How to Cook Escarole Without it Being Bitter

Radicchio on display at the market

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Escarole is a bitter green that is part of the endive family. Its bitter flavor is one of its characteristics, but the bitterness is mild. The key to cooking escarole and reducing the bitter flavor is to ensure you do not overcook it. It is a popular ingredient in soup but can be eaten as is, sauteed with some garlic. To further reduce any bitterness with escarole, choose leaves from the inner part of the head, or cook it with lemon juice or sugar.


Thoroughly wash the escarole in a bowl of cool water to get rid of any sand trapped in the leaves. You may need to do this more than once.

Drain the escarole in a colander.

Trim the stalk of the escarole, and remove any damaged leaves.

Peel away the two outer layers of escarole to reach the less bitter leaves.

Cut the remaining head of escarole into 2- to 3-inch pieces.


Preheat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic over medium heat.

Add the cut escarole to the skilletn and season it with 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Sprinkle ground black pepper to taste, if desired.

Saute the escarole for 3 minutes, and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the escarole.

Saute the escarole for another 3 to 4 minutes. Taste test the escarole. If it is still too bitter, sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon of sugar over the escarole and toss it.


Preheat a pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic over medium heat.

Add the cut escarole to the pot, sprinkle it with 1/8 teaspoon of sugar and saute it for 3 minutes.

Pour 6 cups of chicken broth in the pot, and season the broth with 1 teaspoon of sea salt.

Cover the pot and simmer the soup for 5 minutes.