Shopping for Chicories

Tips for differentiating among frisée, curly endive, escarole, and chicory.

Our Salade Lyonnaise calls for frisée and chicory; the sturdy greens have a bitter taste that helps offset the richness of the pork and poached egg in the salad. Both greens belong to a group of leafy vegetables known broadly as “chicories” (named for their genus, Cichorium), which also includes Belgian endive and radicchio. Shopping for any of the four loose-leaf chicories (frisée, curly endive, escarole, and chicory) can be a confusing experience, since they look similar and are sometimes mislabeled. Frisée works best as a salad green, but the other three can also be used in soups and braises. Here's a guide to help you sort out which is which.

FRISÉE: Frisée (the word means “curly” in French) is curly endive that is harvested while still young and tender. Its frilly, pale leaves have an up-front sweetness, a mildly bitter finish, and a crisp-tender texture.

CURLY ENDIVE: The more mature form of frisée, curly endive has frilly leaves that are darker, with a more assertive flavor and a chewier texture that can withstand cooking.

ESCAROLE: Escarole has large, resilient, moderately bitter dark green leaves and milder white stems that can be eaten raw but also hold up well in cooking. The outer leaves can be chewy, while those at the center of a head are juicy and crisp.

CHICORY: Similar to kale in color and texture, chicory is quite bitter, with earthy, mineral-y notes. As with escarole, its outer leaves can have a waxy chew, but its inner leaves are plumper and more crisp. This is another variety suitable for cooking.

Recommended Reading

This is a members' feature.