10 Broccoli Alternatives

This is a plate of broccoli chicken salad with cherry tomatoes.

Much to the dismay of many, the humble broccoli appears in countless recipes, diets, and restaurant menus.

Love them or loathe them; these little green trees aren’t going anywhere! So, what happens if you run out of broccoli? Or maybe you simply cannot stand the taste – or thought – of munching on this bitter green?

We have a fantastic line-up of healthy broccoli alternatives for you to choose from. These vegetables are easy on your pocket (and palate!) and they provide just as much goodness as broccoli.

Take a look at our top 10 broccoli alternatives, what they offer, and how to make the most of them. The last two might surprise you!

Cauliflower

These are fresh cauliflower with small pieces on a wooden table.

Broccoli’s pale cruciferous cousin.

Cauliflower is the best and closest alternative to broccoli in terms of texture, shape, and nutritional profile.

Those who have an aversion to bitter greens will find cauliflower an excellent substitute, as it has a mild, slightly sweet flavor once cooked.

Cauliflower contains the same potent cleansing and rejuvenating compounds found in broccoli. One of these key compounds is sulforaphane, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to regulate hormones, destroy pathogens, and prevent cancer and diabetes.

A purple cauliflower variety, known as Purple Cape, has recently been developed so that people can benefit from the same anti-aging nutrients found in purple sprouting broccoli. This variety is prized for its beautiful color and sweet, nutty taste.

Orange cauliflower provides more Vitamin A than its white counterpart. It has the same tender, crumbly texture as the other varieties, with a mild, sweet, and slightly creamy flavor.

With their remarkable similarities, broccoli and cauliflower are often used together or interchangeably in many dishes. Cauliflower can be used and enjoyed just like broccoli: Steam, boil, blanch, sauté, or roast.

With its versatility, color, and mild flavor, cauliflower is a plant-based diet staple:

  • Serve raw florets with dips, or thinly slice and add to salad.
  • Puree steamed cauliflower with nutritional yeast, roasted garlic, plant milk and spices for an easy and wholesome vegan Alfredo sauce.
  • Slice into thick ‘steaks’, marinade in BBQ sauce and grill.

This delicious Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Tahini recipe by A Beautiful Plate is a must!

Cabbage

These are fresh cabbages sliced and quartered on a wooden chopping board.

This nutrient powerhouse is often overlooked.

While it may seem very similar to lettuce, cabbage has more in common with broccoli. A fellow member of the Brassica oleracea family, cabbage is a wholesome and affordable broccoli alternative.

There are many varieties of cabbage to choose from, including green, white, purple or red. Each type offers a unique nutrient profile and dining experience.

Cabbage is truly the unsung hero of the Brassica family, as its versatility and incredible health benefits often go unnoticed.

Rich in fiber, antioxidants, and Vitamins A, B, C, and K, regular cabbage intake may help reduce inflammation, improve bone health and digestion, support the immune system and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Raw cabbage has a slightly bitter and peppery taste, with a tough and crunchy texture. Cooked cabbage is tender and sweet but still retains its crunch.

You can substitute broccoli with cabbage in most recipes, but keep in mind that cabbage shrinks once cooked, so you may need to use double the amount. Avoid overcooking cabbage as this will give it an undesirable smell and texture.

  • Raw, shredded cabbage will add color and crunch to salads, wraps, burgers, sandwiches or nourish bowls.
  • Cabbage’s perfectly crispy texture makes it a great addition to stir-fries, noodles, curries and pasta.
  • Elevate your meal’s taste and nutrition with sauerkraut.

Fermented Food Lab shares 20 different ways to enjoy sauerkraut:

Asparagus

This is a bunch of fresh asparagus on a wooden chopping board.

Don’t feel intimidated by this elegant Spring vegetable.

Asparagus is another superb alternative, even though it has no relation to broccoli. Both vegetables share a similar cooking method and taste profile.

The slender stalks are a rich source of fiber, selenium, potassium, folate and Vitamins A, C, E and K. Asparagus is among the few foods that provide glutathione, an essential antioxidant for the health of every cell in the body.

Consuming asparagus may support weight loss, libido, detoxification, strong bones, beautiful skin, reduced bloating, and healthy pregnancy.

Asparagus is an excellent choice for people diagnosed with Hypothyroidism or an iodine deficiency, as cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli may interfere with iodine absorption.

White, green, and purple asparagus are all equally delicious and simple to prepare. Serve and enjoy asparagus as you would broccoli:

  • Add to dishes such as soups, pasta, quiches, pilafs or frittata.
  • Lightly sauté with garlic and olive oil, finish with a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper.
  • Roast alongside your chicken, fish or vegetables.

