In which an old ingredient learns new tricks: Cabbage Stir Fry. Thinly sliced cabbage sautéed with ground chicken (or with beef) and carrots in a light and flavorful Chinese-inspired stir fry sauce, this quick, healthy dinner will have you rethinking the possibilities of our friend, Mr. C.

Chicken and cabbage stir fry on a plate

Although cabbage is a common ingredient in Asian main dishes (both vegetarian and meat-based), the idea of using cabbage to make a healthy stir fry didn’t occur to me until recently.

I usually think of cabbage as an “on-the-side” situation.

Sautéed Cabbage. Cabbage Steaks. Asian Cabbage Salad. All are tasty, but none are a traditional main event.

Cabbage’s long shelf life (it can last several weeks in the refrigerator) and budget-friendly price tag have made it a popular ingredient in our home as of late, so I decided to see what more I could do with it.

And since “what more I could do with it” most often materializes as “ME HUNGRY, MUST EAT NOW!” that “more” followed the easy dinner path of least resistance: stir fry.

Cabbage stir fry on a plate with chicken

A Delicious Way to Cook Cabbage

If you’ve found cabbage suspect up until this point, cabbage stir fry will make a believer out of you.

  • While raw cabbage can be bitter, when sautéed as it is in this stir fry recipe, it becomes caramelized, lightly sweet, and tender. You’ll hardly recognize it.
  • Low carb lovers especially will rejoice. Twirled on a fork, the thin strands of cabbage reminded me of noodles.

In fact, by my second serving, I skipped the rice I’d planned to serve with the stir fry entirely. The stir fry cabbage is entirely satisfying on its own.

Easy cabbage stir fry with chicken

A Special Ingredient to Elevate Your Cabbage Stir Fry

Our kitchen is no stranger to clean-out-the-fridge stir fry situations—Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry, Tofu Stir Fry, and Easy Chicken Stir Fry with Vegetables and Mandarin Oranges are but three of many.

What makes this recipe special (other than its namesake addition of cabbage) is a new spice I’ve never used in a stir fry before but that sets it apart: ground cloves.

Now, it might sound like I just opened my spice cabinet, closed my eyes, and grabbed the first container within reach, but there’s a method to my madness.

  • Cloves are a key ingredient in Chinese five spice powder.
  • Since Chinese five spice is a lesser-stocked ingredient in many U.S. homes, I wanted to see if I could create a stir fry with its subtle, warm effect, without asking you to purchase a new spice you might only use once or twice a year.

If you do own Chinese five spice powder, by all means feel free to use it here. If you were looking for an excuse to buy it, this cabbage stir fry is a good one. (Use about 1 teaspoon and omit the cloves).

And if neither of the above applies to you, use ground cloves. You’ll be pleased with the results.

Two Asian pantry staple ingredients I do insist you buy are low sodium soy sauce (or gluten free tamari or coconut aminos for our Paleo friends) and rice vinegar.

These two, along with fresh garlic and ginger, will open you to just about every one of the healthy stir fry recipes you can find here.

Cabbage stir fry on a plate

How to Make Cabbage Stir Fry

This recipe calls for basic green cabbage, which is inexpensive and widely available. It looks like a large orb and has wide, pale green leaves.

  • This recipe would also work with red cabbage (no changes to the recipe needed).
  • If you are looking for something to do with Chinese cabbage (also called Napa cabbage) you can use it to make stir fry. Not that since it is more tender, it will cook more quickly.

The Ingredients

  • Ground Chicken. I chose to use ground chicken in this recipe, since it’s lean and versatile. In addition to chicken, beef and pork go well cabbage, so feel free to swap out the ground chicken for a lean version of one of these or for ground turkey.
  • Cabbage. The unexpected stir fry star! Once cooked, the cabbage is delightfully tender and coated in the rich flavors of the sauce and spices. Cabbage also brings oodles of Vitamin-C and potassium to the dish (read more about cabbage here).
  • Carrots. An easy and healthy way to bring color to the stir fry. Carrots are rich in Vitamin-A and fiber (see more health benefits of carrots here).
  • Ground Cloves. My sneaky spice addition that adds warmth to the dish.
  • Garlic + Ginger. Essentials for the best stir fry flavor (just ask Sweet and Sour Chicken).
  • Red Pepper Flakes. For a pinch of spice. If you prefer less spice in your stir fry, you can scale it back.
  • Stir Fry Sauce. Soy sauce, maple syrup, and rice vinegar coat every ingredient in a rich blend of umami/sweet flavors. It will keep you coming back for more (and more!).
  • Green Onions + Cilantro. For a finishing touch of freshness.

