What’s the Difference Between Belgian Endive, Escarole, and Frisée?

Though Belgian endive, escarole, and frisée are all classified as endives, the three have crucial differences in taste, texture, and appearance that you should be aware of. Learn what makes each endive special and start using them on your menu today.

Belgian Endive

Available in both red and white varieties, Belgian endive is the crunchiest chicory of them all. Its heartiness is matched with a gentle bitterness that makes it a great option when served raw or cooked. In fact, adding a little bit of heat cuts down on the bitterness and adds a mellow sweetness. Follow our storage and prep guide for best results. 

  • Taste: Bitter with a nutty sweetness
  • Texture: Crunchy
  • Try Cooking: Roasted Belgian endive

Frisée

Also known as curly endive, frisée is a beloved salad green because of its beautifully curly exterior and approachable bitterness. Interestingly enough, frisée gets more bitter the darker it gets, so stick with lightly colored leaves if you want a mellow flavor profile. Frisée is powerfully versatile too; the outer leaves are great for cooking while the inner leaves are fantastic raw.

  • Taste: Bittersweet and mildly peppery
  • Texture: Frizzy
  • Try Cooking: Lyonnaise salad

Escarole

If you’re not big on bitterness, escarole is your guy. Less bitter than Belgian endive and frisée, escarole is a great entry point into the world of endives. Occasionally referred to broad-leafed endive, escarole is one flexible green. Chop up the inner leaves for an excellent salad or utilize the tough outer leaves in a soup! If that’s not proof enough for you, check out these exciting ways to use escarole!

  • Taste: Slightly bitter
  • Texture: Hearty
  • Try Cooking: Italian wedding soup 
    • Pro Tip: The outer leaves are more bitter than the rest of the green, so plan according.