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The 9 Best Substitutes for Bamboo Shoots in a Recipe

Fresh bamboo shoots are not widely available in non-Asian regions, yet there are many suitable substitutes in case you can’t find fresh ones to garnish your meal. In this article, I’ll cover a few great substitutes for both texture and flavor in a variety of recipes.

1. Water Chestnuts

A bowl of raw peeled water chestnuts

Water chestnuts are chestnut-shaped sedges, most popular in Asia, Oceania, and tropical Africa. Masterchefs stir-fry, boil, broil or grill them, as they are incredibly versatile. Yet, how well will they substitute bamboo shoots in recipes? 

Water chestnuts can suitably replace bamboo shoots in many dishes. Although they are more rigid in texture, they have a similar nutty, earthy flavor with typical crunchiness. One cup of water chestnuts to a cup of bamboo shoots is okay, just use good judgment in what you need.

Aside from enjoying their mild and exciting flavor, water chestnuts can lower the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease. 

2. Bean Sprout

Bean sprouts on a small dish

Bean sprouts are culinary vegetables cultivated from sprouting beans. They are most famous in Asian kitchens, usually complementing noodle soups and salads, so how about swapping bamboo shots for them?

Bean sprouts are a very good alternative to bamboo shoots. They are similar in “crunch,” but you must stir-fry them at the end to retain the texture. They also have a mild flavor, allowing other ingredients to impress in dishes. And you can substitute them at a 1:1 ratio, i.e., equal mass.

Bean sprouts will also aid good heart and eye health while preventing cancer and maintaining the digestive system.

3. Young (Baby) Corn

Cooked baby corn on a small plate with chop sticks

Young corn, also called baby corn, is a popular fruit salad addition or whole meal after cooking. They are smaller than regular corn, being immature from early harvest.

Young corn is also a suitable substitute for bamboo shoots in recipes. Flavor-wise, young corns are somewhat sweeter than bamboo shoots but still relatively mild, making them easy to overpower with other ingredients. Moreover, you’ll still get your chewy texture in a shorter cooking time.

Your recipe determines the number of bamboo shoots you can replace with young corn, but a one-to-half ratio can be a good starting point.

Baby corn has a less fibrous nature, meaning it is more digestive system-friendly. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy substitution choice, to boot.

4. Broccoli Stems

Four stems of green sprouting broccoli

These are the light green to white stalks of broccoli that hold the florets. You might want to reconsider if you’re a chef who normally discards them.

Broccoli stems can fill in for bamboo shoots, having a similar crunch. They are soft and chewy with a distinct flavor. So, be creative about your recipe by preparing them however you like. Slicing them into thin pieces is fine. If you trim their edges and grill them, they’ll resemble bamboo shoots.

Broccoli stems also have an impressive nutrient profile that has been shown to help patients with cancer, diabetes, and schizophrenia. They also promote healthy bones and joints.

5. Daikon

Daikon radishes on a wooden background

Most East Asians are familiar with Daikon, a white to green radish with multiple varieties. They are edible raw, mixed into dips, and served as a garnish or condiments.

Daikons can also substitute nicely for bamboo shoots in many recipes. Like bamboo shoots, they don’t add much flavor to food but desirable crunch. You can first heat them but not too much to improve their chewy texture. Also, ensure you pick the ones without spots or wrinkles from the store shelf.

You are not only guaranteed a similar texture to bamboo shoots but incredible health benefits like cancer prevention and a healthier immune system.

6. Jicama

Jicama root isolated on white background

Jicama, a root tuber known as Mexican yam bean or turnip, has many cooking applications. They complement other fruits well in fruit salads, soups, and garnishes. However, do they substitute well for bamboo shoots?

Jicama can replace bamboo shoots in most recipes. They are suitable for sweet or savory dishes because they don’t impact taste much. Depending on your delicacy, you can have jicamas sliced into big or small bits for improved texture. They don’t lose their crunch when you boil, steam, or fry them.

When creatively cooked to replace bamboo shoots, jicama will boost the heart health of any consumer. It also promotes digestion and aids weight loss.

7. Carrots

Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables worldwide, subject to various preparation methods. They can easily substitute vegetables in any dish; what about bamboo shoots?

Carrots can suitably alternate with bamboo shoots in many recipes. Start by julienning the carrots vertically with a knife or peeler. You can immediately spread them on salads, stews, and soups or cook them. Carrots are naturally sweet, so look for other flavors to overshadow them if you wish.

Carrots will strengthen your bones, control blood sugar levels, and lower cancer risk. They will also boost your immune system, control constipation, and improve heart health.

8. Asparagus

Cooked Asparagus on a Plate

Asparagus is also a popular vegetable, often pickled in many pantries. They are commonly eaten fresh as an appetizer, but skilled chefs cook them in many ways into meals.

Asparagus is another perfect replacement for bamboo shoots in meals due to their similar texture. Wash thoroughly and trim off their rather tough ends to cook with them. You can also boil, roast, broil, and steam them, adding various spices to improve their somewhat bland flavor.

Asparagus, unlike bamboo shoots, is a good source of vitamins B6, C, E, and K, dietary fiber, and minerals like zinc, calcium, and magnesium.

9. Cucumber Root

Cucumber root, Indian root, or Medeola, is a vegetable shoot native to North America. It is excellent eaten raw, in salads, or cooked into dishes, yet will it replace bamboo shoot well in recipes?

Cucumber roots can usually replace bamboo shoots in any recipe. They are slightly more flavorful, hinting at cucumber, but reasonably bland with more assertive flavors. They provide the needed texture and can attain any shape or size on cutting. You can use them raw, cooked, or fried.

Health-wise, cucumber roots are also important for their antioxidant, vitamins, and mineral content. They also aid weight loss, promote digestive health, and lower blood sugar like regular cucumbers.

Are Bamboo Shoots and Bean Sprouts the Same?

Bamboo shoots and bean sprouts are not the same. The former are shoots of bamboo plants, unlike the latter from sprouting bean plants. Moreover, bean sprouts are slightly bitter, thin, and slender, whereas bamboo shoots are thick with a pretty sweet interior and rugged exterior.

However, because of their similarity in texture, you can swap each other in various recipes.

Are Bamboo Shoots Like Water Chestnuts?

Bamboo shoots are edible sprouts from bamboo species, while water chestnuts come from aquatic plants. However, the culinary world has embraced both, substituting one for the other in many recipes. So, what makes them alike, if they are?

Bamboo shoots are like water chestnuts in texture despite being unrelated naturally. They provide a delightful crunchiness to every dish and can replace each other in a similar proportion. Flavor-wise, both have vegetables’ typical earthy taste, but different flavors can easily overpower them.

Although, these two plants also do not have the same nutrient profile, with bamboo shoots richer in carbohydrates and chestnuts in vitamins.


The 9 best substitutes for bamboo shoots in a recipe:

  1. Water chestnuts
  2. Bean sprout
  3. Young corn
  4. Broccoli stems
  5. Daikon
  6. Cucumber root
  7. Jicama
  8. Carrots
  9. Asparagus

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

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