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11 Nutritious Endive Substitute In Cooking A Healthy Meal

As an appetizer, endive is a good choice, and it is an excellent replacement for lettuce. You can add it to your stir-fry dishes, or you can simply grill it. It pairs well with poached eggs, green beans, and potato gratin.

But sometimes, you may have run out of endives or you can’t find any in your local grocery store. Likewise, some people don’t like the bitterness of endives. That’s not going to be a problem because there are other vegetables that you can use as substitutes.

  1. Radicchio
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Chicory
  5. Escarole
  6. Watercress
  7. Romaine Lettuce

A lot of us are familiar with romaine lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard, but there is one leafy green that is not as familiar, endives. A food magazine called it “a chip and a salad green at the same timeâ€. Endive is a member of the chicory family, which includes other members like radicchio, escarole, and frisée. [Source]

Do you know there are a few kinds of endive in the market?

11 Best Substitute For Endive

Endive Substitute

There are three kinds of endive:

  • Belgian endive – has pale yellow leaves with slightly curly edges. It’s like a small, cylindrical head of lettuce. It’s moderately bitter. It grows beneath the soil like mushrooms. Belgian endive is often used in salads and braised dishes. It can also be used as a side dish or appetizer.
  • Curly endive – is also known as frisée or chicory. It has a bushy head of curly greens. Its leaves have a lacy texture. It tastes slightly bitter that is more intense in the dark green leaves. It is used in salads.
  • Broad-leafed endive – is sometimes called escarole. This one is less bitter than the two others. Its light green inner leaves are used in salads. Its darker outer leaves are bitter and tougher and used in soups and other dishes. [Source]

Our best recommendation as substitutes specifically for Belgian endive is radicchio. Here are a few other recommendations you can consider.


Radicchio is a close relative of the chicory plant. It is commonly used in Italian cooking.

It is the best substitute for endive because they both have a slightly bitter taste, and they are similar in appearance. Red radicchio is often called red endive with white veins. Another popular variety is the green radicchio, and both are suitable as a replacement for endive in your favorite vegetable salad. You can also braise or roast radicchio.

It has a crunchy texture similar to lettuce. To replace the endive, slice one head of radicchio into thin pieces. For every one cup of endive needed in the recipe, use an equal amount of radicchio.

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Spinach is your best substitute for endive in soups and salads as it gives the same soft texture. Spinach has a mild flavor, which most people prefer over the strong bitter flavor of endive. It is a great source of Vitamin A and fiber.

For every one cup of chopped endive required in your recipe, use one cup of baby spinach. Take note that one cup of spinach contains more calories than one cup of endive, which only has about 30 calories.



Kale is another nutritious alternative to endive; however, you have to cook or season it differently. Kale doesn’t have the same bitter taste as endive. It also lacks complexity in terms of flavor. But it is more affordable and readily available in most supermarkets.

It is an ideal replacement for endive in soups. It is best used blanched. You can replace one cup of chopped endive with one cup of chopped kale. Kale is high in fiber and also contains protein. It is also an excellent antioxidant.


Chicory and endive belong to the same plant family. Their taste is also similar; hence, they are often interchangeable. Chicory leaves tend to be softer and tender than endive leaves which are a little tougher, crunchier, and crispier.

It resembles the appearance of arugula, though the side is more pointed, and it doesn’t have the same flavor. Aside from being slightly bitter, chicory has an earthy flavor.

It is rich in vitamin A, B vitamins, and vitamin K. One cup of kale contains about 23 calories. Use one cup of chicory leaves for every one cup of endive for your dishes. Take note that chicory leaves cook faster than endive. They are best sautéed than roasted.



Escarole is a kind of chicory. It has a bitter and fresh taste. It tends to be a little sweeter than endive, that kids may actually eat it. Escarole can be cooked like an endive. In Italian cooking, it is often mixed in pasta dishes and soups.

Escarole is rich in fiber. It is important to mention that a cup of escarole may contain 93 calories.

The ideal ratio is one cup of chopped escarole for every one cup of chopped endive.


Watercress is a favorite in making salads and sandwiches. While it tastes different from endive, it is still a good replacement. Some people are not fond of the sharp bitter taste of endive.

