11 Swiss Chard Substitutes [Healthier & Cheaper]

Did you know that Swiss chard is a nutritional powerhouse? It contains only 35 calories and high levels of vitamins K, A, E, and C. It also has essential minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, and soluble fiber.

Because of its high nutritional and mineral content, consuming Swiss chard maintains blood sugar levels and prevents lung cancer. However, due to its tremendous demand and consumption, it isn’t readily available.

It’s a good thing that there are substitutes for ingredients that you don’t have on hand. This includes Swiss chard and its equally delicious and healthy alternatives. 

There are a number of vegetables that you can replace Swiss chard with. The best and closest one is spinach due to its similarity in terms of appearance, flavor, and texture. 

If you want to experiment with other vegetables, you can use mustard greens for more color, beet greens or rhubarb for having the closest appearance to Swiss chard, and mustard greens, arugula, collard greens, dark leafy greens, and Chinese broccoli for some bitterness and crunch.

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11 Healthy Substitutes for Swiss Chard

Since Swiss chard can be hard to find, we put together a list of substitutes that will work perfectly for most recipes. The best alternatives for Swiss chard are mature spinach, mustard greens, beet greens, black kale, collard greens, rhubarb, bok choy, and dark leafy greens. 

These make great substitutes because they are similar in texture or flavor with high nutritional content while being low in calories.

Let’s go over them.

1. Mature Spinach 

Mature spinach is bigger than your average spinach and the blades of the leaves are thicker. Spinach has a rich green color and a crisp texture that’s similar to Swiss chard. Due to their similarities in appearance and flavor, mature spinach is the closest substitute for Swiss chard. 

Spinach is rich in protein, iron, and fiber as well as an excellent source of essential vitamins. 

To prepare it for consumption, cut the central stem and use the smaller stems and leaves. They can be eaten fresh in salads or cooked and added to a variety of recipes.

This is an easy substitute because mature spinach is readily available in supermarkets.

If you can’t find mature spinach leaves, you can also use baby spinach. Baby spinach leaves are sweeter and creamier than mature spinach leaves and more tender like Swiss chard.

Swiss Chard Substitutes

2. Mustard Greens 

Like Swiss chard, mustard greens feature dark green leaves and multicolored stems with a peppery taste. If you aren’t a fan of peppery flavors, or if your recipe already has enough of it, simply change the ratios or pick another alternative.

However, before using them for raw dishes, keep in mind that mustard greens have an earthy flavor. 

Other names for mustard greens are vegetable mustard, Oriental mustard, Indian mustard, and Chinese mustard. They come in a variety of colors. Since spinach only comes in shades of green, mustard greens are a colorful substitute for Swiss chard.

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3. Beet Greens

Beet greens are as vivid and eye-catching as Swiss chard. Its leaves are a bright green color with deep pink to red blades. Beet greens resemble Swiss chard the most appearance-wise although there are a few variations in taste.

These greens have a somewhat earthy flavor, but they also have the nutty flavors that chard has. 

Beet greens can be substituted in salads and sauces. The cooking techniques are essentially the same as Swiss chard. Unlike Swiss chard, beet greens are fairly easy to find these days and can be found at your local grocery or farmers’ market.

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4. Black Kale

There are many different types of kale, but black kale is the best alternative for Swiss chard. This variety is also known as Tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, or lacinato kale.

The strong flavors of black kale and its deep green leaves are much like Swiss chard. It is slightly sweeter than regular kale and has the same nutty taste that Swiss chard has. 

Since its leaves are on the tough side, it’s preferable to boil or steam them before sautéing or braising. This helps soften the stiff, thick leaves, but they can be eaten raw too.

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5. Collard Greens

Collard greens are a common ingredient in Southern American cuisine. They have a rich taste when raw, but the flavor becomes milder and more palatable when cooked.

They can be sautéed, roasted, or simply boiled. Collard greens are commonly used in sandwiches, rolls, sandwiches, and soups. 

Collard greens and mustard greens have similar appearances but they are not the same. While they have the texture of cabbage leaves, they do not taste like cabbage. Instead, they have the same bittersweet, earthy flavors as Swiss chard.

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6. Rhubarb

Even though rhubarb is considered a fruit and chard a vegetable, they can take the place of Swiss chards. Rhubarb has dark green leaves that resemble those of Swiss chard.

