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The Ultimate Bok Choy Substitute For Cooking: We Tried 22

Bok choy is a typical ingredient in many Asian cuisines. For this reason, you’ll find many recipes using bok choy substitutes in many recipes. The substitute veggie usually matches your cooking cuisine, such as Thai, Chinese, and others.

However, it’s sometimes difficult to source. But luckily you can easily find a bunch of alternatives for it. Here are some of them

  1. Napa Cabbage
  2. Cabbage
  3. Red Cabbage
  4. Nan Ling/Chinese Celery
  5. Swiss Chard
  6. Mustard Greens
  7. Yu Choy

As the list is too long, you may need to read on further to get the full comprehensive substitutes for Bok Choy. But first, let us understand a bit more about this healthy vegetable common in most Asian cuisines.

22 Best Substitute For Bok Choy 

Boy Choy is native to China and most probably bred from native wild brassica species growing in the area since 3,500 years ago

This cruciferous green vegetable is full of compounds that promote better health. Find out what are the healthy substitutes that help can fight inflammation and boost your immune system. [Source]

Napa Cabbage

Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage is probably the closest possible substitute for bok choy. It also originated from China and is widely used in Australia and Europe. Some people also call it Chinese cabbage.

This veggie retains its crispiness after stir-frying, which you’re looking for in many dishes. In addition, it’s a great source of dietary fiber.

Its sweet and crunchy leaves add an extra celery-like flavor to dishes. On top of that, it contains sufficient amounts of vitamins, folates, and brain-boosting nutrients. 

Cabbage

A perfect substitute for bok choy is ordinary or regular cabbage. It comes from the Cruciferae family of veggies.

Its name means “cross-shaped,” a feature you’ll readily observe in its flowers. At the turn of the century, many thought it was meant for the poor.

However, today, it is considered one of the healthiest vegetables in any dinner table. It’s rich in dietary fiber and essential minerals and low in cholesterol and saturated fat. [Source]

If you’re going to use regular or white cabbage as a substitute for bok choy, note the intense flavors it can bring to your dish. In addition, it will provide a firm texture.

Red Cabbage

Red Cabbage

This is another type of cabbage with reddish or purple-colored leaves compared to regular cabbages. It’s also known in some parts of the world as Blaukraut, which is how red cabbage is prepared.

Some people call it purple cabbage due to the color of its leaves. However, its leaves can vary in color, depending on the anthocyanin molecules present in the leaves. 

Red cabbage is a good option for coleslaws, soups, salads, and stews. However, it’s most nutritious when cooked.

Nan Ling/Chinese Celery

Chinese celery is known by many different names and is an excellent substitute for bok choy. Some people call it kuen chai, while in some parts of Asia, it’s known as kinchay.

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It looks like coriander, and some people even compare its leaves to cilantro. However, all the similarities are visual.

Taste nan ling, and you’ll get a hint of bok choy mixed with celery flavors. It’s a small aromatic plant with leaves growing in a rosette.

It’s a fragrant herb that brings waves of spicy flavors into any dish you’re cooking. However, it adds sweetness when cooked well, which softens the texture of this herb.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Many people confuse Swiss chard with beet leaves since they look pretty similar. However, Swiss chard has bigger stalks and more leaves, and this helps with the distinction.

It’s a pretty good substitute for bok choy and an excellent addition to any salad. The flavors of this herb get quite close to bok choy when you pan fry the leaves.

Fun fact: even though people call it Swiss chard, it comes from the Mediterranean. It’s nutrient-rich, containing potassium, calcium, and vitamins C, A, and K.

Research shows that it’s rich in flavonoids. These compounds may help prevent the onset of different types of heart disease. [Source]

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are vegetables related to cabbage and kale, making excellent substitutes for bok choy. It’s a perfect option for stir fry veggies.

It’s also known by different names, such as Indian mustard or brown mustard. It’s an excellent source of vitamin K and contains flavonoids and other antioxidants.

As a caveat, there are variants of mustard greens with a more spicy and robust bitter flavor. However, frying, pickling, steaming, and boiling can make them palatable.

Yu Choy

Yu Choy

This veggie carries a slight natural bitter taste since it’s a type of mustard. However, you can cover the bitterness with some lemon extract.

Just like the other greens in its family, yu choy packs many nutrients. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C and other antioxidants.

This veggie goes well with stir fry noodles. In addition, its flavor-enhancing properties work wonders on many dishes when you add oyster sauce.

Spinach

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative to bok choy, then spinach becomes a top contender. On average, it costs $1.31 to US$ 1.37 per pound. 

This veggie is actually endemic to ancient Persia, but was brought to China in the 7th century. It was introduced to the United States in 1806. It’s still called “Persian Green” in some parts of the world.

The best way to cook spinach is by blanching or steaming. These methods help retain its nutrient content while reducing its oxalic acid content by 53%.

