Swiss chard is a popular leafy green that is delicious in soups, stews, pasta dishes or quickly sauteed as a side dish. But what if you need some Swiss chard substitutes if you are out?
Here we talk through 9 tasty alternatives to Swiss chard that are all quite easy to find and use in your recipes!
This post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute dietetic advice in any way. It is a broad informational purposes and may contain reference to higher histamine foods.
What is Swiss Chard?
Also known as silverbeet or just chard, Swiss chard is a member of the Chenopodioideae family (Healthline). There are many types of Swiss chard and they have a variety of colored stems, including white, yellow, pink and red. Rainbow chard is a mix of different colors of chard and is very pretty when you grow them together!
Both the stem and leaves of Swiss chard are edible. The flavor of tender Swiss chard leaves can be described as earthy, with a slight bitter taste and a hint of sweetness, while the stems resemble the flavor of celery.
It's very easy to grow Swiss chard yourself (I've grown my own for several years and they are very low maintenance!) or you can of course purchase in stores.
Health Benefits of Swiss Chard
Leafy greens are a nutritious addition to your meals, and Swiss chard has a host of benefits. As Healthline describes in its overview of the health benefits of Swiss chard, this low calorie vegetable is a good source of magnesium, iron, potassium and vitamins A, C and K.
It is also a source of fiber and flavonoids, including quercetin, kaempferol, rutin and vitexin (Healthline). As Healthline describes, there are some risks to consuming Swiss chard, due to its high content of vitamin K and oxalates, as well as potential allergic reactions. Speak to your dietician for dietary advice.
How to Cook Swiss Chard
Swiss chard leaves can be sauteed for a tasty side dish, and only takes a few minutes. You can also add diced leaves to soups, stews or pasta dishes towards the end of their cook time.
More inventive ways of consuming chard leaves is to make a chard juice or add to smoothies.
Chard stalks can be finely diced and added to a stir-fry or risotto.
Why May You Wish to Substitute Swiss Chard?
There are many reasons why you may wish to substitute to Swiss chard, including that you aren't keen on the taste or simply aren't able to find any in the store! It is often more difficult to find Swiss chard during the winter months.
It's also the case that you may have a food sensitivity to Swiss chard and so aren't able to consume it.
Substitutes for Swiss Chard
Let's find a delicious alternative to Swiss chard! Here we talk about ideas to substitute both the leafy greens and the light crispy stalks.
An easy to find alternative to Swiss chard is kale, which you can find in most grocery stores. There are many different types of kale, including curly kale, lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale and cavolo nero) and red Russian kale, amongst others.
Kale can be eaten hot or cold in salads. It is very easy to substitute Swiss chard with kale in soups and stews, simply by shredding and adding it to your pot towards the end of your cook time. To enjoy cold kale in salads, it's best to massage it with a little olive oil and salt to soften the leaves.
If you need more leafy green ideas, have a peek at my substitutes for kale post!
When I first started growing beets in my back yard I used to carefully pull up my beets but throw the leafy green tops away. What a mistake! Beet greens are delicious and a good alternative to Swiss chard as they have a similar earthy taste. Actually beet greens are often more popular in my home due to their slightly sweeter taste!
Beets are a member of the same family as Swiss chard, and the leaves have a tender, sweet and earthy taste. It is very easy to saute or steam beet greens, just as you do with Swiss chard, or add them to smoothies or juices!
Also a member of the Chenopodioideae family in similarity to Swiss chard, spinach is a nutritious leafy green with a distinctive mild but very slightly bitter taste, making it one of the best alternatives to Swiss chard in terms of flavor.
Spinach leaves (whether fresh or frozen spinach) can be added to soups, stews, smoothies, juices and so much more. Of course, as a substitute for Swiss chard, spinach can also easily be sauteed as a side dish or added to salads.
Just a note that spinach is a higher histamine food, and so likely not suitable for my low histamine readers.
Have a peek at my alternatives to spinach post for even more ideas for leafy greens!
Bok choy (also known as pak choi or pok choi) is a cruciferous vegetable, and popular in Asian style cooking. As a replacement for Swiss chard it shares a similarity in both the stems and leaves being edible.
Bok choy has a light, mild flavor with the leaves being very slightly bitter and the stalks having a similar taste to celery. It's very easy to cook bok choy and it can be enjoyed as a side dish or added to stir fry recipes.
Arugula is a very easy to find alternative to Swiss chard, and fairly affordable. Also known as rocket in the UK, arugula has a delicious peppery flavor and adds so much flavor to dishes.
As well as adding to salads, you can use arugula to make pesto, blend up in smoothies and add to pizzas, pasta dishes and sandwiches.
Perhaps you may like to try out my arugula quinoa salad as a summer side dish!
Mustard greens have a spicy, peppery taste and add so much flavor to a dish! Also known as brown mustard, Chinese mustard and Indian mustard, they are a member of the Brassica genus vegetable family, which includes kale, collard greens and broccoli (Healthline).
While mustard greens have a stronger taste, and so you may wish to use a lesser quantity, they can be used as a replacement for Swiss chard leaves as a simple side dish, after being steamed, boiled or sauteed. You can also add mustard greens to soups, stir-fry recipes and salads.
There are many types of cabbages to choose from, including napa cabbage, green cabbage and savoy cabbage. Each have slightly different tastes and textures, but will work well as a Swiss chard substitute in hot and cold meals.
Napa cabbage has a mild taste, with a slight sweetness and is a good replacement for cooked Swiss chard as they have a similar taste profile. It can be eaten raw in salads and slaws, or sauteed with a little seasoning such as garlic, ginger, herbs or spices.
Collard greens are a leafy green vegetable popular in the Southern United States, but eaten worldwide. They are a little more tricky to purchase in some countries, such as the UK in my experience.
As a Swiss chard substitute, collard greens have a taste that can be described as slightly bitter and earthy. Cooking this member of the cabbage family mellows their bitterness a little and they can easily be added to soups and stews, or steamed as a side dish.
For an alternative to Swiss chard stalks, celery is a good option. They have a similar appearance, taste and texture, although of course are different in color. Raw celery stalks are crunchy and have a high water content, with a mild taste.
Celery can easily be cooked as a replacement for Swiss chard stalks. It is possible to air fry celery, braise or steam celery stalks to enjoy as a simple side dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Swiss chard leaves have a mild, slightly sweet and slightly bitter taste, while the stems are mild, crunchy and similar to celery. The leaves of Swiss chard mellow in flavor when cooked.
Tender young Swiss chard leaves can be eaten raw, such as when finely diced in summer salads.
Spinach has the closest taste to Swiss chard, and its leaves are very easy to use in similar ways in cooking. Both spinach and Swiss chard leaves can be steamed, sauteed or added to soups, stews and pasta dishes.
More Substitute Posts
If you're looking for substitutes for your cooking when your pantry is bare, then do check out my posts on broccoli rabe alternatives, flaxseed replacements, quinoa replacements and these recent posts: