This napa cabbage slaw is an easy and healthy addition to any meal! This bright and refreshing Asian cabbage slaw made with shredded napa cabbage, snow peas, scallion, and radicchio features a creamy homemade miso ginger dressing that is dairy-free, low-carb, and made without mayo.

This simple Chinese napa slaw recipe comes together quickly and is ideal for meal prep. Plus, it’s so versatile! See my substitution idea for using different types of cabbage and dressings.

Feature image shows napa cabbage slaw served in a wood plate and tossed with dressing.

Quick Overview

Napa cabbage (or Napa lettuce) is a versatile Chinese vegetable that’s tender, sweet, and juicy. Enjoy it cooked in stir-fries or roasted, or try raw napa cabbage in salad.

The key to a crunchy Napa cabbage slaw lies in slicing the cabbage properly and choosing a dressing that’s just the right consistency. Follow my tips below for a refreshing, crunchy, and deliciously sweet slaw.


This recipe for napa salad uses few, accessible ingredients and is so versatile. Swap out the veggies to make a cabbage carrot slaw or a sweet and crunchy cabbage and pepper slaw—the possibilities for Oriental napa cabbage salad are endless!

Photo shows ingredients shredded, thinly sliced, and needed to make this coleslaw.

For the Asian coleslaw with napa cabbage:

  • Napa cabbage: Whole leaves of napa cabbage shredded or thinly sliced.
  • Snow peas: Remove the strings and slice them into thin strips. Sugar snap peas will also work.
  • Radicchio: Thinly sliced for a pop of color. You can sub with purple cabbage.
  • Scallions: Thinly sliced.
  • Toasted almond slices: Or substitute with toasted peanuts. Adds a nice crunch!
  • Wonton chips (optional): Use my air fryer wonton chips as a garnish for added texture.

For the miso ginger dressing:

  • Soy sauce: Used in lieu of salt. Substitute with coconut aminos for gluten-free or soy-free.
  • Rice vinegar: Adds tanginess and sweetness to the dressing. You could try lime juice in a pinch.
  • Maple syrup: Balances the acidity and naturally sweetens the dressing.
  • Fresh ginger: Grated for maximum flavor.
  • White miso paste: Or substitute with chickpea miso if you’re soy-free. I find the flavor of red miso paste to be too strong for this recipe.
  • Toasted sesame oil: For authentic Asian flavor.
  • Avocado oil: Helps emulsify the dressing. Or substitute with another neutral-flavored oil, like peanut oil.

Napa cabbage substitute

When you’re making raw Chinese salads with cabbage, the best substitute for Napa cabbage depends on the dish you’re preparing. Here are some top choices:

  • Wawa tsai (wawa cabbage) – This is a pointed, baby version of Napa cabbage. “Wawa” means baby in Mandarin. It’s an excellent choice because it’s from the same family as Napa cabbage.
  • Yu choy or choy sum – Tender and crisp with a slightly mineral-ish flavor, though not as strong as bok choy.
  • Tatsoi – A good option for those who want a bit of a peppery kick in their salads.
  • Taiwanese cabbage – Juicier than green or Savoy cabbage but not as juicy as Chinese Napa cabbage; best served very thinly sliced, just like in the Paleo Chicken Katsu recipe.
  • Baby bok choy – Slice this thinly as well. It offers a more mineral flavor and is less sweet than Napa cabbage. Check out how to cut bok choy for tips on preparation.

Different dressings for coleslaw

Napa cabbage is great raw and pairs best with creamier dressings, though that doesn’t mean you have to use a mayo-based dressing for napa cabbage salad. Here are some options to help you create more variety:

  • Creamy Ginger Dressing (miso-free) – This miso-free alternative is a close match flavorwise to the dressing used in this recipe. It’s Paleo, Whole30, Keto, and Vegan.
  • Roasted Sesame Dressing – This Japanese kewpie sesame dressing copycat is nutty, creamy, and so easy to make! Perfect for my Paleo Asian coleslaw recipe, too!
  • Thai Peanut Sauce – Change up the flavor profile with this creamy Paleo peanut sauce made with coconut milk and red curry paste for a bit of a flavor kick.
  • Whole30 Salad Dressing Recipes – Try these 5 unique Whole30 salad dressings, ranging from light to creamy, for different flavors and textures every time you make this slaw!

