appearance. Let’s dig deeper into them to see how and where exactly each one of them can be used as a substitute for endive.


It is the best substitute for curly endive, in terms of appearance. It is a very flavourful leafy green, yet lacks the bitterness from endives. If you are looking for substituting endive due to its bitterness, this is the right option for you. Arugula, being an acquired taste as well, has an aged flavour like that of prosciutto. It’s best to never heat it, hence it can only be used raw in salads.


Being the relative of endives, radicchio has the bitter earthy after taste just like endives. Either cooked or raw, they will act as the best substitute in terms of flavour and texture. If you are replacing the endive because of its bitter taste, this is not the right option for you. Radicchio is the best substitute for salads, soups and paninis.


These are entirely different from endives both in terms of appearance as well as flavour. They have a neutral taste which goes well in any salad. It’s best to consume them raw as cooking them will lead to its wilting without any change in flavour. They are best used in salads and sandwiches.

Chicory leaves

From the same family, chicory leaves have an earthy and slightly bitter flavour like arugula. They are the best substitutes in terms of appearance as well as taste. Although they lack the trademark flavour of endives, the earthiness they impart is almost similar.

Romaine lettuce

They are the best substitutes in terms of appearance. If you want to ward off the bitterness of endives but love their appearance, Romaine lettuce is the right option for you. Imparting the similar ruffled appearance, their leaves are darker and elongated than endives. They work best for salads, platter dressing, soup decor, etc.

Napa cabbage

Despite the name cabbage, these are more similar to iceberg and romaine than anything else. Their leaves are large, rounded and pale green. If you are looking to substitute endives owing to their bitter earthy flavour, napa cabbages work best. They can be used raw in salads and sandwiches as well as cooked to make soups, fried rice, etc. Staple to East Asian countries, napa cabbages can be fermented and used in food as a side dish and an ingredient in cooking various dishes. This fermented napa cabbage dish is popularly known as kimchi.

The Takeaway

Endives are remarkably delicious leafy green vegetables imparting the mature bitter-sweet, earthy flavour to the dishes by complimenting the sweet and sour flavours. Depending on your reason to substitute them you will have to choose the appropriate alternative for your dish. If you love their trademark flavour but are unable to find them at your local market, use Radicchio or Chicory leaves as its substitute. If you’re someone who loves their fresh flavour and appearance but wants to ward off its bitter earthy flavour, use Arugula, Watercress, Romaine lettuce or Napa Cabbage as substitutes. For any more food curiosities write us in the comment box below!

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