When eaten raw, rhubarb has a tangy and sour flavor. To counteract the sour taste, it is cooked with sweeteners like sugar. You can also sweeten it with syrup or honey to reduce the strong taste. 

Rhubarb can be baked and used in soups and stews. It can be used in nearly any dish that requires Swiss chard.

Swiss Chard Substitutes

7. Bok Choy

Bok Choy is a popular green vegetable in Chinese cuisine that can be used in place of Swiss Chard. The leaves of bok choy are nutty and crunchy with a creamy white celery-like stalk that is a lot like Swiss chard. 

Bok choy can be eaten raw or cooked. Either way, it is equally nutritious. Bok choy is best used in stir-fries, dumpling stews, power bowls, or simply boiled.

You may also use it in soups, sandwiches, and a variety of dishes that require Swiss chard.

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8. Dark Leafy Greens

Their rich color and crunchiness make them an excellent alternative. Dark leafy greens contain vitamins and iron that strengthen the body’s immune system. They have large, crisp leaves that are similar to Swiss chard.

After cooking, these greens taste remarkably similar to Swiss chard. Both have dark green leaves with bitter, smooth, and somewhat sweet flavors.

Dark leafy greens are excellent substitutes for Swiss chard, particularly when used in stews and sauces.

Some examples of dark leafy greens are rapini, dandelion greens, and turnip greens.

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9. Arugula

Also known as rocket, rucola, and Italian cress, arugula is a cruciferous vegetable that’s rich in calcium, potassium, folate, vitamins A, C, and K. Arugula makes a great substitute for Swiss chard if you’re using it in a salad recipe or as a topping. 

Physically, this vegetable has thin stems and distinctively concave-shaped leaves. It has a bitter peppery taste that’s similar to mustard greens.

If it’s too bitter for your taste, you can soak the leaves in a mixture of lemon juice and coconut oil for at least half an hour.

You can also use smaller and younger arugula leaves for less bitterness.

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10. Pumpkin Greens

Pumpkin plants are one of the most useful to have around because all its parts are edible including its flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds. Like other leafy green vegetables, the leaves of a pumpkin are nutritionally rich.

They’re packed with antioxidants, folate, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, E, and K.

To substitute them for Swiss chard, use the younger leaves for salads and more mature tougher leaves in cooked dishes like soups, curries, stew, and sauteed dishes.

Be careful that you don’t eat too much of the greens, however, since its leaves have toxins which can harm you when eaten in excess.

Swiss Chard Substitutes

11. Chinese Broccoli

If you want more crunch in your Swiss chard replacement, Chinese broccoli is a great choice for cooked dishes. Its thick stems and leaves cook easily and provide a satisfying crunch. While it has a slightly bitter taste, it isn’t as bitter as arugula and mustard greens.

Known as Chinese kale, flowering kale, or kailan in Cantonese, this little-known deep green vegetable is full of healthy goodness. It has calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and B6.

To make things even better, every cup of kailan has only 19 calories — even less than Swiss chard.

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What Is Swiss Chard?

The leaves of the Swiss chard are quite large and have a crunchy texture. This vegetable is crisp and delicate, with a creamy yet bitter flavor.

However, compared to beets and kale, the flavor is a lot less earthy. It tastes a bit like spinach, but its brightly colored leaves make the Swiss chard unique. 

Swiss chard is a colorful leafy vegetable that comes in a variety of colors such as green, yellow, orange, red, and even cream. It is certainly one of the most attractive veggies you will ever see.

That is why it can be difficult to find a perfect substitute.

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Parts of the Swiss Chard

The blade (or the big chunky stem that serves as the central vein) and the leaf are the two primary components of the Swiss chard. These two components are generally cooked separately.

The stem or the blade tastes sweeter than the leaves. This blade can be a deep and vivid green, pink, violet, red, or yellow. 

Depending on the dish you’re preparing, you can cook Swiss chard or consume it raw. It is typically found in soups, pasta, and salads. 

Interestingly, Swiss chard did not originate in Switzerland. It hails from the largest Mediterranean island, Sicily in Italy. A Swiss botanist was responsible for coining the scientific name and hence the suffix “Swiss.”

Best Swiss Chard Recipes

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some, Swiss Chard is a versatile, healthy, and tasty vegetable that you can use in a number of dishes. Here are some ideas for inspiration:

Sauteed

Who said cooking always has to be complicated? Lightly and quickly sauté some Swiss chard in olive oil, garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Make sure not to overcook the vegetable as it can wilt pretty quickly when cooked.

