Best Collard Greens Substitutes

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It’s a common occurrence; you have a new recipe that you’re itching to try but soon discover that you lack the necessary ingredients to put it all together. The great thing about food, however, is that you can use a variety of substitutes in place of what the recipe actually calls for.

Collard greens are our main topic of conversation today, so we decided to share with you some of the best substitutes. There’s no need to make a store run if you have one of these substitutes in your kitchen.

What Are Collard Greens?

Collard Greens are leafy green vegetables, most commonly found in the southern United States. They are part of the Brassica plant, which is also home to mustard and cabbage, among many others.

Like all good brassicas, they are rich in vitamins and fiber. They can be cooked or eaten raw. Please note that it is best to use only younger and tender leaves if you do decide to eat them raw.

OK, so now that you know what collard greens are, let’s discuss the best substitutes you can use in their place.


Kale (AKA, leaf cabbage) is part of a group of cabbage cultivars known as Brassica oleracea. Most are cultivated to harvest their tasty leaves. But others are grown for their ornamental qualities.

This is because kale plants can have purple or green leaves. Moreover, kale’s central leaves don’t produce a head like that found in cabbage. Interestingly, kale is considered more closely related to wild cabbage rather than to any domesticated kale.

The origins of kale can be traced back to Asia Minor and Eastern Mediterranean. It’s in these places that kale was grown for consumption. And it is believed that kale was grown for such purposes as far back as 2000 BC.

During the 4th century in BC, the curly cabbage and flat cabbage varieties already existed. These forms were called “Sabellian kale” by the Romans and are seen as modern kale’s ancestors.

Raw kale consists of 84% water, 1% fat, 4% protein, and 9% carbohydrates. In a serving of 100 grams, raw kale gives you 49 food energy kilocalories and lots of vitamin K, which equals 3.7 times more than the recommended daily intake.

What’s more, kale is a great source of vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as manganese and folate. Kale is also a good resource for riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, various dietary minerals, and vitamin E. The minerals found in kale include:

  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Iron

It’s important to note that cooking raw kale will reduce a lot of its nutrients. However, vitamins C, K, A, and manganese remain high. As such, you can still be sure to get plenty of the plant’s health benefits either way you prepare it.

English Spinach

Of the more common greens, English spinach is well-known for its extra spinachy taste, especially when compared to kale. Additionally, the plant’s leaves are softer and more delicate.

If you simply need to add cooked veggies to your dishes, English spinach will most definitely do the trick. Feel free to use thawed frozen spinach as a nice collard greens substitute. Please note, though, as a substitute it’s better to have the spinach cooked to be a better replacement. And cooked spinach is supposedly more nutritious than raw spinach, but you can’t really go wrong either way. So always take the time to prepare it accordingly before adding it to recipes.

Silverbeet (Swiss Chard)

Like English spinach from above, the chard varieties also excel in recipes of cooked collard greens. Silverbeets boast larger stems that are more intense than kale’s. Therefore, you may just want to pitch the stems rather than using them in your recipes.

That said, you can also cook each stem individually. Just know that they take longer to soften than kale or collard greens. Unless they are super tender, your silverbeets will be far too bitter to enjoy raw.

Baby Spinach Leaves

Baby spinach leaves are commonly used in salads or as a popular ingredient in omelets or even smoothies. It’s fair to say that most people disapprove of the taste of baby spinach leaves. But if you can get past the bitterness, baby spinach leaves deliver plenty of nutritious benefits to your health and well-being.

This small spinach is harvested by farmers during the plant’s early stages of growth, which usually takes place somewhere around 15 to 35 days from the date you planted them. The smaller leaves are tenderer and sweeter than mature spinach.

Spinach is a longstanding plant with centuries of history. With origins in the Middle East, spinach can be traced back as far as 1,000 years. In modern times, you will find spinach growing all over the world.

Mustard Greens

These have a strong hot mustard flavor when they are raw. But once cooked, they taste like kale. The texture is also very similar. And it’s quite nutritious. As such, it’s a fine alternative to collard greens.

Broccoli Raab

Commonly referred to as rapini or broccoli rabe here in the United States, broccoli raab is indeed a vegetable known by many names in the world.

Some of its names include:

  • Chinese broccoli
  • Broccoli de rabe
  • Turnip broccoli
  • Italian broccoli
  • Broccoli rape
  • Italian turnip
  • Spring raab
  • Rappone
  • Fall raab
  • Taitcat
  • Rapine
  • Rappi
  • Rapa
  • Raab

Having originated in parts of China and the Mediterranean, broccoli raab is in fact a wild herb descendant. Today, it is found to grow in places like New Jersey, Arizona, California, Ontario, and Quebec.

What’s more, it is one of the Chinese people’s favorite vegetables. In fact, broccoli raab is one of the more popular vegetables in Hong Kong. Yet, it’s also commonly used in many Western parts of the world, as well.


The taste is slightly different, but turnips work well as a collard greens substitute. You can use turnips raw, too, thanks to their tender composition.

Ready for More Substitutes?

Here at Cook Gem, you can find plenty of other exciting food substitutes to use in your recipes and dishes. And if you are tired of eating the same old thing, be sure to check out our many recipes, which include plenty of vegan-friendly dishes.

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