For a healthy snack, cut yourself some celery stalks and dip them in peanut butter (the smooth or crunchy kind). The combination of flavors is amazing; your body and health will thank you. There’s only one problem: You don’t have celery.
Is there a substitute for celery, and what can you use?
Celery has several tasty (and healthy) substitutes that add the desired crunch to your recipes. These substitutes include cardoons, fennel seeds, bok choy, green bell peppers, water chestnuts, and carrots. Cucumbers and green apples also add a fresh crunch to salads.
Are you looking for some healthy substitutes for celery? We’ve got you covered with this guide to the best celery substitutes available.
What Is Celery?
Celery is a popular vegetable that belongs to the Apiaceae plant family. This versatile vegetable has a crunchy, crisp texture with a fresh and almost sweet flavor.
The celery plant has around 6 to 8 long, green, fibrous stalks with a notched appearance.
The cylindrical stalks have yellowish-green leaves attached to them that complement any salad.
The stalks are perfect additions for soups and stews. Once the stalks have been cooked, they tend to lose a lot of aromatic flavor.
Almost everything on the celery plant is put to good use. When summer is in full swing, the celery plant produces tiny, white, delicate flowers. The seeds are then harvested from the flowers and dried.
The dried seeds are then ground into a fine powder (or you can leave them whole) and used to spice different cuisines. You can also make your own celery salt at home by adding salt to your ground or whole celery seeds.
You can also eat the celery stalks raw as a snack or chopped into a salad.
What Is Celery Used For?
Celery has numerous uses and health benefits as well.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular uses for celery:
- You can use celery to make healthy smoothies and juice. This “green machine” contains vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients such as potassium and vitamins C, K, and A. The smoothie and juice are excellent for increasing hydration and reducing inflammation.
- You can use dried or fresh celery leaves to garnish dishes such as curries, stews, and soups. They can also add some color to fresh salads.
- You can use raw celery stalks for snacking. Cut them into finger sizes and dip them in different sauces, cream cheese, or peanut butter for a healthy snack.
- You can use fresh celery to spruce up stir-fries, which helps enhance the texture and flavor of the dish.
- You can use celery salt to add a mild seasoning to dishes such as soups, stews, and casseroles (it even goes well with scrambled eggs.)
Did you know? In ancient Greece, it was an honor to receive celery as a prize for winning an athletic contest.
5 Best Substitutes for Celery
Here’s a look at 5 of the best (and tastiest) substitutes for celery:
1. Bok Choy
Bok choy, fondly known as the Chinese cabbage, is an excellent substitute for celery. Like celery, bok choy also has firm green stalks with a broader leaf.
It also adds a crisp and crunchy texture to food when served raw.
Bok choy can also be cooked and added to soups and stews. This cruciferous (cabbage family) green veggie has an earthy taste similar to spinach (the taste profile won’t be an exact match for celery.)
The ratio of bok choy is 1:1 (one stem of bok choy for every celery stem.)
Good to know: Bok choy is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. It also provides fiber and beta-carotene.
2. Green Bell Peppers
Another surprising substitute for celery is green bell peppers. While the flavor won’t be the same, the texture and overall look are perfect.
This vegetable has a mild and slightly sweeter taste to celery that goes well with any dish that calls for celery.
Bell peppers can be cooked in soups, stews, and stir-fries and can also be eaten raw.
The ratio of green bell peppers to celery is 1:1, but adding half the amount first is best to ensure the sweetness doesn’t overpower your meal.
Good to know: Green bell peppers are high in vitamin C and have excellent antioxidant properties.
3. Water Chestnut
Water chestnuts are a good substitute for celery. However, they can be difficult to source. Water chestnuts are canned vegetables that have a small button-like shape.
They have a crunchy texture and can be served raw or cooked.
The taste is quite different from celery and is compared to a cross between coconut and apple, with a nutty undertone. The texture works very well as a substitute for celery, as the mild flavor won’t overpower the dish.
The ratio of water chestnuts to celery is 1:1.
4. Cucumber or Green Apple
Green apples and cucumber add a crisp crunch to salads in the same way that celery would. Unfortunately, the flavor won’t come close to celery, but the texture works very well as a substitute.
Cucumbers and green apples are best served uncooked to maintain that fresh crunch.
The ratio of cucumber or green apple to celery is 1:1.
Carrots come from the same plant family as celery and make an excellent substitute. The main difference is the color.
Carrots can be served fresh to add a crunch to salads and stir-fries or cooked in soups and stews.
You can substitute ½ cup of carrots for every stalk of celery.
What Vegetable Is Closest to Celery?
Regarding looks and texture, cardoons are the closest vegetable to celery. This vegetable has long fibrous stalks with leafy green tops like celery. However, when it comes to taste, it is slightly more bitter.
Top Tip: For the best results, soak the cardoon in salt water, which will help lessen the bitter taste.
What Herb Can Substitute Celery?
The best herb substitute for celery is fennel bulbs, stalks, or fennel seeds. They all have a unique flavor that’s very similar to celery.
Fennel is often compared to the taste of licorice or anise. It can be eaten raw or cooked, just like celery.
The ratio of fennel is 1:1 (1 tablespoon of fennel for every tablespoon of celery).
My Last Foodie Thoughts
Celery truly is a versatile vegetable. This green veggie has so many health benefits, and it’s no wonder people love adding it to their food.
Celery is easy to grow, but it has specific needs that must be met to flourish. That’s why it’s handy to have some tasty celery substitutes available.
While it can be challenging to match the unique flavor of celery, these substitutes are guaranteed to add good flavor and a crunchy texture to your food (whether served raw or cooked).