Celery

Celery

Some of the bok choy substitutes mentioned earlier are excellent Chinese and Asian dish options. However, if you’re looking for a replacement that you’ll use for western cuisines, then celery is a top pick.

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You can use a handful of chopped celery for salads or celery root for soups. It also makes a great addition to spreads, dips, and mixed veggie stir-fries.

Celery packs a lot of nutrients like fiber, folate, and potassium, and is a good source of essential vitamins. It’s a cholesterol-free, fat-free, low calorie, and low sodium ingredient. 

Gai Lan

Gai Lan is also known as Chinese broccoli, but some people call it Chinese mustard greens. It looks like a smaller variant of bok choy, but it tastes more like broccoli.

When cooking gai lan, please note its bitter aftertaste, which can be pretty overwhelming. Best practice dictates that you trim its bottom ends and use this veggie for stir-fries.

It’s an excellent source of vitamin E, which can reduce one’s risk for certain types of cancer. Its extracts also improve the body’s immune function and prevent infection from bacteria and viruses.

Leeks

fresh leeks

Leeks can also be an excellent substitute for recipes requiring bok choy. Many Asian dishes also incorporate this vegetable along with many leafy greens.

Some people mistake this veggie’s basal leaves as the plant’s stalk. However, the edible part that people eat is actually a bundle of sheaths made up of the plant’s leaves.

Leeks are a type of alliums related to shallots and chives, so it tastes a bit like onions. However, adding them to stews and soups brings a distinct oniony sweet flavor.

The green tops of leeks are often cut off during ingredient preparations. As a result, only the vegetable’s white and light green parts are used in many recipes.

Tatsoi

Tatsoi has a similar look and flavor to bok choy. However, its flavor profile has a few hints of bitter and sweet with a few mustard-like tastes.

You should keep these flavors in mind when using tatsoi as a substitute. To bring the best out of this veggie, you should cook it lightly through blanching.

Kale

kale

Kale is a readily available substitute for bok choy. It has very few calories and has plenty of vitamins A and C. 

Kale goes great with any salad and greens recipe. It blends well with the flavors of chicken and fish. It’s a versatile vegetable that you can use in many recipes.

Chijimisai

Chijimisai adds a bit of spicy flavor to dishes. If you want to reduce the kick, all you have to do is cook it well. However, please pay attention to how it can alter the taste of your recipe. 

The only downside to chijimisai is that it can be a bit difficult to find. However, you may find it in an Asian market.

Amaranth Greens

Amaranth Greens

Amaranth greens have flavors and textures similar to Swiss chard and spinach. It’s best used as a topping for salads.

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They are best cooked without salt. The leaves can be boiled and drained to help retain most of their nutrients.

It’s a good source of proteins and essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. It also contains vitamins and folate.

Pea Shoots

Pea shoots work well as a substitute ingredient for bok choy. However, do take note that it isn’t as sweet or as crisp.

Remember that you can only use its leaves as a substitute. It’s best served raw as part of soup toppings.

Broccoli

Broccoli

Most children love broccoli, especially mine. It is crunchy and sweet and adds a nutritional boost to your dishes. It’s a great alternative to bok choy, especially when you’re making steamy soups.

Broccoli can be eaten raw, but mind the bitter grassy taste. Blanching, steaming, sautéing, or stir-frying can help make it more palatable if your guests don’t like it raw.

Asparagus

Asparagus is an excellent alternative to bok choy with its woody stems. But just like some of the veggies mentioned here, don’t use too much of asparagus. It can affect the intended flavor of your recipe.

It’s best to use the thicker asparagus stalks to bring out its distinct flavor. Very little cooking is required if you’re using this veggie.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is another great substitute and it’s easy to find in stores as well. It’s nutritious and complements many flavors.

It’s a great addition to recipes containing tuna, cheese, and macaroni. Its vitamin and mineral profile adds to the nutrient value of any dish.

Cook it long enough, and you’ll release its nutty and sweet flavor. Add some curry powder, pesto sauce, and other preparations to further enhance its taste.

Carrots

It’s best to serve carrots fresh and chopped as a substitute for bok choy. If you need something to add some slightly crunchy, tender texture to your dish, then carrots work.

They’re rich in vitamin A, which is great for the eyesight. They also have lots of antioxidants to help boost your immune system.

Zucchini

Zucchini

Zucchini is another suitable substitute for bok choy, adding a slightly sweet flavor to any dish. In addition, it has a low-carb and low-calorie nutrient profile, which is excellent for anyone trying to lose weight.

It’s great for dishes that require baking, but it can be used quite well for other recipes. It’s a versatile veggie that’s easy to find in supermarkets.

Chives

Chives grow quickly in any garden. You can grow them in pots, and they’ll thrive near your kitchen window.

Its slight oniony flavor can be quite enchanting. It makes a great topping for tacos and soup, and it can help enhance the flavors of sauces.