Arugula Substitute – 6 Delightful Stand-In Ingredients

Arugula, a salad green vegetable, tastes great in a variety of dishes like salads, soups, pizza, or sandwiches. The many health benefits of this green vegetable include reducing cancer risk, heart disease, and diabetes which makes this leafy vegetable all the more endearing.

This article brings home to you the best arugula substitute you can use in a pinch; also a brief overview of arugula including its taste profile and uses.

What is Arugula?

Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable, an aromatic salad green popularly used in Italian cuisines. Arugula’s popularity heavily hinges on its health benefits than its taste.

Is arugula the same as a rocket? Yes. It is also known as rocket, roquette, arugula, salad rocket, rucola, or Italian cress.

Like other vegetables from the cruciferous family like broccoli, kale, or Brussels sprouts, this leafy green also contains high levels of beneficial nutrients useful for health. In fact, arugula is an excellent and healthful addition to most diets.

Mostly the baby arugula is popularly used in cooking, especially as part of salad mix. The serrated variety, sometimes referred to as Italian wild arugula, is sparingly used in culinary dishes.

What Does Arugula Taste Like?

Green arugula with larger leaves taste peppery but the overblown arugula leaves can taste bitter. Fresh leaves of the common arugula have a distinctive spicy kick; their flavors can be bright, peppery, tart, or slightly bitter depending on their maturity. The Italian wild arugula has a more pronounced spicy and bitter flavor.

For some people, arugula tastes bad like dirt. Usually, the stale arugula can taste bad but the fresh leaves have a pleasant peppery taste with a mild note of bitterness.

Uses In Cooking

Arugula greens are primarily used as an accent in a fresh salad. It is a flavorful addition to pasta, rice, and potato dishes. You can also toss the leaves into salads, chopped and sprinkled over roasted meats, or use it as toppings over pizza or taco. The green leaves are often used as an edible garnish, or minced and mixed into dips, pesto, salsa, spreads, and dressings. Still, there are tons of more ways to use fresh green arugula in your cooking.

Is Arugula Bitter?

Arugula indeed has a bit of a tangy kick, all thanks to glucosinolates. These compounds not only give arugula a bit of a zing but also contribute to its slightly spicy taste.

The sharpness of this leafy green might change based on its type, how it’s grown, and how mature the leaves are — the older ones pack more of a punch in terms of bitterness.

While some relish arugula’s zesty flavor, others might find it overpowering. If you’re not keen on the sharp taste, there are tricks to tone it down. One quick fix is to plunge the leaves into boiling water for a moment, which can tame the bitterness.

Alternatively, tossing arugula in a tangy dressing or mixing it into a salad with robust ingredients like cheese or olives can balance out the flavors.

Is Arugula Low FODMAP?

Arugula gets a green light from Monash University, the top authority on FODMAP research, meaning it’s safe to eat as much as you like without upsetting your stomach.

Native to the Mediterranean, arugula packs a nutritional punch with vitamins K, A, C, and essential minerals like calcium and potassium. Its unique peppery flavor is a hit in raw salads and adds a twist to cooked dishes like stir-fries and soups.

On a low FODMAP diet? Arugula won’t cause you any trouble. Just remember to give it a good rinse to clean off any grit or particles.

Best Arugula Substitutes

Arugula is a great addition to salads and cooked dishes. Some relish its taste but there are others who don’t enjoy it. Also, this green vegetable is not available throughout the world. You may want to have an arugula substitute for any reason. If you are thinking of a replacement, then consider one of the following vegetables.

1. Watercress

Watercress belongs to the Brassicaceae family of plants like arugula. Its small, round leaves and edible stems have a peppery, slightly spicy flavor very much akin to arugula.

First of all, the identical flavor is what makes Watercress a useful replacement for arugula. Secondly, these two cruciferous vegetables have a similar appearance and their leaves are used in the same way in culinary cooking. Both of them have a somewhat similar nutritional profile as well.

Use arugula and watercress interchangeably in any dish that calls for either of them. Note, that watercress is a bit delicate than arugula, and it gets mushy quickly when subjected to high-heat cooking.

2. Purslane

The mustard-like bite of purslane makes it a possible substitute for arugula. However, the succulent leaves of this plant have quite a different texture in comparison to arugula. Still, purslane works well in most recipes that call for arugula.

Similarly, purslane has a rich nutritional profile like the arugula that makes it even more of a worthy alternative.

3. Spinach

Spinach has superior nutritional benefits in comparison to arugula. This dark, leafy green vegetable is also ubiquitously found everywhere and this makes spinach an easy replacement option for arugula.

Plus, spinach is a versatile leafy vegetable that is a good complement to most dishes. A mild, slightly sweet taste of spinach is more acceptable to most people than the peppery, bitter flavor of arugula.

Of course, people who love the harsh taste of arugula may not appreciate the mellowed flavor of spinach. The broader and oval-shaped leaves of spinach may alter the texture of recipes that call for arugula.

4. Frisee

Frisee, also known as curly endive, belongs to the chicory family of plants. This dark green leafy vegetable is a nice addition to salad blends. Plus, the slightly bitter flavor of frisee has a comparable likeness to arugula.

