How to Cook Bok Choy

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Learn how to cook bok choy using a simple stir-fry method to create beautifully browned edges and crisp-tender stalks. This cabbage-like green is a popular vegetable in Asian cuisine that makes for a quick and healthy side dish.

How to Cook Bok Choy

Recipe Science

  • For a deep golden sear, cook cut side down in hot oil over high heat, avoiding movement, and wait a few minutes before flipping.
  • The high heat when stir-frying caramelizes the bok choy’s natural sugars, enhancing its flavor with a subtle sweetness.
  • When simmered, adding a small amount of honey to the soy sauce mixture creates a glaze consistency, which clings to the vegetables.

Why It Works

Bok choy, or Chinese white cabbage (Brassica rapa spp. chinensis), is a staple ingredient in Asian recipes. Its tender dark green leaves and crisp off-white stalks provide a nice, fresh crunch. The greens have a spinach-like taste with a very mild bitterness.

You can purchase the vegetable in typically two sizes: baby bok choy and large mature stalks that must be chopped into smaller pieces. Although the leaves can be eaten raw and tossed into fresh salads, cooking the entire vegetable improves the taste. I’ll show you step-by-step how to cook bok choy like a pro!

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients needed to cook a side dish with bok choy.
  • Bok Choy: Look for large or baby bok choy at the grocery store with bright green leaves that have not wilted. The stalks should be firm and off-white (or pale yellow, depending on the variety) with no brown spots. I prefer to use baby bok choy. It holds its structure and quickly develops a flavorful surface without turning mushy like smaller cut pieces.
  • Sauce: A savory combination of soy sauce, vegetable broth, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil (or regular), honey, and spicy red chili flakes.
  • Oil: Use a high smoke point oil like vegetable oil to stir-fry the bok choy.
  • Aromatics: Minced garlic, ginger, and green onions add pungency and intense aromatics to the side dish.
  • Garnish: Sesame seeds add a nutty flavor to the bok choy, especially if you lightly toast them.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

This bok choy recipe is easy to customize! Try these tasty options:

  • Make it Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
  • Oil Swaps: Try peanut oil, avocado oil, or light olive oil.
  • Broth Options: Use vegetable stock or water to keep it vegetarian, or chicken stock or broth.
  • Vinegar: Use a mild types of vinegar such as apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
  • Sweetener: Add maple syrup, brown sugar, or granulated sugar. Removing honey also makes the bok choy side dish vegan.
  • Spicy Substitutes: Add red pepper flakes, chili oil, garlic chili sauce, chili crisp, chili paste, Sriracha, or gochujang.

How to Cook Bok Choy

Bok choy in a colander being rinsed with water.

Step 1: Wash and Dry

Rinse with cool water, then shake off excess moisture. Baby bok choy can be plunged a few times in a large bowl of water to remove excess dirt.

Bok choy drying on a kitchen towel.

Thoroughly dry the exteriors with kitchen towels. If cutting baby bok choy in half after washing, ensure the inside is dry, too, especially if sauteing or stir-frying.

Person slicing bok choy in half on a cutting board.

Step 2: Cut the Bok Choy

Baby bok choy can be eaten whole or cut into smaller portions. Whole portions are great for braises or stews. For stir-fries, I prefer to cut them down the center to create two halves. This gives a more stunning presentation and keeps the structure intact after cooking.

For large bok choy, start by cutting away the leafy green sections and stacking them on top of each other. Then, cut crosswise into thin strips. Cut the stalks into small pieces, about ½ to 1 inch in size. Discard the root portion about 1 inch from the bottom. Large bok choy will cook much quicker than baby bok choy, so they only require a quick stir-fry.

Bowl of soy sauce and chili flakes being whisked together.

Step 3: Make the Sauce

Whisk together the soy sauce, broth, vinegar, sesame oil, and red chili flakes in a small bowl. Set it aside while you cook the bok choy.

Sauteed bok choy pieces cooking in a wok.

Step 4: Cook the Bok Choy

To acheive good browning and flavor development, I prefer to stir-fry baby bok choy. Use awokor large skillet to tenderize the greens. Heat the oil over high heat until just smoking. Carefully place the pieces cut-side down in the pan.

Do not move Them! This deepens the color on the surface. Once the color appears, flip and cook the other side. The process takes about 1 to 2 minutes per side. The greens can now be stir-fried with a sauce to infuse more flavor. Transfer the bok choy to a plate.

Step 5: Saute the Aromatics

Fresh ginger, minced garlic, and sliced green onions provide instant pungency and earthiness. Cook these in vegetable oil until fragrant over medium heat, as they are very delicate. Make sure the garlic does not burn!

