Napa Cabbage Stir Fry with Vinegar Sauce (醋溜白菜)

4.75 from 4 votes
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This easy napa cabbage stir fry recipe makes crunchy crispy napa cabbage served in a rich hot and sour sauce that’s lightly sweet. Serve it as a side that completes your meal while piquing your appetite. {Vegan}

Napa cabbage stir fry with vinegar sauce

I recently wrote about another Chinese cabbage dish that I’ve loved since I was a little girl. And while this recipe for napa cabbage stir fry calls for the same main ingredient (Napa cabbage), it’s rather different. One of the biggest differences here is that this dish is all about the cabbage. 

The hot and sour napa cabbage is a Northern Chinese classic. This recipe only uses the white part of the napa cabbage to create a crunchy crispy texture. It combines dried chili pepper, garlic, and a mixture of Chinkiang vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar to make a fragrant hot and sour sauce that is lightly sweet. The contrast of spicy tartness with a little sweetness makes this simple stir fry a treat for the taste buds and makes you crave more.

It takes very little time to make, too. You’ll spend 15 minutes prepping the cabbage and 5 minutes cooking it. Serve it with one of my other Chinese main dishes, or if you want a lighter meal, you can always enjoy it with hot white rice or some noodles.

Napa cabbage stir fry close-up

How to prep napa cabbage

Use the white part

This recipe calls for the white part of the napa cabbage. This will create a crunchy and crispy result that pairs well with the sauce. To do this, trim off the leafy parts and leave only a bit of the green part attached. You can save the leaves for later use – they work best in soups and stews such as Napa Cabbage Soup and Braised Napa Cabbage with Glass Noodles.

Cut the napa cabbage the right way

Tilt your knife to a 45-degree angle and slice the cabbage into irregular bite-sized chunks with thin edges. This cutting method makes the white part of the napa cabbage absorb more sauce and become more flavorful.

How to cut napa cabbage for stir frying


Once you’re done prepping, your table should have the ingredients below:

PS: I put the ginger and garlic in the same bowl because I add them in the same step in the recipe.

Ingredients for making hot sour napa cabbage

Cooking process

Once you’re done prepping, the cooking is the easy part.

  1. Heat up your pan really well. Add the dried peppers.
  2. Saute the aromatics to release the fragrance.
  3. Cook the napa cabbage until it is cooked.
  4. Add the sauce and finish up.

That’s it!

How to make napa cabbage stir fry

NOTE: It’s very important to use a heavy pan and heat it up very well. You want to cook the napa cabbage fast so it will retain the crunchy texture and won’t release too much liquid to turn the dish watery. If your stove is not very powerful, I highly recommend you halve the recipe and cook it in a small batch.

Cu Liu Bai Cai 醋溜白菜

Pair this recipe with these main dishes

The sauce is divine in its own right and I’m sure you’ll find ways to sop it up. What I love about this napa cabbage stir fry is that you can get it on the table fast, so it’s ideal for adding more veggies to your dinner in a pinch.

More Chinese 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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This easy napa cabbage stir fry recipe makes crunchy crispy napa cabbage served in a rich hot and sour sauce that’s lightly sweet. Serve it as a side that completes your meal while piquing your appetite. {Vegan}

Napa Cabbage Stir Fry with Vinegar Sauce (醋溜白菜)

4.75 from 4 votes
This easy napa cabbage stir fry recipe makes crunchy crispy napa cabbage served in a rich hot and sour sauce that’s lightly sweet. Serve it as a side that completes your meal while piquing your appetite. {Vegan}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Side
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: home style
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 (2-3 lb / 1-1.2 kg) small head napa cabbage
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 chili peppers , dried
  • 1 inch ginger , minced
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 2 green onions , sliced (some greens reserved for garnish)



  • Separate the leaves from the head of cabbage. Cut off the leafy green parts and save them in a ziplock bag for future use (*Footnote 1). Tilt your knife to slice the cabbage at a 45° angle into 1” (2.5 cm) pieces. (See blog post above for detailed pictures)
  • Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir to mix well.
  • In a large carbon steel skillet or a wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the dried chili peppers. Once the chilis start to brown, add the ginger, garlic, and green onions. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the sliced cabbage and turn to high heat. Cook without moving for 30 seconds. Then saute for 2 minutes, or until the cabbage begins to soften but is still crunchy. Do not overcook the cabbage, which will cause it to release liquid and make the sauce watery.
  • Stir the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch and pour it over the cabbage. Cook and stir until the cabbage is coated and the sauce thickens.
  • Immediately transfer everything to a big serving plate and serve it hot as a side dish.


  1. Using the white part of the cabbage creates a crunchier texture. You can save the cut-off green part in a ziplock bag in the fridge for future use. The green part is perfect for making soup or stew, such as the Napa Cabbage Soup with Meatballs and Braised Napa Cabbage with Glass Noodles.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 97kcal, Carbohydrates: 10.2g, Protein: 2.2g, Fat: 5.4g, Saturated Fat: 0.9g, Sodium: 464mg, Potassium: 339mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4.2g, Calcium: 97mg, Iron: 1mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Rich says:

    I just made this and it was fantastic! Used Gochugaru flakes and also sprinkled some on the finished dish.

  2. Nolan says:

    4 stars
    Gave it a try. Everyone seemed to like it. The wok was empty afterwards….

  3. LIzabeth says:

    This was SO GOOD! Definitely a keeper, thanks so much.

  4. Aisha says:

    5 stars
    I love that your website has introduced me to wonderful new flavors, ingredients, scents, and essences. I am so glad I found your website and look forward to basically eating everything here 🙂 I made this cabbage tonight with some air fried chicken thighs for a meal that was healthy, full of flavors and so satisfying. Looking forward to navigating your site!

  5. Linda says:

    Can you recommend another wide sweet potato noodle. The one you linked to is no longer available. Thank you.

  6. Sarah says:

    There is a terrific cold sweet and sour cabbage at a local restaurant in the burbs of St. Louis here (Sesame Chinese on Watson Road). I wonder how this would do if I chilled it? I don’t know how they make it, but it sure looks similar.

  7. Rod says:

    Thank you! This is going into my current rotation.

  8. CO Lee says:

    5 stars
    This is great, like surprisingly great for such a simple dish. Part of our regular rotation now.

  9. Matthew says:

    I’ve just discovered your website and everything looks so amazing. I can’t wait to try cooking this. Just a couple quick questions:
    For the dried chilies, what are they called when I’m looking at the grocery store? There are so many kinds.
    What type of pan is that that you’re using? I have a few heavy pans but I’m looking for a workhorse of a pan I can use for dishes like this.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      The dried chili peppers I used are the ones from Asian market (either Chinese or Korean dried chili peppers would work).
      Sometimes Mexican grocery stores (or regular stores at Mexican section) carry them as well.
      For Chinese chili, it’s usually facing heaven chili but most of the time they only say dried chili peppers on the package.

  10. Inky says:

    5 stars
    Very tasty and very simple. I had to substitute Rice wine vinegar for the chinkiang vinegar but it was great.. Served it with the Thai Basil Chicken and jasmine rice. Definitely one I’ll make agaiin

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