The 5 Must-Try Bok Choy Substitutes

Bok choy is one of the healthiest vegetables to incorporate into your diet. It adds a bit of crunch and a slight bitterness and sweetness. Use it for Asian dishes, from stir-fried dishes to soups and noodles.

Cooking bok choy is also easy and fast, making it an ideal vegetable for a quick and simple meal at any time of the day. However, bok choy may not always be available in grocery stores. If you are ever caught in this dilemma, you can always substitute it with another close green vegetable offering similar taste and texture.

In this article, I share my top 5 bok choy alternatives. Each alternative may vary according to your desired needs, whether you need bok choy for its crunch or just for the taste. Nevertheless, these green leafy alternatives are still excellent choices to complete your meal in terms of nutrition and taste.

Get To Know Bok Choy

Bok choy (白菜) is a type of Chinese cabbage that is known by several names, such as pak choi, spoon cabbage, and bak choi. Generally, it has green round leaves and a bulbous stem that can be white or light green. The appearance depends on the type of bok choy, including  Shanghai bok choy, white bok choy, and baby bok choy, to name a few.

All parts of bok choy are edible. In terms of taste, there may be a slight difference depending on the type of bok choy. For instance, white bok choy is sweet and slightly bitter like spinach, whereas Shanghai bok choy is milder and sweeter.

The 5 Bok Choy Substitutes

A meal won’t be complete without greens in it. Just because bok choy isn’t available doesn’t mean you will skip this ingredient to your recipe. So, make sure you still add vegetables to your meal plan by choosing from among these 5 alternatives.

1. Napa Cabbage

Napa Cabbage is an excellent substitute for bok choy because of its green crisp leaves. You may also know this Chinese cabbage as celery cabbage, or winter cabbage. It is commonly cooked in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean dishes, such as Cabbage Kimchi, Gamjatang 감자탕 / Korean Pork Bone Soup, and Galbijjim 갈비찜 / Beef Short Ribs Stew.

Napa Cabbage

The taste is mild with a bit of sweetness and earthiness. Its light green parts are crisp and delicate, whereas its white base is crunchier. You will also benefit from this vegetable’s nutritional content since it is high in antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamins A, C, B6, and B12.

2. Yu Choy

Yu Choy,  choy sum, or yao choy is a Chinese flowering cabbage with oval, green leaves and thin, light green stalks. It may not look like a bok choy, but it sure does provide you with sweet and slight bitterness just like a bok choy. It also has a hint of pepper and a mild, earthy taste.

Yu Choy Sum

Its stalk gives you a tender and crunchy texture. Use this vegetable for various recipes, from stir-fried to sautéd and steamed dishes. You can never go wrong with this vegetable as it is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, fiber, calcium, and vitamins A, B, and C.

3. Spinach

If you are just after the soft green leaves, go for regular spinach or baby spinach. It is an excellent substitute if you are looking for green leafy vegetables packed with nutrients. The taste of the leaves is quite similar to a bok choy, which is mild and bitter.


However, if you also need a slight crunch of bok choy, then spinach may not be the best option for you. Nevertheless, spinach is a healthy choice that is rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. You can use this vegetable for blanched, stir-fried, or steamed dishes.

4. White Cabbage

White cabbage is the winner when it comes to affordability and availability. It is one of the cheapest vegetables in the market and is highly accessible. It is safe to say white cabbage never runs out in grocery stores.

White Cabbage

This vegetable is the best alternative if you are looking for a firm and crisp texture. When it comes to taste, it is generally mild, earthy, and sweeter than bok choy. In replacement of white cabbage, you can also try red cabbage, but the taste will be bolder and more peppery.

5. Chinese Broccoli

Last but not least, Chinese broccoli or gai lan can easily replace bok choy with its dark green leaves and long narrow stems. It has a crunch similar to broccoli and the white stems of bok choy. The taste is sweet, bitter, and earthy.

Chinese broccoli

You can cook Chinese broccoli by stir-frying, blanching, and steaming, to name a few. Generally, it takes less than 5 minutes or until tender for Chinese broccoli to cook. Use the same amount of Chinese broccoli needed for bok choy in your recipe.

The Verdict

The best bok choy substitute depends on whether you are after its crunchy texture or sweet and bitter taste. Go for napa cabbage, white cabbage, and Chinese broccoli if you want a crunchy texture. For something sweet and bitter without the crisp texture, opt for spinach.

Going for both bok choy taste and texture? I recommend yu choy since it is sweet and slightly bitter and has a tender and crunchy texture. If you have other alternatives to bok choy that you would like to share, post a comment below in the comments section!

When you have bok choy or any of the 5 alternatives, try the following recipes for a hearty meal:

For more fun facts about bok choy, I recommend the articles How Different Is Bok Choy From Other Similar Vegetables? and A Foodie’s Guide To Bok Choy | How To Eat, Cut, Store, And Cook. Follow Kitchen Misadventures on Instagram and TikTok to learn more about green leafy vegetables and discover new recipes for your meal plan!

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