Best Napa Cabbage Substitutes

11 Best Napa Cabbage Substitutes

Napa cabbage is a well-liked ingredient in Asian cuisine and is frequently used in stir-fries, salads, and noodle dishes. Despite being a widely used ingredient, Napa cabbage is occasionally hard to find in neighborhood grocery stores. You want to prepare a dish that calls for Napa cabbage but are unable to find any.

What would be the best Napa cabbage replacement? It depends on what you are cooking, but common alternatives to Napa cabbage include endives, savoy cabbage, bok choy, red cabbage, pointed cabbage, and more. To find the best replacement for you, you do need to think about what you are making. So, if you’re looking for the best Napa cabbage replacement, keep reading.

What Is Napa Cabbage?

Napa cabbage is a type of Chinese cabbage that is popular in Asian cuisine, but it is also popular in many other cuisines around the world. Many people like it because it can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways. It has a mild, sweet flavor and has a crunchy texture when raw. It also cooks down well and blends well with a variety of different ingredients and flavors. Napa cabbage is frequently used in kimchi, a Korean dish made from fermented vegetables. Napa cabbage can be used in so many different recipes and prepared in so many different ways!

The Best Substitutes For Napa Cabbage

Although napa cabbage is a well-liked ingredient, what happens if you can’t find any or if you want to try something different? Continue reading to learn which alternatives to Napa cabbage work best and how to use each one!

1. Savoy Cabbage

Savoy cabbage, also known as ruffled cabbage or curly cabbage, has an unusual appearance. It is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, similar to Napa cabbage. Napa cabbage and savoy cabbage are similar in size, but savoy cabbage leaves are thicker than Napa cabbage leaves, so they must be cooked longer and are rarely served raw.

The best way to substitute savoy cabbage for Napa cabbage is to boil or steam the cabbage, either before or after adding it to the other ingredients, to soften and cook down. Savoy cabbage has a mild flavor that blends well with many other vegetables, similar to Napa cabbage.

2. Endives

Endives work best in a salad and make a great substitute for raw Napa cabbage. Napa cabbage can be replaced with endives, but keep in mind that endives have a stronger flavor than Napa cabbage. To avoid an overpowering flavor, either use less or switch to endives, which have a stronger flavor. Endives can be used in stir-fries, but it is best to add them toward the end of the cooking time because they can cook down to a slightly bitter flavor. When using endives in place of savoy cabbage, it might be a good idea to adjust your seasonings; add fewer spices so that the endives do not overpower the flavor of the dish.

3. Bok Choy

Similar to Napa cabbage, bok choy is a Chinese cabbage that is used frequently in Asian cooking. Depending on where you are in the world, it is also known by the names pok choi and pak choi. Bok choy is a fantastic substitute for Napa cabbage because its flavor is comparable. It can be used cooked in stir-fries and noodle dishes as well as raw in salads and as a garnish.

Bok choy does look a little different from Napa cabbage because it has a larger, whiter stalk, but this does not really matter, especially if the bok choy is cooked down. Bok choy’s large leaves are frequently used for wraps because of their mild flavor and ability to hold in fillings. Bok choy can be used almost exactly the same way as Napa cabbage; it only differs in flavor and texture slightly, though not significantly.

4. Red Cabbage

The primary distinction between red cabbage and Napa cabbage is unquestionably the color. When cooked, red cabbage retains its vibrant, red-violet color. It adds color to any dish while retaining the cabbage flavor that it shares with Napa cabbage. Aside from the color, there isn’t much difference in flavor between Napa cabbage and red cabbage, so it’s a good substitute if you don’t mind the red and purple hues.

Red cabbage has the advantage of being able to be cooked as well as eaten raw, though it is most commonly served raw in salads or as a filling for wraps. Red cabbage is also quite easy to find at the local grocery store, so it is easily accessible and makes an excellent substitute!

5. Pointed Cabbage

It resembles pointed cabbage and Napa cabbage in appearance, so it works well as a stand-in. Apart from this, the flavors of the two are comparable, though pointed cabbage does have a slight edge in sweetness. To compensate for this, you can add a little extra salt to balance the sweetness and make it taste more like Napa cabbage.

Due to the slightly thinner leaves of pointed cabbage compared to Napa cabbage, you will either need to eat it raw or cook it for a shorter period of time. It can be used in a salad raw or cooked similarly to Napa cabbage, just with a shorter cooking time.

6. Broccoli

Broccoli may not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking for a substitute for Napa cabbage, but it can work very well. Broccoli is widely available in almost all grocery stores, so it will be a simple substitute if you run out. Broccoli can be eaten raw and makes an excellent addition to salads, but it is also delicious when cooked and can absorb flavors such as garlic and onion.

