Best substitute for daikon radish | How to get similar flavor and texture

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  May 29, 2022

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Daikon is a long white Japanese radish that is popular in Asian cuisine. It has a mild flavor and can be used in place of other types of radishes in recipes.

When you can’t get your hands on daikon radish, there’s no need to worry since there are similar root vegetables you can use.

Best substitute for daikon radish | How to get similar flavor and texture

If you can’t find daikon radish at your local grocery store, you can substitute another type of radish in its place or white turnips which offer the same crunch and sweetness.

If you’re curious about what is the best daikon radish substitute, I’ve listed them here so keep reading to find out more!

What is daikon radish?

Daikon is an East Asian radish that is long and white in color and quite crunchy. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is often used in salads, soups, and stir-fries.

Daikon radish is also known as Japanese or Chinese radish. The word ‘daikon’ means ‘big root’ in Japanese. It’s similar to Korean radishes only longer and bigger.

This is a winter radish and is larger than most Western types of radish.

What is daikon radish

This root vegetable has a mild sweetness and spiciness that resembles a large white carrot. When cooked, the flavor becomes even more mellow.

It’s a joy to eat it raw because it’s so crunchy. Cooked, it’s like a cooked turnip in terms of texture.

I would describe the daikon radish flavor as earthy, peppery, and slightly sweet.

There are also red, green, and purple daikon radishes. Lobak, mu, and watermelon are some of the other types of daikon you may come across but white is the most common.

Daikon radish is used in many Japanese dishes.

Pickled daikon (tsukemono), daikon radish with miso sauce, beef with daikon, and simmered dishes (Nimono) are some recipes that use this root vegetable.

The simplest way to serve daikon is to pickle it and eat it as a side dish.

See how to cut daikon radish here, in 5 different ways:

Learn how to pickle daikon radish Filipino-style (Atsarang Labanos) here

Best daikon radish substitutes

Red radishes, black radishes, and watermelon radishes are all good substitutes for daikon. Just be sure to adjust the amount you use according to the size and sweetness of the radish.

For a milder flavor, you can also substitute turnips or rutabagas in place of daikon. These vegetables are both white and have a similar flavor to daikon radish.

When substituting another vegetable for daikon, it’s important to keep the flavor and texture in mind. Some vegetables, like turnips, will have a stronger flavor than daikon.

Red and black radishes

If you’re looking for a vegetable with a similar flavor, I would recommend using red radishes or black radishes.

These are the best substitutes because they are also radishes and have a similar peppery flavor. Just be sure to adjust the amount you use according to the size and sweetness of the radish.

Also, black and red radishes are just as crunchy (if not crunchier) than daikon so they will give your dish the same kind of texture.

You can use black and red radish as a daikon substitute in salads, coleslaw, and all the other cooked radish recipes.

Red radish is smaller than black radish but the flavors are very similar so they make a good substitute for daikon.

There’s also pink radish which is in between red and black radish in terms of flavor.

Watermelon radish

Watermelon radish is another type of radish that can be used as a substitute. It’s actually a Chinese relative of daikon but it’s known for its pretty pink color when you cut it open.

Watermelon radish has a similar flavor and texture as regular daikon but it’s sweeter. It can be used in all the same dishes as daikon.

The watermelon radish is the best substitute for daikon radish if you’re really looking for a daikon variety and don’t want to branch out to other radishes.

It tastes great when eaten raw but it can be used in stir fries and salads too!

Turnips

Turnips are a white root vegetable that is related to daikon. They have a similar shape but they’re smaller and smoother.

White turnips are the best type to use as a substitute but you can also use red or purple turnips.

Turnips have an earthy flavor that is a bit stronger than daikon. They’re also not as crunchy but they have a similar texture when cooked.

If you’re looking for a substitute that is similar in flavor and texture, turnips are a good choice.

Turnips have a stronger flavor than daikon so you’ll need to use less of it in your recipe so it doesn’t overpower the dish. Use about half as much turnip as you would daikon.

Turnips can replace daikon radish in all dishes and offer a similar sweet and earthy flavor.

