by Olena

Cabbage Stir Fry

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 10 votes

If you’re looking for a quick, simple, and super budget friendly meal, then this Cabbage Stir Fry is for you. With a combination of inexpensive cabbage, carrots, and noodles as the base, this easy cabbage lo mein style dish is easy on the wallet, ready in 20 minutes, and packed with nutrients!

As Ukrainian I sure love my grandma’s unstuffed cabbage rolls and its pressure cooker version – Instant Pot cabbage roll recipe.

Cabbage Stir Fry with Rice Noodles

Stir-fries are one of my favorite quick meals to pack in tons of nutrients without too much effort. I’ve already posted this healthy chicken stir fry, easy shrimp stir fry, and this beef stir fry recipe (among others!). Now it’s the turn of this Asian-style cabbage stir fry with noodles.

Next time you’re in the mood for Chinese takeout, avoid the potential MSG and heaps of oil and make this delicious stir fry recipe with cabbage instead. It can be made at a fraction of the cost and is super versatile. Not to mention it gives you a chance to appreciate an often overlooked ingredient – the humble cabbage.

Though cabbage is used a lot within European (like this Russian cabbage soup) and Asian cuisine, it doesn’t seem to be as appreciated in the US and Canada. Which, honestly, is a shame as it’s truly very versatile and delicious, whether it’s being cooked up for a wholesome cabbage roll casserole or used in a fresh savoy cabbage salad – not to mention super budget friendly and packed with nutrients and cancer fighting properties.

Carrots and cabbage stir fried in orange skillet

For this cabbage stir fry, I’ve combined both cabbage and carrots (which are available year round). However, it’s also extremely easy to bulk up the dish further with more veggies. In fact, stir fries, in general, are perfect for using up all those leftovers and veggies that urgently need seeing too (you know – the ones at the back of the fridge, starting to wrinkle, looking a little bit sad?!). Check out the Ingredients section below for a list of potential add-ins to this stir fried cabbage.

You can also easily adjust the sweetness and spice levels in the sauce, bulk up the dish with protein, and swap out the noodles based on your dietary requirements (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, etc.).

Grated garlic, sesame oil and bowls of ingredients

Ingredients for Cabbage Stir Fry

  • Cabbage: Basic green cabbage is all you need for this recipe. It’s packed with several vitamins and cancer-fighting properties. Though you could also use other cabbage varieties: Chinese cabbage (aka napa cabbage), savoy, red cabbage (read FAQs for more info).
  • Carrots: For bright color, fresh flavor, and plenty of nutrients. Feel free to slice it on an axis or use shredded carrots, based on how toothsome you want it to be.
  • Noodles: I used thin brown rice noodles (kids love them in chic, but you can use any of your favorite noodles based on your dietary needs: white rice noodles, ramen noodles, flat ribbon noodles, egg noodles, udon, linguine, etc. For a low-carb version, you could even use vegetable noodles like zoodles.
  • Sesame oil: While, technically, any oil can be used, toasted sesame oil adds depth to the flavor and pairs well with the Chinese-inspired sauce.
  • Aromatics: Ginger and garlic add flavor and warmth to the cabbage stir-fry.
  • Green onion: Finely sliced – used as a garnish for delicate, fresh flavor.
  • Soy sauce: Or tamari/ coconut aminos for paleo/ gluten-free options. To really add depths to the flavor then I suggest using some light and some dark soy sauce. If preferred, you could use a low-sodium soy sauce too.
  • Sweetener: Honey or maple syrup work well. Also, brown rice syrup may work though I haven’t tried it. You don’t need much to balance the salty, tangy flavors of the sauce.
  • Rice vinegar: Or alternatively mirin (which is similar but slightly sweeter, with alcohol included)
  • Red pepper flakes: For a little bit of heat to the dish

Variations and Extras

It’s really simple to adjust this cabbage stir fry recipe is several ways – including with the likes of extra veggies and protein.

