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13 Best Substitutes for Celery in Bolognese

Finding the right substitute for celery in bolognese can be a daunting task.

Celery has a unique flavor and texture that is hard to replace.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other ingredients that can be used to give your bolognese the same flavor and texture without having to use celery.

In this article, I will discuss the 13 best substitutes for celery in bolognese and their benefits.

substitute for celery in bolognese

1. Carrots


Carrots are an excellent substitute for celery in bolognese because they have a similar texture and flavor.

Carrots are also much sweeter than celery, which can add a nice sweetness to the dish.

Additionally, carrots are very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways, including as a replacement for celery.

They can be diced, shredded, julienned, or even thinly sliced to provide a similar texture to celery.

Plus, carrots are packed with vitamins and minerals, so they are a great way to add extra nutrition to the dish.

2. Leeks


When substituting leeks for celery in bolognese, it’s best to start by finely slicing the leeks.

Once done, take a large skillet and heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add the leeks and sauté for about 5 minutes until they soften. Once softened, add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute.

Finally, add the remaining ingredients for the bolognese and cook as usual.

Leeks bring a subtle sweetness to the dish, so you may want to adjust the seasonings accordingly.

3. Onions

Cipollini onions

When substituting onions for celery in bolognese, it is important to use a sweeter variety of onion to avoid overpowering the dish.

I like to finely dice a yellow onion and sauté it in a little olive oil until the onions are softened and lightly golden.

Once the onions have been cooked, they can be added to the bolognese sauce in place of the celery.

The sweetness of the onions will bring out the rich flavors of the sauce, while still providing the same texture as celery.

4. Fennel


Fennel can be a great substitute for celery in bolognese.

Its mild anise flavor adds a unique depth and complexity to the dish.

  1. To use, start by dicing the fennel bulb.
  2. Heat up some oil in a large skillet and add in the fennel and sauté until the fennel is softened.
  3. Once the fennel is softened, add in the ground beef, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, and seasonings.
  4. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, adding additional seasonings as needed.

The fennel will give the bolognese a subtle anise flavor and will add a unique complexity that you won’t find with celery.

5. Mushrooms

White Mushrooms

Mushrooms add a meaty texture and depth of flavor that celery can’t quite match.

  1. To substitute mushrooms for celery, simply mince the mushrooms and sauté them in a bit of olive oil until they are browned and fragrant.
  2. Add the mushrooms to the bolognese sauce in place of the celery, and simmer until all the flavors meld together.

The mushrooms will provide a slightly earthier flavor than celery, and their texture will provide a great background for the sauce.

6. Bell Peppers

Chopped Bell Peppers

Colorful, sweet bell peppers can make a great substitute for celery in bolognese sauce.

Simply dice up a bell pepper and sauté it in olive oil until it is slightly softened.

You can then add it to the sauce with the other vegetables, such as carrots and onions, and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender.

This substitution will add a slight sweetness to the sauce and will also bring a vibrant pop of color to the dish.

If you are looking for an extra layer of flavor, you can also add a bit of garlic or chili pepper to the sauce.

7. Banana Peppers

Banana Peppers

It might sound strange, but banana peppers make a great substitute for celery in your sauce.

  1. Simply mince the banana peppers and sauté them until they’re soft.
  2. Then add them to the sauce along with the other vegetables as you would with celery.

The banana peppers will give a slightly sweet taste to the dish, and will add a nice crunch.

If you’re looking for a bit of heat, you can add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a few slices of jalapeno peppers.

With the banana peppers, you’ll get a little bit of sweetness, heat, and crunch all in one.

8. Parsnips


Parsnips have a sweeter and nuttier flavor than celery, and their firm texture makes them a great substitute.

  1. To use parsnips in place of celery, simply peel and dice them into small pieces.
  2. Then, sauté the parsnips in some olive oil until they are tender.
  3. Once the parsnips are cooked, add them to the bolognese sauce along with the other ingredients.

This simple substitute provides a unique flavor and texture to any bolognese dish.

9. Turnips


Turnips have a spicy undertone that makes them a great substitute.

The crunchy texture of turnips adds a nice contrast to the softer textures of the dish, while the flavor brings out the richness of the other ingredients.

To make it work, cut the turnips into small pieces and cook them together with the other vegetables at the beginning of the recipe.

As a pro tip, add a pinch of nutmeg to enhance the flavor. Turnips are a great way to add a unique twist to the classic bolognese dish.

10. Radishes

Sliced Radishes

Radishes are spicy, crisp, and zesty, making them an ideal substitute for celery.

Their texture is similar to celery, providing the same crunch without the added bitterness.

To make it work, start by dicing or slicing the radishes into small pieces and add them to the bolognese with the other vegetables.

A pro tip is to add a little bit of sugar to balance out the spiciness of the radishes.

11. Garlic

minced Garlic

Garlic, really? Absolutely! Garlic gives a unique flavor to bolognese that can’t be achieved with celery.

It has a strong and pungent taste, but when cooked properly it has a sweet and nutty flavor.

The texture is softer than celery and will easily break down, making it the perfect substitute.

To make it work, you can use it in the same way you would use celery; just mince it up finely and add it to the sauce. A pro tip is to add garlic towards the end of the cooking process.

This will ensure the garlic doesn’t burn or become too strong in flavor.

12. Zucchini


Zucchini is quite mild in flavor, making it an ideal substitute. It also has a crunchy texture that is similar to celery, which makes it a great way to add some texture to the dish.

To make it work, simply chop it up into small cubes and add it to the bolognese the same way you would add celery.

As a pro tip, for added flavor, try sautéing the zucchini in olive oil and garlic before adding it to the bolognese. This will give the dish an extra layer of flavor and make it even more delicious.

13. Eggplant


Eggplant won’t give you the same crunch as celery does, but it makes a great substitute in bolognese.

Eggplant has a mild flavor that absorbs the other ingredients well, and its texture is tender and slightly spongy.

To make it work, cut it up into small cubes or thin slices and add it to the bolognese when you add the other vegetables.

For an even more flavorful dish, try grilling the eggplant cubes before adding them to the sauce.

This will give your bolognese a smoky depth of flavor.


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13 Best Substitutes for Celery in Bolognese

This post provides an in-depth look at the best alternatives for celery in a classic Bolognese sauce. It covers a variety of ingredients, including carrots, leeks, fennel, and shallots, and explains why each ingredient works as a substitute for celery in terms of flavor, texture, and nutritional content. With this guide, you'll be able to create a delicious Bolognese sauce without relying on celery.
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 2 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 30 kcal


  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Fennel
  • Mushrooms
  • Bell Peppers
  • Banana Peppers
  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Garlic
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant


  • Pick any of these substitutes to use in your sauce.
  • Prepare the rest of your meal.
  • Enjoy in no time!
Keyword Substitute for Celery in Bolognese
CEO at Happy Muncher | | Website | + posts

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.