How To Substitute Cabbage For Lettuce In Recipes (Examples)

Cabbage and lettuce are both green, leafy vegetables full of nutrients and crunch. But what happens when you’re making dinner, and you only have a cabbage? I rounded up some of the most popular recipes people ask about when asking how to substitute cabbage for lettuce.

To substitute cabbage for lettuce in recipes, you will often need to shred, pickle, or soften the cabbage slightly by blanching or grilling it to compensate for the differences. Although cabbage and lettuce are both green, leafy vegetables, they have different tastes and textures.

Because of their green, leafy appearance and high nutritional value, cabbage and lettuce would seem to be logical substitutes for one another. However, because of differences in taste and texture, you cannot always use cabbage instead of lettuce in recipes.

Using Cabbage Instead Of Lettuce

Cabbage is a valuable substitute for lettuce if you want to replicate the crunch and crispness that lettuce gives in a recipe. It has a stronger flavor and texture so can be used more sparingly than lettuce to avoid overpowering a dish.

It is also an excellent idea to use cabbage as a substitute for lettuce because cabbage is higher in vitamins and dietary fiber than lettuce – a portion of cabbage can contain up to 60% of your daily Vitamin C intake and 90% of your Vitamin K requirement.

However, cabbage belongs to the Brassica or cruciferous vegetable family, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, rather than the Asteraceae family, which the lettuce belongs to. Because they are different kinds of plants, cabbage and lettuce have significant differences in taste and texture.

Cabbage has a more pungent taste than lettuce does, so it will change the flavor of your dish. It also has a much tougher texture as cabbage contains far less water than lettuce and doesn’t wilt as quickly as lettuce does when exposed to heat.

So, to substitute cabbage for lettuce, you need to consider which type of cabbage to use and how to prepare it to suit the dish you are making.

Can I Use Cabbage Instead Of Lettuce In Salad?

You can substitute raw cabbage for lettuce in a salad. However, cabbage has a chewier texture than lettuce, so you will want to shred it finely before using it in a salad.

The most common recipes that include lettuce are salads because it adds crunch and freshness to these dishes. Check out my post on 8 ways to eat raw cabbage to get more ideas on getting more cabbage in your diet.

The best cabbage varieties to use in a salad are napa or Chinese cabbage, bok choy green cabbage, red cabbage, or savoy cabbage, which have the more tender leaves of the cabbage family.

Instead of simply replacing the lettuce in your green or mixed salad with cabbage, make a cabbage salad, like coleslaw with mayonnaise or a vinegar-based slaw.

Chicken and cabbage salad

Can I Use Cabbage Instead Of Lettuce In Sandwiches?

You can use cabbage as a delicious layer on a sandwich instead of lettuce. Lettuce is a classic ingredient in sandwiches, especially in the iconic BLT, but can easily be substituted.

Here are some ideas:

  • Finely shred raw cabbage and combine it with mayonnaise as a layer on a sandwich.
  • To make a BCT (bacon, cabbage, and tomato) sandwich, fry the bacon and add some shredded, soft green cabbage to the pan. Gently sauté the cabbage in the bacon fat and layer it onto the sandwich.
  • Grill shredded cabbage with BBQ sauce as a spicy sandwich ingredient.
  • Sauerkraut or pickled cabbage is necessary on a Ruben, with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on rye.

Can I Use Cabbage Instead Of Lettuce In Burgers?

Another widespread use of lettuce is as part of that cornerstone of casual American cuisine, the hamburger. There are a few ways you can get extra greens inside.

Can I Use Cabbage Inside Burgers?

A couple of crisp lettuce leaves are a standard addition to a burger. You don’t have to lose the crunch factor without the lettuce.

You can use cabbage inside a burger, but don’t use a large cabbage leaf – that would be too waxy and chewy.

To use cabbage on your burger, here are some ideas:

  • Shred your raw cabbage finely, and layer it onto your burger as is.
  • Make coleslaw as a burger component, which goes well if your burger is greasy.
  • Another option to add cabbage to your burger is to use sauerkraut, that delicious German pickled cabbage.
  • Instead of frying onions as a topping, shred and then grill cabbage with oil, a spoon of sugar, and some caraway seeds as a warm, crunchy topping for your burger.

