12 Recommended Napa Cabbage Substitutes

Napa Cabbage has become a mainstream vegetable outside of Asian cuisine. It has become one of the most popular thanks to its versatile flavor and texture. 

In addition to being used as a raw salad green, napa cabbage can be cooked in almost as many ways as greens such as kale and collard greens.

 Luckily for you, there are many great substitutes for napa cabbage that have similar flavors and textures. 

From delicious red cabbage to crisp green cabbage, here are the top recommended substitutes for napa cabbage: Bok Choy, Endives, Savoy Cabbage, Kohlrabi, and more.

What is Napa Cabbage?

Napa or Chinese cabbage is a long ruffled edge cabbage with visual similarities to romaine lettuce. Made popular in Asian cuisine, Napa cabbage is carried in most supermarkets.

This tender cabbage has a milder flavor compared to other cabbages and a crunchy texture.

What is Napa Cabbage Good For?

This broad-leaf cabbage with its ruffled edges is great in stir-fries, salads, and noodle dishes. 

Its tender nature lends itself well to most recipes and its milder flavor appeals to more people, especially those who may not care for the strong flavor of other cabbages. 

Most people would recognize this cabbage as the main ingredient in kimchi, a Korean dish of fermented vegetables. 

What is the Difference Between Napa Cabbage and Regular Cabbage?

Napa Cabbage is a more versatile cabbage than the common green variety. With sweeter flavors and boosts to its vitamin C and fiber, Napa Cabbage outperforms regular cabbage on several levels. 

Regular cabbage is more round in shape, while Napa cabbage has a longer profile.

Napa cabbage has more thin and fragile leaves compared to the more robust leaves of regular cabbage. 

What Can I Use Instead of Napa Cabbage?

1. Bok Choy

Also known as pak choi or pok choi, bok choy is another Chinese cabbage that can be used exactly like conventional cabbage. 

Thanks to its white color and flavor, bok choy can replace napa cabbage in most recipes. Its combined crunch and mild, sweet flavor is very close to napa cabbage and makes it a great napa cabbage replacement. 

2. Endives

Endives are an excellent Napa Cabbage substitute in salads. Endives are best as a raw vegetable, but you can cook them. 

Due to their stronger flavor, you may want to adjust the amount compared to your normal cabbage. However, cooking them mellows out their flavor nicely and they can be used in various dishes.

Endives are a more expensive alternative, but definitely worth a try if you can track them down. 

3. Savoy Cabbage

Its other names are far more descriptive with curly cabbage and ruffled cabbage, but Savoy Cabbage is the size of a normal cabbage, but with thicker veins, like kale. 

Savoy belongs to the same family as broccoli, kale, and Brussel sprouts.

This Napa Cabbage substitute is more suited to cooked dishes due to this more robust texture. Steaming or boiling it before serving is highly recommended.

Savoy Cabbage softened, is a great replacement in stuffed cabbage recipes that normally call for green or napa cabbage. It’s recommended to remove the tough stem from the leaves before eating.

4. Red Cabbage

This vibrant violet-hued member of the cabbage family makes a statement in both color and flavor. 

Subtle changes to its color can be caused by what you cook it in; acidic substances turn it red, while sweet counterparts turn it blue-violet.

A tougher cabbage, red cabbage, still makes an excellent napa cabbage substitute due to its sweet and sour flavor and powerhouse levels of vitamin C. One hundred grams of red cabbage carries your entire day’s worth of this immune-boosting vitamin.

5. Kohlrabi

A much less popular vegetable, but still an excellent napa cabbage substitute, kohlrabi comes in green and purple varieties. 

The flavors in kohlrabi are on the sweeter side, so any dish will also lean more towards the sweet. 

If you can give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

6. Choy Sum

Not to be confused with bok choy, choy sum is another Chinese cabbage.

The flavors more resemble broccoli than cabbage, so choy sum would be a great napa cabbage substitute for those who aren’t fond of the cabbage flavors. 