The Directions 

  1. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices to one bowl, and add the stir fry sauce ingredients to another.
  2. Cut the cabbage (check out the section below for tips on how to cut cabbage for stir fries).
    Ground chicken in a skillet
  3. Brown the chicken, stirring in part of the soy sauce.
    Carrots and cabbage in a skillet
  4. Saute the cabbage and carrots.
    A skillet with cabbage and carrots
  5. Pour in the sauce ingredients, cover, and cook until the cabbage is wilted.
    Cabbage stir fry in a skillet
  6. Add the green onion, cilantro, and chicken. ENJOY!

How to Cut Cabbage for Stir Fry

To make sure that the cabbage is tender and caramelizes in your stir fry, the key is to slice it thinly.

  1. Slice off the stem end of the cabbage head so that you have a sturdy base.
  2. Cut the cabbage in half starting from the top and working towards the bottom, cut end.
  3. Lay the cut side down on the cutting board so that its flat surface is touching the board.
  4. Cut each piece in half again.
    A head of cabbage being chopped on a cutting board
  5. Turn each resulting quarter piece crosswise, and cut it into thin strips (about 1/8-inch thick). The strips are ready to be used in the stir fry!

Cabbage Stir Fry Storage Tips

  • To Store. Cabbage stir fry can be stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm stir fry in a large skillet or wok on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Add a splash of rice vinegar to perk the cabbage back up.
  • To Freeze. Leftovers can be frozen in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. The cabbage texture may change a bit, but the flavors will still be tasty.

What to Serve with Cabbage Stir Fry

While this recipe is delicious served on its own, here are a few ideas of what you could serve with it:

  • Rice. A side of brown, white, or cauliflower rice would be delicious with this stir fry.
  • Noodles. Try it with brown rice noodles for a tasty, filling meal.
  • Veggies. Take your vegetable servings up a notch with a side of Roasted Frozen Broccoli.

More Healthy Stir Fry Recipes

Two bowls of healthy cabbage stir fry

Recommended Tools to Make Cabbage Stir Fry

This super tasty stir fry was such a hit, I’m wondering what other ways I should be cooking with cabbage. If you have any favorite ways to use it in addition to stir fry, I’d love to hear about them below.

And if you try this cabbage stir fry with chicken (or any other protein), please leave a comment below to let me know how it turned out for you! Your comments and ratings mean so much to me and are helpful to others too.

Chicken and cabbage stir fry on a plate

Cabbage Stir Fry

4.86 from 21 votes
This quick, healthy cabbage stir fry features chicken or beef and thinly sliced cabbage cooked in a light and flavorful stir fry sauce. Easy and delicious!

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 27 mins

Servings: 6 servings


  • 5 cloves minced garlic about 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes if highly sensitive to spice, reduce to 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce divided, plus additional to taste
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 small cabbage about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 pound ground chicken lean ground beef, ground pork, or ground turkey
  • 2 cups shredded carrots about 10 ounces or 4 medium
  • 1 small bunch green onions finely chopped (about 6 small)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
  • Prepared brown rice or brown rice noodles for serving (optional—omit to make low carb; I love this stir fry on its own!)


  • In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and cloves. In a separate bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, the rice vinegar, and the maple syrup. Keep both close by.
  • Cut the stem end off of the cabbage. Next, cut it in half from the top of the cabbage down through the stem. Place the flat, cut side against the surface of your cutting board, then each half into quarters (again, from the top down towards the stem). Turn each quarter crosswise, then cut into thin, 1/8-inch strips. Keep handy (I like to pile my cut cabbage into a bowl as I go).
  • Heat a large, deep skillet, Dutch oven, or wok with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once hot and shimmering, add the chicken. Cook, breaking up the meat. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Continue cooking until the meat is fully cooked through and any liquid that has collected in the pan has mostly cooked off, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate or bowl. Make sure you have the skillet lid handy.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the cabbage and carrots. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is just starting to wilt.
  • Add the soy sauce and spice mixture. Cover the skillet and cook over high heat for one minute, until the cabbage is completely wilted but isn’t mushy.
  • Uncover, and stir in the green onion, cilantro, and reserved chicken. Let cook 30 additional seconds. The cabbage should be crisp tender (if it’s not, cook it a bit longer). Serve hot with rice or noodles and an extra dash of soy sauce as desired.


