Most greens can be defined by their flavor and texture: Are they bitter or mild? Sturdy or tender? When choosing a substitute, consider how the greens are being used. Tender greens are often consumed raw while sturdy ones might need to be cooked longer; simply add the greens earlier or later in the cooking process as needed.
Mild and tender: Chard, lettuce, mâche, mesclun, spinach, tatsoi.
Mild and firm: Bok choy, cabbage, collard greens.
Bitter and tender: Arugula, endive, frisée, mizuna, radicchio, radish greens, watercress.
Bitter and firm: Escarole, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens.
Substituting vegetables in a recipe can be tricky, and depends largely on personal taste. But some can definitely step in for others: say brussels sprouts for broccoli. You’ll just want to bear in mind texture, moisture content and density. We’ve broken common vegetables up into two categories, based on cook times: Many in the same category cook at a similar rate, but if you’d like to substitute a firm vegetable for a quick-cooking one or vice versa, simply increase or decrease the cook time by adding the ingredient earlier or later in your recipe.
Quick-cooking: Asparagus, cabbage (bok choy, broccoli, broccolini, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale), celery, corn, eggplant, fennel, mushrooms, peas, peppers, summer squash, zucchini.
Firm: Root vegetables (beet, carrot, celery root, parsnip, potato, sweet potato, turnip), winter squash (such as butternut squash, delicata, kabocha, pumpkin).
Because of garlic’s pronounced flavor, it’s difficult to find an exact substitute, but leeks, onions (red, white or yellow), scallions, shallots and spring onions are largely interchangeable. Garlic and onions are available in dried form (powdered, granulated or dehydrated as flakes), which are infinitely more potent — and can skew bitter if overused. Substitute dried ingredients in place of fresh with moderation, and only when the fresh is called for in smaller quantities rather than bulk.
Fresh herbs fall into two categories: tender, bright herbs (basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley and tarragon), which are typically at their most flavorful when fresh, or woody, savory herbs (bay leaves, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme), which better retain their essential oils when dried. Since dried herbs are more potent than fresh, you’ll want to use less: Substitute one teaspoon dried herbs for each tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs. In general, you can substitute one tender herb for another, or one woody herb for another, but substituting a woody herb for a tender herb (and vice versa) works less frequently. Rely on personal preference, availability and the other ingredients you’re cooking with to pick an appropriate substitute.
Basil: Chervil, cilantro, dill, Italian seasoning, oregano, mint, parsley.
Bay leaves: Herbes de Provence, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme.
Chervil: Basil, dill, parsley, tarragon.
Chives: Cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley.
Cilantro: Basil, chives, parsley, mint.
Dill: Basil, chervil, mint, parsley.
Marjoram: Herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme.