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This Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry is an easy and filling side dish that made it on our dinner table several nights a week! Don’t let the short ingredient list fool you, this stir fry is full of flavor!

stir fry cabbage on a ceramic grey plate with soy sauce coating the cabbage leaves and garlic slices. wooden chopsticks can be seen on the plate and next to a linen towel
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Just like brussels sprouts, cabbage’s distant cousin, cabbage is underrated. It is inexpensive, filling, and there is a multitude of ways make it. However, equally just like brussels sprouts, people don’t know to prepare cabbage correctly to make it taste amazing. Honestly, this Chinese cabbage stir fry recipe has a very short ingredient list but it is full of savory flavor!

This was one of my favorite recipes my mom made when we were growing up. I especially liked it because she always used a lot of slices of garlic. She also made it so that there were pieces of cabbage that were fully cooked and soft but then my favorite parts were the crunchier pieces of cabbage that were just slightly thicker and didn’t cook totally through.

So, if you’re looking for a new way to use up that head of cabbage in your fridge or just incorporate more cabbage in your daily meals, you won’t be disappointed with this tried and true Chinese stir fry cabbage.

stir fry cabbage tossed in soy sauce with garlic slices on a plate with wooden chopsticks laying on top of the plate

Why You’ll Love It

Easy to prepare. It’s really only the cabbage and garlic slices you are preparing!

Short ingredient list. There’s only a few ingredients keeping this cabbage stir fry super easy and quick.

It’s actually fun. It’s fun because the cabbage is hand-torn vs. cutting it with a knife. The idea is to be super rustic and sloppy with it. I don’t know why it’s that way but that’s how we always have made it. My mom will just peel the cabbage layers off and then just tear them into irregular shapes and pieces with her hands. It gives the dish a fun textural variety.

ingredients for stir fry cabbage: cabbage, soy sauce, and garlic slices

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Cabbage – a regular head of green cabbage
  • Garlic
  • Soy sauce

Can I use napa cabbage?

No, that is entirely a different type of cabbage and will yield different results.

How to Make Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry

Hand shred the cabbage. You’ll first want to hand shred or tear the cabbage. Literally just peel a layer of cabbage off and break the cabbage leaves into large pieces, about 2-3 inch pieces. You don’t have to be super perfect about it. It’s supposed to be rustic.

cabbage being sautéd in a skillet with sliced garlic and soy sauce

Sauté. In a large skillet, add the sliced garlic and slightly toast them until fragrant then add the cabbage. You’ll want to use fairly high heat for this so that the cabbage kind of chars and gets that nice flavoring. If you want to speed along the cooking of the cabbage, you can add a splash of water to help it along. Reduce the heat when cabbage has softened and add the soy sauce.

up close image of stir fry cabbage on a plate

Substitutions and variations

For added flavor and bite, add a splash of black vinegar after the cabbage is removed from heat. I love the acidity of black vinegar and the flavor it can give a dish.

For a bit of spice and extra flavor, adding a chili crisp oil (Trader Joe’s or homemade) after the cabbage is removed from heat is a great way to kick it up a notch.

More cabbage recipes

4 from 6 votes

Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry

An incredibly easy, cheap, and flavorful side dish addition to your dinner table!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2


  • 2 cups hand torn cabbage leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

Optional additions:

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  • In a large skillet over medium high heat, add a little cooking oil and fry garlic until fragrant, taking care to not burn it.
  • Add the cabbage and sauté until char on the outside then turn heat down and let cook until desired doneness. To speed it up slightly, you can add a splash of water.
  • Remove from heat and add soy sauce and optional additions. Stir to incorporate.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 31kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 0.1g, Saturated Fat: 0.04g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g, Sodium: 302mg, Potassium: 171mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Somehow I missed the descriptions of how delicious this dish was! It tasted mostly like soy sauce. I did the garlic perfectly, not burning them, added the Chinese cabbage, and finished with chili oil that I made. Still, I did not find it to be delicious!. What did I do wrong?

    1. i don’t think you necessarily did anything wrong…i just think that perhaps this flavor profile isn’t what you want?