7 Best Collard Greens Substitutes

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If you’ve eaten collard greens either sautéed, Puréed into Pesto, cooked into a stir-fry, or shredded into a casserole, you wouldn’t like other veggies to take its place – even when you can’t find it.

Many people who have gotten a taste would instead go to the moon and back to get a collard stem for dinner.

But you don’t necessarily have to do that when you can get more nutritious greens like Kale or Turnip with irresistible greeny flavors. Aside from those, there are other collard greens substitutes such as Spinach Leaves, Swiss chard, Mustard Greens, or Chinese Broccoli.

So, if you’re struggling to find collard greens or just tired of eating the same old thing, these alternatives are for you.

What Is Collard Green?

Collard green is a leafy dark green vegetable that belongs to the same family as kale. It is related to cabbage, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts. Collard green has been harvested for more than 2,000 years, and it is one of the oldest members of the cabbage family.

It originated in the Middle East and was brought to North America by enslaved Africans who used it as a staple food in their traditional cooking.

Historically collard greens have been eaten like cornbread and consumed with black-eyed peas during New Year’s Day in the southern U.S., believed to bring prosperity and luck to those who eat them.

The health benefits of collard greens are many, from reducing cholesterol levels to preventing many diseases.

See Also: Collard Greens Vs Turnip Greens

Best Collard Greens Substitutes 

The vegetables mention above and the ones you’re yet to discover below are not randomly chosen.

Some are part of the brassica family, like collard green, and can be used interchangeably in most of your favorite recipes. 

Most of their taste comes close to collards. Some flavor is even better. Others are distinctive but can be used as a stand-in, either cooked or raw. 

Number one on our list is kale.

1. Kale

Kale is among the most nutrient-dense veggies on the planet due to its tremendous amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

It is also a variety of Brassica oleracea, but it grows, looks, and tastes slightly different in taste and nutritional value from collard greens. 

Kale is tasty, a bit bitter than collard, and is more nutritious in vitamin K and iron. In contrast, the options are endless: collard greens in pasta, piling it onto pizza or adding to a frittata. 

You can scoop it onto soups, dots and slather it for delicious pizza and sandwiches. 

You can swap it for any collard green dish since the leaves are almost as tough, crunchy, and flavored solid as collard. Although, young kale has softer and thinner leaves. 

Most people trying to dodge its bitterness prefer the young plant since they taste mild.

2. English Spinach

Spinach is the most common green, but don’t take it for granted. It is a nutritional powerhouse that can elevate any salad or side dish.

Collard and spinach go head to head in nutritional content. Both are high in Vitamin A, C, K, dietary fiber, calcium, and potassium. But collard has more pantothenic acid, while spinach is rich in iron. 

The leaves are soft and delicate, but it’s preferable when cooked if you’re substituting it for collard.  For some reason, cooked spinach is more nutritious than raw. But you can’t go wrong with either of them. 

You can add spinach to casseroles, pasta, soups, omelet, scramble, wraps, flatbreads, or sandwiches. And if you like eating healthy, you can take a dip out of it for a side dish or throw it in the blender for a smoothie. 

3. Baby Spinach Leaves

I know we’ve talked much about spinach. But how about the young and tender spinach? Farmers usually harvest them at the earlier growth stage, around 15 to 35 days. And it is your best bet for recipes that call for raw collard greens. 

You will appreciate them in salads and smoothies since they have a light green taste. They are smaller, tender, and sweeter than mature spinach-like babies. 

Even at that tender age, they still deliver plenty of nutritional benefits.

4. Swiss Chard / Rainbow Chard (Silverbeet)

This colorful green is one veggie people have a love-hate relationship with. Whether you are buying a jumbo bag every week or squeezing up your face at the sight of this veggie, they are a perfect replacement for collard-cooked recipes. 

Chard can withstand long cooking times, even though they’re less dense than collard greens. Swiss chard is similar to English spinach, though with more robust stems than collard.

You can either get rid of the stems or chop and cook them. But don’t expect the stems to reach the exact doneness as the leaves, so it’s best left for another dish. You can eat them raw in salads but only when young. Mature chard is too bitter to eat raw.

Like the above collard greens substitute, chard excel when steamed or sautéed. It’s also perfect in stews, frittatas, quiches, casseroles, and soups. 

5. Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are another preferable alternative. While it has a strong, hot mustardy flavor, it tastes like collard greens but more like kale once cooked. 

Although, young mustard greens are less fiery and enjoyable when eaten raw. Furthermore, mustard and collard greens are texturally similar and packed with nutrients.

Fortunately, mustard greens are more nutritious –surpassing collard greens with more vitamin C, calcium, folate, and manganese. 

You can take advantage of that in chopped salads, sautéed smoothies, stews, soups, stir-fries, and side dishes. 

6. Chinese Broccoli

Don’t judge broccoli by its smaller leaves and thinker stems. They taste much more like collard greens. 

These veggies have many names, such as rapini or broccoli rabe, especially in the United States.

And there are various types like destiny broccoli, Calabrese broccoli, and belstar broccoli.

I won’t recommend it for a swap for raw collard dishes. The stems are thick and won’t have the exact doneness as its leaves. 

But I’d prefer the Chinese broccoli every day as a stand-in in a wide variety of salads, side dishes, and main dishes. 

Again, I don’t buy the idea of swapping broccoli for fresh eating. 

7. Turnip

You can use turnip in place of collard. While both greens can be cooked the same way and used interchangeably in almost all recipes, there is a change of taste. 

Turnip greens are slightly sweeter with a robust flavor. 

Meanwhile, collard greens are bitter with a few flavor deviations –although it depends solely on the harvest time. 

The young turnip green is milder in flavor. Meanwhile, the aged or matured turnip has a pleasant peppery taste.

Collard greens are not as bitter as you think –at least not as painful as kale. 

You can shred them into the casserole, puree them into pesto, in salads, slaws, or use them as sandwich wraps and more. 

Frequently Asked Question

Do Kale And Collard Greens Taste The Same?

No, they don’t. Kale only has a flavor that is reminiscent of collard greens. 

To kale, collard green has a mild taste. Kales is slightly bitter but mellow after cooking. 

Do Collard Greens Clean Your System?

Yes, collard green has an incredible ability to flush your system clean from harmful bacteria and excess cholesterol. 

It also has anticancer effects, benefits heart health, and supports digestive health.

Are Collard Greens Bitter?

Yes, collard greens are bitter. The thick stems and large leaves make it even more intimidating. But they are not as bitter as they seem. 

Moreover, cooking can impart bitterness, especially when paired with other recipes. 

What Are Some Of The Healthiest Greens Than Collard?

Aside from collard greens, below are some of the healthiest veggies on the planet you can include in your diet. 

  • Kale
  • Microgreens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Arugula
  • Endive
  • Bok Choy
  • Collard Greens
  • Turnip Greens
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Beet Greens
  • Watercress
  • Romaine Lettuce

Conclusion

I know you miss your collard greens, but these alternatives can stand in whenever it’s out of stock. 

I love collard greens, too; they were once my favorite greens. They are packed with tons of nutrients and are always handy year-round, with peak season in late winter. 

But sometimes, you might go to the grocery store and not find any. 

Rather than strolling store to store in search of these greens, you can settle for any collard greens substitutes above.

That doesn’t mean you’re settling for less; as you’ve seen, most of them are tasty and more nutritious than collard. 

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