9 Broccoli Rabe Substitutes You Should Try

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Sauteed broccoli rabe with some stir-fried vegetables is a great meal. Broccoli rabe is not just a delicious addition to soups; it’s also very nutritious. But what if you run out of it? Do you run to the market or look for alternatives. If your answer is the latter, then you’re in luck. Today let’s discuss the best broccoli rabe substitutes.

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe is a very delicious addition to any meal. However, sometimes when we need it the most, we might not have it. What to do in such a situation? I’ll say look for some broccoli rabe substitute.

Is broccoli a good broccoli rabe substitute? Well, you’d assume that, but actually, it is not. Instead, you can use spinach, kale, turnip greens, endives, or Chinese broccoli as a broccoli rabe substitute.

Many of you might have used this ingredient or at least tasted it in a soup. But if you are someone who is new to this ingredient, read the next session. It contains all the information about broccoli rabe. 

Quick Peek: Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe

This section contains all the information about broccoli rabe. It contains information about broccoli rabe, its flavor, uses, health benefits, and much more.

What Is Broccoli Rabe?

A member of the cruciferous family, broccoli rabe is a green, leafy vegetable. Despite having the word “broccoli” in its name, this vegetable is more akin to turnips and mustard greens in terms of flavor and nutritional value.

Rapini or raab are two common names for broccoli rabe. It has long been the main ingredient in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. However, because of its nutritional value, it is currently gaining popularity worldwide.

Broccoli rabe is a complete plant that includes leaves, stems, and buds. These components are all eatable and simple to prepare. They can be steamed or simply sautéed in butter before being added to your recipe.

Describing Broccoli Rabe: Flavor And Texture

The flavor of broccoli rabe is bitter and nutty. Its flavor is comparable to turnips and mustard greens. It is not frequently used as a raw component in any meal due to its bitter taste. But you can add tender broccoli rabe leaves to your salad if you’d like.

Even though most people like the bitter taste of broccoli rabe, some people can’t stand it. The bitterness of these foods can be somewhat diminished by cooking them with lime juice and vinegar.

It’s common to think that broccoli rabe is a type of broccoli. Even though these plants have a mild bitterness, rabe and broccoli have significantly different flavors and come from two separate plant families.

Uses Of Broccoli Rabe

Italian cuisine frequently uses broccoli rabe as an ingredient. This plant’s bitter flavor gives the dish a great flavor. Before adding broccoli rabe to many meals, it is frequently sautéed in oil to lessen the bitterness.

You may cook with broccoli rabe in its entire state. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes pair nicely with it. If you don’t mind the bitter taste, you can add it to soups and salads.

Additionally, it can be added to recipes like frittatas in puree form. Even sandwiches use it as a raw vegetable. Whatever you do, always combine them with sweeter veggies to balance out their harshness.

Broccoli Rabe On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Have you ever wondered how broccoli rabe ended up in our food even though it is so bitter? What might be the cause of that? I think the nutritional benefits are the main factor.

Vitamin A is abundant in broccoli rabe. As many of you may already know, vitamin A is excellent for maintaining eye health and vision. Broccoli rabe is surely one of many green veggies that contain it.

Regarding specific antioxidants, broccoli rabe is likewise regarded as a powerhouse. As a result, it works well to combat free radicals in the body and shields our bodies from the risk of developing cancer.

In addition, broccoli rabe is a fantastic provider of magnesium and potassium. Additionally, it has a lot of potent nutrients and boosts the body’s immunity.

Why Use A Substitute For Broccoli Rabe?

While reading the article, this question may have crossed your mind a few times. If broccoli rabe is this amazing, why would I want to replace it? There are a few causes for this.

First and foremost, you’ve come looking for a replacement. It could be that you’ve run out of broccoli rabe or are allergic to it. Such scenarios can occur with anyone, and we must be prepared with our substitutes in such situations.

Second, even if we enjoy mild bitterness, we won’t be able to handle the bitterness this ingredient has to offer! That’s where a broccoli rabe alternative comes in handy.

Finally, why go to the market when you can cook your dish using something you already have in your pantry?

I hope I’ve provided you with sufficient information regarding broccoli rabe. Let’s get down to the crux of this article: the best broccoli rabe substitutes!

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

9 Best Broccoli Rabe Substitutes

I hope the above session has given you a fair idea about broccoli rabe. Now let us look into each of its substitutes.

1. Mustard Greens


Mustard greens have a slightly bitter taste with a peppery flavor and can be used as a broccoli rabe substitute in most dishes.

Even though broccoli rabe has broccoli in its name, when it comes to flavor, mustard green has the closest flavor profile. Just like broccoli rabe, mustard green can be sauteed or used as it is with curries and gravies.

Mustard greens are an ideal broccoli rabe substitute if you are cooking some pasta or sauteed vegetables. Mustard green not just reciprocates the taste of broccoli rabe, but it is also similar in nutritional value to that of broccoli rabe.

2. Turnip Greens

Turnip Greens

Turnips and broccoli rabe belong to the same family and have a similar flavor profile. But unlike broccoli rabe, turnip greens are not completely bitter. It comes with a dose of peppery sweet taste along with bitterness.

However, the young and aged turnip plants have a taste difference. While the younger version of the plant is milder and has a more bitter taste, the matured plant has a more peppery taste.

Therefore while using turnip greens as a broccoli rabe substitute, try using young turnip greens to get a similar flavor profile.