The delicate texture of frisee leaves may not do well in cooked dishes but works well for garnish and in salads.

5. Escarole

Escarole is a leafy green vegetable and a member of the chicory family along with Belgian endive and frisée. In its raw state, it is mildly bitter like arugula. This leafy vegetable has good nutritional values like arugula, especially, rich in folate and vitamins K and A. Use Escarole to replace arugula in salads, soups, and stews but not in fried dishes.

6. Radicchio

Radicchio is the purple cousin of Escarole with the very same flavors and uses in cooking. Its white-veined and red wine-colored leaves are very different from green arugula. It is the spicy, slightly bitter flavor of radicchio that makes this chicory vegetable a suitable arugula substitute. Like arugula, raw radicchio is a delightful addition to salads and a tasty topping for a taco. You can also use roasted or grilled radicchio to flavor sandwiches, pasta, or pizza.

How to Dehydrate Arugula?

Drying out arugula locks in its taste and goodness for future use. Follow these simple steps to dehydrate arugula:

What you’ll need:

  • Fresh arugula
  • A dehydrator or oven
  • Parchment paper
  • A bowl
  • A mortar and pestle or a food processor


  1. Start by rinsing the arugula well to get rid of any dirt.
  2. Dry the leaves using paper towels or a cloth.
  3. Take the stems off the arugula leaves.
  4. For a dehydrator, spread the leaves out on the trays. Set it to 115°F (46°C) and let the arugula dry for 4-6 hours until they’re crispy.
  5. For an oven, warm it to the lowest heat, around 170°F (77°C). Line a tray with parchment paper, lay the leaves flat, and prop the oven door open a bit. The arugula should take 2-3 hours to dry out.
  6. Crumble the dried arugula into a powder with a mortar and pestle or a food processor.
  7. Keep the powdered arugula in a sealed container in a cool, shaded place, and it’ll last for months.

Arugula vs Kale

Arugula and kale stand out as nutrient-rich greens, each bringing its own unique set of tastes, textures, and health perks to the table.


  • Taste: It’s known for its spicy, somewhat bitter edge.
  • Texture: Its leaves are soft and fine.
  • Nutritional profile: Loaded with vitamins K, A, and C, it’s also a source of calcium, potassium, and iron.
  • Health Benefits: Arugula comes packed with antioxidants, fighting cell damage, and its nitrates may boost blood flow and lower blood pressure.


  • Taste: Kale offers a pronounced, earthy flavor.
  • Texture: Its leaves are more rigid and crisp.
  • Nutritional profile: Packed with vitamins A, C, and K, along with calcium, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber.
  • Benefits: Like arugula, kale is rich in antioxidants and its fiber content supports digestive health and can aid in weight management.

Which is better?

It boils down to what you fancy. If a spicy bite and soft leaves are your things, go for arugula. Prefer something with a bold taste and crunchy texture? Kale’s your green. Whichever you pick, you’re fuelling your body with a heap of nutrients and health benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is arugula low histamine?

Arugula is often seen as a food that doesn't have much histamine, making it a good choice for those who react to histamine. It doesn't cause the body to release much histamine nor does it turn into histamine in the body.

Where to find arugula Fae Farm?

Arugula grows at Fae Farm in the spring, especially in Verdant Valley. Search for tiny, dark green leaves on the ground. It also pops up near your home once you finish the "Tidying Up" quest.

Can arugula cause diarrhea?

Some folks might get diarrhea from arugula due to a compound it has called sulforaphane, which can upset sensitive stomachs.

Can you put arugula in chicken soup?

Yes, you can add arugula to chicken soup for a peppery kick. Just toss it in right before you serve it because it wilts fast when it's heated up.

Can you put arugula in a smoothie?

Absolutely, arugula can go into a smoothie. Its peppery taste is great for mixing with sweet fruits and veggies to balance the flavors.

How to make arugula less bitter?

To make arugula taste less bitter, try quickly boiling it, mix it with a tangy vinaigrette, or combine it in salads with ingredients like cheese or nuts. Cooking it with garlic or in soups softens the bitterness, and younger leaves are naturally milder. Soaking in cold water also helps.

Can you put arugula in an omelette?

Sure, arugula can be added to an omelette for a spicy twist and it's packed with vitamins and minerals too!

Why does arugula taste so bad?

Arugula tastes strong and a bit bitter because it has natural chemicals called glucosinolates. Whether it tastes good or not can differ from person to person. Also, the taste changes with different types, growing ways, and leaf age—young leaves are less bitter.

Are arugula flowers edible?

Yes, arugula flowers can be eaten. They taste like the leaves—peppery and a little bitter—and you can eat them fresh, toss them in salads, or use them to decorate your dishes.

Final Thoughts

Watercress, spinach, kale, radicchio, endive, romaine, butter lettuce, mustard greens, and bok choy can replace arugula in cooking, matching for peppery notes or texture.

Watercress and radicchio share arugula’s pepperiness, suitable for salads and sandwiches, while spinach and kale offer milder or earthy tones for soups and stir-fries.

Texture-wise, romaine and butter lettuce are milder for wraps, whereas mustard greens and bok choy bring a peppery or mild cabbage-like flavor to various dishes.

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