7 Best Substitutes for Asparagus


So you have a recipe that calls for asparagus but you don’t have any on hand. Most grocery stores have asparagus year round, but if it is not asparagus season, it will likely be very expensive. This can be very frustrating if you have a recipe that calls for this spring vegetable.

Fortunately there are many substitutes for asparagus you can use that can still give you a good result in your dish. When deciding on a substitute for asparagus, there are many options and you’ll just need to decide what characteristics of asparagus you want to mimic. In this article, you will learn exactly how to pick a substitute for asparagus, what the best asparagus substitutes are, and more!

Raw green asparagus on a wooden cutting board

What is asparagus?

Asparagus is a vegetable in the ­­­Asparagaceae family and grows in long stems from the ground. They are in season in the spring but can be found in most stores year-round (although they come at a premium cost in the off-season). 

It is a perennial vegetable, meaning it will continue to grow and produce asparagus year after year if properly cared for. While most people think of a green vegetable when they think of asparagus, it also is available as purple or white asparagus. 

What are the Health Benefits of Asparagus?

Asparagus, like most vegetables, has several health benefits that make it a great addition to a healthy diet. It is a good source of fiber, folate and several other essential nutrients. In fact one cup of raw asparagus boasts 3g of protein, 3g of fiber, and has about 10% (10% for women and 8% for men) of the daily value for vitamin C. It is also a great source of vitamin K, containing 56 micrograms (mcg). The daily value of vitamin K is 90 mcg for women and 120 mcg for men.

Asparagus also has 70 mcg of folate (daily value is 400 mcg). Although most people have heard the term folic acid and refer to folic acid content in food such as asparagus, this isn’t exactly correct. Folate is naturally occurring type of vitamin vitamin B found in food. On the other hand, folic acid is the man-made version of folate that is often found in supplements such as multivitamins.

Although it is a good source of all these nutrients, it comes in at only 27 calories per cup, making it a good option for those who are watching their calorie intake for any reason. Keep in mind though that adding certain seasonings such as parmesan cheese or vegetable oils will increase the calorie content.

How is asparagus prepared?

Asparagus can be prepared many different ways. You can stir fry, roast in the oven, grill, or steam asparagus. 

It is a very versatile vegetable but it is a good idea to prepare it properly for best results. The most important part of preparing fresh asparagus is trimming the tough ends. If you fail to complete this step, you will end up with asparagus that has a tough, woody, and stringy end that will make even the best recipe unpleasant. 

There are a couple ways to remove the woody ends:

  1. Hold the asparagus with both hands. One hand should hold the bottom of the asparagus stalk near the end. The other hand should hold about 1/3 of the way below the head of the asparagus. Next, bend the asparagus until it breaks in two pieces. Discard the bottom piece and use the remaining top portion of the stalk in your recipe. 
    • This is not my preferred method for trimming asparagus. I feel it creates more waste than necessary. It is an effective method for ensuring you will not have any woody ends on your asparagus, but it comes at the cost of removing more asparagus than you might otherwise. 
  2. Place a stalk of asparagus on a cutting board. Place your knife about 1 inch above the bottom of the asparagus stalk. The knife should cut through the asparagus without much resistance. If the asparagus feels tough to cut through at this part, move your knife up the stalk about 1/3 inch at a time until you can cut through the asparagus stalk without much resistance. 
    • This is my preferred method for trimming asparagus. I feel it is easy and effective at removing the woody ends without unnecessary waste. Give it a try. After trimming a few stalks you should get a feel for the point at which you should make your cuts. 

Asparagus is often roasted in the oven. To make your own roasted asparagus, try giving it a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of your favorite seasonings. Place in an oven preheated to 400F and bake for 15-20 minutes. 

roasted asparagus on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

What are the best substitutes for asparagus?

7 Overall Best Substitutes for Asparagus:

  1. Broccolini (or broccoli works great too!)
  2. Green beans
  3. Brussels sprouts
  4. Zucchini
  5. Green peas
  6. Artichokes
  7. Kale (or other leafy greens)

Although there are many vegetables that can be used in place of asparagus, you must first decide what is most important when picking your substitute. Do you want it to resemble asparagus in appearance? Is it most important for you that the vegetable has a similar taste or texture to asparagus? Below are different substitutes for asparagus categorized by taste, texture and appearance:


Although asparagus is not part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, its flavor profile aligns similarly to members of this family. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur which results in a strong scent and flavor unique to this category of vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables that are good asparagus substitutes include broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts. 

Another great option due to its relatively neutral flavor is zucchini. You can season just like you would asparagus and it will be a great alternative in most recipes requiring asparagus. Try giving it a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for a flavor boost!

Artichokes are another great choice as they have mild flavor but have a similar appearance to the spiny heads that asparagus have. Artichokes make a great side dish that is simple to prepare. It is often made by boiling or steaming the entire artichoke, then serving with garlic butter. Artichoke hearts are especially delicious as they have a delicate flavor and meaty texture.


Asparagus has a somewhat firm and stringy texture. If having a similar texture is what you are after, a good choice is either green beans or broccolini will make a great substitute. Broccolini is essentially young broccoli that is typically sold and served in long stems.


The long green stems of asparagus are best mimicked by a similarly long green vegetable. Choose green beans or french beans, broccolini, or even green bell peppers. Do keep in mind that the latter will have a very different taste compared to asparagus. 

If you can find broccolini, you get the benefit of a similar flavor profile as well as a similar appearance due to the long stem shape of the vegetable. 


Just because asparagus is not in season doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite spring dishes. Veggie lovers have several options for fresh vegetables that can make a good substitute for asparagus.

Choose what component of asparagus you want to be most similar then use this to guide your decision based on the suggestions above. My top picks for asparagus substitutes are green beans or broccolini. These vegetables are most similar to asparagus in terms of taste, texture, and appearance. The beauty of cooking is that it is flexible and there are various ways that you can make substitutions based on your own specific tastes and needs. 

For more substitution ideas, check out this post: 5 Best Substitutes for Lard

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