Celery leaves are often ignored parts of the celery plant that are just as useful as the stalks. They have unique properties — such as the ability to work as a garnish — and are great sources of the celery flavor. If your recipe calls for celery leaves and you find yourself out of them, you have a few viable alternatives. Here are some of the most effective substitutes for celery leaves.
Your best bet: Celery stalks
Celery stalks come from the same plant as the leaves and provide a similar flavor. You can use the stalks in most of the same applications that require the leaves with a few minor adjustments.
One of the big differences between the leaves and the stalks is that the stalks are thick and crunchy while the leaves are not. You can compensate for this by finely chopping your celery stalks.
Another difference is that celery stalks have a slightly milder, sweeter flavor than the leaves. Because of the subtler flavor, you may have to use more of the stalks to get the same intensity as the leaves. Start by using twice and much and increase to taste. You can use celery stalks in any application calls for leaves as long as you chop them finely enough.
A decent second choice: Celery seeds
Like the stalks, celery seeds are a product of the celery plant. Celery seeds are a highly concentrated source of the celery flavor and will give you a similar flavor profile as the leaves. Because of how intense their flavor is, you will have to use a relatively small amount of the seeds when using them in place of the leaves.
Another downside is that you will be missing the bulk and color that comes from celery leaves. To replace celery leaves, add celery seeds to a salad as a part of the dressing to get the flavor. You can also use spinach or extra lettuce to compensate for the missing leafy green component. Celery seeds are good celery leaf substitutes in stews and soups.
In a pinch: Parsley
An herb in the celery family, flat-leaf parsley has leaves that resemble celery leaves. They are usually darker but have a similar shape. They also have a savory and slightly bitter flavor, which is similar to that of celery As a result, you can use them in most dishes that call for celery leaves. Parsley can work as a celery leaf substitute in salads and as a garnish. It works in soups as well.
Fennel leaves have a strong anise note when raw but that flavor mellows out when it cooked and it becomes more like celery.
Cilantro is a relative of celery and has a flavor profile that is just as pungent. It doesn’t have exactly the same flavor as celery, but it can provide a strong, savory element in salads and other raw preparations. You can also chop it and use it to garnish dishes, just like celery leaves.
Carrot greens belong to the same family as celery, parsley, and cilantro. While their flavor is quite different from that of celery leaves, they can they do have some of the same bitter and herbaceous notes. They also work well as a garnish.