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17 Best Napa Cabbage Substitute In Soup Or Kimchi

Napa cabbage has a tender, crisp texture with a sweet, mild taste. It can be served raw or cooked and is known to absorb liquid, making any dish more palatable. 

Napa cabbage is widely used in many Chinese and Asian dishes including stir fry, dumplings or soup. Napa cabbage is also a staple ingredient in making Korean kimchi. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber. you can easily substitute with other leafy greens if it is not available.

  1. Bok Choy
  2. Green Cabbage
  3. Pointed Cabbage
  4. Savoy Cabbage
  5. Romaine Lettuce
  6. Onion
  7. Pea Sprout
  8. Bean Sprout
  9. Kale

Read on if you are keen to find out more about this popular vegetable and its health benefits.

17 Best Substitute For Napa Cabbage 

Napa Cabbage Substitute

Based on 2020 statistics, China is the leading producer globally of fresh vegetables, producing 594 metric tons in volume. It is not surprising that Chinese cabbage popularity is widespread in the United States. The vegetable is more popularly known as Napa cabbage.

Napa is a Japanese colloquial term for any vegetable leaf used as food. But what is Napa cabbage?

Napa cabbage is an oblong-shaped vegetable with compact, crinkly, thickly veined, pale green to yellow-green leaves and white stalks. It is commonly sold alongside bok choy.

Napa cabbage is low in calories. 100 g of the vegetable yields only 16 calories. It contains antioxidants like carotene, thiocyanates, lutein, and many more. It is also a rich source of vitamin c and folates, a moderate amount of vitamin K, riboflavin, thiamin, and other essential vitamins and minerals.

Some studies suggest Napa cabbage offer protection against cancers, reduce LDL cholesterol levels, and may help prevent neurological illness in newborns. Vitamin C can help boost the immune system.

Nothing could best substitute Napa cabbage other than its closest relative. 

Bok Choy

bok choy

Bok choy comes from the same genus as Napa cabbage Brassica Rapa although they are under two different subspecies.

Bok choy has a bulbous central stem with elongated leafy stalks. The leaves are dark green in color and can be flat or ruffled. The stems are thick with either light green or white color. It has a crisp texture with a fresh, nutty, grassy flavor. The nuttiness increases once cooked.

Bok choy is usually cooked by roasting, braising, and stir-frying. It can also be eaten raw and used widely in Chinese and Asian dishes. 

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Bok choy is low in calories. In fact, a 100-gram serving provides 1.5 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs, 1 gram of soluble fiber, and almost zero fat. It is a good source of vitamins C, A, and K, including beta-carotene.

2 Best Napa Cabbage Substitute For Kimchi

Kimchi is a staple side dish in Korean cuisine. Napa cabbage is its primary ingredient, but other similar green leafy veggies can work just as well.

Green Cabbage

Green cabbage is one vegetable that you can find everywhere. It is the most common variety of cabbage worldwide.

It has a spherical head, earning the name cannonball. Green cabbage has a compact, crunchy, waxy texture and pale green color. The core of the cabbage head is tough to eat, so it is generally removed during preparation.

Green cabbage can be eaten cooked, braised, pickled, fermented, or raw. It has a mild, vegetal, peppery flavor that can be tempered down once cooked. Its large, sturdy leaves make it an excellent substitute for Napa cabbage in kimchi.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, green cabbage is made up of around 92% water. It contains a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber. 

Pointed Cabbage

Pointed Cabbage

Pointed cabbage is a white cabbage variety with pointed ends. It is also known as Hispi cabbage, sweetheart cabbage, or sweeter cabbage.

Pointed cabbage is a cross between red cabbage and savoy cabbage. It has a slight, sweet, mild flavor and crunchy, fragile, thin leaves. It is best eaten raw. These characteristics make pointed cabbage another excellent substitute for Napa cabbage in making kimchi. 

It is rich in vitamin C, low in calories and fat, and easily digested.  

2 Best Substitute For Napa Cabbage In Dumplings

Traditional Japanese and Chinese dumpling fillings add Napa cabbage to provide body to their dumplings. 


Kale has a bitter, deeper flavor, so it is not really the first choice as a substitute for Napa cabbage. However, it has thick, robust leaves and a curly texture similar to Napa cabbage, making it a good alternative to dumplings.

The deep flavor of kale will produce more bitterness in your dish. However, it would complement the fattiness of your ground pork. You can replace Napa cabbage in dumplings using a 2:1 ratio.

Green Swiss Chard

Green Swiss Chard

Green Swiss chard is another exceptional alternative for Napa cabbage for dumplings. It has tough green leaves with a milder flavor than kale but with the same bitter notes.

Green Swiss chard comes from the family of beets with tender, green, fleshy leaves and crisp, thick stalks. The leaves and stems are cooked separately. Leaves are minced and mixed with the meat to make the dumplings. You can replace Napa cabbage with a 2:1 ratio.