If you want your broccoli to be soft and tender, cook it for longer than you would Napa cabbage, but how tender you want your broccoli is entirely up to you. One thing to keep in mind is not overcooking the broccoli, as it will become mushy and fall apart.

7. Kale

Due to its excellent nutritional value, kale is increasingly becoming a household staple. There are several varieties of kale, but baby kale and curly kale seem to be the better choices when substituting them for Napa cabbage. If you don’t have any other options, kale works well as a substitute. You might have to spend a little more money on it than you would have on Napa cabbage. Kale can be used raw in a salad or wrap or cooked with the other ingredients in a stir-fry or noodle dish.

Since the flavor is relatively subtle, substituting it for Napa cabbage won’t make much of a difference. One distinction that you might notice is that kale does not have nearly as much crunch when served raw as Napa cabbage does. Only the leaf should be consumed, not the stem. While kale does lack some texture in a salad, you can compensate by adding other crunchy foods like cucumber or red onion.

8. Choy Sum

Choy sum is another Chinese cabbage that can be used in place of Napa cabbage, and it does so successfully in a variety of dishes. The flavor of choy sum is similar to that of broccoli, but not so strong that it would be noticeable when used in place of Napa cabbage. Choy sum is commonly consumed raw, but it can also be cooked and added to stir-fries and other dishes, where it cooks down tender and flavorful.

Despite being a Chinese cabbage, choy sum resembles broccoli more than cabbage. Choy sum is a great option when you don’t want to use something with a strong cabbage flavor but still want the nutrients and texture.

9. Lettuce

Lettuce is one of the most practical substitutes for Napa cabbage because it is widely available in almost all stores. Napa cabbage should only be substituted with lettuce when it is served raw, though. Cooking lettuce results in it becoming very wilted, losing much of its flavor, and its water content also doesn’t work well in cooked foods. When chopped up and used raw in salads and wraps, it does a great job of replacing Napa cabbage, and it has a delicious crunch that is so similar to Napa cabbage.

It works well and is a very simple substitute, especially if you already have some lettuce in the fridge. The flavor may be a little different and lettuce is a little fresher and has a more salad-like taste than Napa cabbage. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse the lettuce before using it, as it frequently contains dirt and other debris that you wouldn’t want in a salad!

10. Brussels Sprouts

Most people consider Brussels sprouts to be a vegetable, but they are actually a member of the cabbage family, which is why they are on our list as a good substitute for Napa cabbage. Brussels sprouts have a mild flavor with a hint of bitterness, and they are best when cooked.

Brussel sprouts can be cooked in a variety of ways, including stir-frying, baking, boiling, steaming, and other methods similar to those used to prepare Napa cabbage. Because Brussels sprouts take longer to cook than Napa cabbage, you can either add extra cooking time to cook them whole, or slice them up and cook them in the same manner as Napa cabbage. In stir-fries, kimchi, coleslaw, soups, rice dishes, stews, and other dishes, substitute Brussels sprouts for Napa cabbage.

11. Kohlrabi

The least common ingredient on this list, kohlrabi, will work as an intriguing and delicious replacement for Napa cabbage if you can locate it at a grocery store nearby. A vegetable with a crunchy texture, kohlrabi has a bulbous shape. It comes in either green or purple hues. The light green variety is appropriate if you want to maintain the color of Napa cabbage, but purple would be a lovely addition if you wanted to give your meal a splash of color.

Kohlrabi can be used raw or cooked, and while it tastes a little sweeter than Napa cabbage, it still retains the mild, green flavor of the vegetable. You can slice it up and add it to salads or wraps, cook it in stir-fries and stews, or both.

Final Thoughts

Napa cabbage is a lovely vegetable to work with, whether raw in a salad or cooked in a stir-fry. If you have a recipe that calls for Napa cabbage and you can’t find any, you’re probably looking for a substitute. We’ve listed a variety of different substitutes for Napa cabbage above.

Some are best used raw, others cooked, and still others can be used both ways. The best substitute for you will depend on what you are cooking. When selecting a substitute, keep in mind the flavors and textures you want in your meal! This way, you can find one that will work well in place of Napa cabbage.

Related Questions

Here are a few more queries we thought you might have now that you know everything there is to know about Napa cabbage and what the best alternatives are.

Is Napa cabbage the same as regular cabbage?

When added to a meal, Napa cabbage and regular cabbage may appear very similar, but there is a difference when viewed whole. Napa cabbage is longer and thinner in shape, whereas regular cabbage is rounder.

What is the other name for Napa cabbage?

Celery cabbage is another name for Napa cabbage. It is also sometimes referred to as “Chinese cabbage,” but this is more of a classification than a proper name.

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