The Best Celery Substitute: 5 Healthy Veggies You Haven’t Considered

If you’re not sure what to use as a substitute for celery, I got you covered! Here are five great substitutes that will make sure your dish comes out just perfect!

Celery is simply an amazing veggie and one of the healthiest veggies out there. In my heart, there’s no substitute for it. It can go in almost anything, and it tastes great. 

However, not everyone shares my opinion and some people out there simply can’t stand it. One of those people happens to be my husband, John. He just loathes it and can easily notice it in any dish, even if I tell him I haven’t put it in – he seems to smell it from a yard away.

So, unfortunately, I had to find a way to make dishes that require celery, without celery. Luckily, I’ve worked similar miracles before, so this is no big deal!

Here are just some of the best celery substitutes I was able to find!

Why Celery is so Great

I usually have to explain this to people since most don’t understand how celery is different from most other leafy green veggies and why I love it so much. Well, here’s a thing or two about it and how good it is for your body and the taste of your food.

  • It’s Highly Nutritious – Celery is filled to the brim with great nutritional benefits! It’s an amazing antioxidant, making it great for people with blood pressure problems and it has a ton of vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B6. It’s also full of potassium and water – it’s a great anti-dehydration food, and it’s low in calories. What’s there not to love?
  • The Taste is Unmistakable – The aroma of celery is something unique and almost irreplaceable for me. When added to soups or sauces it blends with other vegetables and creates a great flavor. Even by itself, it’s quite savory and crispy, making it a good addition to salads or perfect as an afternoon snack.
  • It Has a Unique Texture – It’s a crunchy veggie that’s not quite as hard as carrots but still satisfying to chow down on. It can easily replace unhealthy snacks and fill the void left by them with something healthy. I like to grab it while watching a movie, instead of popcorn or potato chips.

Because of all of this, celery is difficult to replace adequately – but there are some veggies that can step up to the plate. Let me introduce you to them right now!


The Best Five Celery Substitutes

1. Bok Choy – The Chinese Cabbage

  • This is one of my favorite substitutes for celery since it has the same watery crunchiness and can easily be used as a snack. Despite how it looks, it is a member of the same family as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, so it can be used as a substitute for some of those veggies as well.
  • Besides the overall feel and taste being similar, bok choy is also extremely healthy with loads of vitamins A, C, and K as well as potassium, iron, calcium, and magnesium. In that regard, it’s not far behind celery.
  • It can also be used for snacks or fresh salads instead of celery or even lettuce, though it might be a bit more difficult to cut. Overall, it’s one of the best celery substitutes out there.

2. Fennel Stalks – The Overlooked Part of Fennel

  • Most people use only the bulb of fennel or the seeds and completely neglect the stalks, usually throwing them out. This is just a complete waste, and these stalks can be put to good use as replacements for celery.
  • For starters, the stalks not only look like celery but also have the same type of crunchy texture, allowing them to be used raw for snacks or salads, in place of celery.
  • These stalks, however, have a taste quite different from celery. It is akin to anise or black licorice and quite strong. However, that might be just the zest and subtle sweetness you need for your next dish. It will surely be a good change for those who dislike the taste of celery, like my husband.

Take care – Fennel stalks need a bit more time to cook than celery does, so keep that in mind when preparing dishes with it. Adjust the time and pre-cook it by itself if it’s needed to get the perfect taste that you want.

3. Celeriac – Celery’s First Cousin

  • This root vegetable is a close relative of celery, and if you want to get the taste of celery without using celery itself, this is the thing you should use. The taste is not quite the same but it’s close enough, and people allergic to celery will not be affected if you use this veggie in your dishes.
  • The parts you need to use are the dried leaves – they have the strongest taste of celery out of the entire thing. They are great for soups, sauces, and stews that you would otherwise use celery in.
  • Other parts of the celeriac can also be used, including the stalks and the root itself, but both have a distinct non-celery flavor – the stalks are bitter while the root is quite nutty and hearty. None of them have the distinct texture of celery, though.

4. Jicama – The Mexican Potato

  • While this veggie is called the Mexican potato and it looks somewhat like a mix between a potato and an onion, it doesn’t taste like either. For the most part, it tastes almost like an apple with a crunch similar to celery or a turnip. As such, they are ideal for easy and healthy snacks when you lack celery.
  • They can also be used in fresh salads in place of celery. The taste won’t be the same, but you’ll have a similar texture, and the dish will be different enough to appease those who dislike the distinct celery taste.
  • Jicama is a bit more caloric than celery, but it is also incredibly nutritious, being filled with vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, among other things.

5. Cardoon – Sweet Spiky Celery

  • The distinct look of this veggie is hard to miss. It looks similar to celery, but the leaves are much larger and spiky-looking, though they won’t actually hurt you.
  • The texture of this veggie is quite similar to celery, and you can use them for fresh snacks, but they can be quite bitter in that form. When they’re properly cooked, they have a taste that’s most similar to an artichoke – sweet and tender. Just be careful when cutting it and preparing it. 
  • As far as nutrition goes, it’s low in calories with high amounts of vitamins A and C as well as a lot of calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Prepare carefully – Cardoon can have a strong, bitter aftertaste that most people won’t like. However, if you soak it in salted water for around an hour before cooking it, you can avoid that. All that will be left is hearty sweetness.

BONUS – Substitutes for Celery Seeds

Since celery seeds have become a rather popular spice in recent years and people allergic to celery can’t eat them either, here are some substitutes for them as well:

  • Dill seeds – they have almost the same flavor, and you can use the same amount as a substitute.
  • Nigella sativa – also called black cumin or kaloji, this Indian spice will provide more of a nutty flavor than celery seeds would, but it’s a decent substitute.
  • Caraway seeds – these seeds have a similar, but stronger taste so you might want to use a bit less than usual when substituting them for celery seeds.

Final Thoughts

These are all decent substitutes for celery, but what’s the best one will depend on your tastes and the tastes of the people you’re cooking for, as well as the dish you want to make. It’s all relative, and even I don’t use the same substitute each time.

Even though these are my top choices, I do encourage you to experiment with different options until you find what fits the best for you.

Does one of these seem like the best option or do you use something I didn’t even consider? Tell me in the comments below, and I’ll see you there! 🙂

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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