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Korean Radish Substitute: The List, Tips + FAQ

Korean Radish Substitute: The List, Tips + FAQ

Korean radish, also known as mu, is a zesty root vegetable that is used in many of our favorite Korean dishes. If you can’t find Korean radish locally, you’ll need a Korean radish substitute, and we have a few suggestions here.

Some alternatives to Korean radish include daikon, watermelon radish, white turnips, jicama, horseradish, and water chestnuts.

Korean radish is crisp and peppery and often found in many common Korean dishes such as kimchi, pickled radish, or salads.

A lot of dishes require this specific vegetable, but whether you cannot find it in your local grocery store or have an allergy to this type of radish, the good news is that there are plenty of substitutes depending on the dish you are preparing.

When selecting your substitute, it is important to consider the flavor and texture of the dish you are cooking.

You want to make sure your substitute balances out the parts of the mu that shine in the original recipe.

Some substitutes, like daikon, have a similar texture and flavor, making it suitable for many different types of Korean recipes.

Jicama, on the other hand, has a mild flavor and different texture, so it isn’t always the best choice for substituting Korean radish.

Each of the listed substitutes has its own pros and cons when it comes to replacing Korean radish, so be mindful as you select your substitute.

A close-up view of a cluster of korean radishes nestled in a weathered green plastic crate.

What is a Korean Radish?

This white radish is a staple ingredient in Korean cuisine and is used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, salads, and, most popular, kimchi.

When browsing your local Asian grocery store, you will look for a short, wide root vegetable with a light green, leafy top, and a white bottom.

Make sure to look for one that is firm with smooth skin, avoiding the ones that feel soft or have blemishes on the surface.

All parts of this radish are edible, including the leaves on top.

Korean radish has a slightly sweet and peppery flavor. It is less pungent than other radishes but will still have the refreshing crunch we are used to. When it comes to texture, it is crisp and juicy with a slightly fibrous feel in your mouth.

As mentioned, Korean radish is a main ingredient in the ever-popular dish of kimchi, which features fermented vegetables.

This delicious radish is also popular in soups and stews to help thicken broth and add flavor and texture to the dish.

When added to salads, it can be pickled or marinated to add some crunch and a peppery taste. Other dishes, such as bibimbap, may use Korean radish as a garnish.

Common Korean Radish Substitutes

When substituting for Korean radish, start with a small amount and taste it, so you get a feel for the flavor and texture of the substitute.


Daikon is one of the most ideal substitutes for Korean radish since it has a similar flavor and texture.

It looks like a long white carrot, so if you are able to locate these in the grocery store, you are in luck.

It shares the mild sweetness and peppery flavor of Korean radish, as well as the crunchy texture that makes biting into Korean radish so enjoyable.

Keep in mind that this is slightly sweeter and less peppery than Korean radish, so spices may need to be adjusted when cooking with daikon instead of Korean radish.

Watermelon Radish

Named after their green exterior and pink interior, watermelon radishes are another great alternative to cooking with Korean radishes.

They are round and green with bright magenta flesh inside.

They come from the same family as mustard, so they have a peppery flavor that is similar to arugula.

This allows it to shine in dishes where Korean radish normally would.

Thanks to the crisp texture, this is great in cold salads and sales that are missing a little crunch and pepper.


If texture is not of importance for your dish, jicama is a choice to consider for substituting your Korean radish.

Both vegetables belong to the root family despite their appearance not revealing their relationship.

Jicama has a rough, brown exterior with white flesh.

It has a similar texture to that of an apple, making it a solid choice for substituting in salads or slaws.

Jicama is slightly sweet and refreshing with a bit of nuttiness, meaning it is great for adding to both sweet and savory dishes.

Thanks to its neutral taste, it can easily absorb the flavors of other ingredients meaning stir-fries are able to have their Korean radishes substituted with jicama.

Horseradish Root

Although horseradish root is a good substitute for Korean radish, it is important to remember that it is much spicier and more peppery than Korean radish on its own.

A good tip to remember is that mixing some raw daikon in with horseradish will dilute some of the spiciness and tone down the strong flavor.

While horseradish is intact, it has no aroma, so it can be fooling.

Once it is cut or grated, it will reveal its scent.

Once sliced or grated, it will look similar to Korean radish and will add a crunchy texture to dishes.
If you decide to add horseradish to your cooking as a Korean radish substitute, try to add a little bit at a time, so as not to overwhelm your senses with the strength of the flavor it can present.

White Turnip

White turnips look similar to their red sibling, they taste more like a carrot than radish.

The crispy texture they feature is similar to daikon, which makes it a great addition to kimchi when you want a bit of a sweet but earthy flavor added in.

The white color of the vegetable means that when you present the final dish, some may not even be able to tell the difference between kimchi with Korean radish and that which features white turnips.

This is great for all types of Korean cuisine or Asian dishes, aside from just kimchi.

Water Chestnuts

It is not unusual to see water chestnuts featured in Asian dishes, and for this reason, they can be a great replacement for Korean radishes.

They are a bit milder than the other substitutes found on this list, so if you prefer an option that won’t overpower the dish, this is the choice for you.

The flavor of water chestnuts is more nutty, but they feature the crunchy texture that is familiar to fans of Korean radish, even after cooking.

Fresh chestnuts will feature a stronger taste of sweetness that is great for stir-fries or other savory dishes, while canned water chestnuts will be more mild.

Korean radish kimchi on the table

How to Choose the Right Substitute

When choosing your Korean radish substitute, there are a few factors to consider, such as flavor, texture, availability, and personal preference for strength of taste.

If you are looking for a substitute with a similar flavor to Korean radish, you may have to miss out on other aspects, such as texture or availability in your local grocery stores.

Similar flavors can be found in daikon, watermelon radish, and red radishes.

The texture is another significant consideration for Korean radish.

The signature crunch that Korean radishes present should be present in certain dishes to get a fair substitute that might lead others to not notice there is no Korean radish at all.

If you are focused solely on texture, celery, turnips, or jicama can add the right level of crisp crunch to your dish.

Chances are, if you are struggling to find Korean radishes, you may struggle to also find daikon or water chestnuts.

In this situation, more commonly found vegetables in America would be horseradish root or turnips.

Finally, personal preference for flavors matters most.

After all, you are the one enjoying the fruits of your labor in the kitchen.

Some substitutes, such as horseradish root, will be much stronger, while other options, like turnip, will be sweeter.

It is ultimately up to you as a cook to determine if you prefer a sweeter, stronger, peppery taste to your dish.

Adjust the amount of the substitute, as needed. And don’t forget to be creative with how you use the substitutes!

The bottom line

Korean radish substitutes are plentiful, but there are many factors to consider when deciding on the right alternative to this vegetable.

Keep in mind the differences in taste and texture, and feel free to be creative when experimenting with your Korean radish substitute!