When you suddenly crave for salad or slaw or simply want to roast some kohlrabi, it should be available in American grocery stores all year. You can find this not-so-popular vegetable on market shelves along with other cruciferous vegetables.
Kohlrabi is cousin to broccoli and cabbage, and you can see their similarities from their leaves. This vegetable is edible from the leaves to the roots.
Kohlrabi is so versatile that its flavor shines, depending on the recipe you want to cook. When eaten raw, this turnip-like vegetable has a mild, peppery, earthy taste with a crispy texture with a pungent smell that you can remove by blanching.
But what if you suddenly cannot find it on the usual place on the market shelf? Fortunately, we have a long list of substitutes for kohlrabi bulbs and leaves that you can use for your favorite kohlrabi recipe.
Finding The Best Substitute For Kohlrabi
To be a kohlrabi substitute, it should fit kohlrabi in the recipe. You are looking for a vegetable, not necessarily a cruciferous one, which is crunchy upon biting and soft on the inside when cooked.
You want it to have a hint of sweetness when cooked and one that you can pair with cucumber or zucchini when raw. Additionally, you want the substitute to be as versatile as kohlrabi as you can eat it cooked and raw.
As we skim through this list of properties, we found the top three substitutes for kohlrabi recipes. That would be broccoli stems, radishes, and green turnips. Now, that’s only three of them, and we have more than that on this list. As a bonus, we’d also include substitutes for kohlrabi leaves.
If there’s any vegetable more similar to kohlrabi’s taste and texture, that would be broccoli stems. They have thick skin, crispy to bite but soft, tender, and juicy from the inside.
And even though the broccoli stems are not a bit spicy or sweeter, they are still fit for stir-frying, steaming, and roasting. You can eat them raw or cooked with their mild flavor, and broccoli stems would fit any kohlrabi salad or creamy soup.
Or, if you like the simplicity of raw kohlrabi, peel off the tough skin and slice them into strips. Drizzle it with some olive oil and a sprinkle with salt, and you can bite into that kohlrabi-like taste in your mouth within a few minutes.
Turnip and kohlrabi come from the brassica vegetable family, and they love interchanging with each other’s recipe. Although kohlrabi is a bit softer than turnips and doesn’t taste quite as sharp, they still have that similarity in taste, and you can use turnips for any kohlrabi recipe.
Turnips are crunchy and require more time to soften when cooking, but it’s the perfect substitute for chunky and creamy kohlrabi soups. It becomes soft and fits any buttery recipe as kohlrabi.
And like kohlrabi, you can use them for side dishes and salads, and take advantage of their crispness. Grate them over your kohlrabi meals so you can have sharp-tasting toppings. Moreover, kohlrabi and turnips are great for steamed, boiled, and sautéed dishes.
What makes radish more similar to kohlrabi is that the latter turns sweetness into a more radish-bitter taste. It becomes bitter when kohlrabi undergoes some chemical changes as it gets old.
You can interchange radish with kohlrabi for salads and pickles as they both taste great when sliced thinly and sprinkled with salt. Add some butter, and you can later munch that crunchy snack.
You can substitute radish with cabbage-carrot slaw in miso dressing, and it would still taste much like kohlrabi. The distinct similarity of the two lies in their crisp-crunchy texture when raw and soft bite when cooked.
The taste of rutabaga sits in between kohlrabi and turnip. It has a crisp-crunchy bite, and you can compare its sweetness to the sweetness of kohlrabi.
And just like turnips and kohlrabi, rutabaga is great for grated toppings or thinly-sliced for coleslaws. What makes it even more similar to kohlrabi is the earthy, peppery, buttery sweet flavor that you would love for creamy kohlrabi soups or stews.
If there is any difference in their taste, rutabaga is much bitterer than kohlrabi, making it great for salads or pickled kohlrabi recipes. And if you still can’t get enough of it, even its leaves can substitute for kohlrabi leaves recipes. Use it for toppings, or simply add more rutabaga leaves into your salad with grated zest to create more punch to your kohlrabi recipe.
Celeriac is the bulb root part of a celery plant. It has a rather funny-looking feature with rough and thick skin edges that hides its white flesh that is tender and chewy when cooked.
We love how we can compare it to kohlrabi, and turnips have much more similarity in taste to celeriac. As expected, it tastes earthy and peppery, and it fits well for creamy savor kohlrabi soups. You can compare it to potatoes. However, celeriac is less starchy.
Another characteristic of celeriac that you can compare with kohlrabi is its crispy, crunchy, cabbage-raw-like taste. Additionally, celeriac makes a perfect substitute for kohlrabi dishes such as stews, blanches, salad shreds, and kohlrabi roasts.
