What Does Arugula Taste Like?

If there was ever a food that separated people into ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ categories, it would be arugula. While many think that its peppery taste is to die for, others would rather die than eat it! But what exactly is arugula and what does it taste like?

What Is Arugula?

You may be more familiar with the common name for arugula; rocket. This is a leafy green vegetable that has a Meditterranean origin. It’s leaves are slim and very defined, giving it an unmistakable appearance. The deep green color of the vegetable makes it ideal for including in salad dishes and yet, while many think it is a type of lettuce, arugula actually belongs to the mustard family.

How Would You Describe The Taste Of Arugula?

The taste of arugula is undeniable. You would never mistake it for anything else. This is what separates the masses since so many people find it to have an overpowering flavor. That said, if you like distinctive tastes, then this will likely be a vegetable you will fall in love with.

Rocket, or arugula has a very rich, peppery flavor that is surprisingly bright. There is a slightly earthy, grassy quality to it and you’ll find that, depending on the age, it can be slightly bitter. Some people would even go as far as to say that arugula has a spicy hit; not one that is so hot that it blows your head off but a very subtle spice that is the perfect accompaniment to certain salad dishes.

What Tastes Similar To Arugula – Arugula Substitutes?

For some people, the flavor of arugula is simply too much, or even if you love it, you may find yourself unable to get your hands on some. In this case, there are other leaves that can be used in its place.

One of the most common leaves to substitute rocket is watercress. This is similar in taste as it also has a peppery taste but in this case, the flavor is much less apparent. If you want to move away from peppery tastes entirely, it is possible to use baby spinach in place of arugula for something much milder.

How Do You Get The Bitterness Out Of Arugula?

Some people crave the bitter taste of arugula but as the leaves age, you may find that the bitterness is slightly too much. That said, there are things you can do to lessen this and they are typically much simpler than you might first have imagined.

Allowing the arugula leaves to soak in a mixture of coconut oil and lemon juice for up to half an hour before serving will reduce the bitterness and make them much tangier. If you want to speed the process up or intensify it, you can massage the mixture into the leaves every few minutes.

How Do I Know If My Arugula Is Bad?

One of the great things about rocket leaves is that when they start to go bad, you will generally be able to tell well in advance of tasting them, so there won’t be any nasty surprises. As the arugula leaves begin to turn, they will take on a much more soggy appearance and may be visibly wet. Fresh leaves will be dry and soft but not moist.

You may also notice that rocket leaves develop an unpleasant odor as they begin to go bad. If you aren’t sure by looking at them, taking a smell will reveal their state. Rather than smelling peppery as they would when they were fresh, the leaves may have a distinctive sour aroma.

Sometimes, you may notice that the leaves have dark spots on them. While you may be concerned that this could mean they are no longer suitable for eating, these black spots will do you no harm.

What Can I Do With Old Arugula?

If you have a lot of leftover arugula that will likely go bad, there are a lot of things you can do with it. Many people like to include it in a sandwich as an alternative to commonly used iceberg lettuce. Furthermore, it makes a great addition to hot dishes such as lasagna and pasta. You can stir it into the food or simply use it as a garnish on top.

While pesto is typically made with basil, it is entirely possible to create a unique pesto using arugula leaves.

Benefits Of Arugula

If you’re a fan of rocket leaves, you will be pleased to know that they have a lot of health benefits. It is no secret that including leafy greens in our diets will be advantageous but you’d be surprised at just what arugula is capable of!

  • Folate and Vitamins C and K make arugula the perfect heart food. Eating it regularly may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. What’s more, since vitamin K encourages calcium out of the bloodstream and into the bones, where it belongs, this promotes excellent arterial health.
  • Arugula is very low in calories so, when eaten as part of a balanced diet, could help you to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Being high in beta-carotene, rocket leaves may boost your eye health. The antioxidant effect of arugula means that it may also help towards lessening the chance of cataracts.
  • Since rocket leaves are high in glucosinolates, including it as part of your regular diet may help to ward off certain cancers.
  • Arugula is high in a variety of vitamins and minerals which are essential to the developing fetus as well as the health of the expectant mother.
  • Rocket leaves are high in fiber and as such, may help towards improved digestive health.


Whether you love it or hate it, there is no denying the arugula is a diverse and healthy vegetable. Commonly referred to as rocket, these distinctive leaves have a peppery, spicy taste that can become bitter as the leaves age.