The 8 Best Substitutes For Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage is a beloved ingredient in Asian cuisine and can be found in a variety of dishes like stir-fries, noodle dishes, salads, and more. However, it may be difficult to find Napa cabbage in local grocery stores.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need a substitute for Napa cabbage, there are several options available depending on what you are cooking. Some popular substitutes include endives, savoy cabbage, bok choy, red cabbage, and pointed cabbage.

When choosing a substitute for Napa cabbage, it is important to consider the dish you are making to determine the best alternative. Each substitute has its own flavor and texture, and some may work better for certain recipes than others.

Overall, there are many substitutes available for Napa cabbage that can be used to create delicious and flavorful dishes. By selecting the right substitute for your recipe, you can still achieve the desired taste and texture without compromising the overall quality of the dish.

What Is Napa Cabbage?

Napa cabbage is a type of Chinese cabbage that has gained worldwide popularity, particularly in Asian cuisine. It is a versatile vegetable that can be consumed raw or cooked in various ways. With a sweet, mild flavor and crunchy texture when raw, it blends well with a range of ingredients and flavors when cooked.

One of its most famous uses is in kimchi, a traditional Korean dish made from a mixture of fermented vegetables. Napa cabbage’s unique flavor and texture make it a popular ingredient in various recipes, from stir-fries to salads and more.

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Given its versatility and popularity, Napa cabbage has become a favorite among cooks and food enthusiasts worldwide. Its ability to add flavor and texture to a wide range of dishes has made it a staple ingredient in many kitchens.

The 8 Best Substitutes For Napa Cabbage

Bok Choy

Bok Choy

Bok choy, which is also referred to as pak choi or pok choi, is a variety of Chinese cabbage that can serve as a substitute for conventional cabbage. Its mild, sweet flavor and crunchy texture make it an ideal replacement for napa cabbage in many recipes.

With its white color and similar taste, bok choy can be used to replace napa cabbage in most dishes. Its satisfying crunch and sweetness make it an excellent napa cabbage substitute.



Kale is becoming increasingly popular in households due to its high nutritional value. While there are various types of kale available, baby kale and curly kale are better options when using it as a substitute for Napa cabbage.

Although kale may be more expensive than Napa cabbage, it is a suitable replacement when no other option is available. It can be added to stir-fries, noodle dishes, salads, or wraps, either cooked with other ingredients or used raw.

The mild flavor of kale makes it an excellent substitute for Napa cabbage, as the difference in taste is minimal. However, when served raw, kale lacks the crunch of Napa cabbage and only the leaf should be eaten, not the stem.

Although kale may lack texture when used in salads, this can be compensated for by adding other crunchy ingredients such as cucumber or red onion.

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Endives make a perfect substitute for Napa cabbage in salads, whether raw or cooked.

Their stronger flavor may require adjustment in the amount used compared to traditional cabbage. When cooked, endives’ flavor is mellowed, making them suitable for various dishes.

Although they are a more expensive alternative, they are worth trying if you can find them.

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy cabbage

Also known as curly or ruffled cabbage, Savoy cabbage is similar in size to regular cabbage, but with thicker veins like kale.

Belonging to the same family as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts, Savoy cabbage is best suited for cooked dishes due to its robust texture. Steaming or boiling before serving is highly recommended.

Savoy cabbage makes an excellent replacement for Napa cabbage in stuffed cabbage recipes that typically call for green or Napa cabbage. However, it is advisable to remove the tough stem from the leaves before consumption.



Broccoli is one of the best substitutes for Napa cabbage and is a delicious vegetable in its own right.

It is easy to cook and can be enjoyed both raw and cooked, making it a versatile option. When cooking broccoli, be careful not to overcook it as it can become mushy and lose its flavor.

Combining broccoli with butter and garlic can intensify its taste, making it an excellent substitute for Napa cabbage in many dishes.

Red Cabbage or Green Cabbage

Red Cabbage

If you want to add some color to your dish, red cabbage is an excellent substitute for Napa cabbage. However, in terms of flavor, the difference is not significant.

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Red cabbage is rich in nutrients, and just 100 grams of it can provide you with all the vitamin C you need for a day. It is best used raw in salads, and you can create a salad entirely with red cabbage and your desired dressing.

Pointed Cabbage

Pointed Cabbage

Pointed cabbage is visually similar to Napa cabbage, making it a good substitute. The two also share a similar taste, with pointed cabbage having a little more sweetness.

To balance out the sweetness, you can add a pinch of salt when using it in place of Napa cabbage. The leaves of pointed cabbage are slightly thinner than Napa cabbage, so it is best eaten raw or cooked for a shorter time.

You can use pointed cabbage in the same way as Napa cabbage, but with less cooking time or in raw salads.

Choy Sum

Choy Sum

Another Chinese cabbage that can replace Napa cabbage is choy sum. It is similar in taste to broccoli, but not overpowering, making it a great substitute.

Choy sum can be eaten raw or cooked and is commonly used in stir-fries. It has a tender texture and mild flavor when cooked.

Even though it is a type of Chinese cabbage, it resembles broccoli more than cabbage. Choy sum is an excellent option if you want something with a mild cabbage flavor but still want to benefit from its nutrients and texture.


In conclusion, while napa cabbage is a great ingredient, it’s worth exploring the alternatives on this list to discover new tastes and textures in your meals.

Trying different substitutes can add some diversity to your cooking and provide some unexpected flavors and colors. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works best for your recipes. Who knows, you might even find a new favorite vegetable to add to your shopping list!

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