You have heard a lot about the crunchy texture and the distinctive flavor of water chestnuts. So, today you want to use water chestnuts in recipes to bring out fantastic dishes.
Unfortunately, you cannot find any freshwater chestnuts in the market. What should you do now? What ingredients can you use as a substitute for water chestnuts?
Well, let’s scroll down the article below to check out the top replacements for water chestnuts. This way, you can effortlessly discover the most suitable water chestnut substitute for your needs.
Brief Introduction About Water Chestnuts
Let’s start with some brief interesting facts about water chestnuts before getting into details about substitutes for water chestnuts.
First, despite having the phrase “chestnuts” in the name, water chestnuts are not a substitute for chestnuts. In fact, their only similarity is their appearance with papery brown skin outside and white flesh inside.
Water chestnuts are aquatic tubers that are native to Southeast Asia, China, Africa, Australia, and many islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans.
So, what does a fresh water chestnut taste like?
Freshwater chestnuts are flavorful and fruity. You can feel the sweetness blending with the gentle tartness all at once. Water chestnuts have a crispy texture even after cooked and canned due to their ferulic acid content.
Because of the distinctive sweet-tart flavor and crunchy texture, water chestnuts are key ingredients in many top-rated recipes, such as bacon water chestnuts, cashew chicken with water chestnuts, and snow peas with water chestnuts.
Water chestnuts are not only tasty but also nutritious. Raw water chestnuts contain various antioxidants and other compounds that help prevent diseases linked with age, such as heart disease.
Where can you find these crunchy and juicy tubers? Go to an Asian supermarket; raw water chestnuts are available there for you to put into your shopping carts.
Top 8 Best Substitute For Water Chestnuts
So, which is the best alternative for water chestnuts? Let’s check out these recommendations to decide which substitution is the most suitable one for your needs.
1. Canned Water Chestnuts
When it comes to substitutions for freshwater chestnuts, canned water chestnuts must be the number one candidate.
Canned water chestnuts mark a close resemblance in texture to fresh ones as they are all crunchy. However, the flavor of canned water chestnuts is pretty bland compared to the fresh ones.
Thus, if you incorporate fresh water chestnuts into a dish mainly for texture, the canned version would be the best and most cost-effective alternative.
In the market, you will find two versions of canned water chestnuts: whole and sliced. We suggest buying the whole water chestnut because it comes with a crunchier texture than can sliced water chestnuts.
The next water chestnuts substitute on the list is turnip.
Turnips are root vegetables that are available in almost all supermarkets. And the cost of turnips is usually pretty low, making them a cost-effective replacement for water chestnuts.
So do they feature a similar texture and taste to water chestnuts?
For the texture, yes. They have a crispy and crunchy texture. However, their flavor may be a little bit different. That is because they taste mildly pungent with a slightly bitter and spicy undertone when raw. That spicy flavor becomes milder and sweeter when cooked.
For these reasons, it would be best to substitute them for freshwater chestnuts in Eastern cuisine, especially in the stir-fry dishes.
3. Jerusalem Artichokes
What else can you use as a substitute for water chestnut? Well, you can use Jerusalem artichoke (also known as sunchoke, wild sunflower, or earth apple.)
This type of root vegetable looks pretty like ginger root. It is also easy to find in many markets around your place.
Uncooked, they have a crunchy texture and a fresh, sweet, and nutty flavor, which has been likened to water chestnuts. Due to this nutty flavor, Jerusalem artichoke is widely used in many vegetable side dishes.
Do they maintain their crunchy texture and beautifully sweet taste when cooked? Unfortunately, their taste will become a little bit milder when you cook them.
A note when eating Jerusalem artichokes is that they can make you fart when eating them in large amounts. That is because they are high in inulin, a form of starch that is hard to digest. Thus, you should only eat a small amount of them at once.
4. Jicama Slices
Another water chestnut substitute is jicama. I bet you have heard about this root vegetable before, as it is super well-known for its crunchy texture and sweet juicy taste.
It has a golden-brown, extremely thin skin with white flesh featuring high starch content. Although raw jicama tastes gently sweet, it is pretty low in sugar, making it a perfect water chestnut replacement for everybody, especially those who struggle with diabetes.
When cooked, the sweetness and nuttiness of jicama slices blend so well with other ingredients to create beautiful complex flavors. Thus, they have been used in tons of dishes, especially Asian dishes.
5. Bamboo Shoots
The next replacements for chopped water chestnuts are bamboo shoots.
Their texture resembles that of water chestnuts – crunchy and crisp. However, their flavor is quite different as they have a fibrous and bitter taste. Thus, this alternative only works for some Asian dishes.
A note is that raw bamboo shoots contain a toxin that produces cyanide in the gut. That is why you need to cook bamboo shoots properly before eating, or else you might get several health issues.
What if you are following a sweet dessert recipe calling for water chestnuts? What ingredient should you use as a substitution in this situation?
We suggest using pecans to have a fantastic flavor that will add a nutty richness to your recipe. Besides, they are super versatile since their flavor blends so well with other ingredients, such as maple, vanilla, caramel, and so on.
For the texture, pecans feature a firmer texture compared to water chestnuts.
Pecans are not only versatile but also rich in nutrients. Raw pecans contain tons of protein, healthy fats, and fiber that help to keep you energized and satisfied. They also feature magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which help lower blood pressure.
If you intend to use pecans in your recipes, it would be best to toast them first. This helps to enhance their aroma and flavor.
If you are looking for an alternative that can cover the gently sweet flavor and crunchy texture of water chestnuts, hazelnut is definitely the top choice.
So, which types of recipes should you use raw hazelnuts as alternatives?
Due to the notable nutty flavor, hazelnuts would be the best alternatives in dessert recipes or tasty sauces. They can also be used to bring fresh air to the nutty soups.
What’s more? You can use them as a water chestnut flour substitute after chopping and blending them with a food processor.
Almonds might be the tastiest and most expensive options you can consider between many substitutes for water chestnuts. Raw almonds can replace fresh water chestnuts in basic recipes due to their crunchy texture.
About the flavor comparison, almonds are slightly salty and bitter, while water chestnuts are pretty sweet and juicy.
Hence, almonds would be a perfect replacement for water chestnuts in top-rated recipes requiring the nuts’ crunchiness.
Moreover, you can blend and ground sweet almonds to create almond flour. It can be a fantastic substitute for water chestnut flour due to its savory-sweet flavor.
Here you know the top best water chestnut alternatives. Hopefully, these recommendations will help you to pick the most suitable substitute for water chestnuts for your needs.
Do you know any other ingredients that we can use to replace water chestnuts in the delicious recipes? If so, let’s share with us through the comment box below. We always love to hear more from you.
Goodbye! See you again in another useful article.