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Chicory is a class of greens used for their leaves and roots.



All chicory varieties fall into the bitter greens category, and they tend to be quite hearty compared to more delicate greens like spinach.[1] However, there are several different varieties of chicory with different leaf shapes, colors, and levels of bitterness (see below).[2][3]



Curly endive/Frisée


As the name implies, this variety of chicory has ruffled or curly leaves.[4] In some heads, the outer leaves are dark green and more bitter while the inner portion is yellow and milder.[1][5][6] When used raw, it adds textural intrigue.[1]

Belgian endive/Witloof chicory


Belgian endive is very pale yellow to white in color and smooth in texture, which is a result of it being shielded from light when grown.[1][5] The flesh is watery, crisp, and relatively mild compared to other chicories.[7] The leaves can be easily separated from the core to produce individual "cups".[6]



Somewhere between frisée and endive in texture, escarole has loose, broad leaves that look a lot like those of lettuce.[3][8] Like frisée, the paler inner leaves are milder, while the outer leaves are tougher and more bitter.[1][6]



Radicchio tends to look like a head of red cabbage, though much more bitter and with greater white streaking on the outside. It is extremely bitter, especially when raw, and it can overpower a dish if too much is used.[1][6][8] However, the color is great as an accent.



Chicories are in season during cooler weather, so they tend to be most available during late fall through to early spring.[3]

Selection and storage


Like other greens, choose chicories that aren't blemished, bruised, wilted, or slimy. Endives should be pale and without color. Store them for up to several days in the fridge without washing them.[3] Some of the more compact varieties will keep for weeks—you'll generally be able to tell when they've gone bad due to wilting, browning, and sliminess.

The large root of the chicory plant can be roasted, ground, and used as a coffee substitute or added to coffee grounds.[1][2] Although this was originally used as a cost-effective method to extend the use of the more expensive coffee, some prefer the taste. It can be purchased alone or pre-blended with ground coffee.

Leafy and mild chicories can be included in salads, where they add some bitter textural character. Endives specifically can be used in crudité arrangements, where they can be filled or dipped.[1] In these cases, adding a sweet, sour, and/or rich component will help balance out the bitterness.[2][8] Cooking is also a good option for many chicories, as it mellows out the bitterness, and the leaves are hardy enough to tolerate it.[8] Sautéing, roasting, and grilling all work well and add complexity of flavor through browning.[3][9]





  1. a b c d e f g h Labensky, Sarah R.; Hause, Alan M.; Martel, Priscilla (2018-01-18). On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. Pearson. ISBN 978-0-13-444190-0.
  2. a b c Davidson, Alan (2014-01-01). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  3. a b c d e "How to Use These 7 Delicious Chicories". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2024-04-02.
  4. "How Frisée Relates to Chicory, Curly Endive, and Escarole". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2024-04-02.
  5. a b Gisslen, Wayne (2015-03-12). Essentials of Professional Cooking, 2nd Edition. Wiley Global Education. ISBN 978-1-119-03072-0.
  6. a b c d López-Alt, J. Kenji (2015-09-21). The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-24986-6.
  7. Nast, Condé (2018-01-23). "Endive Is a Chip and a Salad Green at the Same Damn Time". Bon Appétit. Retrieved 2024-04-02.
  8. a b c d Nast, Condé (2018-02-26). "Chicories Are the Crunchy Vegetables That'll Get Us Through the Rest of Winter". Epicurious. Retrieved 2024-04-02.
  9. "The Best Way to Cook with Endive—If You're Not Already". Kitchn. Retrieved 2024-04-02.