Swiss chard is divided into 2 parts – the leaves and the leaf blades (or stems). Each is prepared separately. The stem or central vein ranges from vivid greed, violet, pink, red, or yellow. The stem is chunky, thick, and takes longer to cook, but tastes celery-like and sweeter than the leaves.
The leaves are dark green, deeply grooved, and bumpy in appearance. It has a creamy, crunchy texture with a slightly bitter, smooth taste.
However, if you cannot find Swiss chard or it is not available, here are some substitutes you can consider straight away.
- Beet Greens
- Black Kale
- Bok Choy
- Broccoli Greens
- Brussel Sprouts
- Collard Greens
Read on if you are keen to find out how each substitute works best for your recipe. But first, let us understand more about this healthy leafy vegetable.
18 Best Substitute For Swiss Chard
Dark green, leafy vegetables are generally healthy. If you love leafy vegetables, either raw or cooked, you will surely love Swiss chard or more commonly called chard.
There is no real explanation why this vegetable native to Sicily is called Swiss chard, but this is a nutritious leafy vegetable.
Swiss chard contains Vitamins A, C, E, K, antioxidants, lutein, and beta-carotene. It helps reduce blood pressure, fight against cancer, and increase energy for physical activity.
In our list of substitute vegetables, we found Beet Greens to be the best substitute for Swiss chard.
Beet greens are not only cousins to Swiss chard, but they also share many similar characteristics. Read more below to learn why it is our best substitute overall.
Beet greens are most often ignored or discarded. The focus when cooking is usually on the beet itself. But did you know that beet greens contain more antioxidants than the root?
Beet greens are a cousin to Swiss chard and have many similar characteristics. It has the same edible vibrant green leaves and scarlet stems, although beet greens are smaller.
Beet greens have a more earthy taste but similar nutty and creamy flavor once cooked. The texture is crunchy, and the stems are large and tender.
Beet greens are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants. It has many benefits like helping lower blood pressure, boosting immunity, and strengthening bones.
Arugula is far from Swiss chard in appearance and texture. But, it is a leafy dark green from the cruciferous family of vegetables, which makes it a worthy substitute.
Arugula has distinct concave-shaped, thin, tender leaves with a tart, peppery, bitter taste. Young arugula leaves have a milder bitter taste and are usually used as toppings and salad ingredients.
It is rich in potassium, folate, vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamins C and K.
Black kale or Tuscan kale is an Italian variety of kale. It has a deep dark green color, almost black, which accounts for its name.
It has a crunchy, crispy texture with ruffled, open leaves with a nutty, slightly peppery flavor.
Black kale is fortified with the same nutrients as regular kale, and provides the same health benefits.
Bok Choy is a variety of Chinese cabbage widely used in Asian cuisine. Its dark green leaves and white stalks are the only similarities in appearance to Swiss chard.
However, Bok Choy has some similarities to Swiss chard, making them a good substitute. It can be eaten raw or cooked; it has a nutty flavor and a crispy and tender texture.
Another leafy green often overlooked is broccoli greens. Broccoli greens are the leaves that bed the broccoli florets. It is flat, spread wide, and large in size.
It has ruffled edges with a thin, fibrous stem and a similar appearance to collard greens. Broccoli leaves taste milder and sweeter compared to their florets.
It is rich in beta-carotene, fiber, vitamins A and C. It also contains minerals like calcium, iron, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and thiamin.
Since broccoli comes from the same family as kale and spinach, it can be another good reason as a substitute for Swiss chard.
Brussels sprouts are leafy, green vegetables with small compact heads. They look like mini versions of cabbages.
Brussels sprouts have a vegetal, slightly bitter, earthy flavor and are often cooked by pan-frying, sautéing, grilling, and roasting. Harvested during the cold months, they taste sweeter, but the sweetness also permeates the young Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts are a rich source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins C and K.
Another member of the cruciferous family is cabbage, a green, leafy vegetable that is often overlooked.
Its appearance is similar to lettuce but comes from the same family as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. It comes in many different shapes and colors with smooth to crinkled textures.
Cabbage is rich in minerals like calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and vitamins C and K.
Cabbage is slightly bitter and can be eaten raw or cooked. This makes it a good substitute for Swiss chard.
Calalou or Callaloo is a leafy, green plant with leaves almost similar in size but not in shape and texture to Swiss chard. It is widely used in Asian cuisine.