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It is slightly bitter, but it has a little peppery flavor. It also has an unexpectedly sweet flavor profile. It pairs well with tuna salad.

It makes an excellent alternative to endive in salad recipes. It has a completely different texture than endive, though. It is best consumed raw than cooked.

This leafy green plant grows in water. It is rich in essential vitamins like A, C, E, and B vitamins.

For every one cup of endive needed in your recipe, use one cup of watercress.

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce looks similar in appearance to endive. It also has the same crunch, but minus the sharp bitter taste of endive. It makes a good substitute for people who don’t enjoy the sharp flavor of endive. You can even serve a dish with romaine lettuce to your kids. Raw romaine lettuce is bitter, but a cooked variety is milder.

It is typically used in salads and is quite popular in Mediterranean cuisine. You can find red and green romaine lettuce in supermarkets. The shape varies from round to pointy. Romaine leaves are longer and darker than endive leaves. It is less expensive than endives.

Romaine lettuce is rich in vitamins K and A, and an excellent source of vitamin C.

You can simply chop one cup of romaine lettuce to replace one cup of endive in your favorite salad recipes.

Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage is easily available in your local grocery store, hence, a good replacement if you can’t find endives. It has a nice crunch to it and has a very subtle flavor compared to endives. It has a similar appearance to endive. It is also a cheaper alternative to endive.

It is crisp and tender, and adds a perfect crunch to dumplings, salads, and stir-fries. It is also a good endive alternative to soups. It also makes good kimchi, slaw, or stuffed in a wrap with meaty filling. You can also add them to your sandwiches.

Chop one cup of Napa cabbage to replace an equal amount of chopped endive.

Curly Lettuce

Curly Lettuce

Curly lettuce makes a good substitute for curly endive in salads and other raw food. They have the same curly leaves. For every one cup of curly endive required in your recipe, use one cup of chopped curly lettuce.


Arugula is another suitable replacement for curly endive. It has a similar bitter taste that is slightly peppery. A lot of people prefer the milder taste of arugula to the sharper taste of endive.

It has a similar appearance and texture to endive. Arugula is best served in a cold salad, like curly endive.

It is rich in vitamin B6, vitamin A, and vitamin C. For every one cup of endive, use one cup of arugula.

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Collard Greens

Collard Greens

Collard greens belong to the cabbage family. It has a few similarities with endive in terms of the flavor profile. Endive leaves are more delicate, though. Collard greens are a little sturdier and are perfect for stews, soups, and slow cooking recipes.

Endive Substitute Related FAQs

Can endives be eaten raw?

Yes, you can add raw endive to your salads. It also makes a great snack on its own. When raw, endive leaves are bitter and crunchy.

When cooked, its sharp flavor softens and becomes mild, sweet, and nutty. This is the reason why many people prefer cooked endives in soups and stews to salads with raw endive leaves.

Is endive expensive?

Yes, endives are quite expensive since the plant only produces a single head of about 5 inches in diameter and 6 inches in length. If this single head is harvested, it will never grow back.

The only way to grow more endive plants is to replant the root of each of the harvested plants.

It takes time and effort. Hence, most farmers do not want to go through all the trouble with a minimum yield. It’s also too expensive to grow them.

What are the benefits of eating endives?

Eating endives is healthy. It is low in calories and high in fiber. It helps in digestion, promotes stronger bones, and helps lower cholesterol levels.

It is also rich in folate which is good for brain health. Endive also contains vitamin A which is good for the eyes.

What is the best use for endives?

Endives are commonly used in salads, particularly curly endive since it is not as bitter as Belgian endives. Those curly leaves make salads look appetizing.

They are also often added to soup recipes. Endive leaves wilt when cooked, thus, giving out a lot of chicory taste to the dish.

You’ll also find recipes for stuffed endive leaves as the boat-shaped endive leaves are suitable for making little bowls.

Sautee some endive leaves and you have a hearty side dish. Grilled endive is a good partner to your roasted meats.

What is the best substitute for Belgian endive?

Belgian endive has elongated small heads that have light green to white leaves. They are typically grown in dark conditions like boxes and barrels.

The best substitutes for Belgian endive are radicchio which has the same bitter taste like arugula. You can use one cup of radicchio or arugula to replace one cup of endive in your recipe.