Top 6 Chinese Broccoli Substitutes

by Raksha Hegde last updated -

If you are looking for good Chinese broccoli substitutes, there are a number of alternatives that can work just as well in the kitchen. Chinese broccoli is from the same plant species as broccoli (Brassica oleracea) and may have a similar bitter taste. However, in appearance, it is a dark green, leafy vegetable with short thick stalks and tiny broccoli-like flowers.

Also known as Gai lan, Kai-lan, or Chinese kale, Chinese broccoli is a common ingredient in Asian soups and dishes. It has a bitter taste which mellows when cooked and it may taste delicious when stir-fried, steamed, boiled or added in soups. But sometimes, it may not be easily available in the supermarket.

Top Chinese Broccoli Substitutes

The best Chinese broccoli substitutes include broccoli rabe (rapini) and bok choy. The other alternatives are regular broccoli, broccolini, kale, and spinach.

Broccoli Rabe

Also known as rapini, broccoli rabe is a slightly more bitter leafy green, although it shares many of the same physical characteristics and cooking uses as this broccoli.

Fresh Chinese broccoli on a wooden counter

Fresh Chinese broccoli is delicious when stir-fried or added to soups. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Bok Choy

With a more subtle, less bitter flavor, bok choy can be used to replace this specialty broccoli in broth-based soups and salads, and may also be used to prepare stir-fries to provide the same hearty consistency. [1]

Fresh bokchoy on a wooden table

Fresh bokchoy Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Broccoli may have a similar bitter taste to Chinese broccoli, and it may be the best substitute in stir-fries. [2]


Broccolini might be a natural hybrid of Chinese broccoli and regular broccoli. If you are looking to recreate Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, this may be the best substitute.


Kale has a similar crunchy texture as Chinese broccoli. However, when cooked, kale may have a much stronger flavor than Chinese broccoli. So you may want to add a little less than the amount of Chinese broccoli in soups and stir-fries.

A soup pot of japanese miso soup of tofu, green onions, carrots, and udon noodles on a wooden mat

Miso soup is the main item in a Japanese breakfast and is usually eaten with rice, eggs, fish, and pickles. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


If you are looking to substitute Chinese broccoli in soups, you can add the same amount of spinach. While it may lack the slightly bitter taste, it can certainly provide a similar texture and nutrient profile. Protection Status
About the Author

Raksha Hegde is the content director at Organic Facts and helps oversee a team of brilliant, dynamic content writers. She completed her MS in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University, US. A former business news journalist and editor, Raksha followed her passion for wellness to become a certified Yoga teacher and a wellness festival curator. She believes that learning is a life-long process; she did a certificate e-course on “Introduction to Food and Health” in 2019 from Stanford University, US. 

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