Oh no! You have a recipe that requires swiss chard or silverbeet, but you don’t have any on hand (or you just don’t like it). What can you use instead? Find the best swiss chard substitute for any recipe right here.
What is swiss chard?
Swiss chard is a leafy green in the beet family. Its young leaves are tender and flavorful in salads.
When mature, swiss chard has large leaves and thick leaf stalks in a variety of different colors.
Swiss chard’s mature leaves are typically cooked down in soups or quiches and have an earthy taste similar to beet greens.
Swiss chard stems in a variety of colors, including pink, white, yellow, orange, and red. A popular rainbow chard variety is called “Bright Lights,” and is a fun crop for a beginner gardener!
The best way to have swiss chard on hand is to grow your own! Grab some swiss chard seeds for your own garden today.
The best swiss chard substitutes are spinach or kale. Simply swap baby spinach or kale or baby swiss chard or replace mature swiss chard leaves for fully-grown spinach or kale.
Find the right swiss chard substitute for any recipe
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable with an earthy flavor that can be used in a variety of ways. Find a suitable replacement for your recipe by considering the purpose of swiss chard in the recipe.
- Are you looking for a tender salad green to eat raw?
- Or, are you looking for a green that will be delicious cooked down in a soup or quiche?
The 8 best substitutes for swiss chard
Spinach is an excellent swiss chard substitute for any purpose: young tender salad greens or for cooking down.
However, you’ll likely need more spinach than you’d need swiss chard as the chard leaves grow so large and spinach tends to stay small.
Spinach has a similar size, texture, and taste to swiss chard. Spinach is high in oxalic acid and some people are sensitive to the texture of spinach.
Simply put, beet greens are the greens that are part of the beet plant.
Since beets and swiss chard are from the same family, beet greens are the very best alternative to swiss chard. They have the same swiss chard taste and earthy flavor.
However, swiss chard typically has larger leaves than beet greens and beet greens will taste slightly earthier than chard.
Naturally, your local grocery store may not sell beet greens as they go bad much earlier than the roots. They’re typically discarded or given to livestock.
However, you will likely find beet greens still attached to your beets at a local farmers market.
If you need just one plant to replace swiss chard for any purpose, choose kale! Kale is one of the most popular green leafy vegetables and has a mildly bitter taste.
Although kale’s dark green leaves have a bit more structure than the softer chard plant, it is delicious when eaten raw in a salad or cooked down for greens or in a quiche.
When I have a recipe and don’t have swiss chard, I almost always use kale as a swiss chard substitute. It’s easy to find, inexpensive to purchase, and a cinch to grow!
Although you can choose any kale, I prefer kale that resembles the leaf shape of swiss chard.
Look for these labels: tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, cavolo nero, black kale, and italian kale.
Orach is a spinach relative that can be eaten raw or cooked. Just like spinach, orach is a good substitute for swiss chard thanks to its milder flavor. Try adding it to a fresh salad or sauteeing it for greens.
Wondering where to find this green? Orach can sometimes be purchased at local farmers market or you can even forage some depending on the season.
Arugula is a salad green with a light, peppery taste and a nutty flavor. It is usually eaten raw although it may be wilted at times over pasta.
Since arugula has a more distinct flavor than swiss chard, it is not a perfect replacement. It is lovely in salads though and might be just right for replacing baby swiss chard in your salad mix.
Bok choy is an excellent substitute for swiss chard as the leaves are typically a similar size and they both have robust white stalks to cook down.
Plus, bok choy has a delicate texture and mild taste, just like swiss chard! This makes it a great substitute in a pinch!
The leaves of collard greens are an excellent replacement for mature swiss chard leaves.
Collard greens are dark leafy greens from the kale family that grow in round paddle shapes.
You may need to cook your collards a little longer than swiss chard to soften the leaves fully.
Many people wonder if you can replace mustard greens for swiss chard because the leaves are so similar in size!
It’s important to remember that mustard greens are typically spicy or peppery, even when cooked down.
Mustard greens also have a bitter flavor. This will likely alter the flavor of your recipe.
Even small, young mustard greens are spicy and are usually incorporated sparingly into salad mixes.
Other popular swiss chard substitutes:
Depending on where you live, you can also substitute the following leaves of mature chard leaves that you intend to cook down:
- Dandelion greens
- Turnip greens
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Can you substitute swiss chard for spinach?
Baby swiss chard and baby spinach are easily swapped in fresh salads.
For recipes that cook down the greens, swiss chard will have an earthier flavor and more texture than spinach. You will need to cook down the swiss chard a few minutes longer.
What tastes like swiss chard?
Swiss chard’s closest relation is the beet. Both greens have a mild, earthy texture. When eaten young, the leaves are perfect in salads and resemble baby spinach.
The mature leaves are typically eaten after cooking them down in some fat or oil.
Can I substitute swiss chard for kale?
Yes! This is an excellent way to try swiss chard. Replace kale with swiss chard in your favorite soup or quiche.
Because kale has such a neutral flavor and moderate structure just like swiss chard, they are a great replacement for each other.
However, mature swiss chard is not a great substitute for raw kale.
Many people, including farmers, do not eat the mature swiss chard leaves raw although they can be massaged down with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
Need some ideas to use up a pile of swiss chard?
- Sauteed swiss chard
- Winter vegetable soup with swiss chard
- Swiss chard salad with lemon, parmesan, and breadcrumbs
What is your favorite swiss chard alternative?
Do you like swiss chard? Do you have another green you recommend to replace swiss chard? Share your thoughts in the comments!