Substitutes For Napa Cabbage (Best 10 Options)

Substitutes For Napa Cabbage.

Are you looking for substitutes for Napa cabbage? Wondering what you can use instead? In this blog post, we’ll explore a variety of substitutes. Discover the options from leafy greens to different cabbage varieties.

Napa cabbage is a type of vegetable commonly used in Asian cuisine. It has a mild, sweet flavor and a tender texture, making it a popular ingredient in salads, stir-fries, soups, and kimchi. However, If you are unable to find napa cabbage at your local grocery store or want to explore other options, there are several substitutes that you can use.

In this article, we look into the best substitutes for Napa cabbage and why you may need to substitute, and tips to consider when substituting. We’ll also go through leafy greens, cabbage varieties, other vegetable alternatives.

Table Of Contents

What is Napa Cabbage?

napa cabbage

Napa Cabbage, also known as Chinese Cabbage, is a cruciferous vegetable family member, including other favorites like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. The taste is mild and slightly sweet, while its texture is crunchy.

Napa Cabbage is a popular choice in Asian cuisines, used in soups, stews, stir-fries, and salads. It can also be steamed, boiled, or used in other dishes. The cabbage is high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber, and various minerals, making it a healthy addition to any meal.

One of the most popular uses of Napa Cabbage is in the Korean dish kimchi, one of my favorite Korean side dishes.

Several substitutes are available for those who cannot find Napa cabbage in their local grocery store. Bok choy, savoy cabbage, and regular green cabbage can all be used as a substitute for Napa cabbage.

However, it is important to note that these substitutes for napa cabbage may not have the same taste or texture as Napa cabbage.

Common Uses of Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage is used in a wide range of delicious dishes. Its mild flavor and crisp texture make it a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, particularly Korean, Chinese, and Japanese dishes. Here are some common uses of Napa cabbage:

  • Salads: 
    • Napa cabbage is a great addition to salads. Its crunchy texture and slightly sweet flavor make it a refreshing addition to any salad. It pairs well with other vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and radishes.
napa cabbage salad

  • Stir-fries: 
    • Napa cabbage is often used in stir-fries. It cooks quickly and absorbs flavors well. It can be used in both vegetarian and meat-based stir-fries.
  • Soups:
    •  Napa cabbage is a common ingredient in soups. Its tender leaves and mild flavor make it a great addition to soups and stews. It is often used in Korean soups like kimchi stew and doenjang jjigae.
  • Kimchi: 
    • The main ingredient in kimchi is napa cabbage, a Korean fermented vegetable dish. It is mixed with a spicy paste made from chili flakes, garlic, and ginger and left to ferment for several days. The result is tangy, spicy, and slightly sour.
kimchi napa cabbage

  • Wraps:
    •  Napa cabbage leaves can be used as a substitute for tortillas or bread in wraps. They are a great low-carb alternative and add a nice crunch to the wrap.

Why Substitute Napa Cabbage?

Napa cabbage is packed with vitamins and minerals and is incredibly versatile. However, there are times when there may be better choices than napa cabbage, and a substitute may be needed.

One of the most common reasons for needing a substitute for napa cabbage is due to its unavailability.

Napa cabbage is often only available during certain times of the year or in specific areas. If napa cabbage is unavailable in the region, a substitute is needed.

Another reason to substitute napa cabbage is due to health concerns. Those with certain dietary needs, such as allergies or intolerances, may need to avoid napa cabbage and opt for a substitute.

Leafy Green Substitutes For Napa Cabbage

Leafy green alternatives are a great way to replace Napa Cabbage in any recipe. Here are some of the best substitutes for Napa cabbage:

kale - napa cabbage substitutes
  • Kale
    • Kale is a powerhouse of green. It is a great source of vitamins A and C, has a slightly sweet taste, and can be used raw or cooked. It can be added to soups, salads, and smoothies or be sautéed, boiled, or baked as a side dish.
  • Collard greens
    • Collard greens are another green similar to kale, with a slightly bitter flavor. Rich in vitamins A, C, and K, collard greens can be boiled, sautéed, or stir-fried. They can be served as a side dish, added to stews, soups, salads, and even used as wraps.
  • Spinach
    • Spinach is a popular choice as a vegetable substitute. It has a mild flavor and can be eaten in salads or in soups, stews, or casseroles. It is also rich in vitamins A and K, iron, and calcium.
spinach - napa cabbage substitute

