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Yummy Alternatives: 5 BEST Substitutes for Water Chestnuts

Finding the perfect substitute for water chestnuts can feel like a mini quest in your kitchen adventures.

We’ve all been there, standing in the middle of the grocery aisle, wondering what on earth can replicate that crunchy texture and subtly sweet flavor.

I remember the first time I ran out of water chestnuts right before a big dinner; it was almost a disaster. Luckily, creativity in the kitchen knows no bounds.

We’ve put together a list of the 5 BEST alternatives that you probably already have in your pantry or can easily grab on your next shopping trip. Each option brings its unique twist to dishes, ensuring you won’t miss a beat in your cooking.

Get ready to turn your culinary mishaps into a stroke of genius. With these substitutes, your dishes will keep their crunch and flavor, making your kitchen endeavors smoother and more enjoyable.

What are Water Chestnuts?

what are water chestnuts

Water chestnuts are a type of tuber.

They grow in water and have a brown, wrinkled exterior shell with a crisp, white interior that has a sweet taste.

Water chestnuts are native to China but can be found worldwide.

They are low in calories and fat and are rich in dietary fiber, which helps regulate bowel function.

Water chestnuts are high in potassium which can help lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

They have a unique texture that is crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside.

Because of this, they are often used as a meat substitute for vegetarians.

It is important to buy water chestnuts from a reputable supplier to avoid any risk of food poisoning.

Additionally, they must be cooked before consumption to remove the shell and reduce the risk of illness.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Water Chestnuts

If you are unable to find water chestnuts, don’t worry.

Here’s a detailed comparison of the key characteristics and proper ratios for substituting water chestnuts with five different alternatives: white turnips, canned water chestnuts, jicama, artichokes, and radishes, presented in a table format:

CharacteristicWhite TurnipsCanned Water ChestnutsJicamaArtichokesRadish
TextureCrisp when raw, can soften when cookedCrisp and crunchyCrisp and juicyTender and meatyCrisp and crunchy
FlavorMild, slightly pepperySimilar to freshSweet and slightly nuttyEarthy and tangySlightly peppery
AvailabilityWidely available in most grocery storesEasily available in canned formFairly accessible in many storesFresh may require effort, canned/jarred availableReadily available in most grocery stores
Proper RatioEqual substitution for most recipesEqual substitution for freshEqual substitution for salads, adjust for stir-friesUse canned/jarred artichoke hearts, adjust for texture/flavorEqual substitution for salads, cook for stir-fries to soften flavor

Let’s delve into more details for each substitute:

1 – White Turnips

white turnips

Turnips are a very versatile vegetable. They can be eaten cooked or raw, depending on one’s preference.

Raw turnips are often grated and served in salads.

The ‘white turnip’ (also known as the Japanese turnip or nira) is what you need if you can’t find water chestnuts.

These vegetables have a very similar flavor and texture to water chestnuts.

White turnips are also very popular in Asia.

They may be eaten on their own with a light sauce, roasted, or added to salads.

2 – Canned Water Chestnuts

canned water chestnuts

Canned water chestnuts are a good substitute for freshwater chestnuts.

Most large markets and grocery stores sell them at a relatively affordable price.

In addition, these vegetables have been peeled, which makes the cooking process much simpler.

Additionally, they keep in your pantry or refrigerator for a long time without going bad, making them very convenient if you need to cook a quick dish.

Unfortunately, the taste of canned water chestnuts is inferior compared to freshwater chestnuts.

However, they will provide you with the texture and shape that you need for your dishes if fresh water chestnuts are unavailable.

3 – Jicama


Jicama has a tuberous root vegetable. In addition, they have a brown exterior and an off-white or pale yellow interior.

Jicama is also quite versatile because it can be cooked or eaten raw.

If you’re looking for a crunchy texture, you should opt to eat jicama raw.

However, most people choose to cook jicama.

If you do so, you should boil it for about 10 minutes.

It’s also important to note that jicama is very popular in Asia.

Its most common uses are for dipping, salads, or seasonings.

Though it doesn’t taste exactly like water chestnuts, it can be an exceptional substitute if needed.

4 – Artichokes


Artichokes are also great substitutes for water chestnuts as they are incredibly similar in taste and texture.

In addition, artichokes can be used as a meat substitute for those who follow a vegetarian diet.

They provide the ‘chewiness’ that someone may seek to achieve when following such a lifestyle.

Artichokes also have numerous health benefits, including helping with digestion and preventing certain forms of cancer.

It’s important to ensure that you buy fresh artichokes.

You can do so by squeezing them – if they slightly ‘give’, they are ripe, which means they taste the best.

5 – Radish


Radishes are another great substitute for water chestnuts.

They have a similar texture to the latter vegetable and can be used in numerous dishes.

Additionally, radishes can be eaten raw or cooked.

If you eat them raw, they often go well with salads, sushi, sandwiches, etc.

However, if you prefer cooked radishes, then prepare them similar to that of white turnips.

Radishes also have many health benefits.

They are rich in antioxidants and help with the functioning of the immune system.


In conclusion, water chestnuts can be useful to numerous dishes.

However, don’t fret if you find yourself unable to find any.

There are plenty of substitutes available such as white turnips, canned water chestnuts, jicama, artichokes, and radishes.

Depending on one’s needs, these substitutes can be incredibly useful.

For instance, canned water chestnuts are especially useful for those who need to cook a quick dish at short notice.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Water Chestnuts

Searching for alternatives to water chestnuts? Your quest ends here! Explore our list of the 5 best substitutes that seamlessly replace water chestnuts, ensuring your dishes maintain that delightful crunch and subtle sweetness. Elevate your culinary creations with these top-notch alternatives.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings


  • White Turnips
  • Canned Water Chestnuts
  • Jicama
  • Artichokes
  • Radish


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for water chestnuts
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