Desperately need a last-minute celery substitute? Here are the best seven backups to get you out of trouble.
Celery is a leafy green vegetable related to carrots and parsnips. It has a distinctive crunchy texture and crisp, aromatic flavor. It forms the base of many soups and sauces (together with onion and bell peppers, it is part of the Cajun “holy trinity”) and is a popular low-calorie snack for people who are hungry but health-conscious.
Celery’s absence is more noticeable from a dish than you might think given its mild aroma. There is a reason why it forms the basis of French mirepoix, the Cajun holy trinity, and other soup and sauce starters. Celery gives food a fresh, complex aroma, and without it, that hint of richness is gone.
If you don’t have celery on hand or have picky eaters in your household that refuse to eat this green vegetable, you can still have complex dishes. There are a few vegetables that can serve as a substitute.
The best celery substitutes are scallions and chopped onions. Scallions replicate the distinct crunch of celery, while onions or bell peppers are the perfect alternative for soups and stews.
Scallions (Green Onion)
The best and simplest way to replicate celery in raw dishes (think salads or sandwiches) is to swap in chopped green onion, otherwise known as scallions. The vegetable has a far milder taste than its white or red onion cousins, and has a sweet flavor that lies closer to celery.
When chopping green onion, remove the bulbs and the thinnest parts of the green ends. Use only about half the amount to replace the celery (e.g. ¼ cup sliced green onion vs ½ cup chopped celery).
Bok choy is Chinese cabbage. Much like celery, it has green leaves and a white bulb. You can get vitamins A, C, and vitamin K, amongst others. It has a crunch to it, which makes it a good celery substitute. The green leaves have a dark hue and are soft. The combination of the stalks and the leaves gives the same crunchy yet soft texture that you would get with celery. This helps if you are cooking for people who do not particularly like the taste of celery.
Bok choy comes in mature and also in small stalks. When you cook the plant, you release very beneficial nutrients, even though you can still eat it in its raw state. When you cook bok choy, make sure not to overcook it. The stems will go soft after about 5 minutes. Check on them to make sure they don’t become too soft. You can use the same amount of bok choy as you would celery. Also, ensure that you look for bok choy with hard stems so that they closely resemble celery.
When looking for any substitute, you need to look for specific characteristics in the ingredient you want to substitute. Carrots are a root vegetable that will add the same crunch to your dish that celery would, although the colors are very different. Carrots are naturally sweet. As such, when you add them to your recipe, expect a bit of sweetness there.
Carrots come in different colors, so the type that you choose is what will influence the color of your dish slightly. The good thing about using carrots as a substitute besides the crunch and flavor they add is that they are easy to find. To substitute carrots for celery, you will need to use double the carrots as you would celery.
These are aquatic tuber vegetables and have a crisp white flesh which is very similar to celery. Contrary to what the name suggests, these are not nuts at all. Water chestnuts work well in American chop suey, stir fry, curry, and also in salads.
Water chestnuts have high nutritional value. When it comes to flavor and taste, they have a similar texture to pears. They are quite flavorful and have a combination of a sweet fruity taste and tartness as well.
The white color closely resembles celery. Also, the crunchiness is what makes water chestnuts a good substitute for celery. They are also crispy and will add texture to a dish in the same way that celery does. They do well in stir fry recipes. For effective celery substituting, you will need to use freshwater chestnuts. Canned ones will not work the same.
This root is also known as the Mexican potato or Mexican yam bean, or Mexican turnip. It grows native to Mexico. It is shaped like a globe and has brown paper-like skin, while the inside is white and looks like a regular potato. The flesh is juicy and crunchy as well, which makes it a good celery alternative. It has a slightly sweet taste, with some nutty hints to it. Just like the water chestnut, Jicama has a resemblance to pears.
When you cook Jicama, you need to make sure that you do so briefly to avoid getting soggy and losing its crunchiness and crispiness, which makes it similar to the celery root’s texture. It is also an excellent celery substitute because it is prebiotic and will give you lots of dietary fiber and vitamins brought out when you cook it, just like what happens with celery.
This is a vegetable that has a white bulb and light green stalk, similar to celery. A lot of times, when we cook fennel bulbs, we throw out the stalks. But don’t throw out the stalks just yet. They work as a good celery substitute. They have an unmistakable strong licorice flavor, similar to what you get with anise. When the stalks are cooked, the strong licorice flavor is toned down.
The stalks can easily be used instead of celery in recipes where the celery would need to be cooked. They have a similar herbal flavor as you would get with celery. The difference in cooking the two is that fennel stalks will take more time to cook than celery stalks. Make sure to use fresh stalks in your recipe to maximize the benefits.
These seeds are the spice that is taken from the wild celery plant. While it may not be the same as the one that you buy, it is very similar. The main difference being that wild celery has more robust flavors. It, therefore, makes a potent spice. Celery seeds are the fruit of the plant, which are then dried and used in dishes. It can either be used in its ground form or as a whole.
Celery seeds are commonly used in dishes with tomatoes because they pair well together. You can also use these seeds in recipes where you would need to cook in celery. These seeds do not resemble celery, even in the least. They are small and have a bitter earthy taste. It makes an excellent celery substitute.
Cucumber is often used in a fresh ingredients-based salad like a garden salad. The freshness that they add makes them a good addition, especially for salads. They have the same crunchy texture that is delivered by celery. As for taste, they have a sweet flavor that is also on the sour end. The fresher the cucumber is, the crunchier it will be and the better it will taste.
The common crunch factor makes it a popular celery substitute and is also why some use apples. Even though cucumber does not taste like celery, you will still get the desired texture. They are also cool and make good summer food. The flavors can be said to be balanced and will not overpower the dish.