Chinese 4-Ingredient Fried Cabbage

4.94 from 16 votes
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Infuse the oil with aromatics and then toss at a high heat, this adds a smoky flavor to the sweet fried cabbage to make a quick and delicious side dish.

Infuse the oil with aromatics and then toss at a high heat, this adds a smoky flavor to the sweet fried cabbage and makes a quick and delicious side dish.

On a Chinese dinner table, there are always a few vegetable dishes along with the main. A quick stir fry is one of the best ways to create a healthy and delicious side dish for dinner.

This 4-ingredient fried cabbage is a family recipe. My mom cooks it all the time because it requires minimum preparation and chopping but it yields a very flavorful dish. She kept telling me, right before I moved to the US, that this is the kind of recipe I need to learn. And putting green vegetables on the dinner table is one of the most important tasks, more important than cooking with meat!

So here is it, the 4-ingredient fried cabbage that only requires 3 minutes to prepare and 5 minutes to cook.

Secret ingredients for the best fried cabbage

The secret ingredients of making addictive fried cabbage are Sichuan peppercorns and dried chili peppers.

Sichuan peppercorns

Sichuan peppercorn (花椒, Huā Jiāo) is also known as Szechuan pepper, a key ingredient in Sichuan cuisine. Sichuan peppercorn has a pungent aroma, slightly lemony overtones, and numbing properties. If you bite into one of these small peppercorns, you’ll immediately feel the tongue-tingling, buzzing, party-in-your-mouth sensation otherwise known as ‘málà’ – numbing spice. In Northern Chinese cooking, we usually use the ingredients to infuse oil or sauces, to add extra savory aroma to a dish.

Sichuan peppercorns

Chinese dried chili peppers

Not only is it a key ingredient in authentic Sichuan food, it’s commonly used in braising and stir-frying to infuse fragrance into the oil. There are a few types of commonly used Chinese chili peppers and I highly recommend to at least have Facing Heaven Chili (medium-hot and very fragrant) in your pantry.

Facing Heaven Chili

Use Sichuan peppercorns and dried chili pepper to infuse the hot oil with smokiness and adds a numbing spicy hint to the sweet fried cabbage. The cabbage will be seared with high heat and lightly charred, tender and meaty in texture without losing its crunchiness. Finish up with just a drizzle of soy sauce, you’d be surprised how flavorful the result is. I can finish eating half a head of cabbage in 2 minutes.

Cooking process

  • Cut the cabbage to bite-size pieces. (See the video below my recipe to learn how I cut the cabbage)
  • Fry the Sichuan peppercorns in the hot oil until turning dark.
  • Scoop out the Sichuan peppercorns.
  • Add the dried chili pepper and cabbage. Cook until turning tender but still crunchy.
  • Drizzle with soy sauce.

That’s it! Use this quick and easy fried cabbage recipe to add nutrition to your dinner table.

Infuse the oil with aromatics and then toss at a high heat, this adds a smoky flavor to the sweet fried cabbage and makes a quick and delicious side dish.
Infuse the oil with aromatics and then toss at a high heat, this adds a smoky flavor to the sweet fried cabbage and makes a quick and delicious side dish.

More easy side dish recipes

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Infuse the oil with aromatics and then toss at a high heat, this adds a smoky flavor to the sweet fried cabbage and makes a quick and delicious side dish.

Chinese 4-Ingredient Fried Cabbage

4.94 from 16 votes
Infuse the oil with aromatics and then toss at a high heat, This adds a smoky flavor to the sweet cabbage to make a quick and delicious side dish
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Side
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: home style
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4



  • Heat a wok or large skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add oil and peppercorns. Stir until the peppercorns become fragrant and turn dark brown. Turn the heat right down and scoop the peppercorns out with a spatula and put aside for later. (*footnote 1).
  • Turn the heat back to medium high and add the chili peppers and cabbage. Immediately stir with spatula for 30 seconds. You should hear a vibrant sizzle. Add the salt. Keep stirring until the the edges are lightly charred and the leaves turn soft, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Turn to medium low heat, drizzle soy sauce over the cabbage and stir a few times to mix everything well.
  • Serve warm.


  1. When the Sichuan peppercorns cool down, grind them in a coffee grinder and store in an airtight container in the fridge. The peppercorn powder is very fragrant and can be used in making marinade or sauce, such as sesame noodles.