In Curries

We just love a good curry. If you feel the same way, then you can no doubt relate to the way our stomachs start growling at the sight and smell of it bubbling away in a cooking pot. 

Turn up its delicious goodness by adding some Swiss chard. The unmistakable flavors will blend together and provide a nice contrast with your chard. Here’s a mouthwatering lentil, chard, and sweet potato curry recipe to get you going.

In Pastas

Put some healthy greens in your pasta by throwing chopped-up Swiss chard in your favorite pasta dish. You’ll be surprised at how this veggie complements almost any pasta recipe while providing additional texture and contrast.

In Quesadillas

Swiss chard adds a nice crunch to your quesadilla. This recipe combines mushrooms, garlic, onions, coriander, and red pepper flakes with Monterey Jack cheese for a gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly meal.

You can even use the recipe as a make-ahead meal by preparing the filling in advance.

As a Creamed Vegetable

Instantly level up any meal with some creamed Swiss chard. Here’s a recipe from Martha Stewart that only uses a few ingredients. It’s so good you won’t even miss the original creamed spinach.

In Rolls

Fancy a roll wrapped in Swiss chard? If you love zante currants, feta, and cheddar cheese with hints of oregano and allspice, this recipe for Swiss chard rolls makes a satisfying and flavorful dish. Best of all, it’s a grain-free, low-carb comfort meal!

Feel free to experiment and change up the filling with whatever ingredients work for you.

In Smoothies

Didn’t we say Swiss chard was versatile? In this Chard and Pineapple Smoothie from Rachel Ray, the slight bitterness of Swiss chard is balanced with pineapple, coconut, and banana. All you have to do is throw all your ingredients in a blender to enjoy its yummy goodness.

In Salads

If you love kale, then you’ll appreciate Swiss chard in your salad. With a light, lemony dressing, garlic-infused breadcrumbs, and a smattering of parmesan, Swiss chard turns soft and buttery. 

Here’s a recipe for Swiss Chard Salad With Lemon, Parmesan, and Bread Crumbs from one of our favorite online cooks.

For Stews

Love stews? Add some Swiss chard for flavor and texture. This Beef Stew with Swiss Chard is a wonderful comfort meal that incorporates a tomato-based sauce seasoned with red wine vinegar, thyme, and rosemary. The description alone makes our mouths water.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Swiss chard seasonal? Are there times of the year when it’s easier to find?

Swiss chard is typically available year-round but they’re usually at their best during the summer months from June to August. However, because the demand outpaces supply, it isn’t easy to find. 

How do you prepare Swiss chard?

Before cooking or consumption, get rid of any wilted leaves and trim the lower end of the stalks. Rinse the leaves thoroughly with water to remove soil and other debris that may be clinging to the leaves.

One way to do this is by filling a basin with water and soaking the leaves. Wait a few minutes to allow the dirt to settle at the bottom before giving them a final rinse under running water. 

If you have Swiss chard but won’t be cooking them right away, wrap it in a plastic bag and refrigerate it. It’s best to consume it within the next 3 days.

Can you substitute cabbage for Swiss chard?

Although it is not advised, cabbage can be substituted in place of Swiss chard. It is a pretty standard vegetable that is extremely easy to find and has various uses in the kitchen. Cabbage is full of essential nutrients and is delicious. While its flavor is slightly more bitter than chard, its bitterness can be balanced with other ingredients. 

It is used in sandwiches, stews, sauces, and many other foods.

Is Swiss chard similar to escarole?

Escarole does not look like chard but has a similar flavor. It belongs to the chicory plant group and has curly leaves with a bitter taste. The inner leaves are delicate and have a delightful texture, making them an excellent substitute for Swiss chard.

Escarole can be eaten raw or cooked. Escarole has a similar appearance to spinach or lettuce so you may want to check if you’re buying the right vegetable.

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Final Words

Swiss chard is considered a superfood. Vibrantly colored and possessing several health benefits, it is very popular and difficult to find.

With our list of Swiss chard substitutes, you no longer have to skip a recipe that uses it if you can’t find it in your local grocery. However, you may find that some of the recommended replacements are more available than others.

Beet greens, spinach, and dark leafy greens are the closest alternatives. Cooked Swiss chard, on the other hand, is more like bok choy or kale.

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