What can I use instead of asparagus? You can replace asparagus with most green veggies, including broccoli, green beans, zucchini, leeks, and celery. Exotic ingredients like fiddlehead ferns and nopales also make excellent replacements. Lastly, use other asparagus varieties like white, frozen, or canned asparagus.
Asparagus boasts rich nutrients and a mild earthy flavor. They are delicious when steamed, roasted, and grilled. However, asparagus is not always in-season and does not tickle everyone’s tastebuds.
So, if you don’t have asparagus on hand or simply don’t enjoy the taste, try the following ten substitutes.
The Best Asparagus Substitutes
Although broccoli and asparagus have very different appearances, they are interchangeable in most recipes.
Broccoli stems have a firm texture and mild grassy flavor, making them the top substitute for asparagus. In addition, broccoli florets have a similar texture to asparagus tips.
Broccoli is rich in nutrients and covers more grocery stores at a lower price than asparagus.
You can use long-stemmed broccoli or cut the shorter thick broccoli stems into thick strips or julienne style. Toss the broccoli into a salad, stir-fry, pasta, risotto, or as a steamed vegetable medley.
Green beans boast a similar size, color, shape, and crispy texture to asparagus. Beans are also versatile and pair well with most food options, making them an ideal substitute.
Green beans have a mild earthy flavor and high nutritional profile, boasting similar flavors and health benefits to asparagus, including fiber, folate, potassium, iron, and several vitamins.
You can prepare green beans in various ways, including steaming, roasting, sautéing, or baking.
Their versatility makes them an attractive asparagus alternative. However, they require a tad more preparation (trimming both ends).
Zucchini makes its appearance in summer right after asparagus season comes to an end. You can use it as an asparagus substitute during the summer months.
Fresh zucchini lends a different flavor and texture to asparagus. However, it’s a highly nutritious and delicious side dish alternative when asparagus is out of season.
Like asparagus, zucchini boasts an array of rich nutrients, including folate, potassium, and vitamins.
So, if you don’t mind a twist to an asparagus side dish, consider steaming, sautéing, or grilling zucchini. You can also add it to stew, stir-fries, and pasta.
Leeks are another green veggie with a completely different taste and texture for asparagus. However, they are a suitable substitute to asparagus when looking for a new side dish or different flavor profile.
Like asparagus, leeks are an excellent source of fiber, folate, and vitamins.
Crispy fresh leeks turn into a buttery texture with a mild onion taste.
Leeks are perfect in casseroles, pies, and soups. Little beats the sweet, delicate flavors that melt in your mouth.
Celery has a different taste from asparagus, but it can be a suitable substitute if you’re in a pinch.
Celery boasts long green stalks and tiny green leaves on top. Like asparagus, celery contains rich nutrients, including folate, potassium, and vitamins.
You can enjoy celery raw in a salad or slow-cooked recipes and stir-fries. However, avoid adding it to pasta or using it as a side dish.
Fiddlehead ferns are tricky to get hold of and are pretty expensive. However, these beautiful tightly coiled-up fern tips have a similar flavor and texture to asparagus.
So, you can use them as an exotic substitute for asparagus if you’re itching to spruce up your recipe.
Fiddlehead ferns are harvested in North American woodland areas. In early spring, you can find fiddlehead ferns in most grocery stores or farmer’s markets.
Unlike asparagus, fiddlehead ferns cannot be eaten raw. You’ll need to boil them before you steam, roast, or sauté them. However, once cooked, they offer a grassy, slightly nutty flavor.
Nopales are another exotic substitute for asparagus.
Nopales are cactus paddles from the nopal cactus. They lend a crispy texture when fresh with a mild flavor and slightly bitter taste.
Fresh nopales aren’t always readily available in grocery stores. However, you can easily find them in Mexican grocers. Otherwise, if you don’t mind the tender texture, consider buying jarred nopalitos.
Try adding nopales to fresh garden salads or use them as a tasty side by steaming, grilling, roasting, charring, or sautéing them.
White asparagus is an excellent substitute for green asparagus if you love the flavor but can’t find it at the store.
White asparagus is similar to green asparagus. However, it lacks chlorophyll – the chemical that turns plants green – from being harvested before surfacing through the soil.
White asparagus is generally tender and less bitter than green asparagus. However, the flavor and texture are very similar.
You can cook white asparagus using the same method as green asparagus.
Although the texture differs, canned asparagus is a suitable alternative to green asparagus if you’d like to match the flavor.
Canned asparagus is soft and tender compared to crisp fresh asparagus stems. However, the natural flavor is still preserved, allowing you to use them to mimic the taste.
Canned asparagus is pre-cooked. You can eat them straight from their jar or pop the canned asparagus into stir-fries, stews, and soups, at the end of the cooking time.
If you enjoy the taste of fresh asparagus, you can use frozen asparagus as the last substitute. Like white and canned asparagus, the frozen variety has the same flavor as fresh green asparagus.
You can pre-pack fresh asparagus into zip-lock bags and freeze them to ensure you maintain the texture and lock in the nutritional value.
Ensure you cook frozen asparagus straight from the freezer instead of thawing it first.
You can toss frozen asparagus into most cooked main dishes. However, it isn’t a suitable substitute for raw, crisp, and undercooked recipes.