I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of bok choy substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry swap, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
Napa cabbage is the best substitute for bok choy, but if you want an easy and budget-friendly option, you can’t go wrong with green cabbage. Collard greens and Swiss chard aren’t traditionally used in Asian dishes, but they’re also solid alternatives.
I stir-fried different bok choy substitutes to find the best one.
Bok choy is a delicious Asian vegetable, although it’s becoming increasingly popular in the West. It boasts a mild, grassy flavor and a subtle peppery kick. You can also find baby bok choy, which is the immature version and has a sweeter flavor.
You’ll see bok choy used as a stand-alone side dish or incorporated into soups, noodles, and stir fries. I was looking for a substitute that’s just as versatile and accessible.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||Notes on the substitute||Verdict|
|Napa cabbage||Milder flavor||9/10|
|Chinese broccoli||Good for braising or roasting||8/10|
|Swiss chard||Crunchy stems||8/10|
|Collard greens||More bitter||7/10|
|Chinese mustard greens||Strong bitter flavor||8/10|
|Green cabbage||Cheap and easy||7/10|
Napa cabbage is my go-to substitute for bok choy. It’s another popular Asian vegetable and the leafy green stems offer a similar pleasing crunch.
In terms of taste, napa cabbage is milder than bok choy (which is already pretty mild!), but it gets sweeter as you cook it. And it doesn’t take long to cook! So add it towards the end, especially in soups or stews.
Psst… napa cabbage makes a great Asian-style salad.
How to substitute: replace chopped bok choy in a 1:1 ratio with chopped napa cabbage.
For an exciting twist, consider using Chinese broccoli as a bok choy alternative. Unlike bok choy’s crisp, juicy stems, Chinese broccoli is known for its dense, firm stems. And it has a slightly bitter taste.
If you don’t want any bitterness, add a pinch of sugar or an acid like red wine vinegar to offset it.
One major advantage of Chinese broccoli is that it holds up well to heat and won’t wilt into a soggy mess after a few minutes of cooking. This makes it a great fit for replacing bok choy in braising and roasting applications.
How to substitute: replace chopped bok choy in a 1:1 ratio with chopped Chinese broccoli.
Let’s talk about Swiss chard, one of the most common leafy veg on the market.
Like bok choy, Swiss chard features tender leaves. The true star, however, is the rainbow-colored stalks that promise a satisfying crunch even after cooking. I love the different pops of color it brought to my stir fry!
And while its flavor does lean earthier and bitter than bok choy’s mildly sweet taste, it still tasted great with the salty notes of my stir fry sauce.
How to substitute: replace chopped bok choy in a 1:1 ratio with Swiss chard.
If you love Southern cooking, these greens need no introduction. But did you know they belong to the same plant family (Brassicaceae) as bok choy?
Collard greens have large, sturdy leaves that are very fibrous when raw, so they’re not commonly used in salads. Massaging the leaves will soften them up nicely, but you’ll still have to contend with a strong bitter flavor.
When you cook the leaves, the texture becomes a lot more tender and the bitter flavor mellows out to reveal a touch of earthiness. My stir fry was missing the crispness that bok choy brings, but apart from that, I thought this was a decent substitute.
Pro-tip: If you’re missing the mild sweetness of bok choy, a dash of honey or sugar helps replicate that flavor.
How to substitute: replace chopped bok choy in a 1:1 ratio with collard greens.
Chinese mustard greens
Gai Choy, or Chinese mustard greens, should be your go-to if you want a bolder taste than bok choy.
Gai Choy have elongated leaves with a vibrant green color, supported by thick stems that have a slight crunch to them. They have a potent bitter taste with peppery notes and definitely didn’t go unnoticed in my stir fry.
To counteract the bitterness, I used a tip from Sarah over at The Woks Of Life and added ginger to my stir fry. She also explains that you probably won’t like this veggie if it’s your first time trying it, but that the flavor will grow on you over time.
How to substitute: replace chopped bok choy in a 1:1 ratio with Chinese mustard greens.
Want a quick and easy substitute option? Use green cabbage. It’s super easy to find, and really budget-friendly.
The ‘cabbage’ flavor is stronger compared to napa cabbage, and the leaves are less tender with no crunchy stalks. When you eat it raw in salads, there’s a mild pepperiness like you’d find in bok choy. But as it cooks, the pepperiness makes way for sweetness.
Psst… try not to overcook your cabbage, or it’ll start releasing sulfuric compounds that don’t smell very nice!
How to substitute: replace chopped bok choy in a 1:1 ratio with green cabbage.
Other substitutes to consider
The list above are my top picks for bok choy substitutes, but they’re not the only options. Here are some more alternatives you can try if you have them to hand.
- Celery: Bok choy stalks are often likened to celery because they have the same crisp juiciness. And you can use the celery leaves to add a leafy texture to the dish.
- Mustard greens: Mustard greens have a peppery bite and a texture similar to that of bok choy when cooked. Another plus is how nutrient-dense they are.
- Romaine lettuce: Romaine lettuce has a fresh, crisp texture that mimics the crunch of bok choy’s stems. It’s best used in raw applications, like salads, but you can also use it for stir fries.
Substitutes to avoid
I came across loads of suggestions for bok choy substitutes while I was researching, but not all of them were good suggestions. Two examples are broccoli and celery root.
Broccoli is great in stir fries and salad, but its texture is very different from bok choy. There are no tender leaves or crunchy stalks.
Another suggestion I came across was celery root, and I can only imagine the person thought celery root was the same as celery! Celery root is more like potato than bok choy.
Best Bok Choy Substitutes + 2 To Avoid
- ½ lb napa cabbage
- ½ lb chopped Chinese broccoli
- ½ lb swiss chard
- ½ lb collard greens
- ½ lb chinese mustard greens
- ½ lb green cabbage
- ½ lb celery
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen bok choy substitutes at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.