12 Broccoli Substitutes to Save You a Grocery Visit
Author: Anne Cowart | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Broccoli is a nutritious vegetable featuring florets and stalks that you can usually cook and eat. If, however, you can’t obtain these vegetables for some reason or simply don’t enjoy their taste, then you need a solid broccoli substitute you can count on.
12 Broccoli Substitutes
The options below either belong to the same Brassicaceae or cabbage family and all make a suitable substitute for any types of broccoli. You can go through each of them below to see if you can use them in your own meals. Until you learn how to grow broccoli for your own endless supply, this list will come in handy.
An interesting tidbit of trivia is that broccoli is a man-made invention. It's believed that the earliest cultivars were created in the Mediterranean during the Roman Empire in the 6th centure BC. By the 16th century it was spreading through Europe, and then grown commercially in the USA in the 1920's.
Kale is also known as leaf cabbage and belongs to the same family as broccoli. It also has a similar texture since its leaves tend to be rough and curly, similar to the florets of broccoli. Kale is also easier to handle since you can simply wash and cut the leaves instead of having to deal with the head or stalk.
Kale has a dark green or purple color, depending on the variety that you use. In terms of its taste, it carries a slightly bitter, strong and earthy flavor, offering a good dryness that you can use as a substitute for broccoli in dishes that call for its usage.
You can leave it raw and use it in salads or you can blend, puree, cook or steam it. All the types of kale are rich in nutrients, useful phytochemicals, and antioxidants, so pick freely and enjoy!
Cauliflower also belongs to the same family as broccoli. They're from the cruciferous family which is an informal name for the mustard family. It offers a similar texture and appearance, making it an extremely close alternative. It has a flat base stalk and surrounding leaves that you can discard, while the central part includes a head with multiple florets that you can cut and cook.
The florets differ in color since they are pale white as compared to the green of broccoli. The taste is also similar, although cauliflower tends to be slightly creamier and sweeter than broccoli, which can help if someone has an issue with the taste.
Cauliflowers are full of energy and vitamins, including vitamin C, which is a good source of antioxidants. You can choose the basic cauliflower you encounter at the grocery store as a broccoli substitute or dig into the various types of cauliflower to broaden your horizons.
Cabbages can be of several varieties themselves, although they also belong to the same family as broccoli. In terms of overall appearance, cabbages are quite similar to broccoli since they have a head, stalk and leaves. The head, instead of containing florets, has several leaves that open up.
You can either eat cabbage raw (as part of salads) or you can cook the leaves. Green and purple cabbage are the closest alternatives to broccoli due to their color, taste and nutrition level.
Cabbage is also quite crispy and crunchy and tends to have a milder and sweeter taste as compared to broccoli. It is rich in vitamins C, K, folate, water and fiber. It's suitable among the broccoli alternatives for the right kind of dishes.
Brussels sprouts are similar to cabbages when it comes to their appearance and texture as alternatives to broccoli. They also have tiny leaves that form a head. They are green in color and rich in carbohydrates, water and vitamins C, K and B, offering many antioxidants and plenty of fiber.
They are slightly bitter in taste, similar to broccoli, allowing you to get a similar result in your dish. However, Brussels sprouts are best eaten raw or roasted. You might have to minimize steaming or cooking them in soups as this can drain out some of their nutrients.
Another way to get around this is by letting the other meat, liquids, and vegetables cook properly and adding the Brussels sprouts at the end. The taste is close for a broccoli-like vegetable and the appearance is close enough.
Asparagus belongs to a different plant family, the Asparagaceae family, but can still serve as a great alternative to broccoli. There’s a lot you can do with asparagus, such as roasting, steaming, boiling, frying, grilling and more. You can also eat it raw.
In this sense, it’s quite similar to broccoli, since it also carries a slightly bitter taste. Asparagus is extremely healthy as well, offering vitamins C, K and A as well as folate. It is also low in calories and contains many minerals that can aid your body’s health.
Asparagus mainly comes in the form of long stalks with the top being a bit leafy and light, similar to the florets of broccoli. But don't think only the tops make for a broccoli substitute. Even the stalks will match the texture and taste.