Serving: 1serving, Calories: 53kcal, Carbohydrates: 5.3g, Protein: 1.2g, Fat: 3.5g, Saturated Fat: 0.7g, Sodium: 529mg, Potassium: 155mg, Fiber: 2.2g, Sugar: 2.9g, Vitamin A: 100IU, Vitamin C: 44.6mg, Calcium: 40mg, Iron: 0.5mg
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    5 stars
    I happened to recieve Szechuan pepper corns as a gift, and I’m excited to see this quick and easy, and delicious recipe! I love stir fried cabbage and this sounds wonderful!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Nami, thank you for stopping by! 🙂 I bet you’ll love Szechuan pepper corns, if you never had it before. It add numb spiciness to a pungent dish and make it taste better. Just be careful not to bite on them. Your tongue will feel numb and can’t taste other flavors for a short period of time!

    • Rebekah Polanchak says:

      I bought a head of Taiwanese cabbage at the Farmer’s Market yesterday afternoon and I looked up ways to cook it and found your recipe. I have multi-colored peppercorns so I will use them instead of the Szechuan peppercorns. I am anxious to try this recipe. I also need quick and simple recipes to make to eat healthy and this one sounds great! I also bought an oil with spices in it from lady from Japan. I will try using that oil to stir fry the cabbage with it.

  2. Tricia @ Saving room for dessert says:

    My husband and I both LOVE cabbage so I’m finally going to have to dig out my wok or buy another one because you keep posting these amazing recipes that I have to try! LOVE this!

  3. Samantha says:

    I bet this is so fragrant. Can’t wait to give it a try.

  4. Robyn @ Simply Fresh Dinners says:

    5 stars
    This looks so appetizing, Maggie, that I just want to gobble it up. We would be eating all the portions too, lol. We both need to use a slow cooker more often so we’re not cooking so many meals!
    Sharing this beautiful recipe – thanks for another great creation!

  5. STELLA says:

    4 stars
    Hay Maggie, usually i give pork sausage (or lap cheong), give a table of chili oil (so i skip the peppercorn, bec i had put the peppercorn in the oil), and my girls will say: wow mom, these is cool…..and these will make me smile…have a great day…

    • Maggie says:

      That sounds so delicious! We always have Chinese sausage at home. Would love to try out your recipe 🙂

  6. Marissa says:

    I made this last night with a whole head of Napa cabbage and it was so good that my husband and I ate the whole thing! Fabulous recipe, Maggie. Thank you!

    • Maggie says:

      The recipe makes it so easy to consume tons of cabbage isn’t it? I’m so glad to hear you tried my recipe and enjoyed it Marissa!
      Have a a great day 🙂

  7. Trevor says:

    I don’t have a wok, but I assume it is ok to use a simple skillet?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Trevor, yes, you can use a flat skillet to cook this dish without any problem!

  8. Alice says:

    5 stars
    I visited China last year and enjoyed the food there very much. Since then I’ ve been looking for the recipes similar to what I’ve had there. I am glad I found your site. Love it. Thank you so much.

  9. Randa says:

    Where do you find the peppercorns? We couldn’t find them at our local grocery store.

  10. Sue says:

    This recipe is even better than Maggie makes it sound. Crunchy, bright, and so satisfying, this will definitely be a veggie go to.

  11. Will says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious recipe! It will be part of my weekly rotation for sure.
    I did make a slight change to the recipe. I omitted the salt, added 2 tsp of Zhejiang Vinegar and 2 cloves of minced garlic, and kept everything else the same. Delicious! Thank you!

  12. Christi Baughman says:

    Thank you, Maggie, Delicious recipe! Welcome to Texas! I’m here also (about 200 miles from Austin). I’m very grateful you posted this recipe. I was thinking to drive to the Chinese restaurant to pick up their chow mein that has a little of the stir fry cabbage in it; however, I had second thoughts on the matter since I had a fresh head of cabbage in the fridge. I had no idea how to cook it to taste anything like that restaurant makes until I found your posts on the web! I didn’t have the special Sichuan peppers so I used a leftover packet of hot red pepper flakes from pizza delivery the other night. It worked well enough for my tastes. I left it in the entire cooking time since those flakes are so small & nearly impossible to retrieve out of hot oil.

  13. Earlene says:

    5 stars
    I put the peppercorns bac in with the cabbage. I had it first at a chinese restaurant. Addictive!

  14. Pey-Lih says:

    5 stars
    The peppercorn really liven up this dish! Thank you for sharing this recipe. We enjoyed it this evening and it was so simple to make when you have exams to prepare for.

  15. Mia says:

    5 stars
    Hi Maggie, I stumbled upon your websiteone night while researching recipes for cabbage.
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes, the food turned out really amazing! Can’t wait to try out other recipes! All the best from Germany 🙂

  16. bill pryor says:

    Hi Maggie, Just a short note to tell you, your recipes are the BEST I have dozens of Chinese cookbooks, but they are to complicated for most meals. You have it right quick and easy, not too many ingredients. Best to you & yours

  17. Batool Idrish says:

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe out and was amazed by how it tingles the tastebuds. Thank you ! I think I’m going enjoy cooking once again, after ten years the kitchen seemed an alien space. Your recipe tempted me back into the kitchen- “Welcome back into the Kitchen”.

