I know that you love an easy veggie side dish with only a few basic ingredients, so I am popping in here today to share my latest obsession: Simple Sautéed Napa Cabbage with garlic, ginger and scallions. It takes 15 minutes to make and uses 8 cups of one of the best year-round seasonal veggies: Napa cabbage!

a skillet with the sauteed Napa cabbage in it

Why We Love This Napa Cabbage Recipe

This Napa Cabbage recipe is a great one to try if Napa cabbage is a new veggie for you. The cooking technique is so easy and the flavors (ginger and garlic) are easy to incorporate into a variety of meals. Try it alongside sesame noodles or peanut noodles. Or you can serve it with Ginger Lime Black Cod or Maple Tahini Glazed Salmon.

What is Napa Cabbage?

napa cabbage on a wooden cutting board with a small knife and twine

Napa Cabbage (Brassica rapa pekinensis) is a common type of Chinese cabbage originating in China. It was first cultivated in the 15th century in the Yangtze river basin in China and later spread to Japan and Korea. By the 19th century, it was brought to other parts of the world including America.

In Mandarin, its name is translated to mean “large white vegetable.”

It is pale lime green in color with wide flat white ribs running the length of its densely packed but delicate leaves.

While it is harvested in the summer it is an excellent storing vegetable and great year-round.

Ingredients For This Stir-Fried Napa Cabbage

ingredients with labels

Napa Cabbage

Heads of napa cabbage vary by size from about 2 1/2 pounds to up to 6 pounds each. It can be found in the produce section of large supermarkets, health food stores and farmers’ markets. It is sometimes called simply “Chinese Cabbage.” Store it in plastic to prevent it from wilting. Remove any outer leaves that show signs of insect damage.

For this recipe, you will need 8 cups of chopped napa cabbage. Here’s how to cut cabbage.

How To Cut The Cabbage

  1. Cut the head of cabbage in half lengthwise (as in the photo above) and then again into quarters.
  2. Remove the core.
  3. Cut each quarter into long 1-inch wide lengths.
  4. Cut crosswise into 1-inch square pieces.

Garlic and Ginger

To season this dish, you will need minced ginger and garlic. Remove the peel and chop with a chef’s knife.

Tip: To easily remove the skin of the ginger, scrape it with the edge of a soup spoon. It peels right off without sacrificing any of the ginger root.


I usually recommend using certified Organic canola oil or avocado oil for high heat cooking. But you are welcome to use your preferred neutral cooking oil.


A little goes a long way in this recipe because the Napa really cooks down a lot. One-quarter of a teaspoon of table salt is plenty. You can use kosher salt instead, but make sure you read here why you may need to double the amount.

Dry Sherry

To deglaze the skillet and to steam (and wilt) the cabbage, you will need a small amount of dry sherry. If you do not have sherry or prefer to omit the alcohol, you can substitute 3 tablespoons vegetable broth plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar.

Make sure you are using unseasoned sherry, not sherry cooking wine, which has additional sodium added to it.

Scallions and Sesame Seeds

To add additional flavor and add color and freshness you’ll need two sliced scallions to add at the end. We also liked the way that a sprinkling of sesame seeds tasted on top. Toasted sesame seeds are even better!

Step By Step Instructions For Making This Easy Napa Cabbage Recipe

cook the garlic and ginger, then add the cabbage and stir fry it

Step 1: Cook the Garlic and Ginger

Heat the oil over high heat in a large skillet. (Do not use non-stick skillets for high heat cooking!) Add garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and starting to brown, about 30 seconds.

Step 2: Stir-fry the Napa Cabbage

To coat the cabbage with the ginger and garlic, add the Napa into the skillet, and stir it well. The skillet will seem very full. This is normal, and it will cook down in the next step.

add the sherry and let steam, covered. Finish with scallions

Step 3: Deglaze and Steam the Cabbage

Next, pour in the sherry to quickly stop any browning and add moisture to the skillet. Cover the skillet with a large well-fitting lid and let the Napa cabbage wilt for about 2 minutes. This will help make the amount of napa in the skillet more manageable to sauté.

Step 4: Finish Cooking

Remove the lid. Sprinkle on the salt, and stir-fry the cabbage until it is just tender but not completely limp. This only takes 1 to 2 minutes. Do not overcook it or it will become watery.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the scallions. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds before serving.

a black bowl with Napa in it and a fork

Expert Tips and FAQs

What is Napa Cabbage?

Napa cabbage is a type of Chinese cabbage originating from the Bejing area. Translated from Chinese, its name is roughly “big white vegetable.” Napa cabbage is best grown in the cooler part of the growing season when days are more mild and short. It can be kept in cold storage for several months and is a great year-round vegetable. It can be eating raw in salads or slaws or cooked.

Can this recipe be made ahead?

This recipe is best when made just before serving. The Napa cabbage can be cut and the garlic, scallions and ginger chopped in advance. Cook it just before serving. Leftovers can be enjoyed cold, as reheating makes the sauté too watery.

Can I add chilies to make this spicy?

Yes! You can use red pepper flakes or Korean red chili flakes to taste. Add them into the saute in step two with the cabbage.

Are there other ways to season sautéed Napa cabbage?

Instead of using ginger, scallions and sesame try a different flavor profile. Saute the garlic with two chopped anchovies in step one. Deglaze with 3 tablespoons broth plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Once it comes off the heat in step 4, add on shaved Asiago cheese and black pepper on top.

Can regular green cabbage be substituted for Napa cabbage in this recipe?

Yes regular cabbage works, however, green cabbage takes longer to cook than Napa cabbage. In step 3 add more liquid (up to 3 more tablespoons) and more cooking time (about 5 minutes total) to ensure that the cabbage wilts before proceeding to step 4.

Variations To Try

  • Use olive oil or butter instead of neutral cooking oil.
  • Omit the sherry and use vegetable stock or chicken broth instead.
  • Instead of seasoning with ginger, scallions and sesame seeds, simply finsih with a splash of lemon juice, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar and chopped fresh herbs such as dill.

More Recipes With Napa Cabbage

black bowls with stir-fried Napa cabbage in them

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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sauteed Napa cabbage in a black bowl with scallions and sesame seeds

Simple Sauteed Napa Cabbage

  • Author: Katie
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1/2 cups 1x


This recipe for Simple Sauteed Napa Cabbage with garlic, ginger and scallions is an easy low-calorie side dish featuring Napa cabbage and it only takes 15 minutes to make! 



2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil such as avocado

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger root

8 cups napa cabbage, chopped into bite-sized pieces

3 tablespoons dry sherry (or 3 tablespoons vegetable broth plush 1 teaspoon rice vinegar)

¼ teaspoon salt

2 scallions, chopped

Sesame seeds, preferably toasted, for garnish, optional


  1. Heat oil over high heat in a large skillet (not non-stick.) Add garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and starting to brown, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in Napa cabbage (the skillet will be full.)
  3. Add dry sherry and cover with a well-fitting lid. Let cook about 2 minutes to allow the Napa to wilt.
  4. Remove lid and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring often until the cabbage is tender, but not completely limp, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in scallions and remove from the heat. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.


How To Cut Napa Cabbage Cabbage

  1. Cut the head of cabbage in half lengthwise and then again into quarters.
  2. Remove the core.
  3. Cut each quarter into long 1-inch wide lengths.
  4. Cut crosswise into 1-inch square pieces.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Asian


  • Serving Size: 3/4 cup each
  • Calories: 104
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 171 mg
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Keywords: Sautéed Napa Cabbage,Stir-fried Napa Cabbage