Fennel, bok choy, cabbage, and cucumbers all make great substitutes for celery.
You can also try radishes, carrots, celery seeds, or leeks if you don’t have celery on hand.
How often have you been in the middle of a recipe only to realize you don’t have a crucial ingredient? Believe it or not, it can happen with something as simple as celery, too.
These substitutes ensure you always have something else to turn to in a pinch!
What Is Celery?
(scientific name: Apium graveolens)
Celery is a somewhat stringy vegetable in the Apiacaea family. Its close relatives are (perhaps surprisingly) carrots, parsnips, and fennel.
It’s long, straight, and typically light green. The ridged stalks can be thin to medium-thick in diameter and have darker green leaves on top.
The leaves are often removed if you buy celery from the store. Usually, most stores sell pre-cut stalks already separated from the leaves. Though the leaves are 100% edible, too.
The stalks have a crisp, crunchy texture and a mild, though somewhat bitter, flavor. You can eat them raw or cooked. People often add them to soups, stews, salads, and other recipes.
Celery is also a crucial ingredient in mirepoix. (Along with carrots and onions.)
It has a high water content and is an excellent source of antioxidants. It’s also high in vitamin C, fiber, and various flavonoids.
How Celery Is Most Commonly Used
As mentioned, celery is a key ingredient in mirepoix and many salads, soups, and stews. However, those aren’t the only things you can use it for.
It’s also a fantastic veggie to snack on raw. Because of its high water and fiber content, it can aid in digestion and weight loss.
Here are a few other popular ways to use celery:
- Dressing/Stuffing. Along with sage, celery is prevalent in holiday stuffing/dressing recipes. It adds an earthy, fresh flavor and lots of crunchy texture.
- Healthy drinks. Celery is right up there with kale and broccoli for smoothies and juicing. If you want a healthy, convenient morning pick-me-up, juices and smoothies are the way to go. And celery is an excellent addition to both.
- Cajun cooking. Many Cajun recipes include celery in the ingredients.
- Stir-fries. Many stir-fry recipes benefit from the addition of celery. As with dressing or stuffing, it adds great texture and a unique taste.
- Cocktail garnishes. You almost always find a stalk of celery garnishing your Bloody Mary. Bartenders add them to several other drinks, as well.
Best Substitutes for Celery
Here are the 13 best substitutes for celery.
As mentioned, fennel and celery come from the same family. It should come as no surprise it makes an excellent celery alternative.
Fennel is leafier than celery, but the stalks look and feel similar. Their taste is a lot alike, too, though fennel is earthier. It also has notes of licorice, which sets it apart from celery.
If your recipe doesn’t pair well with licorice, choose a different substitute. It works in recipes where celery is raw and cooked.
The swap-out ratio is easy to remember, too. In most recipes, you can swap it out cup for cup (1:1 ratio). Use only half to start with and taste it before adding more.
The earthier flavor and licorice notes make fennel more potent than celery.
Celeriac is another spectacular celery substitute because it is celery. It’s a specific type of celery bred so its stem is just as edible as the shoots.
It’s a root vegetable and tastes and feels like actual celery. It’s earthy and crunchy and an ideal replacement in cooked recipes.
Because its flavor is much more potent than celery, it doesn’t do as well when eaten raw.
Swap out celeriac at a 1:2 ratio for celery to keep it from being too overwhelming. (i.e., Use only half the amount of celeriac as the recipe requires.)
Jicama doesn’t taste much like celery, though both are relatively mild. However, in terms of crunchiness, it’s hard to beat.
It’s somewhat sweeter than celery, too. Take that into account when substituting for certain recipes. It’s not as sweet as fruit, but it is subtly apple-like.
You can use it in both cooked and raw recipes. However, jicama as a replacement works best in raw recipes where its crunch can shine. Try it in salads or snack on it by itself.
It’s also an excellent addition to smoothies and juice recipes.
Start by adding only half the required amount (1:2 ratio) when substituting for celery. Then, gradually add more if the taste difference doesn’t bother you.
4. Bok Choy
Bok choy, or Chinese cabbage, is crisp and crunchy, like celery. However, despite its fantastic crunch, it tastes more like spinach.
Use it as a celery replacement in cooked and raw recipes. However, the taste will be slightly different.
In most cases, you can still use it at a 1:1 ratio without causing many problems.
Cabbage works well in place of celery, though it isn’t quite as crunchy. It has a similar taste profile to bok choy, but it works best in raw recipes.
Cooked cabbage has a powerful flavor and can alter the taste of your dish. When raw, it’s mild and earthy.
Use cabbage at a 1:1 swap for celery in raw recipes. However, start slowly, perhaps a 1:3 or even 1:4 ratio, when using cooked cabbage.
I love radishes and could add them to practically anything. If cut correctly, they can be just as thick as celery and are typically always as crunchy.
They have an earthy, vegetal flavor. However, they contain much more heat than celery, so be mindful when using them as a substitute.
Radishes work best as a replacement for raw celery. They lose a lot of their crunch when cooked. As for a swap-out ratio, that’s harder to gauge.
Because radishes can be spicy, add them slowly and do frequent taste tests.
Though not quite as crunchy as celery, cucumbers do have some crunch.
However, leave them unpeeled, as the peel is where much of their crispness comes from. You should also avoid cooking them. They work best raw.
Like celery, they’re relatively mild in flavor and have a high water content. Use them as a celery replacement at a 1:1 ratio in cold, raw dishes (like salads).
8. Celery Seeds
Celery seeds won’t give you celery’s crunch but will deliver on the flavor. In fact, celery’s seeds taste almost exactly like celery itself. They’re just slightly more bitter.
They work best in cooked recipes like stuffing/dressing, soups, and stews.
The seeds are much more concentrated than celery, so start slowly. Use approximately 1 teaspoon for every required cup of celery, maybe less.
9. Water Chestnut
Water chestnuts are mild veggies and don’t have much flavor at all. But what they lack in flavor, they make up for in crunchiness. They’re even crunchier than celery.
They also retain their crunch when cooked. Therefore, they work great in both cooked and raw recipes. Mix them with a spoonful of celery seeds for the taste and texture of celery.
Because they’re so mild, you can use water chestnuts at a 1:1 or even 2:1 ratio for celery.
10. Green Beans
Green beans and celery aren’t an exact match by any means. Raw green beans are crunchy but not as much as celery, and their flavors are distinct.
Still, beans add a delightful crunch to raw dishes and a mild, earthy flavor to cooked ones. You can swap them for celery at a 1:1 ratio.
Apples aren’t my favorite celery substitutes because the two taste nothing alike. Depending on the apple variety, apples can be super sweet, tart, tangy, or somewhere in between.
Still, they add a delightful crunch to salads and other raw dishes. You can cook with them, as well. Use apples only if your recipe could benefit from a bit of sweetness with its savoriness.
Start at a 1:2 ratio (half the required celery) and slowly add more.
Celery and carrots often go hand in hand. Therefore, it’s not a stretch to think that carrots would make a good substitute for celery.
They have a similar texture and an earthy flavor. However, their color is noticeably different, and they’re slightly sweeter than celery.
You can use them at a 1:1 swap in cooked or raw recipes.
Leeks are somewhat crunchy when raw but don’t retain any crunchiness when cooked. They’re related to onions and taste more like mild onions than celery.
Still, they work in a pinch if you want an earthy, umami pop of flavor and have no celery.
If you want them for crunch, stick to raw recipes. If you want the flavor, raw and cooked recipes are both okay.
Remember leeks are much more potent than celery. So add only about a fourth (1:4 ratio) of the required amount of celery. You can add more after tasting the recipe.
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