3. Collard Greens


Collard greens belong to the cabbage family. It has a mildly bitter taste, but its bitter taste mellows once cooked and hence can be used as a broccoli rabe substitute.

Collard Greens are referred to as the leaves of collard plants. They have large leaves and tough stems. Often this stem is removed before cooking. Collard green can be a good replacement for broccoli rabe in pasta and as a side dish for meat dishes.

4. Chinese Broccoli 

Chinese Broccoli

Chinese broccoli has a slightly bitter and earthy taste and is widely used in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. This taste is very similar to broccoli rabe and hence can be a good broccoli rabe substitute.

Chinese broccoli is also known as Gai Lan, Chinese kale, and Jie Lan. even though both these plants are ideal replacements for each other, Chinese broccoli looks very different from the broccoli rabe.

Chinese broccoli, just like broccoli rabe, is very nutrient-dense. However, Chinese broccoli tastes better once steamed or after a stir fry. It can be used as a broccoli rabe substitute in any dishes that call for broccoli rabe.

5. Endives


Endives are green leafy vegetables and have an earthy, mildly bitter taste. It is less bitter when compared to broccoli rabe. However, it can be used as a broccoli rabe substitute.

Endives are lightly sweet and are very fresh. It has a crunchy texture, and it goes well in most salads. However, endives become sweeter when it cooks and lose their bitter taste.

When choosing endives as a broccoli rabe substitute, choose young endive as the older it gets develops more of a bitter taste and won’t fit as a broccoli rabe substitute.

6. Dandelion Green


Dandelion greens like broccoli rabe have a sharp and bitter flavor. Therefore it can be used as a broccoli rabe substitute.

Dandelion green is extremely nutritious. It is a great source of many nutritional elements. While choosing dandelion greens as a broccoli rabe substitute, always choose the young leaves, and the matured leaves are overly bitter.

7. Kale


Kale has a dry and crunchy texture. It has a mildly bitter taste. Kale, just like broccoli rabe, is a source of many vital nutrients and can be used as a broccoli rabe substitute. 

Kale can be an ideal broccoli rabe substitute in salads. If you dislike the bitter taste of broccoli rabe and want to include some vegetable that is as nutrient-rich as that of broccoli rabe, go for kale.

Kale will work great in pasta and well as in salads. 

8. Spinach 


Spinach has a mildly bitter flavor, just like that of broccoli rabe. It is extremely rich in vitamin A, and thus it can be regarded as a good broccoli rabe substitute.

Spinach is a staple in Indian and South Asian cooking and can be easily found in any supermarket. They can be added to salads, pasta, or as a side dish for meat dishes. 

If you cannot stand the extreme bitterness of broccoli rabe, spinach is for you. You can swap them for any recipes that call for broccoli rabe, and you can add them to your pizza topping.

9. Escarole


Escarole is a vegetable that looks similar to lettuce and has a flavor profile just like that of broccoli rabe. Escarole has a fresh crunchy bitter taste and can be used as a broccoli rabe substitute.

Escarole has layers of leaves. When the inner is mild and slightly bitter, the outer leaves are matured and have a very sharp bitter flavor. Thus the outer leaves are an ideal broccoli rabe substitute.

However, if you cannot handle the strong bitter taste of escarole, you can always use its inner tender leaves as a broccoli rabe substitute. 

Short Recap For Best Broccoli Rabe Substitutes

Not a very long list of substitutes for broccoli rabe, but still a decent enough list that will work in all recipes. So, I am sure you must have gone through them all by now. But, I will break it down for you to make it easier to pick your substitute. 

Best Easily Available Broccoli Rabe Substitutes:

  1. Mustard Greens
  2. Spinach

Most Suitable Broccoli Rabe Substitutes:

  1. Turnip Greens

Substitute Options To Consider Last:

  1. Kale

How To Use Broccoli Rabe Substitutes In Recipes

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe Substitutes

Rapini or raab are two common names for broccoli rabe. It has long been the main ingredient in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. However, because of its nutritional value, it is gaining popularity all over the world. But if you are out of broccoli rabe, you can always use one of its substitutes.
5 from 2 votes


  • Mustard Greens
  • Turnip Greens
  • Collard Greens
  • Chinese Broccoli
  • Endives
  • Dandelion Green
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Escarole


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Last Thoughts

I’m sure you’ve already decided on your preferred broccoli rabe alternative that you’ve read the fast summary. Though broccoli rabe has a distinct flavor, it is not difficult to replace.

All of the substitution options work incredibly well in place of broccoli rabe. Simply use them in the recipes that have been suggested, and I am confident that you will be happy with the results!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I substitute broccoli for broccoli rabe?

Broccoli rabe is more bitter than broccoli. Broccoli doesn’t taste similar to broccoli rabe however when it comes to nutritional values both are great and can be used interchangeably.

Is broccoli rabe the same as mustard greens?

No broccoli rabe and mustard greens are two different plants.

Are rapini and broccoli rabe the same thing?

Yes. Rapini is just another name for broccoli rabe.

How do you make broccoli rabe not taste bitter?

Broccoli rabe has a bitter taste and the taste can be slightly reduced by cooking it with some lemon or cooking it for a long time. However, you cannot totally get rid of the bitter taste.

Can you eat all parts of rapini?

Yes. All parts of the rapini are edible.

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