Are you looking for an alternative to burdock root for your dish? Burdock root has many health benefits, but it can be difficult to find outside of speciality stores.
Fortunately, there are plenty of substitutes that offer similar flavor profiles without the hard-to-find ingredient.
To get the best substitute for burdock root, you need to consider how you want to cook and use it.
Thankfully, there are a few great recipes that take what may seem like a perplexing ingredient and turn it into something delicious – whether raw, steamed or boiled.
Let’s explore the top five substitutes for burdock root so you won’t have to miss out on cooking with it.
What’s Burdock Root?
Burdock root is an edible, underground plant that has been used medicinally and as a food source since ancient times.
The long, tapered root is rich in polysaccharides, proteins, and vitamins A, B and E. It can be eaten raw or cooked.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), burdock root is considered to have cooling properties and acts as a natural diuretic and anti-inflammatory agent.
In modern herbalism, it’s commonly used to treat skin conditions such as acne or rash; promote digestion; improve liver and kidney function; stimulate the immune system; regulate blood sugar levels; reduce cholesterol levels; detoxify the body of metals like lead and mercury; improve circulation; reduce excess gas and bloating in the stomach; treat urinary tract infections (UTIs); reduce inflammation associated with arthritis pain; kill bacteria taken internally or externally on the skin for wound care.
When using in recipes, it’s recommended to cut up burdock root into cubes or planks before cooking with it — this increases its surface area making it easier to digest.
It can be boiled or steamed in soups or stews, added to stir-fries, grilled as a side dish — even deep-fried — the possibilities are endless.
Burdock root can usually be found at health food stores or online markets but if you don’t want to go hunting for it you might want to consider some tasty substitutes.
The 5 BEST Substitutes for Burdock Root
Rich in essential minerals such as potassium and phosphorus, this crunchy vegetable root is popularly used in a variety of dishes, like soups and salads.
For those who can’t find access to burdock root or don’t have access to the unique flavor, we’ve outlined some of the five best substitutes for burdock root below.
1 – Chicory Root
Chicory root is often used as a substitute for burdock root in herbal preparations.
It is a member of the dandelion family and has a slightly bitter flavor.
It can be boiled, steeped as tea, or enjoyed as a roasted beverage alternative.
In addition to being an excellent alternative to burdock root, it is also an anti-inflammatory, diuretic and anti-bacterial agent with high levels of antioxidants and plentiful vitamins and minerals.
Chicory root can be found in the form of tea bags, ground chicory coffee or chicory extract capsule supplements.
2 – Lotus Root
Lotus root is a versatile ingredient that is widely used in Asia and grows in a variety of climates.
It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor, and its crunchy texture makes it the perfect addition to salads, soups, stir-fries, and more.
Its appearance is similar to that of Burdock Root, with its long and slender shape.
When substituting with Lotus Root as an alternative to Burdock Root you should bear in mind that Lotus root tends to be more expensive than Burdock Root and can also be hard to find depending on your location.
If you are unable to locate fresh or canned lotus root for the dish you are making you can use jicama as an easy substitute.
Jicama has a similar flavor profile but is much easier to find in most grocery stores.
The texture however can differ from dish to dish so take note of that when considering this substitute for Burdock Root.
3 – Dandelion Root
Dandelion root, believed to have diuretic, tonic, and liver-protecting properties, has been a popular medicinal plant for centuries.
In terms of flavor and texture, dandelion root can be a great substitute for burdock root.
Most often it is sold in a dried, ground form — but can also be found fresh.
To prepare, add one heaping teaspoon (3–5 grams) of dandelion root to 1 cup (150 ml) of boiling water; let the concoction steep for 8–10 minutes and then strain it before drinking or adding to recipes.
Dried dandelion root can also be roasted before being added to beverages or food dishes.
While all parts of the dandelion plant are edible, the root is best used as a substitute for burdock due to its similarly earthy flavor that pairs well with most dishes featuring burdock as an ingredient.
4 – Salsify
Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) is a root vegetable that resembles a thick, long carrot.
It has white flesh and a mild flavor that tastes somewhat like artichoke.
The texture of salsify is firm and crunchy when raw, and creamy when cooked.
Salsify’s reputation as a burdock root substitute is well-deserved.
It has many of the same health benefits as burdock root and can be used in similar ways as well.
Salsify can be boiled, steamed, fried, or roasted to caramelized perfection just like burdock root; it’s a great alternative for use in salads or for adding flavor to soups and casseroles.
There are even recipes that specifically call for salsify instead of burdock root.
When shopping for salsify, look for firm specimens with little sign of sprouting and no blemishes or soft spots.
The skin should also be free of dark lines.
Be sure to remove the skin before cooking to reduce bitterness — try using a vegetable peeler or paring knife to do this quickly and easily.
5 – Parsnip
Parsnip is a root vegetable that looks somewhat like a white carrot, and it can be utilized as a wonderful substitute for burdock root.
It has a unique, sweet flavor, largely due to its high concentration of natural sugars.
When cooked properly parsnips are slightly caramelized and take on a pleasant earthy flavor.
They are very versatile in the kitchen, and they can be prepared in various ways.
Parsnips can be boiled, steamed, or roasted; they can also be puréed in soups and mashed into stews to add an interesting depth of flavor.
The mild sweetness that comes with parsnips makes it an excellent choice for those looking for substitutes for burdock root in sweeter recipes like pies or cakes.
In conclusion, burdock root is a unique and maybe not so easily accessible ingredient.
In most cases, you will always find an alternative item or ingredients that can be used instead.
From daikon radish to salsify or even lotus root, you have plenty of substitutes available to ensure you won’t miss out on the intended flavor and texture profile that the recipe calls for.
We hope this article has been helpful when it comes to finding the best substitute for burdock root.
Be sure to check out our other articles to find more information about select ingredients used in Japanese cuisine.