substitute for water chestnuts

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Are you looking for ideas on the best way to substitute for water chestnuts in a recipe? If you are, then you’re in the right place. Here, you will find 6 amazing water chestnut substitutes worth trying.

water chestnuts

What are water chestnuts?

Water chestnuts are aquatic tubers native to Asia, parts of Africa, and Oceania.

Water chestnuts have a texture that is crunchy when raw, and firm and slightly crunchy when boiled.

They’re also slightly sweet, fruity and nutty with a mild flavor that is easily overpowered by the seasonings, sauces or other ingredients they’re cooked with. 

Water chestnuts can be described as having a the texture of Asian pear – so crunchy that it is audible but more moist and succulent than apples – with a flavor that is a cross between fresh coconuts and apples. 

Uses of water chestnuts

Water chestnuts have a white crispy flesh that can work well in salads. It also works well in stir-fries or curries. They’re also good fried, roasted or even sautéed. 

Water chestnuts are very nutritious, low in calories, high in fiber and contain no fat, and make some delicious recipes. But if it is not available to you for some reason there are some water chestnut alternatives that you may find useful. 

6 substitutes for water chestnuts

1. Canned water chestnuts 

canned water chestnuts

Freshwater chestnuts may not be available to everyone, so, canned water chestnuts can be their best replacement. This canned vegetable has the same nutritional value as the fresh vegetable. The main difference between the two is that canned water chestnuts are flavorless compared to the fresh variety. 

Canned water chestnuts will also add crunch to your dish similarly to the fresh water chestnuts. 

However, a little extra care must be taken while using canned water chestnuts. Before using the canned vegetable, rinse them under plenty of fresh water. After thoroughly cleaning, soak canned water chestnuts in a bowl for 10 minutes after adding one spoon of baking soda. 

Ratio: The taste of fresh and canned vegetable slightly differs, so double the amount of canned water chestnuts in a recipe where you use one cup of fresh water chestnuts. 

2. Turnips 


Another very suitable and readily available substitute for water chestnuts is turnips. 

Different varieties of turnips are available, but for a good water chestnuts substitute always go for white turnips. White turnips have a flavor that is delicate and sweet and can be peeled and eaten raw, just like water chestnuts.

You can also use white turnips to replace water chestnuts in recipes such as fresh salads, or roasted with other veggies like carrots and parsnips, or even added to certain soups. 

3. Bamboo shoots 

bamboo shoots

The next suitable replacement of water chestnuts in various dishes is bamboo shoots. Bamboo shoots can be fresh and canned, and they provide the same flavor as water chestnuts. 

Bamboo shoots are quite similar to water chestnuts and have a mild flavor that is nutty, earthy and slightly sweet and can add some crunch to your recipes. 

Use bamboo shoots in recipes like stir fries where you want that nice crunchy texture. 

Ratio: You can replace one cup of water chestnuts with an equal amount of raw bamboo shoots. 

4. Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes also called earth apple is a root vegetable that can serve as a good water chestnut replacement.

Jerusalem artichoke tubers look very similar to ginger with the same brown skin, and bumpy shape so you will recognize them anywhere.

Jerusalem artichokes can easily replace water chestnuts in a recipe because they both have the same sweet, nutty flavor with the crunch when raw. 

And while these tubers taste like a mix between a potato and an artichoke when cooked, they can work as an alternative for water chestnuts in recipes like roasted veggies, some soups or even stir fries. Jerusalem artichokes are also a great substitute for water chestnuts in spinach dips. 

5. Jicama 


Jicama is a  great alternative for water chestnuts in recipes like salads, sautés, stir fries, steamed or boiled veggie recipes. Jicama is also a great substitute for water chestnuts in lettuce wraps. 
It is a root vegetable that has a flavor that is mild, slightly sweet and nutty which some people say makes its taste comparable to water chestnuts while others claim its taste is closer to that of a mix of a potato and a pear. 
This root vegetable has a texture that is crisp and juicy when raw and it can maintain this crispness (like fresh apples) even when cooked, as long as it was not overcooked. 

Note, jicama contains a more significant amount of starch and carbohydrate than water chestnuts with a very similar flavor and texture. But, due to the higher sugar content, this may not be appropriate for those who want to replace water chestnuts for weight loss purposes.

Ratio: As far as the substitute ratio is concerned, one cup of jicama is enough to substitute an equivalent amount of water chestnuts. 

6. Daikon


Daikon is a white radish that is common in Asian countries and makes the perfect low carb substitute for water chestnuts. 

Daikon is a long white Japanese radish which looks like a white carrot, with a crunchy texture and a flavor that is light, sweet and somewhat peppery.

This low carb vegetable is great for replacing water chestnuts in recipes like lettuce wraps, stir fries and even salads.

Ratio: As far as its usage is concerned, one cup of raw daikon can be used instead of one cup of fresh water chestnuts. 


Final thoughts

Water chestnuts are not a common ingredient, and many people face difficulties in finding them, especially in the fresh form. 

However, as shown above, there are many options you can use to add that water chestnut flavor or texture to your respective recipes. These 6 easy ways to sub for water chestnuts are sure to come in handy and help you complete your recipes without missing a beat! 

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