Soy sauce being poured into a wok with ginger and garlic pieces.
Wok spatula stirring together sauce and bok choy.

Step 6: Add the Sauce

To further enhance the dish’s flavor, the soy sauce mixture is added at the very end of cooking. Cook for 30 seconds over medium-high heat to lightly thicken. Add the seared bok choy back to the pan and stir fry for a few minutes, creating delicious glazed vegetables.

Experimentation Encouraged: Many readers have said they like to double the sauce because it’s so tasty!

Plate of freshly cooked bok choy garnished with white sesame seeds on top.

Step 7: Garnish and Serve

Transfer the stir-fried bok choy to a serving platter. Garnish with sesame seeds, and you’re ready to enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

What part of bok choy do you eat?

The white stalks and the green leaves of bok choy are edible. The stalks are crisp and have a mild, slightly sweet flavor, similar to celery. The leaves are tender and have a flavor like spinach. This combination makes bok choy highly versatile in cooking and suitable for stir-fries, steaming, braising, or sautéing.

What are the different ways to cook bok choy?

Bok choy can be steamed, braised, or simmered, but these moist heat methods risk overcooking the stems into mushiness. Keep a close eye on texture change! Dry-heat methods like stir-frying and sautéing are preferable for their texture contrast and flavor enhancement via the Maillard reaction.

How long does bok choy need to be cooked for?

Cook time depends on the size of the bok choy and the method used. Whole baby bok choy or halves cook in about 5 to 7 minutes, while smaller chopped pieces in stir-fries take 2 to 3 minutes to tenderize.

How do you store bok choy?

You can store fresh bok choy in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Wait to wash them until you’re ready to cook. Store cooked pieces in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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If you tried this Bok Choy Recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

How to Cook Bok Choy

Learn how to cook bok choy, a healthy Asian vegetable, using the stir-fry method to create beautifully browned edges and crisp-tender stalks.
4.92 from 471 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time7 minutes
Total Time17 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine Asian

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound baby bok choy
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame seeds

Instructions 

  • Wash the Bok Choy Rinse the bok choy in a colander with water. Shake off any excess water and then dry using a kitchen towel or paper towel.
  • Cut the Bok Choy Cut each bok choy in half lengthwise to yield two pieces.
  • Make the Sauce – In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, broth, vinegar, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, honey, and red chili flakes. Set aside.
  • Cook the Bok Choy – In a wok or 12-inch nonstick skillet, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Heat over high heat until just smoking.
    Use tongs to carefully place the bok choy cut side down in a single layer in the pan, and lightly press down to make contact with the surface. Cook until lightly browned without moving, about 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • Cook the Aromatics – Reduce the heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the wok. Add garlic, ginger, and green onions, and stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the Sauce – Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the soy sauce mixture to the pan. Simmer until lightly thickened, about 30 seconds.
    Add the bok choy back to the wok, stir-fry, and cook until the sauce glazes the greens, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • To Serve Transfer to a platter and garnish with sesame seeds.

Notes

  • Cooking Large Bok Choy: Slice leafy greens and stalks into 1-inch pieces. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Cook the garlic, ginger, and green onions for 30 seconds. Add the sauce and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until tender. 
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Use coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
  • Make it Paleo and Vegan: Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and maple syrup instead of honey.
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 123kcal (6%)Carbohydrates 5g (2%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 11g (17%)Saturated Fat 6g (30%)Sodium 608mg (25%)Potassium 19mg (1%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 5081IU (102%)Vitamin C 52mg (63%)Calcium 128mg (13%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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134 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Susan says

    I found four baby bok choy languishing in the veggie drawer, and I was able to rescue them with just a little trim to some droopy leaves. This recipe was the perfect mix of flavors to spice up these little gems. Thank you for it – so, so good. Wil use it on asparagus next!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Glad that you found a tasty way to cook the bok choy! I would love to hear what you think about the sauce with asparagus.

  2. DS says

    This sauce is off the charts amazing! Thank you for your easy to follow instructions too. I’m making this sauce for all my veggies. Can’t wait to try your other recipes.

  3. WENDY HOLM says

    Delish! Quick and easy with depth of flavour and eye appeal. Will add a bit more chili flakes next time!

  4. Tami S says

    I discovered this recipe a few months ago and the family LOVES it! It’s one of my favorite vegetable sides! I was really getting tired of plain broccoli, green beans and asparagus! So glad I came across your site! Planning on trying the creamed spinach next week!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yay! Can’t wait to hear what you think! I’m so happy that you found my website as well. Let me know what you think about the creamed spinach!

  5. Charlotte says

    Great recipe and very easy! Even my preschooler and kindergartner loved it. The sauce is delicious with rice. Will be put in my regular rotation of recipes!

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