Water Chestnuts Substitutes that Add Texture to Your Recipes

Water chestnuts are not only delicious but also nutritious. This aquatic tuber vegetable is commonly used in Asian recipes for its crunchy texture and distinct flavor. But in case this is unavailable in your local grocery stores, you can check out the following water chestnuts substitutes to complete your dish.

Water Chestnuts Substitutes

1. Jicama

A root vegetable, jicama looks closer to potatoes than water chestnuts, but it is an efficient substitute to the latter. It is sometimes described as a cross between water chestnuts and potatoes.

Jicama, otherwise known as Mexican turnip, has an extremely thin golden-brown skin with crisp, white flesh. It is often eaten raw or chopped into salads, steamed, boiled, sauteed, or fried. When used as an ingredient, it tastes well with other flavors making for a versatile addition.

Jicama slices taste like a cross between a pear, apple, potato, and water chestnut. It has a mild nutty sweet flavor, turns quite starchy when cooked but still retains a good crunch with a bit of juiciness. It impersonates the texture, color, and flavor of water chestnuts quite well.

You can use this ingredient to substitute water chestnuts in a ton of recipes, especially Asian dishes. A one-to-one ratio works for this replacement.

2. Bamboo Shoots 

If you want to try a more unique alternative to water chestnuts, try bamboo shoots. These plants have a subtly earthy, woody, and a touch of nutty taste. Its taste can be compared to water chestnuts and corn.

Try to use fresh shoots in your cooking to get that firm, crunchy texture. Canned bamboo shoots are also fine but not as tasteful and crisp.

You can have this as a stand-alone veggie for appetizers or sides. Fresh bamboo shoots can also be sliced and boiled, sautéed or braised. It’s a great addition to meat and fish dishes.

3. Turnip

Turnips are available in most supermarkets or local grocery stores. For this reason, we’re putting this option at the top of this list.

This root vegetable is native to eastern Asia and goes well in many dishes like soups, stews, and pasta. It is also tasty on its own when sauteed or steamed.

Mildly spicy when raw, turnips turn mildly peppery, nutty, earthy, and sweet when cooked. It has a crispy and starchy flesh that is quite similar to water chestnuts.

If you’re substituting water chestnuts with turnips, just use the large bulb of the latter. Cut off the smaller greens or roots attached to the bulb before cooking. Turnips will go well with most recipes needing water chestnuts, just cut it down into pieces, and you can use a similar amount.

4. Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes are tuber veggies also referred to as sunchokes, wild sunflower, or earth apples. These look a lot like ginger root but are closer to water chestnuts in terms of taste and texture.

The white flesh of Jerusalem artichokes has sweet and nutty notes. It also has a crunchy texture perfect for imitating water chestnuts. It goes well blended or added into soups and risottos. You can also use it for gratins, stews, and salads.

Sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes contain iron, dietary fiber, water, carbs, and protein. These qualities make it a healthy substitute for those on a diet. You can use similar amounts of this veggie as a replacement.

5. Crosnes

Crosnes, also known as Japanese artichoke, Chinese artichoke, or knotroots look like Jerusalem artichokes or ginger roots. It’s another alternative for the aquatic veggie.

Crosne is a plant that can be eaten sliced raw, used in salads, blanched, pickled, steamed, roasted, or stir-fried. When added as an ingredient, it does not lose its crunchy texture so it makes for a great bite to a more satisfying meal.

This plant has a delicate flavor close to jicama or Jerusalem artichoke. Its French variety tastes quite like potato while its American variety is nuttier.

Offering the same mellow flavor of sweet and nutty plus with a good crunch and juiciness, you can also use the same amount of this root veggie to replace water chestnut.

Best 3 Water Chestnuts Substitute for Flour Use

From crunchy nutty veggies, next we’ve got some flour listed as a replacement to water chestnuts. Water chestnuts are also used as a thickening agent to many deep-fried dishes in Asian cuisine. For this purpose, we’ve added this list for your reference.

1. Almond Flour

Almond flour has a faint nutty taste but it is less sweet and more granular compared to water chestnut flour. However, it is a low-carb thickener that works great in baked goods and savory dishes.

You can buy readymade almond flour at stores or you can blanch some almond nuts, remove the skin, and grind them into fine flour.

2. Cassava Flour

Cassava flour is extracted from cassava root. It is rich in carbs and calories so it is great for satiety.

This fine, powdery flour tastes slightly nutty and earthy. It is a great option to use for gluten-free baking and savory dishes. You can use equal parts of cassava flour to replace water chestnut flour.

3. Hazelnut Flour

Another suitable substitute for water chestnut flour is hazelnut flour. It is grain-free, gluten-free, and has a consistency that is great for many things.

You can use this flour to compliment sweet and savory dishes. It has a nuttiness much like water chestnuts so you can use it as an alternative thickener or ingredient. Just note that this option has a distinct hazelnut flavor so you’ll get this stronger flavor compared to almonds or water chestnuts.

For 1 tablespoon of water chestnuts, use about 3/4 of hazelnut flour.


1. What are water chestnuts?

Water chestnuts are aquatic tuber vegetables that grow in ponds, marshes, and swamps. It is native to Asian countries like China, India, the Philippines, and Japan but it also grows in Tropical Africa and Oceania.

Water chestnuts contain 74% water, 24% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and very little fat. It also has various antioxidants and other compounds that can help prevent diseases linked with age. 

This veggie is added in recipes that need a crunch, some sweetness, and a gentle tartness to their taste. It’s also a great snack on its own.

2. Can you substitute water chestnut with chestnut?

Despite having similar names, the two are different types of plants. Chestnuts fall in the category of tree nuts and are close to peanuts. Water chestnuts are water caltrops, an aquatic veggie that come from the edible part of a plant root. In some ways, the two share some vague flavor notes but generally, you cannot use them interchangeably. 


Depending on which recipe you’re using it for, you can use the options above as a water chestnut substitute. The raw vegetables listed have the same flavor profile and crispy texture that you can get from the aquatic tuber veggie. Of course, those will still have some differences but not so much that will overpower your dish. As for the flour substitutes, make sure that you follow the recipe instructions to get the best results.

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