In Western cuisines, calalou is commonly cooked boiled, roasted, served as a side dish, and steamed with garlic. It comes from the same family as spinach, making it a worthy substitute for Swiss chard.
Calalou contains beneficial vitamins and minerals, but requires long cooking (45 to 60 minutes) to destroy the toxin calcium oxalate that can irritate the throat.
Collard greens are leafy, vibrant green vegetables related to kale, bok choy, and other cruciferous vegetables. It is similar to mustard greens in appearance, and has the same texture as cabbages.
Collard greens have the earthy, nutty, bittersweet flavor of Swiss chard, making it a worthy substitute. They can also be eaten cooked or raw.
It is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and calcium. It is rich in vitamin K and packed with iron, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
Yes, dandelion greens, like its flowers, are edible and a great source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals beneficial to the body.
The leaves have a mildly bitter taste but differ from Swiss chard in texture and appearance.
However, dandelion greens are not readily available in the market unless you grow them or buy them from farmers’ markets.
Escarole looks like a lettuce head with curly, wavy, short, widespread leaves. The outside leaves are chewy and bitter, but the interior leaves are tender and sweet, similar to Swiss chard.
Escarole is nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals beneficial to your health.
Kale is from the cruciferous family and has green and wrinkled leaves reminiscent of Swiss chard. It is also edible – cooked or raw – like Swiss chard.
Kale has a firm, dry, crunchy texture with a slightly bitter, earthy flavor.
It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and fiber, which benefit the body.
Kohlrabi is a cruciferous vegetable that has a similar appearance to beet (especially the purple kohlrabi). It is a bulbous vegetable with layers of rosette-like leaves.
It is like a tiny cabbage that tastes somewhat like radish and broccoli stems but smells like full-grown cabbage.
You can eat kohlrabi raw in salads, but it is fantastic cooked sautéed, creamed, roasted, stir-fried, or as an addition to curries, soups, and smoothies. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C that could help promote a healthy gut and boost immunity.
Mustard greens have the same leafy green and colorful stems as Swiss chard. While Swiss chard has grooved, bumpy leaves, mustard greens are curly.
It has the same peppery, creamy, slightly bitter flavor, but mustard greens have a deeper peppery taste. You can use it the same way you use Swiss chard because they taste almost the same, except for the nutty flavor you can find in Swiss chard.
Mustard green is rich in vitamin A and C that support body functions and help boost the immune system.[Source]
It may come as a surprise, but pumpkin leaves are actually edible and have similarities in taste with other green leafy greens.
The young pumpkin greens are best eaten raw as salad, and the mature ones are cooked in curries, stews, soups, and sautéed dishes. You can also use the mature leaves to wrap meat or fish for steaming or broiling.
Pumpkin leaves are nutritionally packed with calcium, folate, iron, vitamin A, antioxidants, and vitamins E and K. They are healthy, but should be consumed moderately. It contains toxins that could cause cucurbit poisoning.
Rhubarb is considered more fruit than vegetable. But its green leafy leaves and scarlet stems resembling Swiss chard are one reason that make it a good substitute.
However, only the scarlet stalks are edible. The leaves are said to contain poisonous toxins.
It has a sour, tangy flavor. Hence, it is often cooked with sweetener to reduce the strong taste.
Spinach is another leafy green that almost replicates the characteristics of Swiss chard. If you want the same tenderness, your best choice is young spinach, but mature spinach works best as a substitute.
Mature spinach has the same large, green leaves you can eat cooked or raw. It has the bitterness and creaminess of Swiss chard, although its leaves are less tender and thicker.
One of the best things about spinach, it is easy to find in the market compared to Swiss chard. It is a rich source of soluble fiber and packs all the essential vitamins and minerals.
It contains nitrates to help boost the immune system and antioxidants that can help fight oxidative stress.[Source]
You most probably cook the turnip root and discard the greens. Turnip greens are another one of those easily discarded and ignored greens. But turnip greens come from the same family as kale, making them a good substitute for Swiss chard.
Turnip greens have a biting taste, and the more mature it becomes, the more bitter they taste. Cooked turnip greens turn mild and soft in taste. You can consume both leaves and stems.
Turnip greens are rich in Vitamins A and C, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and fiber. The rich nutrients found in turnip greens can help improve health and prevent diseases.