5 Best Water Chestnut Substitutes: Your Guide to Cooking with Alternatives

Crispy, crunchy, and fresh water chestnuts add a great deal of interest to so many dishes, so how do you adapt when this ingredient is out of stock? Try these amazing water chestnut substitutes to save your recipe’s sizzle!

For a small and sort of obscure ingredient, water chestnuts are memorable. They have so much satisfying crunch and toothsome texture that you will want these little white discs into everything, but sometimes the pantry or the store just runs out! What can you do when water chestnuts can’t be found? Don’t worry these great water chestnut substitutions have you covered in the crunch department!

Uses for Water Chestnut

This small ingredient is a staple of Asian cooking. Water chestnuts are an aquatic vegetable indigenous to China. They are commonly sold in North America sliced and canned. Buying this ingredient in a can means it is always ready to use! Their color is opaque white and their skin has a texture similar to the flesh of an apple or pear.

Water chestnuts have a fun vegetable crunch with a mild flavor that works very well in savory dishes with other veggies. Although they are edible raw, what makes these vegetables so popular is that they retain their delightful crunch when cooked. They are a common addition to stir-fries, spring rolls, egg rolls, wontons, meatballs, and more!

Nutritional Value of Water Chestnut

This little vegetable has a lot of healthy qualities. It is a wonderfully protein-packed vegetable with plenty of potassium to boot! The awesome vitamins and minerals found in water chestnuts have been linked to some great healthy consequences. Water chestnuts may contribute to lowered blood pressure and increased weight loss success.

How to Choose a Water Chestnut Substitute

Arguably the most important element that water chestnuts bring to any recipe is their crisp texture. Choosing the best substitute should be a careful consideration of what will stay crunchy and delicious in the recipe you are preparing.

One should also consider the amount of preparation the substitution requires, for example, does it need to be washed, peeled, etc?

The 5 Best Water Chestnut Substitutes

NoSubstitute NameSwap for Color, Flavor, or Texture
1.CeleryFlavor and Texture
3.Bamboo ShootsTexture
4.JicamaColor, Flavor, and Texture
5.Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)Color, Flavor, and Texture

1. Celery


Celery is a green stalky vegetable that makes a suitable substitute for water chestnuts in many recipes. Celery is known for its long fibrous stalks, green color, and serious crunch. The flavor of celery is a wonderful earthy and leafy flavor that works very well as a replacement for the flavor of water chestnuts.

This ingredient is very easy to find in stores everywhere and can be used in both raw and cooked recipes without losing its crunch. While the texture of celery certainly rivals that of water chestnuts, its ease of use is far different. This ingredient must be washed, de-ribbed, and sliced to size before use in recipes, but if you have the time celery makes an excellent water chestnut substitute.

2. Turnips


This colorful root vegetable has a crunchy bite that makes it a good substitute for water chestnuts. The texture of turnips is a close swap for the water chestnuts; however, these bright roots have a spicy flavor when raw but become sweet when cooked. This is a pretty big difference in flavor but it can add complexity to dishes.

Turnips are easy to find in the produce section of your local grocery store. They do require more initial prep work than canned water chestnuts because they must be washed, sometimes peeled, and sliced. The best part of this substitution is that this fun-colored veggie stays crunchy in all recipes, hot or cold.

3. Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo Shoots

This edible sprout from the bamboo plant makes a great substitute for water chestnuts in many recipes. Bamboo shoots can be found canned in your local grocery store’s international section and they have a fun crunch that will remind you of water chestnuts. Their flavor is earthy and lightly sweet.

If you are watching your calories, bamboo shoots have far fewer calories than water chestnuts, and this swap works in virtually any place you would use water chestnuts. Bamboo shoots are great in cooked and raw recipes and because they come canned they do not require extra prep work.

4. Jicama


This tasty root makes a good substitute for the crunch of water chestnuts in many recipes. Jicama can be a great replacer because of its sharp texture. This white-colored tuber has an earthy and nutty flavor that is very close to the flavor of water chestnuts.

Jicama is a great choice to use in stir-fries, lettuce wraps, wontons, and more because its flavor, color, and texture are such a great dupe for water chestnuts. The one big drawback of these veggies versus water chestnuts is their preparation time. Jicama must be cleaned, peeled, and sliced before use, but if you have the time to tend to this veggie it is a perfect choice as a water chestnut substitute.

5. Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)


This tasty root comes from a variety of sunflowers and it makes a sunny substitute for water chestnuts. Sunchokes are known for their apple-like texture and mild artichoke heart flavor. These tubers can be found in the produce section of your local grocer near turnips and other roots,

The sunchoke has a bright white flesh that is a perfect mimic of the water chestnuts and its crunchy bite is a dead ringer for the texture of the original. This swap works in just about every place you would want to use water chestnuts. The big issue is the cleaning. This root needs washing, peeling, and slicing before it is ready to use. If you can put in the work, this is a great choice for a water chestnut substitute in raw and cooked recipes.

The Runner-Up

Every one of these choices has something great to offer your next big cook. Sometimes availability is the real decider when it comes to picking a substitute, so it is good to have a couple of top choices for water chestnut swaps. The winner of the runner-up slot is the wonderful sunchoke.

Sunchokes have the color, texture, and flavor to mimic the earthy and crisp water chestnut. This is a great choice raw or cooked, but it does require a little prep work. The real reason this veggie only rose as high as runner-up is because of availability. Sunchokes can be more rare to see in small grocers, but when you find them they are a delightful dupe!

The Best Overall Water Chestnut Substitute

The best overall substitute for water chestnuts is jicama. This white root has the color, texture, and flavor to trick you into thinking you’re enjoying water chestnuts. Jicama is widely available and inexpensive to purchase in stores.

Use jicama as a 1:1 substitute in cooked or raw recipes. Be sure to clean, peel, and slice the vegetables to suit your recipe. This water chestnut substitute is so tasty and fun that you might want to start using it more often!

Water Chestnut

Best Water Chestnut Substitutes

Seasonal and Savory
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 2


  • Celery
  • Turnips
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Jicama
  • Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)


  • From the list of substitutes above, pick your favorite to use in its place.
  • Use your imagination and be creative with these substitute recipes!

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