Korean radish

Korean radish, also called mu or loobyak, is a type of white radish that is popular in Korean cuisine. It’s a popular substitute for Daikon radish because it has a similar flavor and texture.

Korean radish is shorter and stumpier than daikon but it’s just as crunchy. It’s a bit sweeter than daikon and has a milder flavor.

If you’re looking for a substitute that is similar in flavor and texture, Korean radish is a good choice.

Korean radish can be used in all the same dishes as daikon radish and tastes great in slaws and salads when eaten raw.

Jicama

Jicama are brown root vegetables that have a white flesh and potato-like appearance.

They’re popular in Mexican cuisine and have a similar shape to daikon. They are even called “Mexican radish” because they’re cooked and eaten the same way.

Jicama has a mild sweet flavor and tastes almost like an apple although not nearly as sweet.

Jicama is usually eaten raw to benefit from its crunchy texture. It can be used as a daikon radish substitute in salads or as a fresh crunchy topping on soup but be prepared for a sweeter flavor.

Rutabagas

Rutabagas are a root vegetable that is similar in appearance to a turnip. They have a yellow or purple flesh and are often used in Scandinavian cooking.

Rutabagas have a sweet and earthy flavor that is similar to daikon. They’re also a bit crunchy like daikon.

Rutabagas can be used as a substitute in all the same dishes as daikon. Just be sure to adjust the amount you use according to the sweetness of the rutabaga.

Parsnips

Parsnips are a root vegetable that is related to the carrot. They have a white flesh and a long shape.

Parsnips have a sweet flavor that is similar to daikon. They also have a crispy texture like daikon.

However, the parsnip is sweeter than daikon so you’ll need to use less of it in your recipe. Use about half as much parsnip as you would daikon.

It comes close to the daikon flavor though, even though this root veggie isn’t part of the radish family.

If you use parsnip to substitute for daikon, it’s best to do so in dishes where the sweetness won’t be a problem like soups or stews.

Horseradish

Horseradish root isn’t the top daikon radish replacement because of its spicy flavor.

However, it can be used as a daikon substitute in small amounts because of the similar crisp texture.

Grated horseradish root can be added to dishes for a peppery taste and spicy flavor. It’s often used as a condiment for meats or in sauces.

I also like to make horseradish sauce which can be used if you can’t make a daikon sauce.

It’s not a good replacement for raw daikon because it’s very powerful so you can only use a tiny amount if you don’t want it to overpower your dish.

FAQs

Can I use regular radish in place of daikon radish?

Yes, you can use regular radish in place of daikon radish.

But regular radish can refer to a number of radish varieties, so the best substitute for daikon radish may vary depending on what type of regular radish you have on hand.

Can I use carrots instead of daikon radish?

Yes, you can use carrots instead of daikon radish. Carrots have a sweetness and crunch that is similar to daikon radish but the color (orange) is obviously quite different.

Also, the texture of carrots is different from daikon radish. Carrots are denser and less crunchy than daikon radish.

So, if you want to substitute carrots for daikon radish, it’s best to do so in dishes where the color difference won’t be an issue.

Is turnip the same as daikon?

No, turnips and daikon radishes are not the same. They are both root vegetables but they have different shapes, colors, and flavors.

Turnips are white or cream-colored with a round shape. They have a peppery flavor that is similar to radishes.

When can’t you substitute daikon radishes?

Some Japanese dishes are completely focused on the daikon radish.

For example, Furofuki Daikon is a Japanese dish of daikon that is simmered in soy sauce and mirin until it’s very soft.

The recipe doesn’t work without daikon since that’s the most important ingredient.

Takeaway

If your dish requires daikon radish and you don’t have it, you’re in luck because there are many similar root vegetables with the same sweet, earthy taste and crunchy texture.

You can use them to make all your favorite Asian dishes that require daikon. Since daikon is a popular vegetable in Asian cuisine, there are many ways to cook and serve it.

If you find black, red, or pink radish, those will work well to substitute daikon radish. And if you can get your hands on turnips, those are good options too because they offer a light flavor and crispy texture.

Next, learn about 6 quick & easy homemade Japanese gari pickled ginger recipes

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.