How to make the dish

Whether you’re making this Asian coleslaw with napa cabbage or an alternative, the preparation is simple. Here are the simple steps for this healthy and delicious Chinese cabbage slaw.

Person demos how to cut the Chinese cabbage, make dressing, and combine the coleslaw together.
  1. Prepare the cabbage: We will use thinly sliced or shredded napa for this slaw. See the below for details on how to cut napa cabbage for the best texture in salads.
  2. Prep the veggies: Remove the strings and slice snow peas into long strips. Thinly slice the radicchio and chop the green onions. Grate or mince garlic for the dressing. Set them aside.
  3. Mix the dressing: In a large bowl or measuring cup, mix the ingredients from soy sauce to ginger. Next, stir in the miso paste until dissolved. Finally, whisk in the oil to emulsify.
  4. Combine and serve: Toss the veggies into the cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing to the cabbage mixture right before serving. Top with garnishes and serve fresh.

How to cut napa cabbage for coleslaw

Person demos how to prepare and slice napa cabbage for salad use.
  1. Separate the Leaves: Cut off the bottom end of the Napa cabbage to separate it into large leaves. You’ll need about 10-12 of these leaves.
Person demos how to slice napa cabbage stems and leaves to thin shreds for slaw use.
  1. Stack and Slice: Stack a few leaves together, curved sides down, to keep them steady. Slice the leaves thinly from the stem end to the ruffled edge. If the leaves are too wide, roll them into a loose bundle first, then slice.
  2. Rinse and Dry: Place the sliced cabbage in a large bowl. Rinse it under cold water several times until the water runs clear. Let the cabbage drain well; you can also use a salad spinner to remove excess moisture. This step is crucial to keep your slaw crisp and fresh.

Making ahead and storing napa cabbage

While this salad is best enjoyed fresh, you can easily prepare it ahead of time by slicing the cabbage, prepping the veggies, and mixing the dressing. Store them separately in the fridge and combine the ingredients before serving.

  • How to store washed napa cabbage: Drain well or pat dry with a clean towel. Store in an airtight container lined with a paper towel to help absorb excess moisture. Keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Ginger miso dressing: Store the dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

What to serve with Napa cabbage coleslaw

You can use this raw napa slaw for tacos, burgers, or as a side dish to any summertime meal. Here are some yummy protein pairing ideas to turn this Asian napa cabbage slaw into a larger meal.

Helpful tips

  • Properly Prep Your Cabbage: Thinly slice the Napa cabbage from stem to ruffled edges. If the leaves are too wide, roll them into a bundle before slicing for even cuts.
  • Choosing a Substitute: If Napa cabbage isn’t available, opt for wawa tsai, yu choy, tatsoi, Taiwanese cabbage, or baby bok choy. These substitutes vary in flavor and texture, so pick one that best suits your taste for the dish.
  • Dry the Vegetables Well: After rinsing, thoroughly dry the sliced cabbage and other vegetables. Excess water can dilute your dressing, making your slaw soggy. A salad spinner works wonders here.
  • Emulsify Your Dressing: When mixing your dressing, slowly drizzle in the oils while whisking vigorously to create a smooth and well-emulsified dressing. This prevents the oils from separating and helps ensure a consistent flavor in every bite.
  • Keep Dressing and Slaw Separate Until Ready to Serve: To maintain the crunch of your slaw, only pour in the dressing when you’re ready to serve. This tip is especially important if you’re preparing the slaw in advance.


Can I substitute napa cabbage for regular cabbage?

Yes, you can substitute Napa cabbage with regular cabbage, but it’s not ideal as it’s crunchier, less moist, and has a sharper flavor. Better substitutes include wawa tsai (baby napa) or yu choy for a closer match.

