Watermelon radish, also known as “red meat radish,” is a root vegetable in the cruciferous family that looks like a regular white radish on the outside but is vivid pink inside.
It has a tender and sweet flesh with a hint of peppery spice, making it incredibly versatile in different recipes.
Watermelon radish has become popular in the culinary world due to its striking appearance and unique flavor.
However, despite its amazing taste and texture, not everybody prefers or can find this special kind of radish.
Fortunately, there are plenty of great watermelon radish substitutes.
This article will go over some of the best options for replicating watermelon radishes’ distinctive flavor and texture with other ingredients so you can continue enjoying delicious dishes.
What is Watermelon Radish?
Watermelon radish is an heirloom variety of daikon radish with an oval shape and vibrant lumpy green skin flecked with white and a central deep pink flesh.
It has a sweet, buttery flavor that is quite subtle and slightly spicy.
Watermelon radish can be served raw in salads and sandwiches, roasted or pickled in vinegar.
Due to its delicate texture, the watermelon radish may not always be available at your local grocery store.
How to Cook and Use Watermelon Radish?
Watermelon radish is a variety of the daikon radish.
It looks like a pale-toned watermelon, with an intense pink center that fades to white.
The flesh is crisp, mild and subtly sweet when raw, but develops a sharp, tangy flavor when cooked.
Watermelon radishes are best served raw as part of salads, crudités or spreads since heat can make them bitter.
They’re great cubed and tossed into green salads or served thin on top of sandwiches or tacos.
They also make an interesting addition in replace of regular radish slices in chunky vegetable soup, but be sure to add them right before serving so they don’t lose their crunchiness.
When cooking watermelon radishes, keep the seasoning simple so you don’t overpower their unique flavor.
Roast with olive oil and herbs such as rosemary or thyme; sauté them briefly with garlic; glaze them in balsamic vinegar while roasting or stir-fry with butter until lightly caramelized and tender.
You can also mash them like potatoes for added texture to croquettes—or even use them instead of turnips in mashed rutabaga.
Regardless how you serve it, eating this colorful veggie is sure to be a pleasant experience.
5 BEST Watermelon Radish Substitutes to Consider
Watermelon Radish is as pleasing to the palate as it is to the eye; it tastes similar to other daikon radishes, but with an added sweetness from its candy-like interior.
However, due to its relatively short growing season, this radish can be hard to come by in some areas.
Here are five of the best substitutes for Watermelon Radish that pack similar flavor and nutrition profiles:
1 – Daikon Radish
Daikon radish is the most popular alternative to watermelon radish if you’re looking for a similar flavor and texture.
The two vegetables have many similarities, and their colors range from white to light green.
They both have a mild pungent flavor when raw, although daikon radishes are known for having less of a “bite” than their watermelon counterparts.
Daikon can be used in salads, added to sandwiches, or cooked in stir-fries.
It can also be sliced thin and served as pickles or kimchi.
2 – Red Radish
Red Radish, also known as the common radish, is a root vegetable in the Brassica family.
It is bright red and can come in either a round or elongated shape.
It has a peppery flavor, with a mild crunchy texture.
Red Radishes are very versatile and can be eaten raw on their own or mixed into salads.
They can also be cooked down into chutneys and roasted as side dishes.
When cooked, the flavor of radishes becomes much sweeter and their crunchiness softens up significantly.
Red Radish makes for an excellent substitute for watermelon radish due to its similar shape, flavor profile and milder intensity than other types of radishes on the market.
3 – White Radish
White radish, also known as Daikon and oriental radish, is one of the closest substitutes to watermelon radish.
While these two veggies look nothing alike, they both have similar sweet, earthy, and slightly spicy flavors.
White radishes are great for adding crunchy texture to salads and cold dishes.
They are also commonly used in Japanese cuisine for pickles or simmered in soups.
White radishes tend to be a bit larger and less watery than watermelon radishes, but their versatility makes them a great substitute.
Simply julienne white radish into thin slices like you would with a watermelon variety and it will serve as the perfect replacement without any noticeable flavor difference.
4 – Korean Radish
Korean radish, also known as mu or moo, is a variety of daikon that is generally large, light tan in color and is often shaped like a cylinder.
It has a sweet, earthy flavor with just a hint of spice.
The texture is firm and crisp and it can be enjoyed raw or cooked.
When cooked, the radish will soften somewhat and develop a sweeter flavor.
Korean radish is used in many dishes across Asia—from salads to soups to stews, this radish lends its unique sweetness and unique texture to some amazing dishes.
You can find Korean radishes at specialty Asian markets and some mainstream grocery stores as well.
In terms of similarities with watermelon radish, Korean Radishes have wonderful crunch but lack the distinct “watermelon” hue that watermelon radish offers.
5 – Black Spanish Radish
Black Spanish Radish, also known as Black Radish, is an heirloom variety of wild radish with a mildly sweet and mineral-like flavor.
Its dark skin is thin and waxy, with white flesh that turns yellow when cooked.
As a substitute for watermelon radish, black Spanish radish offers many of the same flavor qualities, but with a bit more heat.
It’s ideal for grilling or baking – but can also be eaten raw when young.
Keep in mind that the skin tends to be tougher than other varieties of radishes and should be sliced thin or peeled before cooking or eating raw.
When looking for black Spanish radishes at your local grocer, look for fresh specimens that feel heavy relative to their size and have smooth skins without any cracks or blemishes.
In conclusion, watermelon radish is a crunchy, sweet, and sour heirloom root vegetable that’s a purple-pink hue inside with green outer skin.
If you’re unable to find it at the supermarket, there are five great alternatives – mooli, daikon radish, red onion, beets or turnips – that provide unique flavors and texture for any salad, side dish or as an Asian stir-fry ingredient.
Be sure to try any of these alternatives in your next recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is watermelon radish?
Watermelon radish is a type of winter radish that has a bright pink and green flesh, similar to the color of a watermelon.
It has a crunchy texture and mild, sweet flavor.
What are the 5 best substitutes for watermelon radish?
The 5 best substitutes for watermelon radish are turnips, radishes, daikon, kohlrabi, and parsnips.
What does watermelon radish taste like?
Watermelon radish has a mild, sweet flavor with a crunchy texture.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!