Finding the Best Substitute For Broccolini (7 Options!)

Broccolini can sometimes be difficult to find, especially if it’s not in season. Broccolini is sometimes referred to as Aspirations, Broccolette, Italian Sprouting Broccoli. Broccolini is sometimes hard to find, so you might wonder what substitutes are available for broccolini.

collage of broccolini substitutes

There are a few substitutes for broccolini, including broccoli, Chinese broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, calabrese, asparagus, and kale. Broccolini is a hybrid between Chinese broccoli and broccoli and has similar characteristics to both of these. It is known for its sweet, tender stems.

Broccolini isn’t as popular as some other vegetables. In addition, it has a very limited seasonal period and is more difficult to come by when not in season. Therefore, we will discuss several substitutions for broccolini. We will also discuss the origin of broccolini and when it is in season.

broccolini

The Best Substitutes For Broccolini

Broccolini is also known as tender stem broccoli. The name appropriately fits the taste and texture of broccolini. If you’ve never tasted broccolini, the taste can be described as something similar to regular broccoli. However, the stems are more tender and sweeter than that of regular broccoli.

Unfortunately, broccolini isn’t available year-round, and it’s challenging to come by even when it is in season. So, you might be curious about what substitutes are available instead of broccolini. These are the seven best substitutes for broccolini.

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broccolini on a paper towel with text 'the best substitutes for broccolini'

Substitution #1: Broccoli

broccoli in a bowl on a wooden surface

Broccoli looks similar to broccolini, except for the stems. Broccoli has thicker and harder stems, and the florets and leaves are bigger than those of broccolini. However, broccoli has a similar taste to broccolini, and you can use it to substitute for broccolini.

Remove the florets and the hard stems from the broccoli. Then, you can use broccoli as a substitute for broccolini in any recipe. However, don’t overcook the broccoli to ensure it has the same crunchy texture as broccolini.

Substitution #2: Chinese Broccoli

Chinese broccoli looks a lot like broccolini. However, Chinese broccoli has more leaves and tinier heads than broccolini. Apart from these differences, Chinese broccoli tastes the most like broccolini of all the substitutes.

Chinese broccoli has the same sweet, tender stems as broccolini. Therefore, it is the perfect substitute if you cannot find broccolini. Unfortunately, Chinese broccoli isn’t as readily available in the USA. You may have trouble finding it when out of season.

Substitution #3: Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe shares the name of the other types of broccoli. However, broccoli rabe looks more like turnip greens or mustard greens. In addition, broccoli rabe is much leafier and more bitter than broccolini. As such, you cannot prepare broccoli rabe in the same way as you would prepare broccolini.

Although broccoli rabe is quite different in terms of taste, the stems have a similar texture to broccolini. The taste softens as you cook broccoli rabe. As such, we recommend blanching or sautéing this vegetable before serving it.

Substitution #4: Calabrese

Calabrese is an attractive-looking broccoli variation grown in the Mediterranean for many years. Calabrese broccoli has purplish-blue heads, and the plant can make multiple shoots. Calabrese broccoli has a similar taste as broccolini.

However, the texture of calabrese broccoli is somewhat different from broccolini. The stems are harder and more fibrous than broccolini. Thus, ensure you cook the Calabrese broccoli slightly longer than you would broccolini.

Substitution #5: Asparagus

asparagus in cast iron pan

Asparagus is another excellent substitute for broccolini. Asparagus also has long, tender stems with small heads. Asparagus stems are slightly sweeter than broccolini stems, and asparagus requires the same cooking time as broccolini.

Unfortunately, asparagus also has a limited harvest season and is difficult to fund when not in season. However, if you manage to find asparagus, it is the perfect substitute for broccolini. In addition, asparagus is delicious when sauteed.

Substitution #6: Cauliflower

cauliflower on a wooden cutting board

Another possible substitute for broccolini is cauliflower. Cauliflower is white and has the same stem and florets as broccoli. However, the taste is much milder than broccolini, and cauliflower overcooks easily if not prepared properly.

Cauliflower is readily available, and you can find it year-round. Therefore, it makes a good substitute for broccolini if you cannot find the latter. Season the cauliflower generously and remove the hardest stems before cooking it.

Substitution #7: Kale

The final substitute for broccolini is kale. This leafy green vegetable has a crunchy texture and a slightly bitter taste. While kale doesn’t have the same taste or texture as broccolini, you can use it as a substitute if you cook a dish that calls for broccolini.

To use kale as a substitute for broccolini, cut the hard part of the stems off and cook the kale over high heat until just cooked. Overcooking the kale will cause it to become bitter and soft. Fortunately, kale is easier to find than broccolini and is, therefore, a good substitute.

Substitute Other Ingredients:

Where Did Broccolini Originate?

Broccolini is a hybrid vegetable created in Japan in 1994. Broccolini is a hybrid between Chinese broccoli and broccoli. It looks more like Chinese broccoli but tastes like a mixture of both vegetables. Scientists are continuously creating new broccolini variations. However, all the current variations are hybrids of these two plants.

When Is Broccolini In Season?

Broccolini is in season from spring to fall. Unfortunately, broccolini dies with the first frost. Therefore, broccolini has a short period and is nearly impossible to find when it is not in season. We recommend scouring your local farmer’s market for fresh broccolini when it is in season. Look for broccolini with vibrant green color and plump stems and leaves.

How To Cook Broccolini

Broccolini is best when sauteed, roasted, or stir-frying. First, drizzle the broccolini with olive oil. Season the broccolini with salt and pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Next, add the broccolini to a hot pan and sauté it for four to six minutes. The broccolini should be tender and crunchy. Broccolini is best served hot with meat or fish.

 

More Questions About Broccolini

After discovering the possible substitutes for broccolini, you might still have some remaining questions. Therefore, we have done the research to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about broccolini substitutes.

Does Broccoli And Broccolini Taste The Same?

Broccoli and broccolini have a similar taste. However, broccolini stems are sweeter and more tender than broccoli stems. Therefore, broccolini has a sweeter taste overall than broccoli. When using broccoli as a substitute for broccolini, we recommend seasoning the broccoli lightly.

Cut off the hard broccoli stems and cut the florets into smaller pieces. Then, sauté the broccoli on high heat for a few minutes. To replicate the texture of broccolini, don’t overcook the broccoli. Instead, you should aim to keep the broccoli tender.

Is Broccolini The Same As Asparagus?

Broccolini and asparagus aren’t the same vegetables but have similar tastes and textures. Both broccolini and asparagus have long, tender, sweet stems and both these vegetables are season bound. Therefore, you can easily substitute one vegetable for the other, and they also have similar cooking methods and times.

The difference between broccolini and asparagus is that asparagus looks more like a long, pointed finger than a broccoli head. Broccolini looks more like broccoli, except the stems are longer and the florets are smaller and more compact.

How Long Does Broccolini Last In The Fridge?

You can keep broccolini in the refrigerator for up to seven days. However, we suggest eating it within four days to ensure it is freshest. Trim the ends off the broccolini and store them in a container that allows for airflow.

Conclusion

Broccolini is a wonderful vegetable, but it can be hard to find—especially when it is not in season! When you don’t have broccolini on hand, you can try substituting regular broccoli, or something more unique like broccoli rabe or kale. Whatever you choose, I hope you dish turns out amazing—good luck!

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