11 Substitutes for Broccoli Rabe

Substitutes for Broccoli Rabe
Photo by Christina Rumpf

If you love broccoli rabe, but find yourself without it at the store, never fear! There are plenty of other vegetables that can fill their place in your meals.

Although broccoli rabe isn’t like most other veggies, it has some similarities to other leafy greens that you may have on hand already.

Give one of these substitutes for broccoli rabe a try. Do this to see if it satisfies your craving for this unique and delicious green vegetable!

Substitutes for Broccoli Rabe

1. Kale

Kale is among the great substitutes for broccoli rabe. It has a similar taste and texture and is just as healthy. Plus, kale is easy to find and relatively inexpensive. 

Kale is a dark, leafy green vegetable related to cabbage and collard greens. It has a slightly bitter taste and is often used in salads or cooked as a side dish.

Kale can be used as a substitute for broccoli rabe in most recipes. Here’s how to cook it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. Remove stem from kale and tear it into bite-size pieces. 
  3. Spread kale on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. 
  4. Season with salt and pepper, then bake for 10-15 minutes until crispy.

2. Bok Choy

Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage often used in stir-fries. It has a milder flavor than broccoli rabe and is more tender. You can substitute bok choy in any recipe that calls for broccoli rabe.

It will also take less time to cook, so it may be necessary to add some extra seasoning if you’re substituting this vegetable for broccoli rabe. The only downside to using bok choy is its leaves are not edible; they should be cut off before cooking.

3. Radicchio

Radicchio is a bitter leafy green often used as a salad green. It has a deep red color and a slightly peppery flavor. When shopping for radicchio, look for leaves that are crisp and free of brown spots.

Radicchio is also one of the best substitutes for broccoli rabe. This is because it has a similar flavor and can be used in many of the same dishes. 

The main difference between these two greens is their texture. Radicchio tends to be crunchier than broccoli rabe, so consider using this vegetable if you’re looking for a vegetable with more bite.

4. Lettuce Section

When it comes to leafy greens, plenty of substitutes for broccoli rabe can be used as a stand-in. Romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, and even kale are all good choices. 

If you’re looking for something a little bit more similar to broccoli rabe in terms of flavor, arugula or watercress are both excellent options.

For a more traditional substitute, try using bok choy or even spinach. These substitutes may not have the same flavor profile as broccoli rabe, but they will still do the trick!

5. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts look like miniature cabbages and have a similar taste to broccoli. They’re a great source of vitamins C and K and can be steamed, roasted, or sautéed.

Brussels sprouts are a good option if you’re looking for substitutes for broccoli rabe. Brussels sprouts are tiny in size and have a cabbage-like flavor.

They can be boiled, steamed, pan-fried, roasted, eaten alone, or as part of an entree. Brussels sprouts are also often served with other vegetables, meats, and pasta. 

Their vitamin content includes A, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), folate, C, and K. 

The top four benefits of Brussels sprouts include colon cancer and heart disease prevention. They have increased immune system function—reduction in LDL cholesterol levels. And weight loss due to their high fiber content.

6. Endives

Endives are great substitutes for broccoli rabe. They have a similar texture and taste, and they’re also packed with nutrients. Plus, they’re easy to find and usually cheaper than broccoli rabe. 

Here are endive recipes that’ll make you forget all about broccoli rabe. 

  • Mock Chopped Salad, A mix of greens and chopped veggies dressed in vinegar or oil, is often served as an appetizer. 
  • Tuscan Bread Salad: Tossing diced bread with greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and pine nuts before dressing it in vinaigrette is one way to enjoy a light Tuscan-style salad (from Cooking Light).
  • Steamed Greens: You could steam or saute your greens with garlic cloves or bacon bits for flavor! 
  • Cabbage Salads: Slice cabbage thin and dress them in any way you would typically dress broccoli rabe—with lemon juice and olive oil! 
  • Red Leaf Lettuce Wraps: Fill up crispy lettuce wraps by adding chicken or shrimp and veggies like onions, peppers, or mushrooms.

7. Turnip Greens

Turnip greens are a typical side dish in the southern United States and make an excellent substitute for broccoli rabe.

They have a similar flavor and texture and are just as nutritious. Plus, they’re widely available and easy to cook. 

Here’s how to do it: Rinse them well under running water. Trim off tough stems with a sharp knife, then chop them into small pieces.

Saute them over medium-high heat with olive oil until they turn bright green and brown slightly on the edges. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve warm or cold.

8. Cabbage

Cabbage is an excellent substitute for broccoli rabe. It has a similar texture and flavor and can be used in all the same dishes. Plus, it’s usually cheaper and easier to find than broccoli rabe.  

9. Chicory

If you’re looking for a vegetable with a similar flavor to broccoli rabe, chicory is a good option. It has a slightly bitter taste and is often used in salads or as a side dish. 

When shopping for chicory, look for heads that are fresh and crisp. Avoid any that are wilted or have brown spots. You can use chicory like broccoli rabe: sautéing it until tender or adding it to pasta sauce.

10. Watercress

The watercress is always my go-to substitute when I can’t find broccoli rabe at the store. It has a similar peppery flavor and slightly bitter taste, making it a perfect stand-in for broccoli rabe. Plus, watercress is loaded with nutrients like vitamins A and C, so it’s a healthy option too.  

11. Collard Greens

Collard greens are a dark, leafy green vegetable often used in Southern cooking. They taste slightly bitter and are usually cooked with ham or bacon to balance the flavors.

Collard greens can be used as substitutes for broccoli rabe in most recipes. Just cook them until they’re tender and proceed with the recipe as usual.


Overall, there are a few key things to remember when looking for substitutes for broccoli rabe. If you want a vegetable with a similar flavor profile, look for something bitter and sweet. Broccoli, Brussels excellent outs, and kale are all good options. 

For a more neutral-tasting vegetable, choose something from the cabbage family. And finally, if you’re looking for an alternative that’s both sweet and savory, try roasted carrots or beets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like