What Else Can I Use Instead Of Lettuce For Burgers?

There are many other options for leaves in a burger if you don’t have lettuce:

  • arugula (rocket)
  • watercress
  • spinnach
  • bok choy
  • escarole
  • coleslaw
  • cucumber

Can I Use Cabbage For A Burger “Bun”?

With the advent of banting, paleo, and keto diets, many people choose to eat their burgers without a carb-heavy bun or roll. Instead, they like to wrap their burgers in lettuce leaves.

You can use cabbage leaves if you’re making a keto-style burger. It’s best to soften the leaves by blanching in hot water before using them as a wrap.

Here’s how:

  • While you’re preparing the rest of the burger, heat a pan with water.
  • When the water is boiling, put the cabbage leaves in for about 30 seconds.
  • Drain the cabbage leaves and allow them to cool.
  • Wrap the burger and enjoy!
Red cabbage in a burger

Can I Use Cabbage Instead Of Lettuce On Tacos?

Lettuce is widely used in Mexican food to add a cooling mouthfeel to spicy tacos, nachos, and burritos. It is possible to substitute cabbage when cooking up something fiery.

Can I Use Cabbage Inside Tacos?

Cabbage can offer the same crunchy, refreshing bite as lettuce and is often used in New Orleans-style tacos, or nachos as a slaw. Some people prefer cabbage over lettuce because the warm ingredients don’t wilt it and so the cabbage remains crunchy.

To use cabbage in a taco, try this:

  • Shred red and green cabbage with jalapeno peppers, scallions, and peppers. Season with lime juice and cilantro and pile onto your tacos. This topping goes well with chicken tacos.
  • Make a quick red cabbage pickle for your tacos. Blanch one cup of finely shredded red cabbage and pickle it for about 30 minutes in a teaspoon of sugar mixed with three-quarters of a cup of rice vinegar.
  • Add finely diced cabbage when grilling or frying your chicken or beef filling.

Can I Use Cabbage As A Taco or Tortilla “Wrap”?

To make low-carb Mexican dishes, replace your taco or tortilla with a large cabbage leaf, preferably white or green cabbage.

However, you’ll have to soften the leaves before using them as a wrap. Here’s how:

  • While you’re preparing the rest of the meal, heat a pan with water.
  • Blanch the cabbage leaves for about 30 seconds.
  • Drain the cabbage leaves and allow them to dry on a towel-lined baking tray.
  • Fill the wrap as usual.

Can I Use Cabbage Instead Of Lettuce In Cooked Lettuce Dishes?

A lot of people don’t know that lettuce becomes a luscious, tender side vegetable when cooked. Cabbage is the perfect substitute for cooked lettuce.

Here are some ideas to substitute cabbage for lettuce:

  • If you’re grilling half a romaine lettuce or some baby gem lettuces, replace them with some slices of savoy or napa cabbage. Drizzle with oil and salt in the same way, but increase the cooking time as the cabbage will take longer to get tender.
  • For a stir-fry, replace the lettuce with shredded cabbage for a crunchier, heartier result. Try napa cabbage or bok choy for the most tender leaves.


For those moments when you’ve run out of lettuce or just feel like upping the nutritional value of a meal, you can substitute cabbage for lettuce in recipes. I like adding extra greens where possible!

Because cabbage has a coarser texture and more robust flavor than lettuce, you need to shred it finely, pickle it, or blanch the leaves before using it as you would raw lettuce. For cooked lettuce recipes, substitute cabbage for lettuce but cook a little longer.

Have any questions? Ask me in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.

Tom Hambly

Tom Hambly is the founder of Boss The Kitchen. With a background in cooking and building websites, he enjoys running this site to help other cooks improve. About Tom Hambly.

One thought on “How To Substitute Cabbage For Lettuce In Recipes (Examples)

  1. Thanks so much for this article!

    I was looking for ways to use more cabbage in our meals!

    Awesome ideas!!!

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