  • Swiss chard
    • Swiss chard is a deliciously crunchy leafy green vegetable that boasts a subtly sweet flavor. Not only does it make a great addition to salads, soups, and stews, but it can also be steamed, boiled, or sautéed as a tasty side dish. Plus, it’s packed with essential vitamins A, C, and K!
  • Romaine Lettuce
    • Romaine lettuce is a leafy green that has a crisp texture and a mild flavor. It can be used in salads and sandwiches as a substitute for Napa cabbage. Romaine lettuce is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate.

Cabbage Substitutes For Napa Cabbage

When considering Napa Cabbage substitutes, it may be difficult to avoid the cruciferous family. They are also a great source of nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Here are a few options to consider.

  • Savoy Cabbage
    • It is a popular variety of cabbage that has a mild flavor and is full of nutrients. Its unique ruffled texture sets it apart from other types of cabbage. This makes it ideal for various dishes, including salads, stir-fries, and soups. It is a great way to add texture and flavor to dishes.
  • Red Cabbage
    • Red cabbage is another popular cabbage variety that is similar to Savoy Cabbage in its nutrient profile. Red Cabbage has a mild, sweet flavor and tends to be more crunchy in texture. It can be used as a great substitute for Napa Cabbage in salads and stir-fries.
red cabbage - napa cabbage substitute

  • Green Cabbage
    • Green cabbage is a versatile variety of cabbage that can be used for a variety of dishes. It has a mild flavor and is very versatile in cooking methods. It is great for stir-fries and can also be used in salads, soups, and casseroles and perfect to make green cabbage kimchi.
green cabbage- napa cabbage substitute
  • Choy Sum
    • Choy sum is a leafy green commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Its mild flavor and tender texture make it a great substitute for Napa cabbage in stir-fries and soups. Choy sum is also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and calcium.
  • Pok Choi
    • Pok choi is a leafy green commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Its mild flavor and tender texture make it a great substitute for Napa cabbage in stir-fries and soups. Pok choi is also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and calcium.
pok choy

Cooking with Substitutes

When it comes to finding a substitutes for Napa cabbage, plenty of options are available. Whether you’re looking for a similar texture or flavor profile, several vegetables can be used instead of Napa cabbage in various dishes.

  • For those looking for a raw substitute, pok choi is a great option. The texture and flavor are similar to those of Napa cabbage, but it is slightly sweeter. Bok choy can be thinly sliced and added to salads or used as a crunchy topping for sandwiches.
  • Alternatively, try using green cabbage as a cooked substitute – it has a slightly different texture than Napa cabbage but can be cooked similarly. Green cabbage can be boiled, roasted, stir-fried, or sautéed. It can also be used to make kimchi.
Green cabbage kimchi

  • If you’re looking for similar flavors, savoy cabbage, kale, and Swiss chard are great substitutes for Napa cabbage. These vegetables can be used in soups, stews, stir-fries, and more. It’s important to consider the flavor profiles of the substitutes to ensure the flavor of the dish is not compromised.

Cooking times and textures should also be taken into consideration. While Napa cabbage is often stir-fried to retain its crunchy texture, many substitutes for napa cabbage are best boiled or steamed to tenderize the vegetable.


I hope this blog post has given you a clear idea of the different substitutes for Napa cabbage. Whether it’s bok choy, savoy cabbage, or other alternatives, feel free to experiment and try them to add to your recipes.

Just remember to consider factors like flavor, cooking time, and texture, and adjust the recipe as necessary to accommodate the different taste of the various substitutes. Experiment with different combinations to find the best for your dish!

Hi, I'm Jeena, and I'm the author of Chaos of Flavor, a food blog dedicated to my love for cooking.  As someone who is deeply rooted in Nepalese culture, I enjoy sharing my passion for Nepalese cuisine through my recipes, including fusion recipes, which you'll find plenty of on my blog. Join me on my blog to stay up-to-date with my latest recipes :)