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3 Best Substitute for Napa Cabbage in Stir Fry

Stir-fried vegetables are widely used in Asian cuisine. Leafy, crispy greens stir-fried in woks are among the easiest Asian dishes to make.

Choy Sum

Choy sum is a flowering Chinese cabbage and is often confused with Bok choy and Napa cabbage. However, choy sum is different in appearance from both vegetables.

Choy sum is similar to broccolini, but instead of buds, choy sum has yellow flowers. The flavor is mild, same as bok choy.

It cooks quickly and offers a vegetal, delicate flavor, making it a perfect ingredient to enrich your stir-fries. You can also enjoy choy sum in any dish that calls for Napa cabbage.



Komatsuna or tender greens are leafy, dark greens from the genus Brassica. However, Komatsuna resembles spinach in appearance more than Napa cabbage.

It is often used in Japanese dishes such as soups, boiled vegetables, stir-fries, and Japanese-style hotpot or nabe.

Komatsuna is a nutritious vegetable and contains more vitamin c and calcium than spinach. It is healthier than Napa cabbage in terms of nutrition.


Kohlrabi is part of the cabbage family. This is enough reason for this vegetable to be a good substitute for Napa cabbage.

It has a sweet, mild flavor with bitter notes. It is similar to radish in appearance and is often prepared mashed, steamed, and fried. Kohlrabi is also an edible addition to salad and slaws.

3 Best Substitute For Napa Cabbage In Soup

Hotpot is a popular Chinese cooking method used in restaurants and at home. A hotpot consists of simmering soup maintained at a low boiling temperature where an assortment of thinly sliced meat and vegetables are cooked.


Fresh Onions

Not exactly cabbage, but this versatile vegetable can be a substitute for Napa cabbage in a hotpot. It is a staple ingredient in sautéing dishes.

It has a strong taste that turns sweet once cooked. Onions easily blend with any flavor, yet retains their own distinct flavor.

Pea Sprout

Peas come from pea sprouts. They are young green peas with a crunchy texture and tasty, sweet taste. 

Pea sprouts are an excellent substitute for Napa cabbage in a hotpot. It is also a great addition to salads and stir-fries.

Pea sprouts are rich in dietary fiber, protein, folic acid, and vitamins. 

Bean Sprout

Bean Sprout

Bean sprouts are the crisp, tender roots that sprout out of beans. The most common types are alfalfa sprouts and mung bean sprouts.

Bean sprouts are composed of water like cabbages. They are usually eaten raw or lightly cooked. This makes them perfect for hotpots. 

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Bean sprouts are available all year round and are relatively cheap. They have a mild taste and unique aroma that will not overpower your dishes.

They are an excellent source of vitamin c, calcium, iron, and antioxidants.

6 Best Substitute For Napa Cabbage In Other Recipes

Another culinary use of Napa cabbage is in making rolls or wraps. 

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy cabbage is a popular alternative for making cabbage rolls or wraps. This is due to its sturdy, large leaves spread out in a flower-like pattern.

It has the same size and shape as green cabbage but has thicker exterior veins. You can use the inner leaves for braising, sautéing, and stir-frying. You can also use it for pickled and fermented vegetables like kimchi.

It is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and A, calcium, and iron. 

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce is not a cabbage but has the appearance and texture of Napa cabbage. It has sturdy light green to green leaves that grow on a firm rib, making it a perfect alternative for Napa cabbage in making rolls or wraps.

It has a fresh, juicy, and slightly bitter taste with notes of sweetness and grassiness. It can be eaten raw in a salad or in sandwiches.

Romaine lettuce is low on calories and nutritiously filled with essential vitamins and minerals.

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is another variety of cabbage from the cabbage family. Its vibrant purple color makes this cabbage stand out.

It has a sphere shape similar to green cabbage, but more resilient leaves than Napa cabbage. It has a sweet taste that turns fresh and peppery once cooked. Its crispy texture makes it a perfect alternative for Napa cabbage in raw dishes like slaws and salads.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are cousins to green cabbage. They are similar in appearance to green cabbage, but their baby version.

It has crunchy, crispy, green leaves with a sweet, nutty taste like green cabbage, making it an alternative for Napa cabbage.

You can thinly slice Brussels sprouts to make a healthy slaw. 

Napa cabbage makes a good salad. However, if you want to try something new, use these two best alternatives.


Endive may not be as well known as other leafy vegetables, but its appearance can match the Napa cabbage evenly. It has the same shape, color, crispy texture, and buttery flavor. However, Endive is slightly bitter than Napa cabbage.

Its leaves are crinkly like Romaine lettuce, depending on the variety. It can be eaten raw and make a fantastic salad.

Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg lettuce is almost identical in appearance, shape, and color to green lettuce. It has a crunchy, crispy texture and a sweet taste that holds up well with any dressings. 

Iceberg lettuce is rich in antioxidants, fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals comparable to Napa cabbage. It is best eaten raw, making iceberg lettuce a favorite choice for salad.