Imagine this: you’ve just retuned home after a long day of work and running errands which included your weekly trip to the grocery store. You’re tired and hungry and unpack your fruits, vegetables, etc. You suddenly realise you forgot a key ingredient for the meals you to prepare for the rest of the week! What could this useful ingredient be, you ask? None other than the oft-overlooked and under appreciated celery.
This useful jack-of-all-trades vegetable is a nutritious, useful, and tasty ingredient in soups, stews, bolognese, and others. However, if you’ve forgotten to buy a stalk of celery and need it for a recipe, don’t fret, there are alternatives.
In this article I’ve listed various ways in which you can replace celery stalks and the best use for each.
Best Uncooked Celery Stalk Substitutes
If you’ve ever eaten celery before you’ll know the distinct differences in flavor and texture between cooked and uncooked celery. Because of this difference, I’ve broken down the substitutes depending on whether your recipe needs a cooked or uncooked alternative.
Here are the best uncooked celery alternatives:
Whilst the spelling of this vegetable may change, its usefulness for substituting with uncooked celery is the same.
What makes it so great is that it has a similar crunchy texture that also makes celery so great. Additionally, it’s made up primarily of water with a nutritious punch that can keep you satisfied whether it is for a snack by itself or added to a salad.
However, I should note due to its shape it can be a bit tricky to chop compared to the much straighter celery stalk.
This is one of the closest looking replacements you can find to the celery stalk. So, if aesthetic similarity is important for you this is definitely your best bet. But there is more to this often passed up part of the fennel than just its shape. It also has a similar crunchiness when you eat it raw.
The flavor of fennel stalk is quite different compared to that of celery as it has a black licorice taste to it. So, if you’re looking for a similar mild flavor it may not be for you.
However, for those that are not such fans of the taste of celery, this could be a great replacement!
This substitute could perhaps not be any more different looking than celery stalks! But this root, also known as Mexican yam bean, has a juicy and very crunchy texture. Because of this it’s a great replacement for celery in salads. It also adds a unique mildly sweet and nutty flavor to the dish.
Best Cooked Celery Stalk Substitutes
Some cooked recipes are hard to imagine without celery (chicken noodle soup anyone?) However, there are cooked celery stalk substitutes that you can use if you don’t have any to hand. They’re also great if you’re looking for a fresh twist on classic favorites that use celery.
Cardoon looks very similar to celery. It grows vertically in a similar bunch-like stalk like celery except for the leaves of the cardoon are much pointier. Whilst they can easily be mistaken for celery stalks, you’d quickly notice the difference in flavor if you bit into one!
Though they can be eaten raw, they have a bitter flavor when eaten this way. When they’re cooked, they have an almost artichoke-like taste, and are a bit sweet with a very soft texture.
They make for a great substitute in many cooked dishes to replace celery, but I think that they can be a very nice addition particularly in stews.
Yes, fennel stalks again! Whilst great uncooked, I also love them as an addition to soups and stews in their cooked form. But you’re not limited to that. You can cook them almost any way you want to. Fennel stalks bring an herbal and aniseed flavor to any cooked dish. They can also be used in a vegetable broth if you’d like to add a bit of complexity.
This close cousin to celery, which you can perhaps tell by the name, is one of the best celery stalk substitutes in recipes that involve cooked celery. It’s such a great substitute because it has the same aroma and flavor as celery.
Make sure to only use it when it is cooked through. Unlike the others on this list which could also be eaten raw, it’s best to avoid eating celeriac raw but if you do, make sure to cut it extra thin!
Leeks can be a great replacement for celery in soups or even risotto! However, while they might look like they could be a great direct replacement, it’s important to take into consideration how long the dish will be cooked for.
Whilst celery can become soft relatively quickly, leeks can take a bit longer. Adjust cooking times accordingly when using leeks as a celery stalk substitute to help achieve the desired texture.
Can Celery Seeds Replace Celery Stalks?
Celery seeds tend to be derived from wild celery. This is a very close relative to the celery found in the supermarket and has a very similar but stronger flavor than its widely-sold counterpart.
Celery seeds shouldn’t be used as a direct replacement for celery stalk in your cooking. This is because you’ll be missing out on the texture that accompanies the celery and is obviously missing when you just use the seeds.
However, that isn’t to say that celery seeds don’t work as a replacement to some degree. They can still impart a distinct celery flavor on a dish.
How Much Celery Seed Equals a Celery Stalk?
It’s difficult to compare a seasoning that comes from a plant to the flavor of the plant itself. It isn’t a math formula after all!
The best measure between the two that I could find is that ¼ tsp equals 1 stalk of celery. However it’s perhaps best to taste as you add it until you reach the desired flavor.
Whilst it’s best to use a celery stalk if the recipe calls for it, celery seeds can be used in a pinch if that is all you have.
Can Celery Leaves be Substituted for Celery Stalks?
It can be tempting to dice and throw in some celery leaves as a substitute for the celery stalk but that is not something that we would recommend. While one would think that you could add a similar taste to that of the celery, it would be a mistake if you use too much.
In both raw and cooked preparations using the celery leaves like celery stalks can leave you with a dish that is too bitter and perhaps overwhelmingly so. Instead of using the celery leaves as a substitute for the stalks, it’s better to utilize them like an herb, using only a small amount to taste.
Can You Substitute Celery Salt for Celery Stalks?
It is indeed possible! Celery salt is a great substitute if you don’t happen to have any fresh celery on hand.
In addition to adding the flavor of celery, it can also replace the regular salt you may be used in the recipe. Convenience and simplicity! How great is that? Just make sure that you taste the dish as you go to prevent over-seasoning because there is no direct correlation between the two so this is important. But salt and celery salt can be used in the same measurement. So, if a recipe calls for ½ tbsp of salt you can use ½ tbsp of celery salt.
As with seeds and leaves, you will miss out on the texture added to a dish by celery stalks. However, pairing celery salt with one of the substitutes I’ve listed above can make a great combo and really elevate your dish!