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Olives are great snacks that offer monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are healthy kinds of fats. These healthy fats may reduce your risk of heart disease when you substitute these fruits for saturated fat-rich snacks like cakes and biscuits. However, olives are naturally bitter to the taste, making them have to undergo curing and brining preservation processes to be palatable to most. Still, you might wonder what the best substitutes for olives are so you can avoid them altogether.
Capers may be the best substitute for olives in terms of healthy fat content. Caperberries, anchovies, and pickled vegetables are good alternatives if you’re going for olive’s briny taste alone without the rest of its unique flavor. Meanwhile, mushrooms offer similar fleshy textures that work well instead of olives. This article discusses the best olive substitutes in further detail.
What Is a Good Substitute for Olives?
Olives are good sources of healthy fats but can have a salty flavor that many may find unappetizing. But if you’re looking for olive substitutes to avoid the taste in the first place and find alternatives for their nutritional value, you have a few options. Here are the best olive substitutes for dishes that call for olives.
A 100-gram serving of capers offers 0.1g monounsaturated fat and 0.3g polyunsaturated fat, which may be the closest substitute for green olives. In addition to their nutritional value, capers resemble olives greatly in appearance and slightly in flavor. It’s the perfect olive alternative without actually being an olive.
Like olives, manufacturers preserve capers in brine jars, explaining why these almost match olives in flavor. But since capers are almost too perfect of an olive substitute, you may dislike this option altogether if you don’t like olives at all.
If you want to go ahead and use capers instead of olives, they’re ideal substitutes for any recipe that calls for olives, such as pizza toppings and salads.
Anchovies are small, saltwater fish that offer salty and meaty flavors, making them ideal substitutes for dishes that require olives for those reasons. This ingredient is best for dishes that require extended cooking times to eliminate the unappetizing fish flavor. You can add whole anchovies to sauces for salty, savory flavors without being too overpowering.
Anchovies also offer healthy fats. Per 100 grams, you can get 3.8g monounsaturated fat and 2.6g polyunsaturated fat. However, the same 100g serving gives you 2.2g saturated fat. Still, anchovies are great olive substitutes for their salty and savory flavors. And the natural meaty texture of fish meat makes it an excellent alternative for olives if you want extra tenderness in your dish.
Caperberries are the fully developed fruit form of capers. They come from the same bush, making caperberries another ideal olive alternative. These look like olives without being olives and have smaller, edible seeds instead of an olive pit.
Caperberries taste milder than green olives but still offer the briny flavor you might be after when adding olives to your recipes. The saltiness that caperberries provide is much more muted than olives. You can substitute caper berries for olives in sauces, particularly those meant for savory dishes.
Pickled vegetables like tomatoes, onions, peppers, or even cucumbers (pickles) are great olive substitutes if you intend to add a distinct sharpness to your dish. Pickles, in general, offer a sweet and sour flavor from the pickling process, which is similar to the brining preservation process of olives. However, instead of the fleshy consistency of olives, different pickled vegetables can give you a satisfying crunch along with flavor.
Pickled tomatoes can substitute olives for their shapes. These pickled vegetables are sweeter alternatives for salty olives and go well on any pizza or in any sauce. You may even snack on these pickled vegetables, although they may not precisely be the crunchy type of pickle that you could be looking for.
Pickled onions and peppers are spicier alternatives for olives. Along with the sourness from the pickling process, these pickled vegetables offer some heat to your dish. Add them to your salads, pizzas, and pasta sauces, or enjoy them as appetizers.
Mushrooms are great olive substitutes if you want to avoid the sour and salty flavors altogether. You can get the same chewy consistency from mushrooms as from olives. In terms of taste, mushrooms tend to take after whatever dish you cook.
Most mushrooms have mild flavors and are mainly used for their texture. So, if you’re making pizza, adding mushrooms gives you that fleshy bite without taking away from the rest of the pizza flavors.
When you cook mushrooms (depending on the kind of mushroom), they tend to darken. This quality makes mushrooms ideal substitutes for black olives if you want to use them as toppings. Alternatively, you can include these cooked mushrooms in your pasta or salad dishes whenever olives are listed as ingredients.
What’s Your Favorite Olive Substitute?
Capers are the best substitutes for olives but maybe too identical to olives, so they probably aren’t the best option if you are avoiding olives for their flavor and texture. Caperberries, anchovies, and pickled vegetables are the best olive alternatives if you’re looking for salty ingredients to substitute for olives. Meanwhile, mushrooms have fleshy textures that don’t have the salty flavors you get from olives.
Visit the Foodies category on our website if you’re curious about other food and ingredients. We cover everything from food substitutes to an ingredient’s edibility to satisfy all your food-related questions and curiosities.