As you’re going to see, there are plenty of asparagus substitutes to choose from.
Besides frozen or canned asparagus, you can also choose from a number of other vegetables: green beans, broccoli, peas, celery, leeks, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, etc.
When you consider which of these vegetables will work best for your recipe, there are 2 things to think about: which vegetable is easiest to find where you live and which will work best with the rest of the ingredients that the recipe consists of.
Some parts of the world might have all sorts of vegetables imported year-round even when they’re out of season but others are not as lucky.
After all, asparagus is not as common as carrots, onions, tomatoes or even fresh herbs. In some places, you’re not going to find asparagus in a supermarket absolutely every day of the year just as easily as finding bell peppers, chilis, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, etc.
Plus, there are some who simply don’t like how it tastes. I’ll offer my favorite replacements for whatever situation you find yourself in.
Best Asparagus Substitutes: 13 Delicious Picks
For those who are looking for asparagus substitutes because they don’t like the taste of it, I would recommend replacing it with green beans.
The good news about green beans is that they’re easy to cook. Another advantage is that they’re easy to find around the globe. And if you have a large family to feed, buying frozen beans is one of the best deals throughout the year.
Frozen asparagus can be a wonderful option if you can find it. I’m not the biggest fan of the canned variety.
Other wonderful asparagus substitutes for a wide variety of recipes are: broccoli, leeks, peas (especially sugar snap peas), avocado, zucchini, leafy greens, spinach, celery, and even mushrooms.
Overall, green beans and peas are two of my favorites due to their year-round availability, whether fresh/canned/frozen, delicious taste, easy of cooking, and affordable prices.
1. Frozen asparagus
I’m aware that plenty of people don’t like frozen vegetables in general.
However, I do find some of them really good and I freeze some of them myself, including tomatoes, bell peppers, peas, green beans, and various fruits.
All the others I buy, including frozen asparagus, broccoli, edamame, spinach, kale, butternut squash, cauliflower, etc.
I use frozen foods for soups, stir-fries, sauces, as ingredients for various rice/grains dishes, oven roasted, and for slow cooked dishes. They are just as versatile as their fresh counterparts.
In my opinion, with the right ingredients (olive oil, butter, lemon juice, chili, herbs, cheese, bacon, nuts), you can truly make frozen asparagus taste divine.
You won’t know the difference, I guarantee it. I actually prefer the frozen one to the canned.
2. Canned asparagus
I’m not the biggest fan of canned asparagus. As I’ve said, I prefer the frozen one by a wide margin.
The canned one has a different taste and texture. That texture is what makes me skip on buying it canned.
However, it’s a bit versatile. You can use it for soups, salads, pasta, casseroles, and quiche.
The good thing is that canned asparagus is precooked, you can add it just like that to salads or simply heat it and eat it. However, I would rinse it first.
There are plenty of people who think that asparagus tastes like earthy broccoli.
Well, I believe that broccoli is one of the best asparagus substitutes that can replace it in absolutely all recipes without any problems.
For those who are more comfortable with cooking broccoli, this is the perfect choice.
You can buy it frozen or fresh, both options are delicious. The advantage is that the frozen one is already cut and ready for cooking, free of any mess.
The easiest way to cook it is to steam it, a method that preserves nutrients and vitamins, as well.
That might not be entirely the case when boiling it. It will take about 4-5 minutes to steam it.
To test if it’s done, you should be able to pick the tip of a knife into the florets with ease. I prefer it on the crunchy side, I don’t like mushy broccoli at all.
If I boil it, I add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Then I only leave the florets in the boiling water for about a minute and a half. I remove the florets and plunge them into ice water. This is called blanching. You can do the same for the stems, too.
Then, use the blanched vegetables in vegetable platters, salads, frittatas, casseroles.
You can even use broccoli as a pizza topping. I also mentioned that asparagus can be used as a pizza topping. That’s another thing where these two match.
However, I most enjoy my broccoli in my stir-fries.
4. Green beans (delicious asparagus substitute)
If what you’re looking for is a green effect for your side dishes, green beans are an awesome asparagus substitute. They’ll look awesome on any plate.
If you leave your green beans whole while cooking them, they can be easily confused with asparagus stems.
Plus, they pair well with various meats, fish, and seafood. They also complement plenty of vegetables.
Moreover, plenty of people love green beans. I’m definitely one of those.
They can be prepared in the same way as asparagus: steamed, sautéed, in the oven, grilled or fried. But you can also eat them raw if the green beans are harvested young, when they’re crispy yet tender.
And, just like it’s the case with asparagus, you can make green beans pasta (green bean spaghetti especially because they pair well with tomatoes) or you can use these vegetables as ingredients for pasta.
Green beans and broccoli are two of my favorite asparagus substitutes.
Both vegetables are just as versatile, delicious, more easy to find, cheaper, very easy to prepare, they’re rapidly cooked, and pair well with basically everything.
If you want to cook pasta with mushrooms and asparagus, leeks will work perfectly as a substitute.
You can also use them for salads, on the grill, in the oven or for soups.
If you want to make a quick side-dish, just make some stir-fry leeks. It will go with various meats and fish.
If you’ve never cooked with leeks, make time to watch a short video tutorial that teaches you how to properly clean them.
These vegetables have plenty of layers and they’re grown in sand. That can lead to plenty of unseen, hidden sand that can ruin a meal with just a few unwashed grains.
If you love onions and garlic in all their forms, you’re likely to love leeks as well.
Peas are another absolutely delicious substitute for asparagus.
These tiny, flavorful green balls can be used in casseroles, soups, stir-fries, pasta, frittatas.