  • Extra vegetables: You can add all kinds of veggies including spinach/kale, corn, onion, snow peas, edamame, eggplant, bean sprouts, mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, etc. – simply sauté until softened.
  • For Protein: Bulk up this healthy stir fry easily with the addition of a protein like ground chicken or turkey, chicken/beef strips, or more (check FAQs). You could even use leftover cooked chicken/beef or add a beaten egg.
  • For Spice: Feel free to add a finely diced chili to the sauce or even a little chili paste/sauce.
  • To Top: Toasted sesame seeds or nuts like cashews or almonds.
Stir fried Cabbage and Carrots in orange skillet

How to Make Carrot and Cabbage Stir Fry

  • First, prepare the vegetables: Finely slice or shred the carrots and cabbage. To do this, chop the bottom stem off the cabbage, then cut it in half, lay each of those halves cut-side down on the table, half again, and then slice into thin strips – like ribbons.

If your cabbage’s outer leaves are starting to look a little sad and withered, then remove these before chopping the cabbage.

  • Sauté the aromatics: In a large Dutch oven/skillet, heat a little toasted sesame oil over medium heat. Once heated, add the ginger and garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Add the cabbage and carrots: Add the veggies to the pan, then stir and cover – cooking for 6 minutes, stirring once halfway.
  • Prepare the stir fry sauce: Meanwhile, as the veggies soften, prepare the sauce in a small bowl by combining the soy sauce, maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice), vinegar, and water. Whisk with a fork.
  • Prepare the noodles: According to their package instructions, being careful not to overcook. For the brown rice noodles, this meant adding them to a bowl with boiled water for three minutes. You can use kitchen scissors to cut the noodles into smaller pieces directly in the bowl. When ready, drain and set aside.
  • Add the sauce to the pan: Then mix well until thoroughly incorporated. Cook for a further minute or two, stirring often, then taste and adjust any of the sauce seasonings (more sweetener, tangy flavor, etc.). Then, add the finely chopped green onions and red pepper flakes (if you want heat) and give a few additional stirs before serving while warm.
Rice Noodles soaked in a bowl of water

How to Store and Reheat

Storing: Store any leftover cabbage chow mein/stir fry in an airtight container within the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Freeze? I do not recommend because cabbage and noodles may change texturally when frozen.

Reheating: You can reheat it either in a microwave or warmed on the stovetop over medium heat with a splash of water or broth. You may need a little additional sauce.

Serving Suggestions

Use this stir fried cabbage recipe as a side or main.

If you haven’t already added protein directly into the dish, then feel free to serve alongside your favorite main like spinach stuffed chicken breast, Instant Pot chicken breast or crispy pan fried tofu.

This cabbage noodle stir fry will also pair well with other vegetable side dishes like roasted cauliflower or broiled asparagus.

Leftovers also make for a great filling for lettuce wraps (or tortilla wraps, if you don’t mind double carbs!)

FAQs

Can the stir fry sauce be made in advance?

Yes! You can prepare this sauce a few days in advance and store it, covered, in the fridge. Even better, make a little extra. That way, if you have any leftovers, then you can add a splash or two more of the sauce when reheating it.

What cabbage is best for stir fries?

There are several varieties of cabbage that you can use for stir-frying.

Green Cabbage: This cabbage is large, rounded in shape, and is the most common of all the cabbage varieties. This is the one I’ll usually use as it’s incredibly cheap, available all-year, and fries up wonderfully in this healthy cabbage stir fry.
Similarly, you could use red cabbage, which is very similar to green cabbage, but with a purple-red color.

Chinese Cabbage (Napa Cabbage): Chinese cabbage is long and almost ‘tear-shaped’ with a light green color and slightly frilly, curly leaves. This cabbage is used a lot within Asian recipes for similar recipes and is an excellent alternative to green cabbage for this stir-fry.

Savoy Cabbage: This curly cabbage is darker green in color, rounded in shape, with lots of curly, ruffly leaves. This cabbage has a very mild flavor and works very well within stir-fries.

More Tips and FAQs

  • Make sure to stir often: When stir frying, it’s good to stir frequently and well, to evenly cook the ingredients and make sure nothing burns.
  • If you want to add protein to this recipe: Such as ground chicken, then brown it in the pan first before adding the vegetables.
  • For a low carb option: You can use vegetable noodles (like zoodles) or, alternatively, skip the noodles entirely. If you slice your cabbage thin enough, then it acts like noodles.

