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Spinach Substitutes: 6 Other Healthy Greens to Try

Collard Greens, swiss chard, and arugula are some of the greatest substitutes for spinach. Read on to know them all!

If there are any vegetables out there I’m nuts about, it’s gotta be leafy greens. They’re just so wonderful and there’s something about those green leaves that makes me feel like the healthiest person on earth whenever I have a bowl of them.

Spinach is by far one of my favorite leafy greens because of just how versatile and tasty it is. I take pride in always having a fresh bunch but there are certain times I find myself and local market lacking in this green vegetable.

So, I decided to try out other veggies I thought would work well and I found a couple! 

Whether you have a spinach allergy, have run out of some or just want to mix up your green routine, here are some options to consider.

Spinach Substitutes featured image | Girl Meets Food

What is spinach?

Spinach is a leafy green veggie with a tender texture that’s low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals. Because of its properties, it’s been attributed to be an amazing weight loss food and has got loads of antioxidants. Spinach is native to south and western Asia but grows all around the world today.

Best substitutes for spinach

A white bowl of fresh spinach stands on grey fabric and murble surface | Girl Meets Food

A great alternative to spinach should also be a green vegetable with a similar flavor profile or texture. After testing out a variety of leafy greens, here are the best options I found:

  • Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a semi-tender green leafy vegetable with either white or reddish leaf blades. I love how fleshy it is and how it’s got that mildly sweet taste when cooked just like spinach does, making it one of the best spinach alternatives out there. 

I usually use this as a spinach substitute when my recipe calls for cooked spinach. Using raw swiss chard for a recipe that requires raw spinach won’t turn out the best as it’s slightly bitter when raw, a far cry from the mild taste of some fresh spinach.

Check out my list of swiss chard alternatives if you’re looking for more ideas.

  • Kale

 A member of the cruciferous family and rich in antioxidants, Kale is a dark leafy veggie that’s great to have either raw or cooked. It’s got this earthy flavor and somewhat bitter taste.

Kale has also got a rough texture (similar to other cruciferous vegetables) that’s quite different from spinach’s mild taste and smooth form, but it works well in spinach recipes that require some cooking.

I like to have kale as a spinach replacement in casseroles and even smoothies! But, if you’re looking to use it as a spinach substitute in a smoothie, I’d advise you to pair it with some sweet fruit so it would overshadow raw kale’s earthy taste.

Here are some nutritious veggies you can use in place of kale.

  • Collard greens

Texture-wise, Collard greens are some of the closest spinach substitutes out there. The leaves of some collard greens are nearly just as smooth as those of fresh spinach leaves. It’s slightly darker in colour than raw spinach but collard greens are hearty with the same bitter flavor we can find in kale, but slightly milder. 

Collard greens take on a whole new form when they’re softened by heat, making them a great cooked spinach substitute in sautees and stews. 

  • Arugula

The next great spinach substitute on my list is the bold-flavored arugula. It’s been a salad staple of mine for some time and arugula’s spicy taste makes it a flavourful alternative for fresh spinach in a variety of cold dishes. Arugula is also one of my favourite substitutes for endives.

Its peppery flavor might give your meal a spicy kick but, I realized that can come in handy in enhancing the flavor of your meal, especially in cold dishes like salads.

Arugula’s spicy taste might be a turn-off for some people, but if you love this leafy green like me, here’s a list of the best alternatives for arugula that might come in handy for you.

  • Watercress

Watercress is another member of the cruciferous family on this list. It’s light, peppery and somewhat refreshing. Watercress has firm and crisp leaves, making them one of the most common greens in salads. 

The nutritional profile of some watercress shows us it’s a super healthy veggie, low in calories and a good source of folate as well as a variety of nutrients.

Since watercress’ peppery taste becomes a lot milder when it’s cooked, I seldom use it as a spinach substitute in cooked dishes.

  • Beet greens

If a peppery taste for a spinach substitute isn’t something you’d dig, how about something mildly sweet?

Beet greens are the leafy tops of beetroot and they make an excellent substitute for spinach. Think of their taste being somewhere between the slightly sweet flavor of some swiss chard and earthy kale. 

Beet greens have got a pretty nice texture that’s slightly sturdier than what we find in spinach, but they turn really soft and tender after they’ve been cooked.

I’ve used them as a spinach substitute in some of my favorite spinach soups, sautees as well as with some pasta and they were nothing short of spectacular. Why not try to serve with minestrone soup?

Substitutes for spinach FAQs

Fresh spinach is in a collander that stands on grey surface | Girl Meets Food
Can I substitute cabbage for spinach?

Cabbage would work well as a substitute for spinach in many recipes, it honestly depends on the kind of cabbage you’re using and the meal you’re looking to prepare.

What vegetables are related to spinach?

Spinach belongs to the Amaranthaceae family with other members being swiss chards, sugar beets, garden beets and lambs quarters.

They’re all closely related to spinach as they belong in the same family.

What are the benefits of eating spinach?

There are loads of health benefits of eating spinach, such as its ability to help prevent cancer, lower blood pressure as well as fight oxidative stress.

It’s also high in water content so it can help with hydration and strengthen the immune system with its many vitamins and minerals.

What does spinach taste like?

Spinach is a leafy green with a mild flavor. Fresh spinach leaves can be slightly sweet and herby with a refreshing feel that lends itself nicely in salads and it develops a stronger taste when it’s cooked.  

What can I use instead of spinach in soup?

Swiss chard and beet greens are some of the best substitutes for spinach in soup. They’re leafy greens that develop nice textures and flavors similar to how spinach does when they’ve been under some heat.

BOTTOM LINE: Spinach might be a healthy and unique green, but there are loads of other options you can go for if you’re all out of some or looking to switch up your recipe just a little bit. Whether you opt for some swiss chard, kale, beet greens or even collard greens, you’ll definitely be enjoying all the amazing health benefits leafy greens have got to offer.

So, go ahead, make your pick and experiment with a new green – you just might find your new fav substitute for spinach!

Did you like these replacements? Well, there are loads more where they came from!

I’ve got ideas for artichoke substitutes and even the best veggies to swap for asparagus when you need some in a pinch.