You can also eat peas raw but, to get that sweet, crispy taste, they must be harvested young.
The 2 varieties that can be eaten raw are sugar snap and snow peas. Just make sure to remove their hard outer string.
Avocado can work as a substitute in salads, soups, and smoothies. However, it’s best eaten raw. If it’s nicely ripe, eating it raw will be a delight.
This is a fruit that’s creamy, buttery, nutty, and earthy.
It’s quite different from asparagus but it can work as a substitute in a few recipes. Although, it doesn’t have the versatility of broccoli, green beans or even peas.
We already know that you can make zucchini noodles and pasta but this fruit/vegetable can also be cooked in the oven, on the grill, fried, in soups, and it’s even safe to eat raw although it can be bitter.
9. Lettuce/Leafy greens (substitutes for salads)
If you don’t like asparagus in your salads, just use lettuce.
For example, if you want to make an asparagus salad with lemon vinaigrette, lettuce will work well instead.
Just as well, you can use many other leafy greens: baby spinach, arugula, watercress, kale, etc.
All these leafy greens can work as asparagus substitutes in pretty much any salad.
Baby spinach is an awesome asparagus substitute in salads but it can also be used in pasta, frittata, smoothies, stir-fries.
If you want a quick side dish, stir fry it with oil and garlic. A couple of minutes and you’re done, especially if you buy the spinach in a bag.
Celery and asparagus don’t have anything in common when it comes to taste but celery can serve as a substitute, it can be eaten both raw and cooked.
The thing with this substitution is that celery has a stronger flavor. If too much is used, it will overpower the rest of the ingredients.
I wouldn’t call it the best substitute but it can work in some recipes.
If you’re one of those that thinks that asparagus tastes like mushrooms, you can definitely use them as a substitute in plenty of recipes.
These 2 also have a few things in common: a similar texture and the ability to absorb all the other flavors of the ingredients they’re cooked with.
If you want to make pasta with asparagus and mushrooms, then just skip it entirely or use peas, leeks, broccoli, zucchini or green beans instead.
Moreover, there are recipes for roasted/sautéed asparagus and mushrooms recipes. In this case, you can just cook the mushrooms alone or you can use plenty of the above asparagus substitutes instead, whichever you like best.
Carrots can be wonderful asparagus substitutes because they can be used in many similar recipes, including wrapped in bacon, oven roasted, blanched, steamed, etc.
The only think you must pay attention to is cooking times because carrots can take a long while until they’re perfectly cooked.
What Does Asparagus Taste Like?
This is a stem vegetable belonging to the asparagus family (Asparagaceae).
When it comes to its taste, it’s a bit hard to pinpoint it clearly. It depends from person to person.
Some people consider that asparagus tastes like mushrooms, others say that it tastes like broccoli or artichokes.
For some, when it’s baked and splashed with olive oil and lemon juice, it ends up tasting like beans.
Other people will think that it tastes like grass, while others will chew it and say that it pretty much tastes like nothing.
Moreover, it has a mild earthy bitterness, a bit of an earthy grass flavor.
It’s definitely a better idea to eat young stems because older asparagus can take a bit of a sour taste.
However, I’m sure that some of you don’t like this particular vegetable, which is definitely a good reason for searching for substitutes for asparagus.
Some of the most famous asparagus dishes include: oven-roasted, used in salads, pasta recipes, cooked instead of pasta (like asparagus carbonara), grilled, various asparagus soups, as a side dish (especially for seafood and fish but also other meats), topping on pizza, in frittata, risotto.
You can eat it cooked or raw. Asparagus is often added raw in salads. The only part we don’t eat is the bottom end because it’s tough, stringy, and bitter.
Before cooking it, if you want to make sure that it’s perfectly prepared, soak it in a bowl with cold water. That will make sure that the fine grit that can lurk in asparagus tips will be completely removed.
Popular asparagus recipes
If we want to know where we might be expected to need asparagus substitutes, we should talk about some popular recipes.
There are a lot of varieties for this recipe, which is a perfect side dish. Some will just have you simply toss your prepared asparagus with a light drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. That’s the vegan version.
The vegetarian option is sprinkling the spears with parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. This is the vegetarian version.
As you can see, you can use broccoli and green beans as the easiest and most delicious substitutes. Mushrooms will also work nicely for a more substantial ingredient.
Roasted zucchini is another alternative. In the end, pick whatever vegetable you like the most and is the easiest to find.
All these substitutes for roasted asparagus also work for steamed asparagus.
You can also make steamed pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squash if you prefer sweeter vegetables.
Moreover, if you want to cook blanched asparagus but you don’t have any, cook blanched broccoli or blanched green beans or sugar snap peas.
Carrot sticks, cauliflower florets, fennel wedges, kohlrabi wedges can also be blanched.
Corn and asparagus salad
You ca make a corn and peas salad. Or a corn and green beans salad.
I’m sure that a gilled corn broccoli salad with scallions will be just as delicious.
The idea is that you can make so many combinations, that’s the way with vegetables in general.
It also applies to all the other salads recipes.
Bacon wrapped asparagus bundles
When you come across a recipe like this one, you must ask yourself: which vegetables can be wrapped in bacon?
All the alternatives that work for bacon wrapped dishes also work for grilled ham wrapped asparagus.
In this case, the asparagus substitutes that we can use are green beans bundles, parsnips, carrot sticks, avocado, broccoli rabe, dates wrapped in bacon, stuffed jalapenos, Brussel sprouts, enoki mushrooms, and even small pieces of corn on the cob can be wrapped in bacon.