Altough There is some concern that cabbage might make hypothyroidism worse, it is still insanely popular all around and widely used in our recipes.
It is also an essential food in some salads, stews and soups. There are dishes that call for it as the main ingredient and you can’t skip it.
So, check this guide to the best cabbage substitutes if you don’t have the regular cabbage in hand or want to try something new instead.
The best substitutes are savoy cabbage, napa cabbage, green cabbage, red cabbage, chinese lettuce, romaine lettuce, brussel sprouts, bok choy, kale, cauliflower or broccoli, kohlrabi, endives and iceberg lettuce.
Best Cabbage Substitutes To Try
1. Savoy Cabbage
Savoy cabbage, also known as “ruffle cabbage” or “curly cabbage” comes with the same size as the regular cabbage. The leaves of this cabbage, however, have more wrinkles and thicker veins.
Compared to cabbage, savoy cabbage has a milder and sweeter taste. It is more expensive than regular cabbage. It has deep green leaves which go well with salads. You can use savoy cabbage in stews and soups.
Its wide leaves allow it to be used in wrap and roll dishes too. However, the leaves tend to stay crispy even after cooking. So, you should be careful with it when choosing as a wrap or for cabbage rolls.
When fermented, savoy cabbage can be used in kimchi as well.
2. Napa Cabbage
Napa cabbage is widely used in kimchi. It comes with an oval head and light green leaves. This is a type of Chinese cabbage. Recently it has gained more popularity and is used in many other dishes too.
Napa cabbage is lighter and tastes mild and slightly sweet. You can choose it to replace regular cabbage in stir-fries, baked goods, salads, in meat-based fillings as a wrap as well as in dumplings.
3. Red Cabbage
While red cabbage has a smaller head, it offers a stronger flavor. This cabbage comes with a denser texture.
Compared to the regular green cabbage, red cabbage tends to remain fresh and crispy even after being pickled. The main difference however is the color. Red cabbage comes with reddish to violet leaves which look awesome in any dish. They add a pop of color and make it more attractive.
It tastes like green cabbage and can be used both in raw and cooked dishes. You can use it instead of green cabbage in many recipes. Use your experimental skills when it comes to salads.
4. Chinese Lettuce
If you happen to get the regular Chinese lettuce, you can use it instead of the regular cabbage too. It is often mistaken with napa cabbage, but they are different. The roots and the leaves differ from the regular cabbage but they are used interchangeably in many recipes.
Chinese lettuce comes with white stems and dark green leaves, both of which are edible. It tastes slightly bitter and sweet. It has a crispy and crunchy texture and tastes good especially in salads.
You can use Chinese lettuce both raw and cooked. Compared to green cabbage this vegetable takes a shorter time to be cooked.
5. Romaine Lettuce
One of the healthiest substitutes for cabbage is romaine lettuce. It contains twice as much potassium as regular cabbage. This vegetable comes with a rugby-like head and white to pale green leaves which are quite long to be used in wrap or roll dishes.
It is juicer and sweeter but you can use it instead of green cabbage in salads. This food is crunchy enough to substitute raw cabbage but it should be shredded before using.
6. Brussel Sprouts
Perhaps the smallest type of cabbage is the Brussels sprouts. They are cute and tasty vegetables that seem to be baby cabbages.
You can eat them roasted, grilled, cooked in soups and stews as well as in salads. If you choose it for salads, opt for the smallest sprouts and cook them beforehand. They taste a bit milder than the common cabbage.
If you are looking for a cabbage alternative for rolls and wraps, then this may not be a good match. Try the alternatives that offer large leaves.
7. Bok Choy
Bok choy originates from China and is often used in Asian dishes. It has a unique flavor and form.
Although the stem tastes sweet and the leaves are slightly bitter, you can substitute it with green cabbage in a number of dishes. It is crunchy and can be eaten both raw and cooked. This vegetable ideally goes with sandwiches and salads.
Bok choy is widely used in Chinese soups and stir-fries. If you avoid that bitter taste, you can just remove the leaves and use only the white part of the stems. When cooked, it is lighter in taste than cabbage.
Kale belongs to the same family as cabbage, therefore it offers similar features. It is also called leaf cabbage as it is much leafier and the head is hidden behind those long green leaves.
Compared to cabbage it has a fresher flavor and earthy, slightly bitter taste. It differs from many types of cabbages in its appearance, dark green color and texture of leaves but it still remains crunchy and can substitute cabbage mainly in salads. However, you may find recipes where kale is cooked or slightly sauteed.
9. Cauliflower or Broccoli
Both work well instead of cabbage in several dishes because they belong to the same family of Brassicaceae, like cabbage and Brussel sprouts. Although they look different, they still taste similar in stews and salads.
Compared to cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are mainly used in cooked dishes. If added to salads, they are cooked a little bit to become softer and edible. These are easy substitutes and can also change the appearance of your dish.
Cauliflower comes with a milky-white color and broccoli has a fresh deep green color.
One of the less popular substitutes is kohlrabi. This small vegetable comes in green and purple colors and tastes sweeter than cabbage. Although kohlrabi is not an easy substitute, if it’s available in your region then you can use it in recipes that call for cabbage.
It is eaten both raw and cooked. Just slice it up or shredd to use in salads and other raw dishes. It has a sweet peppery taste and can replace cabbage in grilled, sauteed, baked or cooked dishes.
Endive is a healthy leafy green vegetable basically used in salads. You can cook it too if you don’t have anything else to substitute cabbage in a hot dish.
Endives are not that easy to find, but maybe you have them nearby and have the chance to use them instead of cabbage.
Since endive offers a stronger and a little bit bitter taste, you may add different seasonings to make the taste similar to cabbage.
12. Iceberg Lettuce
And your final choice can be the iceberg lettuce. It comes with a crunchy texture and is perfect to add to salads. It has pale green leaves and looks like regular cabbage. It tastes sweeter than cabbage.
Thanks to its water content, iceberg lettuce is often included in stir-fried recipes. It adds crunchiness and fresh taste to the dish when cooked.
FAQs on Cabbage
Is cabbage and lettuce the same thing?
Although cabbage and lettuce have similar appearance and taste, they come with different water content. Lettuce contains more water and is juicer than cabbage. They also offer different nutritional content.
Can you substitute lettuce for cabbage in soup?
Yes, you can. Just consider the most appropriate types of lettuce such as romaine lettuce and use it in slaw-cooked dishes.
Can you substitute red cabbage for green cabbage?
Yes, you can substitute red cabbage for green cabbage in most recipes. The flavor of red cabbage is slightly sweeter and milder than green cabbage, so it may not be a perfect substitute in all recipes. But in general, it should work just fine.
What’s the best substitute for cabbage?
Napa cabbage takes the first place, then comes brussel sprouts and savoy cabbage.
Now you know what to use instead of cabbage in your favorite dishes. Even if you hesitate in your choice, you can always compare the best substitutes according to the texture, color and taste.
While some types of cabbages and lettuce come with similar crunchiness and texture, others may offer different features but still work well in some recipes.