What is the difference between napa cabbage and Chinese cabbage?

Napa cabbage is a variety of Chinese cabbage, characterized by its oblong shape and thick, tender leaves. Chinese cabbage is a broader category that includes different types like bok choy.

What is Napa Slaw made of?

Napa slaw is primarily made of thinly sliced Napa cabbage. It often includes ingredients like carrots, scallions, and a dressing, such as miso ginger or sesame, to enhance flavor and texture.

What can I use if I don’t have miso paste?

If miso is unavailable, try using tahini or a bit of creamy peanut butter for a different but equally delicious flavor profile.

More Asian napa cabbage recipes

For more simple and healthy Asian recipes featuring napa cabbage, be sure to give these yummy dishes a try!

A side close shot image shows napa slaw served in a wood plate and tossed with dressing.
Recipe image shows napa cabbage slaw with other thinly shredded vegetables and crunchy toppings served in a wood plate with dressing on top.
5 from 3 votes

Napa cabbage slaw recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: ChihYu Smith
Easy Napa cabbage slaw with Chinese cabbage, snow peas, almonds and wonton chips, tossed in a creamy no mayo ginger miso dressing.
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  • 10-12 large whole leaves of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3 oz. snow peas, strings removed and sliced to long thin strips
  • 8 oz Radicchio or Purple cabbage, thinly sliced, quarter of 1 small
  • 2 bulb bulb Scallion, diced
  • Sprinkle toasted sliced almonds, or peanuts
  • Sprinkle wonton chips, optional

Miso ginger dressing: (makes ⅔ cup)


Dice napa cabbage for salad:

  • Slice away the bottom end of a whole napa cabbage. This will separate the cabbage into several large whole leaves. We will need 10-12 whole leaves. Take a few leaves and stack them on top of each other with the curved side facing down for easy control.
  • Thinly slice from the cabbage stems to the ruffled leaves. If the leaves are too wide to slice, roll the leaves up into a loose bundle then thinly slice.
  • Transfer the cabbage to a large bowl and rinse under cold water a few times until the water runs clean. Set aside to drain well. It’s important to remove the excess moisture. Use a salad spinner to help if you have one.

Snow peas, radicchio, and scallions:

  • Remove the strings of snow peas and thinly slice them into long thin strips. Thinly slice the radicchio and chop the scallions. Set them aside ready to use.


  • In a large measuring cup with a spout, add the ingredients from soy sauce to ginger. Give it a stir then add the miso paste. Stir and use the liquid in the cup to help dissolve the miso.
  • Slowly drizzle in the sesame oil and the avocado oil while whisking at the same time to emulsify the dressing.


  • Transfer the cabbage to a large serving bowl, add the snow peas, radicchio, and scallions. Slowly drizzle in about half the amount of dressing. Toss well, taste, and decide if more dressing is needed. Before serving, sprinkle over almonds and wonton chips, if using. Serve fresh and best right away.


  • Miso paste can be found in many Asian grocery stores. WholeFoods, Trader Joe’s or some larger Western grocery stores also carry them. 
  • While there are many types of miso (red, white, and yellow), white and yellow are easier to use as the flavor is not as strong as red miso. In general, I like to use organic ones. 
  • When making the dressing, add all the liquid first then add the miso paste. Use the liquid in the bowl to stir and dissolve the miso before whisking in sesame oil and avocado oil to emulsify.
  • Store the extra dressing in the fridge in an airtight jar. Shake well before using.
  • Keep Dressing and Slaw Separate Until Ready to Serve: To maintain the crunch of your slaw, only pour in the dressing when you’re ready to serve.
  • See miso ginger dressing recipe for estimated nutritional info. 


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 22kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 0.2g, Saturated Fat: 0.05g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g, Sodium: 13mg, Potassium: 254mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 316IU, Vitamin C: 24mg, Calcium: 49mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American, American Chinese, Japanese
Keyword: Napa cabbage slaw, napa slaw
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