If you have a recipe that calls for celery and you either do not have any on hand or you are not a fan of the taste or texture of celery, you might be looking for something to replace it with.
Celery has a very distinct flavor that isn’t going to be as easy to duplicate but there are a few options that are similar. If you are looking for the crunch that celery offers there are all kinds of options.
Celery can be substituted with all kinds of different things. A few of the best substitutes for celery are bell peppers, cucumber, or bok choy.
Depending on if you are looking for the flavor, texture, or the famous crunch that celery offers will depend on what you use to substitute
How to choose a celery substitution
Celery is a great vegetable that is used in various ways. It can be used in soups, salads, as a snack, or incorporated in a lot of different dishes.
It is a long fibrous stalk vegetable with leaves on the ends. It is grown from the ground up and grows in bunches about 12 inches tall.
Typically when you are cooking with celery you are looking for the fresh taste, color, crunch, and texture that it offers.
Maybe you don’t like the flavor of celery or the texture rubs you the wrong way. You can use many different things to substitute celery in recipes.
Depending on what you are looking to mimic will determine what you will use to replace the celery in a recipe.
Whereas celery has kind of a distinct flavor of its own it may be harder to find a replacement for it. Celery is watery and mild in flavor yet has a strong distinct bitterness to it.
Similar to bell peppers and their watery taste. It also has a crunch to it which adds great texture to many recipes.
Celery is often used in recipes such as stirfries, soups, or in a mirepoix to add flavor. One stalk of celery is equalizing to 1/2 cup when it is chopped.
Celery is known for its crunch and adds great texture whether it is cooked or raw.
Adding celery to chicken salad or tuna salad gives it the crunch that it would lack otherwise and adds a light fresh taste as well.
The same goes for making sauces or stews, you will get a slightly softer crunch when it is cooked but you will still get that bite when crunching on the celery as it stays pretty firm even when cooked.
There are a lot of dishes that incorporate celery for the color. If this is the case in the recipe you are following then you have many options to substitute celery to add color to your dish.
Keep in mind the flavor profiles of what you are replacing celery with so that it doesn’t ruin your dish. For instance, jalapenos are green but man would that spice up your dish which you may not want.
Best Celery substitutes for salads
1. Bok Choy
Very similar to celery, bok choy grows in bunches of stalks and has leaves on the tops, however, the leaves on bok choy are much larger. It is commonly used in Asian and Chinese cooking.
The stocks have the same crunch as celery and the same fresh grassy flavor that you would find in celery. It is great in soups, salads, stir-fries, and stews just like celery.
You can use bok choy instead of celery as a fresh vegetable substitute or in any recipe that calls for celery. You might find that it is slightly harder to find and a little more expensive than celery.
Bok choy is the most similar to celery in just about every way. They share many of the same characteristics.
2. Bell pepper
Raw bell peppers are a great substitute to use when you are trying to replace celery in just about any recipe. They have a similar crunch to each bite, are watery in flavor, and have a mild taste to them.
It is also a good replacement for celery as it offers some green to dishes as well. Bell peppers check all of the boxes and are perfect in most recipes to add the flavor, texture, and crunch that celery would add.
When you dice up green peppers and add them in to replace celery you want to cut them a similar size to what you cut the celery. See my post on how to cut a bell pepper.
Using cucumber as a substitute for celery is great when you are wanting to add a fresh flavor and green color to a dish.
Cucumber is a light, watery, mild-tasting vegetable similar to celery but it lacks the big crunch that celery offers. However, it will give a slight crunch. It is best to deseed the cucumber when using it in place of celery.
4. Green onions
These mild-flavored onions are great for substituting celery in things like egg salad, tuna salad, or pasta salads. Although they are not as mild as celery in flavor they are a mild onion.
You might also want to consider chives, I have an entire post on the chives vs. green onions.
Green onions will add the crunch you might be looking for as well as the green color and freshness that celery would otherwise offer. Learn how to cut green onions correctly here.
Apples are a great way to add crunch to fresh salads. They are much sweeter than celery. With the crunch that they will add in place of celery, they will also add sweetness as well.
I have a chicken salad recipe without celery that I used apples in and it was so good. They added that crunchy texture yet the sweetness enhanced the flavor as well.
Best celery substitues for soups and stews
1. Water Chestnuts
Water chestnuts are the perfect alternative to celery when you are looking for that crunch. Specifically, in soups and stews where a lot of vegetables will start to get mushy, water chestnuts will keep their crispness and they are mild in flavor.
These are also easy to find in the store although finding fresh ones can be tricky. Canned water chestnuts in a can work just as well to mimic the crunch of celery.
2. Fennel stocks
When cooking a dish that requires cooked celery, fennel stocks are great to use instead of celery. They have that same mild flavor and texture with the big crunch that you would otherwise get from celery.
Although raw fennel has a sort of licorice taste to it when you cook it the flavor becomes very mild. Fennel is a great substitute for celery specifically in soups and stews.
3. Celery seeds
If you don’t need to mimic the crunch of celery then adding celery seeds is a great way to add the flavor into soups and stews.
You might already have enough crunch from other ingredients that you don’t need or want the crunch from celery but you enjoy the flavor.
Or maybe you don’t have any celery but you have celery seeds in the pantry then you don’t have to miss out on the flavor and you can add something else for the crunch.
Carrots and celery are often in soups and stews together, especially in mirepoix as a base. You can add extra carrots to replace the crunch in your soups.
Be aware that it will also add sweetness as carrots are naturally sweet. When they are cooking in the soup be sure to not cook them too long because then they will become soft and you will lose the crunch.