I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of daikon radish substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
White turnips are the best substitute for daikon radish in terms of flavor and texture. If you want a bolder flavor, try daikon’s spicier cousin, red radish. Parsnips and carrots are cheap and accessible options, while jicama is a good option if you want to replicate the crunchy texture of daikon.
I made different batches of my famous veggie stir-fry to put several daikon radish substitutes to the test.
Daikon radish is a long, tubular root vegetable with a mildly sweet flavor and a light peppery kick to every bite. Its raw flesh has a crunchy texture that softens when you cook it.
This radish has East Asian roots, so it’s no surprise that it’s often used in making kimchi (video below) and stir-fries. But you can also use it for salads, pickling, and as a sushi accompaniment.
I was looking for a substitute that was just as crunchy and refreshing as daikon, with a fairly neutral flavor profile.
Here’s what I tested and my verdicts:
|Turnips||Crunchy and peppery||10/10|
|Red Radish||Spicier flavor||9/10|
|Parsnips||Mild and sweet flavor||8/10|
|Kohlrabi||Best use in raw applications||8/10|
|Carrots||Mild earthy flavor||8/10|
|Jicama||Good for replicating the crunch||8/10|
|Water Chestnuts||Fresh ones are best||7/10|
|Other radish varieties||Watermelon radish are good||9/10|
Note: you can swap all these substitutes in a 1:1 ratio for daikon radish, the only one I use slightly less of if red radishes because they have a more robust flavor.
Turnips are a great substitute for daikon radish. They weren’t the first thing I thought of, but I was surprised by how similar they were in my tests.
They both have crisp, white flesh that softens when you cook it. And they have pretty much the same flavor profile – mildly sweet and slightly peppery (although the turnip was a tad sweeter).
And did you know you can eat turnips raw, so they work well in salads as well as cooked dishes? I didn’t know this, but you learn something new everyday!
Pro-tip: you don’t need to peel turnips as long as you wash them well.
How to substitute: replace daikon radish with an equal volume of turnips.
Red radishes aren’t a perfect swap for daikon radishes, but you can definitely use them and they tend to be cheaper and easier to find. Most grocery stores will sell them year round.
The most important differentiator between the two radish types is flavor. Red radishes are much more spicy! I didn’t mind the added pepperiness in my stir-fry, but if you want, you can tone it down with a spritz of lemon juice and a pinch of sugar.
Red radishes are also smaller, but this isn’t a big deal.
How to substitute: replace daikon radish with 1/3 of the amount of red radishes (to account for the stronger flavor).
Parsnips are another decent substitute for daikon radish. They have a firm, dense flesh that offers the same satisfying crunch of a raw daikon (and yes, you can eat them raw).
But they turn super tender once cooked – you can mash them up like potatoes. And don’t expect an exact flavor match, parsnips are milder and sweeter (especially once cooked), and have none of the peppery undertones.
A big advantage of parsnips is that they’re super cheap.
How to substitute: replace daikon radish with an equal volume of parsnips.
The taste and texture of kohlrabi is often compared to broccoli stems. It’s got a crisp texture, and a mild but slightly sweet taste.
If you eat it raw, you can detect a hint of pepperiness but it wont be as noticeable as with a daikon radish. When you cook it, it becomes tender and sweet – it was yummy in my stir fry!
You’ll find it used a lot in salads and slaws for its refreshing nature, and you can swap it for radish in any recipe.
How to substitute: replace daikon radish with an equal volume of kohlrabi.
If you need something super quick and easy – try carrots. Chances are you already have some stashed away in your cupboards.
They look different, so it will be very obvious you’ve used a substitute. But the crunchy texture is similar, and carrots also soften (but not too much) when you cook them.
The flavor is sweeter and more earthy, but it’s still mild so didn’t make a big difference to my stir fry. And you can always add an extra pinch of pepper if you feel like something’s missing.
I also love using grated carrot instead of daikon with sashimi!
How to substitute: replace daikon radish with an equal volume of carrots.
Jicama is a root vegetable that looks like a potato from the outside, but actually has a crisp, white flesh.
It’s a perfect swap if you’re looking to replicate the raw texture of a daikon radish, and would blend seamlessly into salads, slaws, and even kimchi. You can also use it for cooked applications, but it won’t soften.
In terms of flavor, jicama is often said to be like a non-sweet apple, with a mild nutty after taste. The only reason this substitute isn’t higher up is because it can be tricky to find in some parts of the US (it’s native to Mexico).
How to substitute: replace daikon radish with an equal volume of jicama.
Water chestnuts aren’t the same chestnuts you see during the holiday season! They’re aquatic vegetables with a white flesh and crunchy bite similar to daikon.
Ideally you’ll want fresh water chestnuts because they have a much nicer flavor (like a cross between a coconut and an apple). But they can be hard to come by so you’ll likely have to make do with the canned version, which have a very neutral flavor in comparison.
This substitute option is better if you mainly care about the texture of the radish rather than the flavor.
How to substitute: replace daikon radish with an equal volume of water chestnuts.
Other radish varieties
Daikon and red radishes aren’t the only types of radish. If you can find Korean radish, watermelon radish, or even black radish, you can use any of these to replace daikon radish.
Korean radish has a firmer texture than daikon, which helps it maintain its crunch once cooked. And a more prominent spiciness.
Watermelon radish will match daikon’s milder flavor profile and boasts a vibrant magenta-colored flesh that’ll brighten up any dish. I grow these in my garden!
Black radish has a bolder, more intense peppery bite than daikon, but this mellows slightly when you cook it.
How to substitute: replace daikon radish in a 1:1 ratio with your chosen radish variety (you might want to use less black radish because of the flavor).
Other substitutes to consider
The substitutes above are my top daikon radish substitutes, but the list doesn’t end there! Here are some more options you can try, especially if you already have them on hand.
- Cucumbers – cucumbers are an accessible alternative for salads and even making kimchi. For best results, choose English, Japanese, or Persian cucumbers. They have less seeds, which means they’re less watery and have more crunch.
- Napa cabbage – this is another option if you’re only looking to replicate raw daikon radish’s crunch. It has a mild flavor that won’t interfere with the other flavors in your dish.
- Chayote – this is a staple in Mexican cuisine and is often used in stir-fries. But you can also use it as a substitute for daikon radish, especially in salads. It has the same texture when raw but with a milder, sweeter taste.
Horseradish root – substitute to avoid
I came across loads of suggestions for daikon radish substitutes, and while most of them were decent, some didn’t work out.
One substitute that didn’t work for me was horseradish root. I love horseradish, but I found its flavor too way too spicy to be used in the same way as daikon radish. Save it for your bratwursts instead!
Best Daikon Radish Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 1 cup chopped turnips
- 1 cup chopped red radishes
- 1 cup other radish varieties, chopped
- 1 cup chopped parsnips
- 1 cup chopped water chestnuts
- 1 cup chopped kolhrabi
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen daikon radish substitutes at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.