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BEST Napa Cabbage Substitutes + 3 To Avoid

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of napa cabbage 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.

Bok choy, regular green cabbage, and Savoy cabbage are the best substitutes for napa cabbage. They’re easy to find, inexpensive, and taste similar to the real deal. Romaine lettuce is also a surprising contender you can use for stir-fries. And if you want to switch things up, try a bitter leafy veg like chard. 

The experiment

I made small batches of a basic stir fry with different napa cabbage substitutes to find the best one. 

Napa cabbage is also commonly known as Chinese cabbage. It has firmly packed, crinkly leaves with crunchy white stalks.

The texture is crisp and tender, and the flavor is more delicate than other types of cabbage. The taste gets sweeter as you cook the cabbage, making it a favorite filling for dumplings and stir-fries. It’s also what’s used to make kimchi.

I was looking for a substitute that was just as versatile as napa cabbage. Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:

SubstitutesHow to SubstituteVerdict
Bok choyGood for cooked dishes10/10
Regular cabbageCheap and easy9/10
Savoy cabbageA great option8/10
Green chardMore flavorful7/10
Romaine lettuceCooks quickly7/10

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best substitutes for napa cabbage in kimchi?

Bok choy or regular cabbage are the best substitutes for napa cabbage in kimchi, but really you can use any vegetable you like for this classic fermented side dish. I’ve seen recipes that use radish, spring onions, and even cucumbers or carrots. The texture won’t be the same, but your kimchi will still taste superb. 

What are the best substitutes for napa cabbage in dumplings?

Napa cabbage is often used as a filler for dumpling mixtures. But you can replace it with regular green cabbage, bok choy, blanched collard greens, or even shredded Brussels sprouts. 

Regular green cabbage 

The question on everyone’s lips…

Yes, you can use regular cabbage instead of napa cabbage. The leaves aren’t as soft or tender as the napa cabbage leaves, but the price tag and availability of green cabbage will more than makeup for that. And if you’re using it in a salad, letting the leaves marinate in the dressing for a few extra minutes can help soften them.

Green cabbage also doesn’t taste as sweet as napa cabbage, but you won’t notice this once it’s mixed in with all the other ingredients. I definitely didn’t notice any flavor difference in my stir fry.

Psst… If you don’t mind the color change, purple cabbage will work as well.

How to substitute: Replace napa cabbage in a 1:1 ratio with red or green cabbage.

Bok choy

Bok choy is another Asian vegetable that comes from the same family as napa cabbage (the Brassicaceae family) and it’s a great substitute in cooked dishes like soups, stir-fries, and dumplings.

Bok choy is naturally bitter, but this flavor mellows out when you cook it, bringing it closer to the mild napa cabbage. And the stalks maintain a crisp texture as long as you don’t overcook them.

You can eat bok choy raw as well, but it has a much more fibrous texture than raw napa cabbage, so isn’t as pleasant in a salad.

How to substitute: Replace napa cabbage in a 1:1 ratio with bok choy.

Savoy cabbage

Savoy cabbage is kind of like a mix between napa cabbage and green cabbage. It’s easier to find than napa cabbage but has softer leaves and a looser texture than green cabbage, which The Kitchn says “makes it a nice substitute for recipes that call for napa cabbage“.

Savoy cabbage has a sweet, earthy flavor that’s more pronounced than the delicate flavor of napa cabbage, but it doesn’t have any of the peppery notes you’d find in regular green cabbage.

It was delicious in my stir fry and holds up really well to longer cooking times too.

How to substitute: Replace napa cabbage in a 1:1 ratio with Savoy cabbage.


Chard is a decent substitute for napa cabbage if you don’t mind switching things up a bit. Like bok choy, it works better in cooked applications because the leaves have a bitter flavor when raw, but this mellows out as they cook, and they become mildly sweet.

The stalk is crunchy like celery and has an earthy flavor, not dissimilar to beets. For my stir fry, I decided to separate the stalks from the leaves because they cook at such different rates and I didn’t want the leaves to wilt too much!

The chard was nice in my stir fry but didn’t have the same tenderness as napa cabbage. One thing I could see chard working really well in is dumplings!

How to substitute: Replace napa cabbage in a 1:1 ratio with chard.

Romaine lettuce 

Hear me out! Romaine lettuce is far from a perfect substitute for napa cabbage, but it works in a pinch. Just like napa cabbage, romaine lettuce comes with its own set of crispy, crunchy leaves.

And, as for the flavor, it has a similar mildly sweet taste with a hint of bitterness.

It works great in salads, and while you’ve probably never had it cooked before, that doesn’t mean it can’t be! I actually quite liked it in my stir fry, I just made sure to add it right near the end because it really doesn’t need a lot of cooking.

How to substitute: Replace napa cabbage in a 1:1 ratio with romaine lettuce.

Other alternatives to consider

The substitutes above are my top picks for replacing napa cabbage, but they’re not the only options. Here are some more:

  • Pointed cabbage: This has a sweeter flavor than napa cabbage, and its leaves are more tender so you’ll need to reduce your cooking time so they don’t turn soggy.
  • Choy sum: Choy sum leaves have a similar crisp yet tender texture to napa cabbage and a mild flavor, but it’s not a common ingredient in grocery stores. Bok choy is a lot more common.
  • Kale: Kale can work when you want something bolder. The leaves are sturdier and more fibrous, and the flavor is very bitter.
  • Collard greens: Collard greens are similar to kale and chard in that they have a more bitter flavor than napa cabbage, but if you’re just looking for a leafy green replacement – collards will do.

Substitutes to Avoid

I came across a lot of suggestions while I was researching napa cabbage alternatives, but not all of them worked out in my experiments.

Kohlrabi was a suggestion I saw a few times. It’s a member of the cabbage family, but it’s not leafy like a regular cabbage, instead, it’s used for its root which is more like jicama (or a potato).

A few websites also suggested broccoli, which would go well in a stir-fry. However, it’s nothing like napa cabbage!

Endive was also recommended by another blog, but I have to disagree. Endive is a lot less versatile than napa cabbage and can only really be used in salads or dishes with a long cooking time (i.e braising). And the flavor is very different, with endive having a bitter edge and no sweetness.

Best Napa Cabbage Substitutes + 3 To Avoid

I tested several different napa cabbage substitutes to find the best ones. I was looking for a substitute that was just as versatile.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: napa cabbage substitutes, substitutes for napa cabbage
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 12kcal


  • 1 lb bok choy
  • 1 lb regular cabbage
  • 1 lb savoy cabbage
  • 1 lb green chard
  • 1 lb romaine lettuce


  • Cook your meal according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen napa cabbage substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe


Serving: 100g | Calories: 12kcal

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