The 8 best cabbage substitutes for your recipes
There are many varieties of cabbage to choose from, but there are also other vegetables that you can use to substitute cabbage when you run out or just don’t like the taste of it.
If you are looking for a cabbage substitute, start with the other types of cabbage, which are usually the best alternatives in terms of similarities. Depending on your recipe, you can also expand your range of options to others.
The best substitutes for cabbage
Despite being widely used in many recipes, cabbage is often overlooked and not considered anything special. Actually, this vegetable has a lot to offer, since although it is low in calories, it is rich in nutrients such as
- Vitamins (B6, C, K)
Plus, it aids digestion and can reduce inflammation, as well as lower your risk of heart disease.
Cabbage comes in different varieties and colors, which are not exactly the same but can be interchangeable. The most common variety is green cabbage, also called white cabbage.
Red cabbage is the other well-known variety of common cabbage. A head of red cabbage is slightly smaller than a head of green cabbage, and despite the name, its color is actually purple—in fact, it’s also called “purple cabbage.”
This variety of cabbage is actually considered a superfood because it contains 10 times more vitamins and cancer-fighting flavonoids than green cabbage, but when making recipes, these two cabbages can be used interchangeably because they taste the same.
Cabbage is a fundamental ingredient for famous dishes such as Korean kimchi or German sauerkraut. When you run out of cabbage, or perhaps the recipe doesn’t call for enough cabbage to warrant a trip to the grocery store, you can try one of the following cabbage substitutes.
1. Napa cabbage
Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, is the main ingredient in Korean kimchi, which has become increasingly popular around the world in recent years.
Napa cabbage differs from red and green cabbage in that it is shaped like a rugby ball and has yellowish leaves. It belongs to a different family than the more common cabbages; specifically, it is rumored to be a cross between a turnip and a bok choy.
Although it’s great when added raw to salads and stews, its mild, slightly sweet flavor makes it a great cabbage alternative in stir-fry recipes or when stuffing meatballs.
You can find napa cabbage in any grocery store, although when possible it is recommended to buy it from an Asian store or market because they tend to have the freshest and juiciest napa cabbage.
2. Brussels sprouts
If you are looking for a cabbage-like vegetable, look no further than Brussels sprouts. These little round vegetables are in the same family as cabbages and are actually considered to be little cabbages.
Brussels sprouts are rich in minerals and vitamins, especially vitamins K and C, which help support the immune system and improve bone health. The fibers contained in Brussels sprouts also promote digestion and intestinal health.
It is best to avoid boiling Brussels sprouts, as the process makes them sulfurous and unpleasant-tasting, which is why these little sprouts used to be very unpopular, especially with children.
The most common way to use Brussels sprouts is to cut and clean them before cooking. They make a good substitute for shredded collards in your recipes, but they also make a nice stand-alone garnish.
3. Savoy cabbage
Savoy cabbage is the ideal cabbage substitute in soup recipes, hot pots, or even stuffed. Like all varieties of cabbage, it is rich in nutrients, especially vitamin C, which acts as a shield against free radicals, responsible for the destruction of our cells.
The leaves of Savoy cabbage are not as crisp as regular cabbage, so if your dish lacks a crispy feel and you’ve run out of cabbage alternatives, you should look for other vegetables like cucumber or celery. , although its flavor will not be exactly the same.
Savoy cabbage is also very good sautéed or roasted. For people who have digestive problems or weak intestines, savoy cabbage can be boiled in water with cumin seeds or green anise before adding it to the normal recipe.
4. Choy Sum
Choy sum can easily be confused with Napa cabbage or Bok Choy because it is often labeled “bok choy.” In fact, it is native to China and is widely used in traditional Chinese cooking.
It can be described as a smaller, more delicate version of Bok Choy and is very similar to broccoli. It has a juicy, sweet-sour flavor and a crunchy texture.
Choy sum is delicious when served grilled or stir-fried and is packed with nutrients including protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
This vegetable isn’t the closest substitute for cabbage, but if you want to give an old recipe a new lease of life or even if you’re looking for a whole new side dish, you should give Choy Sum a try!
