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Endive substitute: 4 alternatives that are probably in your kitchen already

Endive substitute: 4 alternatives that are probably in your kitchen already

Have you been craving for a delicious salad and all geared to make one until you found out that you’ve just run out of endive? This curly lettuce is perhaps the star of a salad because of the flavor and crunch it provides. For that reason, letting go and disregarding this ingredient is quite challenging.

However, there are multiple substitutes that are probably present in your pantry, which you can use instead of endive. Take a look at this special guide, which will highlight each of them. Depending on what dish you’re making, you can use any of these endive replacements.

Substitute GreenRatio to Replace EndiveRatio to Replace Endive
Arugula1:1Salads; best used fresh, not in cooked dishes
Radicchio1:1Salads, dishes where a less bitter taste is acceptable
Watercress1:1Raw in cold dishes like salads and sandwiches
Chicory Leaves1:1Salads; slightly less bitter, similar texture to endive
A close-up photo of a rustic wooden bowl filled with a salad made endive and radish.

What is endive?

Before I delve into these endive substitutes, let’s first examine this ingredient and understand what it is.

Endive is a type of leafy green and is a member of the chicory family, which typically includes radicchio, escarole, frisee, and curly endive. It has a thick and crunchy texture, which is similar to curly lettuce. The flavor of endive leaves can be best described as being sweet and nutty with a hint of pleasant bitterness. 

These leaves are pretty tricky to grow, which is why endives can be so hard to find at local grocery stores. They have to be grown in certain conditions, such as in the dark, similar to that of the mushroom growing process.

The strenuous growing procedure is perhaps what contributes to the delicious and unique flavor of endive leaves. 

Endive comes in two types; Belgian endive and curly endive. These leaves have the perfect taste when served either cooked or raw.

Endive substitutes

1. Arugula

If you’re making a salad and need an endive replacement, you can use arugula. This leafy green is similar to the taste of endive but does not have the same bitter taste. 

However, arugula wilts pretty quickly, so you might want to use a lot of them in your salad. Moreover, it’s not recommended to use these in dishes that require cooking, such as in soups.

To use arugula as a substitute, simply add one cup of arugula if you have to use one cup of endive. However, if you feel that there aren’t enough leafy greens in your salad, you can add more of them.

  • Ratio: Use a 1:1 ratio, one cup of arugula for one cup of endive.
  • Usage: Ideal in salads; arugula wilts quickly, so it’s best used fresh and not in cooked dishes.

2. Radicchio

Radicchio belongs to the same family as the chicory family, which is why they also taste similar to each other. However, radicchio doesn’t have the same bitterness as endives. 

So, if bitterness is not an issue for you, you can use radicchio instead of endive.

To use radicchio, add one cup of radicchio if the recipe calls for one cup of endives.

  • Ratio: Substitute radicchio for endive in a 1:1 ratio.
  • Usage: Suitable for salads and dishes where a less bitter taste compared to endive is acceptable.

3. Watercress

Though they taste slightly different from endives, they have a milder flavor, which works well as an endive substitute in salads. They are best to use raw and not cooked so that you can use these leafy greens in cold dishes such as salads and sandwiches.

Simply add the same amount of watercress in your dish as the recipe directs for endive. For example, if the recipe calls for one cup of endive, you can use one cup of watercress instead.

  • Ratio: Use watercress in the same amount as endive, 1:1.
  • Usage: Best used raw in cold dishes like salads and sandwiches, as it has a milder flavor.

4. Chicory Leaves

Since endives belong to the family of chicory, they have a slightly similar taste to chicory leaves. However, the latter is a bit less bitter. They have the same texture as arugula or rocket but may differ in taste. For that reason, chicory leaves can be a great addition to a salad. 

To use chicory leaves instead of endives in your salad, simply use them in a ratio of 1:1. So, if the recipe wants you to use one cup of endives, you can alternatively use one cup of chicory leaves.

  • Ratio: Use chicory leaves in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for endive.
  • Usage: Great for salads; chicory is slightly less bitter than endive but has a similar texture.

The bottom line

When it comes to endive substitutes, it’s relatively easy to find one. Most leafy greens do have much of the same taste.
However, it’s likely that these subs won’t have the same bitter taste unique to endive leaves. Remember to use the same amount of whichever greens you use, and gradually add more to reach the same flavor and crunchiness you want.

Endive substitute

Endive substitute

Four of the best endive substitutes are revealed. Here’s how you can use one of them.


  • Arugula


  1. Choose arugula as an endive substitute
  2. Add one cup of arugula if you have to use one cup of endive.
  3. if you feel that there aren’t enough leafy greens in your salad, you can add more of them.

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A close-up photo of a Belgian endive on a cutting board.

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