Parsnips come from the family of carrots, and it still makes a great addition to our kohlrabi substitute list. The elongated root vegetable has an earthy, slightly nutty, and starchy taste after cooking.
However, what we love about it as a substitute for kohlrabi is it releases its natural sugar sweetness when cooked or roasted. When combining the earthy taste and sweetness, you will have a replacement for pureed, boiled, steamed, and raw kohlrabi recipes we love.
However, preparing parsnips cannot be so handy. You have to soak it in water with lemon juice to avoid oxidation, where parsnips react to oxygen and clean it thoroughly with a brush. [Source]
Another thing to note is that parsnips may have woody insides, so pick the young ones by trimming the ends and see if it has much of the woody flesh. Nevertheless, boiling it will give you a starchy dish that you can mix with your mashed recipe, and have a taste of its sweet, earthy flavor that we love from kohlrabi.
If you are craving for kohlrabi slaw and somehow it is not available on the market, you can always use cabbage. Cabbage has the perfect crispy and crunchy texture, and a much richer flavor that you love in any kohlrabi salad.
Whisk up those julienned cabbages with honey, mustard, olive oil, and apple cider to pair with sliced red onions and parsley. Sprinkle it with hazelnuts, and you’ll have your favorite kohlrabi slaw to munch in under fifteen minutes.
And cabbage not only goes for kohlrabi slaws, but it also goes for kohlrabi stir-fried, salad, and soup recipes. So if it is not around and you have cabbage on the fridge, go ahead and shred, slice, or julienne-chop it for your kohlrabi recipe.
Kohlrabi and potatoes do not taste the same. However, you can use them interchangeably in pureed soups. Bake kohlrabi roasted in the oven and boil it to blend later. You can also cook it with potatoes.
However, it is not usually a good idea to eat raw potatoes, so you are left to substitute them for roasted, mashed, or chunky vegetable kohlrabi soups. Potatoes are bitter when raw and starchy when cooked. [Source]
When you can’t find kohlrabi in the grocery, use potatoes and sauté it over white onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Bring it to a boil in vegetables, and simmer it until you can finally pour it over to your immersion blender. Potatoes make nice puree for a creamy soup, which is what we also love with kohlrabi.
Jicama has a mildly sweet, juicy, and nutty flavor that is refreshing to taste buds due to its moisture content. It has quite a satisfying crunch that can make up for kohlrabi slaws.
Also called Mexican turnip, you can boil, steam, fry, or sauté this root vegetable. However, you would love it even without dipping, as you can eat it raw directly after being peeled. Slice it into strips, and you can add it to your platters and salads.
You can use jicama for your favorite kohlrabi salads. Toss thinly sliced jicamas with cabbage, celery, carrot, and onion, and dress it with mayo, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
If you’re craving for kohlrabi chips, you can use Swiss chard instead. You would usually bake kohlrabi greens until crisp with vegetable oil, salt, and pepper.
But if you cannot find kohlrabi leaves in the market, as they usually remove the leaves before putting them on the market shelves, Swiss chard can satisfy your cravings.
These colorful greenies have a similar taste to beet greens or spinach, and you can substitute them for your kohlrabi leaves-potato puree soup.
And if you still can’t get enough of it, sauté Swiss chards with bacon, garlic, and scallions, and spice it with vinegar. You can then enjoy a sautéed kohlrabi recipe replaced with the tender greens of Swiss chards.
Whether you love crisp-baked kohlrabi leaves, steamed or sautéed, you can always use collard greens. Collard greens, albeit tougher to cook and more bitter, are still a considerable replacement for kohlrabi leaves.
You can toss collard greens into a creamy soup, top it sliced into thin strips over pasta and olive oil, or sauté it just as you would with kohlrabi greens. And if you clean it thoroughly and massage thin slices of collard greens, it’s an unbelievably great addition to your usual kohlrabi greens salad.
Surprisingly, you can store collard greens in the fridge for five days. Just make sure to store it unwashed inside a plastic bag to keep its freshness and crispness when you are ready to substitute them for kohlrabi leaves. [Source]
Malabar spinach can make a punchy replacement for your kohlrabi salads. Its leaves are slightly thick and would make an appropriate replacement, with peppery and citrus notes, for kohlrabi leaves in creamy soups and stir-fry recipes.
It has a bit slimy texture and can make a great thickening agent for pureed cream soups. You would love its tender and juicy accents for kohlrabi salads when raw.
Interestingly, the Malabar spinach is not spinach at all. Though it tastes like spinach, you can make its flavor shine in salads by cleaning the leaves thoroughly under running water, and tearing the large leaves to slice for later.