Kale

A pan of sautéed kale with chili flakes and olive oil.

A leafy green with incredible superpowers.

Kale joins broccoli as a popular member of the cruciferous team. Both have an outstanding nutrient profile, despite their differences in appearance and texture. Kale works really well as a broccoli alternative, except in dishes where broccoli is usually processed to make ‘rice’ or a pizza crust.

Kale is a widely known superfood sought after for its potent health benefits. It is a good source of plant-based calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and Vitamin K.

Regular consumption of kale is linked to increased longevity, a robust immune system, weight management, cancer prevention, healthy bones, eyes, and nervous system.

  • Like broccoli, kale can taste quite bitter. You can reduce the bitterness by simply massaging the kale leaves with a bit of olive oil for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy raw with salt, pepper and a generous squeeze of lemon.
  • Gently steam or sauté kale to preserve all of its nutrients.
  • Kale can be used as a base for salad or added to smoothies, soups and stews.

If kale is unavailable or not to your liking, other leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss Chard, turnip greens, or collard greens will work as a healthy broccoli alternative.

Brussels Sprouts

These are fresh Brussels sprouts in a strainer on a wooden table.

Another vegetable you either love or loathe! Many seasoned chefs will argue that if you dislike Brussels sprouts, then you clearly aren’t cooking them correctly! Nevertheless, these adorable miniature cabbages make the list as a great broccoli substitute.

Brussels sprouts are prized for their potent detoxifying and anti-aging compounds such as sulfur, antioxidants, lutein, sulforaphane, and Vitamins A, C, and E.

The amazing benefits associated with Brussels sprouts include reduced inflammation, improved gut health, and a reduced risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

You can easily swap out broccoli for Brussels sprouts in most dishes.

  • Avoid overcooking Brussels sprouts, as this will release the sulfur compounds, leading to a rotten smell.
  • Roasting will bring out their sweet, nutty flavor.
  • Brussels sprouts only take an average of 6-10 minutes to steam or boil.
  • Slice and pan sear until brown and crispy, add to wraps, pasta or nourish bowls.
  • Thinly shave Brussels sprouts and enjoy in coleslaws or salads.

Green Beans

These are a bunch of green beans in a wooden bowl.

Keeping it green with this versatile and inexpensive legume.

Sweet, tender, and delightfully crunchy, green beans are the perfect broccoli alternative for those who cannot tolerate the bitter and often peppery taste of cruciferous vegetables.

Green beans may not match broccoli’s broad nutrient profile, but they provide some impressive health benefits.

Along with other legumes, green beans are a good source of plant-based protein, fiber, choline, and B Vitamins. They contain twice the amount of iron when compared to spinach!

Green beans assist in detoxification, good digestion, and energy production. Regular consumption is linked to a decreased risk of depression, heart disease, insomnia, and age-related diseases.

Broccoli can be replaced with green beans in most dishes. Stick to fresh or frozen instead of the canned options.

  • Green beans work well as a stand-alone or side dish. Enjoy blanched, steamed or sautéed with toasted almonds, garlic and lemon.
  • Add color and crunch to stir-fries, pasta, casseroles and salads.

Bok Choy

A bunch of fresh bok choy in a woven wicker basket.

Also known as pak choy. Delicate, crisp, and succulent.

Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage with a much milder taste and texture. This leafy green cruciferous will make for a unique and exciting alternative to broccoli. It has a delicate, mustard-like flavor and the stalks are juicy and crunchy.

Bok choy offers the same protective, rejuvenating benefits as broccoli and kale. Its high calcium and Vitamin K content support healthy bones, teeth, and joints. The combination of Vitamin C and beta carotene promotes youthful longevity.

As with other leafy greens, bok choy will shrink once cooked, so purchase ample quantities!

  • Use raw bok choy leaves in salads, wraps and sandwiches for some sweet and crispy texture.
  • Add a boost of flavor and nutrition to soups, stir-fries and rice-based dishes.
  • Braise or grill bok choy with sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic.

Learn more about the incredible benefits of bok choy, and how to make nourishing tofu and bok choy stir-fry by Simnett Nutrition.

Zucchini

A bunch of fresh zucchini in a woven basket on a wooden table.

Also known as marrow or courgette.

As a member of the squash family, zucchini may seem to be a relatively obscure choice for a broccoli alternative. You’ll be delighted to learn that this delicious, budget-friendly vegetable can replace broccoli quite effectively.

Zucchini has an abundance of health-promoting nutrients, such as potassium, manganese, antioxidants, folate, and Vitamins A, B6, C, and K. Its high fiber and water content support good digestion and weight loss.