    Please share the secret of how you keep veggies from shrinking due to cooking.

    • Maggie says:

      Glad to hear you like the recipe! Re your question, I don’t think there’s a way to keep the veggies from shrinking since it’s a natural process that happens during cooking. If you want to keep the veggies green and vibrant with a crisp texture, the best way is not over cook them or even under cook a bit.
      Hope you enjoy cooking again and have a great day!

  18. Sabrina says:

    5 stars
    Delicious flavors and great way to make cabbage tasty! One issue I had was that the peppercorns would pop / jump / explode, and oil would splatter, sometimes onto my face and arms – very dangerous for oil burns! Not sure how to avoid this or if there is a safer way – maybe the oil got too hot? Even with a splatter shield when I lifted it to get my spatula in to stir them around the oil came out through the openings on the sides.

  19. Bruce says:

    I order this as a side at my fav Chinese restaurant. Only variance is the chef course chopped garlic to oil prior to adding cabbage and also spritzes the cabbage with rice wine vinegar moment’s before plating the cabbage. It’s like your dish but with the added bouquet of garlic and the RWV giving the tastebuds a zing when biting into the cabbage. Thanks for posting this!

  20. Toni5x5 says:

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight and was delicious. Simple, few ingredients coaxed to be their best. I added back the Sichuan peppercorns because I enjoy them so much. Thank you.

  21. Fiona says:

    5 stars
    Super quick, super yummy … although I did get a little heavy handed with extra chili. Peppercorns were a lovely surprise. Served as a side with bbq snapper and steamed rice. A hit for all.

  22. DJ says:

    5 stars
    I’ve done similarly with cabbage (maybe a snuck-in onion) for years! How do you feel about adding doubanjiang to this? I never thought to use peppercorns, the taste is wonderful. Learning when cabbage is finished by eye is a priceless skill.

    • Maggie says:

      I’m pretty sure doubanjiang would work and the dish will taste great 🙂

  23. DB says:

    Your Mom is very wise. Good, reliable are invaluable to your culinary repertoire! You always offer information we can use. Love your site.

  24. Eric Toft says:

    5 stars
    Simple, quick, and tasty. Go easy on the salt; probably want to under-salt it in step 2 and add more at the end if needed.

  25. Jordan says:

    I came across this while looking for a tasty way to cook cabbage, In the past I’ve stir fried it in soy sauce, but I never thought of using Sichuan peppercorns to get that numbing taste from Mala Xiang Guo! Just ordered some Sichuan peppercorns on Amazon 🙂

  26. Chef Mimi says:

    Fabulous! Cabbage is so good. Last time I cooked it was with black vinegar. I made a Korean chile/chili oil a while back and that comes in handy. Plus, I always have pepper salt around, made with Szechuan peppercorns. Love that stuff! I even use it on my husband’s steaks! Great recipe!

  27. Lauren says:

    5 stars
    I will make this an absolute go-to now. The cabbage sold here is always huge so I try to find new recipes to use it up. This was INCREDIBLE 🙂 I am so happy I found this!!

  28. Mel says:

    5 stars
    Never knew this dish is so easy to make..And the bonus of grinding and keeping for later..Thanks a lot Maggie..😘

  29. Elizabeth says:

    So, I just made this recipe and bought the peppercorns and dried chili peppers from the Mala Market. Both my boyfriend and I have a very strange tingling sensation and almost numbing sensation on our tongues (I worried this was an allergic reaction but we seem to be fine). Do you know what this is due to? Did I heat the peppercorns or chilies too long? Our mouth isn’t burning just a super weird sensation (almost metal like). I can’t say I taste the cabbage because this experience is overriding my taste buds. All the recipes I have cooked from here are AMAZING. This is my first dish w/the Sichuan peppercorns and chilies.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Hi Elizabeth, the numbing tingling sensation is a part of the Sichuan peppercorns flavor profile. If you do not like it or if it’s too strong, you can reduce the amount and only use a tiny bit to add aroma to the oil. The Sichuan peppercorns from the Mala Market is VERY fresh, so they are quite potent. If you decide to give this one a try again, I would only use maybe 3 to 4 of them in this dish, to make it less intense.
      Thanks for your kind words! I hope you can give Sichuan peppercorn another try because it’s a wonderful ingredient. Just make sure do not bite into one, which will numb your mouth for quite a while.

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