Daikon radish, also known as white radish, is a widely popular vegetable in Japanese, Chinese, and other Asian cuisines. It looks like a large white plump carrot and can be eaten raw, pickled, or cooked in savory dishes.
There are several daikon radish substitutes you can try, depending on your recipes and on your own personal taste: if you follow our guide, you’ll be able to easily choose the best daikon radish substitute for your needs.
The best daikon radish substitutes
Daikon radish is a mild-flavored radish, usually characterized by fast-growing leaves and a long, white root. There are several varieties, along with the common white daikon radish, and these include Cantonese lobak, a Korean variety called mu, and even a variety called watermelon radish. It’s low in calories and almost completely fat-free, and it’s also a good source of vitamin C.
Daikon is often served raw or cooked: it’s usually peeled before use, but the peeling is actually optional and the skin is completely edible. It can be sliced thinly for a garnish, diced for cooking, or used in baked savory dishes.
The green part can also be eaten raw or added to cooked dishes, and the sprouts are often used in Japanese cuisine in green salads and other vegetable dishes.
Daikon radish has a lightly spicy and sweet flavor, relatively milder than a peppery red radish, but the level of spiciness can depend on the variety of white radish. When cooked, daikon radish tastes mellow and sweet and becomes more tender.
If you have a recipe that calls for daikon radish but you don’t like its flavor, or you can’t find any at your local supermarket, here are the best daikon radish substitutes you can use.
1. Red radish
The first daikon radish substitute we’re going to talk about is red radish: when you’re trying to substitute a vegetable, simply choosing a different variety it’s the best choice in most cases.
Red radish is mainly grown for its root, which is a small, red globe with white and translucent flesh. The leaves that grow from the root above the ground are also edible, and they can be eaten in salads or in other vegetable dishes.
Red radishes are available year-round, and they have a peppery taste that makes them a very versatile ingredient in the kitchen. They can be used to add a bit of spice and freshness to sandwiches, pasta, pizza, or even grilled meat.
Red radishes have a flavor that pairs well with butter, most cream-based sauces, lemon, and shellfish, so they can be the perfect substitute for daikon radish in the majority of the recipes.
Another really good daikon substitute is horseradish, a root vegetable known for its pungent odor and spicy flavor. You can definitely see why it could work as a great substitute for daikon radish!
Horseradish is cultivated mainly for its large, white, tapered root. The leaves of the plant are not usually eaten, but they are edible and have a flavor similar to the roots.
Horseradish sauce, made from grated horseradish root and vinegar, is a common condiment used in different cuisines served in sandwiches, salads, or over meat.
Horseradish is mostly known as a condiment, both by itself and as the main ingredient in sauces and dressings for salads. You can make a really great daikon radish substitute by using horseradish and mixing it with salt and vinegar.
3. White turnips
White turnips are a great alternative when looking for a daikon radish replacement. They’re pretty similar to red radishes, as far as the shape goes, but they taste a bit sweeter and way less spicy.
When eaten raw they have a bit of a bitter taste, but when cooked they have a delicate, sweet flavor that comes from natural sugars, similar to baby turnips. The leaves of white turnips are also edible and really delicious in salads.
The only thing to keep in mind is that white turnips are a winter product, so this might limit their availability as a suitable alternative to daikon radishes around the year.
White turnips can be roasted, braised, sautéed, and steamed, but you can also thinly shave or julienne them and use them raw in salads. They’re also low in calories but packed with vitamins and minerals.
Parsnip is another great substitute for daikon, a well-known root vegetable closely related to carrot and parsley.
Parsnips have a sweet flavor, which resembles carrots, and are usually cooked, although they can definitely be eaten raw. They can be baked, roasted, fried, grilled, steamed, or basically any other cooking method you can think of.
They can be used in stews, soups, and casseroles, and since they also contain starch, they can be boiled and then removed from the dish to leave behind a subtle flavor and the starch to thicken the liquid.
Although similar to carrots, parsnips are actually harder than their orange cousin and have a deeper flavor that will make your dish more appetizing.
If you’re not necessarily sold on daikon radish taste, but you’re looking for something that is also crunchy and crispy and with just the right texture, Jicama is your best bet.
Jicama is an edible tuberous root, with a yellow and papery exterior and a creamy white inside. The flavor is sweet and starchy, and the texture is crunchy but a bit harder than daikon radishes.
Jicama is usually eaten raw, especially if paired with lemon or lime juice but can also be cooked in soups, stews, and stir-fried dishes. It can also be cut into thin wedges and dipped in a salsa of your choice.
This root is rich in fiber, low in sugars, and is composed of 86–90% water, so it’s a great choice if you’re trying to heat healthy.
Keep in mind that finding jicama might be even harder than finding daikon radish, so make sure to check with your local grocery or supermarket before deciding to go with this particular substitute.
If you can’t find jicama and you still don’t fancy the unique daikon radish flavor, cabbage can be a great substitute for soups, stews, and even salads. In addition, it’s easily available everywhere.
The white core of the cabbage is just crunchy enough to work as an alternative, and its taste is a little bit bitter and works well enough.
Cabbage has numerous pale leaves, thick and broad with prominent veins, and they have a sweet, grassy flavor with some sort of a mustardy finish. They’re obviously a bit blander than daikon radish, so keep that in mind.
Another great thing to remember is that cabbage is available all year round, so you won’t have to worry about not finding it at your local supermarket.
Cabbage can be eaten raw or cooked, and it’s often used in salads or with ingredients like meat, cream, nuts, and eggs. It can also be juiced, braised, stir-fried, and grilled.
If you like sharp flavors, beetroot can really be one of the best substitutes for daikon radish, thanks to its bitter and earthy taste and fresh texture.
Beetroots are usually eaten boiled, steamed, or raw, especially if combined with any salad vegetable. They can be peeled, eaten warm, cooked as a condiment, and even pickled and eaten on their own.
However, the best way to enjoy beetroots is to roast them, because it brings out their full flavor. On top of that, beetroot made it into the superfood classification, so you have plenty to gain from eating this daikon radish substitute.
The last substitute for daikon radish we’re going to talk about is carrots: granted, their flavor quite like daikon radish, but they can definitely work if you don’t have any of the other alternatives we’ve talked about.
The best thing about carrots is that they can be eaten and cooked in a variety of different ways, so they’ll definitely work for any recipes that call for daikon radish, and you won’t have to worry about it.
Carrots have a sweet and earthy flavor, sweeter than daikon radishes, and are an amazing way to add crispness to your dishes. If you were looking for a daikon substitute with a similar texture, carrots are an amazing choice.
How to choose a daikon radish substitute
Choosing the right daikon radish substitute depends mostly on the recipe you want to follow, but it also depends on your personal taste and on what you’re looking for in a substitute.
There are two main things to consider: are you looking for a daikon radish substitute because you couldn’t find it and you want the closest substitute possible? Or you’re wondering how to substitute daikon radish because you don’t actually like this particular vegetable?
If you’re looking for a daikon radish substitute as close as possible to daikon, horseradish, red radish, beetroot, and honestly any other kind of radish is your best bet.
If you’re looking for a daikon radish substitute because you don’t like the flavor, white turnips, parsnips, jicama, cabbage, and carrots are the way to go.