  • TO STORE: Cabbage stir fry can be stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm stir fry in a large skillet or wok on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Add a splash of rice vinegar to perk the cabbage back up. 
  • TO FREEZE: Leftovers can be frozen in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. The cabbage texture may change a bit, but the flavors will still be tasty.


Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 235kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 17gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 65mgPotassium: 879mgFiber: 6gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 7535IUVitamin C: 61mgCalcium: 100mgIron: 2mg

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Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. Because I am a morning person I like to fix or prep dinner in the morning, clean up and enjoy the evening meal relaxed. This morning I was trying to decide what to fix, with what I had, when I opened my email and by magic you gave me the perfect recipe. So I am off to start what I know will be a five star meal because you never disappointed me once! Thanks for helping to make my life less stressful.

  2. Very good, I thought it was easy to make. Thank you.
    Only one question, when do you add the ginger,garlic,cloves,and red peppers?
    Jim5 stars

    1. I’m so excited that you enjoyed this recipe, Jim! You add the spice mixture when you add the soy sauce mixture. Thank you for sharing this kind review!

  3. Update, I fixed this recipe for our evening meal, the only change I made was sub a shallot for the green onion and use grill chicken strips because going to the store for one or two items is in the past. I marinate the cut up strips in part of the sauce to give them more flavor. My husband is very picky, but ate every bit and said it was good….that is a glowing review from him. I took my veggies out before I added the chicken and added a baked potato to my plate. I thought the veggies were really good and a new way to season carrots in the future. I will be making this again. Don’t skip the cloves, really adds flavor.5 stars

  4. So easy and delicious! I used 1 tsp. of Chinese 5 spice because I already had and am always looking for a good recipe to use it in. Also kicked up the spice with 2 tsp. of the crushed red pepper and added red bell pepper as well. Served over brown rice noodles and made great leftovers.5 stars

  5. Ground cloves? My husband and I both were surprised by that flavor, which overwhelmed a lot of the other ingredients. (I see that others enjoyed the cloves, so we may not be representative.) When I make this again—and I will—I will omit the cloves and see what it’s like. This make a lot of servings for minimal expense and effort.

    1. Hi Eileen, I’m sorry to hear that the cloves weren’t to your tastes. I hope you enjoy the recipe even more next time!

  6. Made this stir fry with lean ground beef and it was super tasty! Just one question. Recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons mixed with the rice vinegar/maple syrup and 1 tablespoon added to the chicken. Now I’m just learning to cook and wondering where does that extra tablespoon of soy sauce go? Thanks for developing and posting your recipes, I’ve tried at least 10 of them and they are all yum-tastic and so healthy! I love the way you write your instructions, I never feel lost or uncertain, feels like you are leading me by the hand through the recipe!5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe, Lisa! Thank you for sharing this wonderful review! The extra soy sauce can be used at the very end to add a final pop of flavor.

  7. This is a must-have meal in our family. We make it every 2 weeks, if not less. It is super tasty with some noodles, or as Erin said it, even on its own!5 stars

  8. Excited to try this out since I have half a head of cabbage left in the fridge! But what could I use instead of rice vinegar? Would normal vinegar work?

    1. Aliya, normal vinegar is VERY strong, so I wouldn’t suggest a swap as it might overpower things. I think you could use a lesser amount of sherry vinegar or try lemon juice.

    1. Hi Nancy! I’ve never tried adding shrimp to this recipe, but I think it would be tasty. Shrimp doesn’t take very long to cook, so you may want to add it at the very end. If you decide to play around with it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  9. Never been a big fan of cabbage in most things but the recipe had good reviews so I thought I would give it a shot. This recipe was easy and delicious. My boyfriend who was skeptical of all the cabbage also loved it. It’s alway great to find a healthy, easy and delicious meal, and bonus this is a great weeknight meal because it’s so fast.

    We followed the recipe notes and used Chinese 5 spice in place of the cloves.5 stars

  10. I just made this because I didn’t want half a head of cabbage to go to waste. It’s so delicious and quick! Definitely making it again!5 stars

  11. Made this dish and my family and I totally loved it!!! It is easy to make and super tasty. I would highly recommend it. If you are looking for no carb or low carbs dinner meals this is it. You don’t really need to add rice or noddles it is perfect just by itself. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.5 stars

  12. The cilantro & ginger also pair perfectly with shrimp as your protein. Thanks so much for this easy, healthy recipe! It will be a weekly repeat for me.5 stars

  13. So good! We didn’t have any red pepper flakes in the house, so added some siracha to taste at the table. Fabulous!5 stars

  14. The video shows you adding the garlic/ginger mixture, but am I missing it in the actual recipe? I threw it in and it worked just fine, though! This is a great recipe. We like it with beef and pork, which we have in abundance.