Other Quick & Healthy Recipes

If you enjoyed this cabbage stir fry recipe then you may also like these other cabbage and stir fry-inspired recipes.

You may also like this full list of meals in under 30 minutes!

Cabbage Stir Fry

Cabbage Stir Fry {20 Minute Recipe}

With a combination of inexpensive cabbage, carrots, and noodles, this Cabbage Stir Fry is easy on the wallet, ready in 20 minutes, and packed with nutrients!
5 from 10 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Asian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 318kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs cabbage chopped into 2” pieces
  • 1 lb carrots thickly sliced
  • 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil divided
  • 2 inch piece ginger grated
  • 3 large garlic cloves grated
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce I used Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 9 oz thin brown rice noodles
  • 4 green onion sprigs finely chopped
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Boiled water

Instructions

  • Preheat large Dutch oven or skillet on medium heat and swirl 2 tbsp of sesame oil to coat. Add ginger and garlic; sauté for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Add cabbage and carrots, stir; cover and cook for 6 minutes, stirring once.
  • In the meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine soy sauce, maple syrup, water, rice vinegar; whisk with a fork and set aside. Also place brown rice noodles in a bowl with boiled water for 3 minutes. Using kitchen scissors cut noodles right in the bowl. Drain and set aside.
  • Pour sauce over cabbage and carrots; add noodles. Stir everything well. Top with remaining 1 tbsp sesame seed oil, green onions and red pepper flakes (if you wish). A few more stirs and serve hot.

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

    Reheating: You can reheat it either in a microwave or warmed on the stovetop over medium heat. You may need a little additional sauce.

      Freeze? I do not recommend because cabbage and noodles may change texturally when frozen.

        Notes

        • Can the stir fry sauce be made in advance? Yes! You can prepare this sauce a few days in advance and store it, covered, in the fridge. Even better, make a little extra. That way, if you have any leftovers, then you can add a splash or two more of the sauce when reheating it.
        • Can I use other cabbage? You could use other cabbage varieties: Chinese cabbage (aka napa cabbage), savoy, red cabbage (read post FAQs for more info).
        • Make sure to stir often: When stir frying, it’s good to stir frequently and well, to evenly cook the ingredients and make sure nothing burns.
        • If you want to add protein to this recipe: Such as ground chicken, then brown it in the pan first before adding the vegetables.
        • For a low carb option: You can use vegetable noodles (like zoodles) or, alternatively, skip the noodles entirely. If you slice your cabbage thin enough, then it acts like noodles.

        Nutrition

        Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 318kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 534mg | Potassium: 561mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 12857IU | Vitamin C: 62mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 1mg
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        olena osipov in the studio

        Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

        My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

        24 comments on “Cabbage Stir Fry

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        1. 5 stars
          Yes ,this I’m obsessed with. I (love) this dish. My daughter swears I got it from a restaurant. Thank you so much for this recipe. The first two times made the dish as described but since this is my 5th time making this I’ve tweaked it to include hoisin sauce, shrimp, and oyster sauce

        2. 5 stars
          I had never made a stir fry before. I added a zucchini cut into match sticks. I made enough for 2 but ended up eating it all. I’ll be making this more often. It’s so delicious and so very easy. Thank you so much.

        3. 5 stars
          I just tried this recipe, it was very good & I will definitely make it again! This time of the year fresh produce isn’t as plentiful but cabbage & carrots are easy to find, I’m so glad I found this recipe! Thanks!

        4. 5 stars
          Tasty and filling. I cut the carrots thin and let the vegetables cook an extra minute or two to soften them. The sauce is scrumptious.

        5. I’m with the kid, I hate carrots, but this looks delicious!!! I’m definitely making this! Might substitute another veggie for the carrots though! ?

        6. 5 stars
          Wow! this is awesome and so good! Iam new ti the Vegan world. Thank you for all your help. I tried to subscribe but it did not let me. even though I clicked that I was not a robot …

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