5. Bok Choi
Bok choy is also known as pak choy or Chinese white cabbage because it has been used in Chinese cuisine for thousands of years.
It features in a wide variety of recipes around the world and, in addition to being a good substitute for cabbage, it is also a great alternative to bell pepper. In fact, its stems have a sweet, crunchy flavor that works as a great substitute for both.
Bok Choy leaves, on the other hand, taste quite bitter and do not contribute to crunch, so you should remove the leaves before cooking if you do not like bitterness.
Bok Choy is low in calories, just like cabbage, and has many health benefits:
- Helps maintain bone health
- Naturally lowers blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduces chronic inflammation
- Improves the immune system’s reaction to infections
- Balances blood sugar levels
This cabbage substitute works great in stir-fry recipes, but also in soups or steamed with other vegetables. It is recommended not to overcook it, because the stems tend to become soft, just like zucchini.
Celery is a versatile vegetable that has seen an increase in popularity in recent years due to its high nutritional value, as it has a low glycemic index and contains
- Vitamins (A, K, C)
It’s often considered a “diet food” because it has almost no calories and is high in water, but it’s so rich in micronutrients that it’s slowly finding its way into everything from soups to sandwiches.
Cabbage and celery don’t taste the same, but they are interchangeable because they have the same characteristic crunch that is often the main reason cabbage is substituted for celery or vice versa.
Celery has a mild flavor, but not everyone enjoys it. Luckily, even if you can’t find another cabbage substitute, there are also plenty of celery substitutes you can try in your recipe.
The kohlrabi is part of the cabbage family, although it is not as well known as its brothers. It has a mild, sweet flavor that is halfway between turnip and water chestnut, and comes in two varieties like common cabbage: green and purple.
The kohlrabi’s shape is somewhat odd and definitely recognizable, because it looks like a radish with stems growing all over the surface. The purple variety is rare to find, but the green variety hasn’t caught on yet either, despite being a very versatile vegetable.
Kohlrabi leaves are usually a delicious addition to your salads, but more often than not, you will find the bulbs without leaves. To prepare the kohlrabi, trim the base and top of the bulb, peel it, and cut it into slices or dice. Kohlrabi can be roasted, steamed, and pureed, among other things.
Kale comes from Brassica oleracea, just like cabbage. The difference between the two is that the cabbage comes from the terminal shoots of the plant, while the cabbage is a selection of its leaves.
Kale has been slowly making its way into many recipes and is a very popular alternative to cabbage for salads.
This vegetable is easy to grow and can withstand many harsh weather conditions. It is recognized by its elongated leaves and its dark color, which is quite different from that of the common cabbage.
Kale is easily found in stores, where it usually comes in two varieties
- Kale: Kale is often cooked because the raw leaves are quite fibrous and also have a strong, earthy flavor.
- small kale: The leaves of baby kale are more tender and have a mild flavor, which is why they are preferred for salads.
Kale is a superfood like red cabbage, because it’s nutrient-dense and low in calories. Specifically, kale is high in vitamins (C, K, A), calcium, antioxidants, beta-carotene, and iron (when cooked).
How to choose a substitute for cabbage.
Most cabbage alternatives stay within the cabbage family, so knowing how to choose a cabbage substitute will be important.
As a general rule, fresh vegetables should have bright, consistent colors, so if you notice any blemishes or blemishes, the produce may be overgrown or damaged in transit.
Unlike fruits, smell isn’t really a key factor with vegetables, although something that smells too sweet or too sour shouldn’t be considered fresh. The important thing is that the vegetables feel firm to the touch.
When buying the most common varieties of cabbage, choose a head that feels firm and heavy for its size. The stems should be firm and the leaves should be colorful and healthy.
You can store the cabbage in the fridge for a few days when it has leaves. If it is leafless and uncut it can last a couple of weeks in the crisper, if not it should be eaten within 2-3 days.