    My husband is not one for spiciness, so the first time I made it I cut back the red pepper flakes. Second time I made it I added it back in, and we liked the very subtle heat. It is not overly spicy at all! And, tonight we had leftovers from yesterday and they were beyond delicious. Don’t ask me why, but I threw in a bit of oyster sauce, which it probably didn’t need, but I am always experimenting. Love all your stir fry recipes.5 stars

    1. Hi Barb! It’s in Step 5 where is says, “Add the soy sauce and spice mixture. Cover the skillet and cook over high heat for one minute, until the cabbage is completely wilted but isn’t mushy.” So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for this kind review!

  15. Delicious recipe! I added more veggies too but that sauce was so amazing! Thank you for the new stir-fry dish!5 stars

  16. Just wow! Have been trying to find recipes that are healthy, tasty, and easy to prepare. This hits the mark in so many ways! Honestly tastes like what we get at a local restaurant. Thank you!!

    The ground clove amount was perfect as I was concerned it would overwhelm but it didn’t.

    I didn’t have rice vinegar but will be getting some soon. Used white wine vinegar as a sub and worked well too.5 stars

  17. Just made this…what a flavor! Just delicious and quick once the veggies are chopped/shredded! Your book was a gift to me from my daughter and everything I’ve tried is delicious!

  18. Hey Erin! I love this dish but it always ends up being kind of watery at the end. Am I doing something wrong?
    I was thinking of adding a little cornstarch at the end to thicken it up a bit.

    I am also using Coconut Aminos instead of Soy Sauce which is just as tastey!

    1. Hi Jason! This is pretty puzzling because as you can see, even in the video, there is very little water and there is only 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, that would not be enough for it to cause it to be watery. Are you cooking until the meat is fully cooked through and any liquid that has collected in the pan has mostly cooked off? If not, it needs to be drained. Also what kind of cabbage are you using? The cabbage I use, just a standard green cabbage does not produce enough water to make it watery. Lastly are you cooking over high heat? I’ve not used the coconut aminos so I am not sure if that is contributing to you having water at the end. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks for the reply Erin!
        I have cooked the meat until it is fully cooked and most/all of the liquid is cooked off.
        I am using standard green cabbage, and cooking on medium-high heat.
        I will be making this again tonight. Either way it is delicious!

  19. This was so yummy and easy to make! Definitely will become part of the rotation. I made it exactly as the recipe and it turned out great. My daughter liked it with noodles but I enjoyed it on it’s own. The leftover can be warmed up but it’s real tasty cold too!5 stars

  20. Tried it! Vegetarian family, we did not add meat but did side with brown rice. Delicious! Thank you keep em coming.😋5 stars

    1. I’m sorry to hear the recipe wasn’t to your taste. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it. I (and many other readers) have enjoyed it, so I really wish they would’ve been a hit for you too! Feel free to reduce the amount of ginger if you prefer.

  21. I have made this twice now and this recipe is a keeper. I was skeptical to use ground meat in a stir fry, but I went with it and really loved the result. I used red cabbage my first time, and regular green cabbage my second time, and I much prefer it with green cabbage. The red cabbage tasted fine, but didn’t wilt down as well and the color once cooked (and especially leftover) was unappealing. I served it once with rice and once with noodles, and both are equally tasty. I used 5-spice since I have it stocked, but can see where the cloves would bring the spicy notes that the 5-spice adds. This will be my go to recipe when I’ve got cabbage to use!5 stars

  22. Great flavor! I will back the ginger and pepper flakes down a bit next time. Perfect way to use up left over cabbage from fish tacos.5 stars

  23. Was looking for a cabbage stir fry and this worked great. After the prep work, it was quick to cook.
    Added left over brisket at the end. Whole family gave a thumbs up.5 stars

  24. This stir fry is so delicious and satisfying. I bought cilantro then forgot to add it, because I was so excited to sit down and eat this beautiful meal. Thanks so much Erin for this wonderful meal! We all enjoyed it very much! Look forward to making again!5 stars