Some say choy sum is best served raw, while others insist it’s better cooked. Why not check it out for yourself as a napa cabbage substitute? You can roast it or even stir-fry it to enrich the texture and flavor.

Much like napa cabbage, choy sum comes with a host of vitamins including vitamin C and iron. 

7. Kale

Kale is an incredibly versatile green-leaf vegetable that can be used as a substitute for other greens often, including napa cabbage. 

Kale can be used as a napa cabbage substitute in most recipes whether raw or cooked. 

With the many varieties of kale available at most supermarkets, you’re likely to find one with the texture and flavor you’re looking for. 

Kale is the best napa cabbage substitute in your dumpling recipes. Just add more kale to your recipe if you’re using it to bulk up. Kale cooks down more and the amount needed for bulking will change the flavor. 

8. Green Cabbage

As one of the easiest cabbages to find, green cabbage would be the easiest cabbage substitute for napa cabbage. 

Due to its more robust, thicker leaves, green cabbage will take longer to cook and only matches the sweeter flavors of napa cabbage after it’s been cooked.

If you’re looking for a kimchi napa cabbage substitute, green cabbage would be your best choice. 

9. Green Swiss Chard

Another napa cabbage substitute for dumplings is swiss chard. 

With a milder flavor than kale, it’s still tough and has some of the same bitter notes as kale. It won’t, however, release sugars when cooked like cabbage.

Its wonderful flavor pairs well with rich cuts of meat and other meals that also accompany kale well.

Much like kale, it also releases a lot of water when cooked. Keep that in mind so you don’t end up with soggy dumplings.

10. Lettuce

Lettuce would be the easiest to find and usually the least expensive replacement for napa cabbage. Lettuce won’t work with every cabbage recipe though.

You’ll only want to turn to lettuce in your raw recipes like salads and wraps.

When breaking up your lettuce, break it with your hands as using a knife makes it oxidize faster.

11. Broccoli

In a pinch, broccoli can add similar flavor profiles to napa cabbage. 

Whether you serve it raw or cooked, broccoli is a great compliment to any dish. 

Watch your cook times though, broccoli cooks quickly. If you’re adding broccoli to a stew, add it later in the cooking time and it will maintain some of its natural crunch.

12. Pointed Cabbage

Pointed cabbage is considered a white cabbage, despite its light green color. This sweeter cabbage is very delicate and doesn’t last as long as other varieties.

It cooks up very similar to napa cabbage making it a good substitute for napa cabbage in most recipes. Due to its delicate nature, it does take less time to cook.

Loaded with vitamin C and with its delicate leaves, pointed cabbage is one of the easier cabbages to digest. It would be a good choice for those who find cabbage and kale difficult on their stomach. 

FAQs

Can you eat Napa Cabbage raw?

Yes. Napa cabbage is wonderful raw. It’s used raw in fermented kimchi and is a wonderful addition to salads and slaws. 

Do you eat the white part of Napa Cabbage?

You can. Whether you eat the white center is up to you. You can cut it out if you want only the tender leaves, but while a little tougher, the white center is still edible and has an enjoyable mild flavor. 

Do you need to wash Napa Cabbage?

Yes. Like most vegetables, napa cabbage should be washed. While you remove the outer leaves before consuming anyway, there can be worms or other insects inside the cabbage. It’s best to remove the outer leaves, cut the cabbage into wedges and rinse everything before continuing. 

To End

The fun thing about leafy vegetables is that you can replace them in most dishes with just about anything. 

Whether you’re eating it raw or cooked, a crunchy salad or a warm bowl of rice and beans, you can use napa cabbage for almost anything. Its mild flavor and crunchy texture make it a great substitute for many other vegetables, including romaine lettuce and kale.

If you’re looking for a different type of cabbage to use instead of napa cabbage, you may want to try bok choy, savoy cabbage, or another type of Asian cabbage. These are all the size of a normal cabbage, with the same leafy, ruffled outer leaves. 

Just remember that many of the napa cabbage substitutes listed here have a more neutral flavor, so always taste your dish to see if your replacement did what you wanted.