Regular consumption of zucchini may improve circulation, blood sugar levels, heart, and eye health. It protects the body against free radicals and inflammation and helps to enhance mood, energy, and cognitive function.

Zucchini’s exceptionally mild flavor makes it more pleasant to consume than broccoli or other cruciferous vegetables. It will also take on the flavors of the dish that you are preparing.

  • Zucchini can be served raw, but it will require a generous amount of seasoning. Enjoy with hummus or tzatziki, or slice thinly and add to salads.
  • Like broccoli, zucchini can be fried, steamed, grilled or roasted.
  • Include chopped zucchini in stir-fries, soups, casseroles or lasagna.
  • Spiralized zucchini is a fantastic low-carb and gluten-free pasta alternative.
  • Shredded zucchini can be enjoyed in both sweet or savory dishes such as muffins, pancakes, patties or fritters.

Arugula (Rocket)

A cluster of fresh arugula on a wooden chopping board.

A lesser-known cruciferous vegetable with potent health properties.

It’s difficult to believe that arugula is a cousin of broccoli, kale, and cabbage! Although arugula typically appears in salad mixes, it can be used as a healthy substitute for broccoli in cooked dishes.

Fresh arugula leaves are tender and crispy, with a signature peppery bite. Wild arugula will be more pungent. The leaves will taste milder when cooked.

  • Toss a few arugula leaves into salads, smoothies, soup or pasta for a spicy kick.
  • Use as a topping for pizza, sandwiches, frittata or nachos.
  • Arugula pairs well with citrus fruit, grains and salty cheeses.

Arugula has a stellar nutritional profile, high in folate, iron, calcium, potassium, nitrates, and Vitamins A, C, and K. This peppery green may help lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and clotting.

Arugula leaves contain chlorophyll, which prevents and aids in detoxification, wound healing and a healthy immune response.

Try out this easy and delicious ‘one pan’ pasta with sausage and arugula by Food Wishes.

Parsley

These are fresh parsley on a chopping board.

Officially named Herb Of The Year for 2021 by the International herb Association.

Before you reject this bizarre alternative, here is why herbs deserve just as much respect as vegetables:

Parsley and broccoli are clearly like chalk and cheese when it comes to their appearance, plant lineage and culinary application, but this underrated herb dethrones broccoli when it comes to nutrient density!

Compared to broccoli, parsley has higher amounts of Vitamin C, calcium, folate and potassium. It also contains a whopping 749% more iron and 15 times more Vitamin K than broccoli.

Valued for its culinary and medicinal properties, parsley helps to alkalize, detoxify and bring balance to the body. Other therapeutic effects of parsley include:

  • Relief for painful joints
  • Natural diuretic, kidney nourishment and support
  • Bone, eye and heart health
  • Potential anti-cancer benefits
  • Oral health (also widely known as a natural breath freshener)

Parsley is listed as a non-cruciferous leafy green vegetable, as well as an aromatic herb. It has a mildly bitter aftertaste, similar to broccoli. Curly leaf (French) parsley is typically used as a garnish, while flat-leaf (Italian) parsley is added to cooked dishes.

Parsley is a widely available, inexpensive superfood that requires minimal prep or cooking. It is safe to say that this miracle herb is a good substitute for broccoli in terms of filling in the nutritional gaps.

  • Supercharge your meals: chop and add to pasta, salad, frittata, pizza, grilled vegetables or soup.   
  • Parsley can be juiced in small amounts with celery or cucumber and consumed as a potent detoxifying beverage.
  • Infuse parsley in boiled water and drink as a therapeutic tea.
  • This herb is delicious in tabbouleh, falafel, gremolata or smoothies.
  • Blend parsley into a pesto with olive oil, nuts and parmesan cheese.

Final Thoughts

The broccoli haters, cruciferous intolerants, or adventurous individuals can rest assured knowing that there is an impressive array of broccoli alternatives to suit your recipe, taste, and dietary needs. Who knows, maybe broccoli doesn’t like you either!

Sources:

Buy Kitchen Stuff: Best Broccoli Substitute

The Stone Soup: Broccoli Substitutes

My Conscious Eating: 11 Broccoli Substitutes for your Recipes

NDTV Food: 7 Incredible Benefits of Green Beans

Versus: Broccoli vs. Parsley

Kings Way Compounding: Impressive Health Benefits of Zucchini

Medicine Net: What Are The Benefits of Kale

Souper Sage: Parsley vs. Broccoli

Web MD: Health Benefits of Parsley

Medical News Today: Nutrition

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