Green beans are vegetables that include a pod and multiple beans inside each pod. Both the skin or pod and the beans are edible. You can either eat them raw or cook them with other vegetables and spices or seasoning to enhance the taste of your meal.
These beans are milder and even sweeter than broccoli, but can offer a crunchy texture to your dish in the absence of broccoli. They can taste great with dishes like salads, noodles, rice and stir-fries, even though you can’t technically make something similar to broccoli rice with these.
Green beans are rich in vitamins C, K and B6. These broccoli alternatives also contain a good amount of fiber. You can use them occasionally as broccoli substitutes, although broccoli is much more nutritious.
Spinach / Baby Spinach
You can use spinach or baby spinach as a nutritious substitute for broccoli. Spinach mainly comes in the form of leaves, similar to the edible leaves of broccoli, even though it doesn’t contain florets. These leaves can add some good texture in place of broccoli while also offering a similar taste and color to your dish.
Spinach contains plenty of iron, calcium, folate, vitamins C, A and K, magnesium, manganese, potassium and fiber, while also offering a relatively low-calorie content. Spinach is also rich in antioxidants.
If you are using baby types of spinach leaves, you can achieve an even closer taste and crunchiness. You can either cook them or add them raw. Among the vegetables like broccoli, it may not look much like broccoli but the taste can be very similar.
Bok choy is a Chinese cabbage variety. It is packed in nutrients like vitamins A, C, K and B6, folate and calcium, serving as a healthy alternative. It can add some nice crunchiness and taste to your meal, allowing you to add it raw or cooked. You can also use bok choy in soups and with rice and noodles.
Unlike cabbage and broccoli, bok choy doesn’t have a head. Each bok choy unit also has fewer but large leaves along with bulb-like stems. You can use the entire unit in your meals if you wish to, and if you learn how to store bok choy, you'll tend to have it around when you need it.
Bok choy tends to differ in taste from broccoli, having a slightly milder and sweeter flavor instead of being too bitter.
Collard greens belong to the same family as broccoli and kale. They contain stalks or stems that develop into large green leaves. You can usually buy them in a bundle or cluster from a nearby store.
These leaves tend to be quite bitter in taste and flavor, which is why they can add a similar flavor to your dish. Cooking them can also help make them milder so that the bitterness isn’t too overwhelming.
Just like broccoli, collard greens are rich in calcium, manganese and vitamins A, K and C. These can provide vital antioxidants to your body, and in the right dishes can match the consistency and texture, making it a perfect broccoli substitute.
Swiss chard is another green leafy vegetable that you can use as good alternatives to broccoli. You can boil, puree, fry and pickle this vegetable while also adding them to your salads. Swiss chard can help you retain the bitterness of broccoli while softening the texture a bit.
It has a similar nutritional value as broccoli, allowing you to retain and absorb the same qualities. These include vitamins A, K, C and E, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and manganese. It also contains plenty of fiber. You can also find red or purple varieties of Swiss chard.
Turnips themselves are root vegetables and are more commonly used in cooking, but their leaves are also highly nutritious and can offer some good taste, flavor, and texture in place of the broccoli.
Turnip greens also have a bitter and rich flavor, allowing you to retain a similar taste as that of broccoli. However, if you want to reduce the bitterness, you can cook or steam them for longer.
Turnip greens can work well with salads, soups, noodles, rice, meat, and curries as a substitute for broccoli. You can absorb benefits like vitamins A, K, C, folate and lutein from these green vegetables.
Artichokes look a bit similar to broccoli since they contain a green head that then blooms several edible flower buds that you can cook and add to various meals in place of the broccoli. Make sure you remove the leaves and the flowering parts of the bud, even though in that sense it is a broccoli-like vegetable.
You can use artichoke as one of the alternatives to broccoli in dishes like salads, noodles, rice, pizza or even stir-fries. The artichoke carries a bitter flavor that is similar to broccoli. You should make it a point to boil or cook the artichokes properly so that you can soften them and make their flavor a bit milder.
A Broccoli Substitute to Save You a Trip to the Store
Some great broccoli substitutes include cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, spinach, green beans, asparagus, artichoke, turnip greens, Swiss chard, kale and others. These offer similar nutrition along with taste and texture, so if you can find them around you, go ahead and try a broccoli substitute out in your recipes.