How to Cook Bok Choy, 3 Ways

Looking for a vegetable side dish that's ready to eat in less than 10 minutes? Learn how to cook bok choy!

Have you seen this leafy, celery-looking vegetable at the grocery store? What the heck is it, and more importantly, how in the world should you prepare it?

What Is Bok Choy?

Bok choy—also known as Chinese white cabbage or pak choi—is one of our favorite leafy greens. It has thick, juicy stems and mild, sweet leaves, making it the perfect gateway veggie if you’re not sold on kale and collards. The best part? It’s edible, stalk, stem and all!

You’ll find the full-sized version in most grocery stores, where you may also see baby bok choy. This isn’t a different variety; it has the same sweet flavor, but the stalks are small and tender since it’s harvested immature. You can add either type to authentic Asian recipes, stir-fry recipes, and it makes a great vegetable side dish. It’s also fantastic served raw, adding a crunchy texture and a pop of fresh flavor to salads and slaws. If you’re not sure what to try first, check out our best bok choy recipes.

Before you get started, make sure to wash your bok choy thoroughly. It grows in sandy soil, and dirt loves to get stuck in between the stalks!

How to Cook Bok Choy

On the Stove

Stir-fried bok choy is a quick and easy way to enjoy this leafy green. It cooks up in less than 5 minutes! The key to fantastic stir-fried bok choy is cooking the stems first before adding the tender greens. You can also combine it with other meats and vegetables to create a one-pan meal.

You’ll need:

  • 1 head of bok choy
  • 1 tsp. olive oil or butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Chili flakes, optional
  • Soy sauce

Step 1: Chop the bok choy

Start by trimming off and discarding the root stem. Then, remove the green leaves from the stalks, chopping the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Test Kitchen tip: Since baby bok choy is nice and tender, you can remove the root stem and cook the leaves whole. Or, for a meatier texture, leave the stem intact and halve the bok choy lengthwise.

Step 2: Cook the stems with garlic

Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil or butter and add the chopped stalks along with a minced garlic clove and a pinch of chili flakes (if you like). Cook for about 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and the stems are lightly softened.

If you’re using baby bok choy, you can just cook the garlic in this step.

Step 3: Wilt the greens

Add the greens and a splash of soy sauce or water. Cook for another 2 minutes, covered, until the greens are wilted. If you’re using baby bok choy, the dish is finished if the stems are tender when pierced with a fork.

On the Grill

When it’s nice outside, I’ll take any opportunity to fire up the grill! The trick here is cooking the bok choy over indirect heat so the leafy greens don’t char before the stems cook all the way through. If you’re nervous about grilling veggies, check out these tips to grill vegetables like a pro.

You’ll need:

  • 1 head of bok choy
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings of your choice
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce

Step 1: Get everything prepped

Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect heat. Halve the bok choy lengthwise, keeping the cores intact, and brush them with olive oil. Feel free to add any other seasonings here, like salt and pepper, chili flakes or garlic powder.

Step 2: Grill on the direct heat side

Place the halved bok choy cut-side down on the hot side of the grill. Cook for about 45 seconds, until charred. Flip and cook for 45 seconds on the uncut side.

Step 3: Finish cooking on the indirect heat side

Transfer the halves to the indirect heat side and cover the grill, cooking for 2 to 3 minutes until the stems are tender. Before serving, dress the bok choy with sesame oil and soy sauce, or drizzle it with this sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce.

In the Oven

OK, so this method takes slightly longer than 10 minutes, but it’s completely hands-off, so it’s worth it! You might not think of roasting bok choy, but it’s in the cabbage family and cooks up just as well as roasted Brussels sprouts or cabbage wedges. Using a high-temperature oven creates a sweet, caramelized exterior with crispy edges. This might be your new favorite way to prepare this vegetable!

You’ll need:

  • 1 head of bok choy
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings of your choice

Step 1: Prepare the bok choy

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Halve the bok choy lengthwise, keeping the cores intact. Place the bok choy in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and drizzle with a few teaspoons of olive oil. Season the halves with a pinch of salt and other spices, if desired.

Test Kitchen tip: If your bok choy is very large, consider quartering it instead of halving.

Step 2: Roast

Pop the pan into the oven and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the stems are tender when pierced with a fork. You can flip them halfway through if they look like they’re browning too quickly.

If none of these cooking methods strike your fancy, try using bok choy raw! You can use it in any recipe that calls for cabbage or Brussels sprouts. Give it a try with this Chicken and Asian Slaw recipe.

Our Best Bok Choy Recipes
1 / 10

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay is a professional chef, recipe developer, writer and developmental editor. After years of working in restaurant kitchens, she turned to writing to share her skills and experience with home cooks and food enthusiasts. She's passionate about using local, organic ingredients and teaching others how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, writes for several publications and is the co-author of two books about Ayurveda.