Are you a big fan of kohlrabi, but find it hard to source in your area? Or are you just looking for some fresh inspiration in the kitchen? Look no further! In this blog post, we’ve rounded up the 8 best kohlrabi substitutes that are sure to add some tasty variety to your meals.
From crisp salads to hearty soups, these versatile vegetables can be used in a variety of dishes, and each brings its own unique nutritional benefits to the table. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner cook, you’re sure to find a kohlrabi substitute on this list that will make your taste buds sing.
So, sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and get ready to explore the world of kohlrabi substitutes with us. Let’s get cooking!
What is Kohlrabi?
Kohlrabi is a part of the Brassica oleracea family. Its name comes from the German words “kohl” (kale) and “rabi” (above the ground). From the similarity in shapes and leaf patterns, we can tell right away that kohlrabi is a relative of cabbage and turnip.
The vegetable comprises a rounded bulb with various stalks sprouting from the top. Kohlrabi comes in two colors: purple and greenish-white. Both are edible but taste slightly different. If you’ve ever wondered “what does kohlrabi taste like?”, the answer is right here.
In terms of flavor, this cruciferous crop tastes like a hybrid of cabbage and broccoli stems. The flavor of purple kohlrabi seems to be a bit sweeter, while the greenish-white one has a less sweet and mildly peppery taste.
The best kohlrabies are the smaller ones, ideally 5-6 centimeters in diameter. Some kohlrabies are sold with their stems and leaves removed. Yet, these parts are indeed edible and taste good even when eaten raw. About the nutrition factors, kohlrabi contains no fat.
It is rich in minerals and vitamin C, with a higher content than that of an orange. Kohlrabi provides a variety of health benefits. This healthy veggie can lower the risk of heart disease, control your cholesterol level, and enhance the immune system.
Recommended Kohlrabi Substitute
Now, let’s come to the essential part and discover several kohlrabi replacements you should give a try.
1. Broccoli Stems
Broccoli stems are one of the top choices for kohlrabi alternatives. They resemble each other in terms of texture and flavor. Kohlrabi and broccoli stems both have a juicy, crisp bite.
Still, the trunks of broccoli are not quite peppery and less sweet. They taste delicious when pan-fried, roasted, or steamed.
Because of the tough skin, broccoli stems are usually deemed unpalatable and discarded in the prepping phase. To stop the trunk from getting more fibrous, you should peel the outer layer before cooking. Doing this will help the broccoli stem become tender and even more similar to kohlrabi.
The closest similarity between kohlrabi and radish is the flavorsome, crunchy texture. When kohlrabi gets older, it slowly becomes less sweet and starts to taste radish-like. The chemical changes make these red bulbs a great kohlrabi substitute in any salad recipe.
You can cut them into slices, spread some high-quality butter, a sprinkling of flaky salt and make a yummy snack. Or you can swap radish in any of your favorite kohlrabi dishes.
3. Green Turnips
Due to the relationship in the brassicas family, kohlrabi is a green turnip-like vegetable. You can easily use the two veggies interchangeably.
Even though they taste similar, the texture of green turnips might not be as soft.
Turnips taste sharp and crunchy when eaten raw, but sweet and soft when cooked. Just like kohlrabies, it goes great with butter and savory seasonings.
The most common recommendations for green turnip like vegetables are to slow-cook, sauteé, or make a mash. If you want a more crispy bite, green turnips could be a perfect element to get creative with your ordinary kohlrabi soups.
Surprisingly, celeriac is also a vegetable you can use in place of kohlrabi bulbs. No matter if it’s cooked or raw, it will give a sense of crispness to your mouth that feels just like kohlrabi.
Having a similar flavor to celery, this gnarled-looking root might be a great choice to bump up the spice of the dishes. Compared with kohlrabi, celeriac has considerably thick and tough skins.
You can use a knife or a potato peeler to remove the skins. And do not freak out if you see the itty-bitty flesh left by the time you are done!
The famous kohlrabi cabbage slaw is a great example showing the similarity between these two. Cabbage has this funky, sharp flavor that could spice up the dish in case kohlrabi tastes too mild for you.
Cabbage is also easier to buy and available just about all year round. Replace the rabi vegetables with chopped, shredded, or julienned cabbage if you like a crispier texture. The best recommendations for cooking cabbage are slaws, salads, stir-fries, and even soups.
Parsnip has the look of a carrot but tastes somewhat like kohlrabi. Especially, its earthy flavor resembles the sweet hint of young kohlrabies.
With its nutty scent, parsnip is extremely versatile. The vegetable tastes amazing in creamy dishes. It also works well in raw, boiled, or pureed food recipes.
You should use a vegetable brush to scrub parsnips instead of peeling because its flavor mostly lays right beneath the skin. To avoid oxidation, remember to soak parsnips in a mixture of water and lemon juice before cooking them.
Rutabaga has a crunchy bite that resembles the combination of kohlrabi and turnip. Flavor-wise, this knobbly bulb tastes bitter compared to the sweet taste of kohlrabi. That said, the bitterness could make an interesting overtone for your coleslaws.
You can enjoy raw rutabaga. These bulbs are also great for stews, soups, and mashed recipes. Rutabaga’s leaves are edible and can be used as a replacement for kohlrabi greens.
Just a few leaves on the top for decorations or a handful of them to add a zest to your salads, whichever way you prefer!
Although potato does not taste exactly like kohlrabi, it is still a good alternative when you don’t have any kohlrabi. The potato is a bit dense and starchy. However, if you can handle it well, potato’s starchiness might add a novel texture to your favorite kohlrabi dishes.
Especially for potatoes, you need to properly wash and scrub the potatoes to make sure all the poisonous parts have been removed. Then, they are free to chop, shred, and slice into chunks.
9. Swiss Chards
Last but not least, you can replace kohlrabi greens with their savory flavor with swiss chards. They are similar in shape and both have a tender texture.
Raw swiss chards taste bitter. When cooked, the bitterness fades and is replaced by a mild, sweet flavor akin to kohlrabi.
Just like kohlrabi greens, swiss chard is nutrient-rich, chock-full with vitamins and antioxidants. You can enjoy raw swiss chards in salads or coleslaws. They are also a great ingredient for stews, soups, and casseroles recipes.
How To Choose Substitute For Kohlrabi For A Particular Recipe
From the detailed list above, you must have got to know more about the handy kohlrabi alternatives. Now, let’s keep on reading to see how you can choose the best substitute in specific cases.
If you want to keep the firmness as well as the juicy taste profile of the kohlrabies, broccoli stems, green turnips, and parsnips are 100% on the priority list! When handled properly, these hearty bulbs might reflect the same taste as kohlrabies.
They would work best as a kohlrabi substitute in chicken salads and coleslaw. However, since we usually use raw veggies, please make sure you know how long the salad is good for, just for your safety.
On the other hand, if you love to play with the recipes and add an intense, spicy flavor to your dish, you should go with radishes, celeriac, rutabaga, potatoes, and swiss chards.
Based on how you combine and cook the ingredients, your food may have various flavors, ranging from bitterness, nuttiness to a pleasant savory taste.