Learn how to cook Chinese bok choy in the microwave. This special recipe comes together in under 5 minutes and requires no pan or wok. Learn my Mom’s method and her essential tips.

This microwave cooking method works so well for almost any Asian vegetable. This is the fastest and easiest way to prepare bok choy, all while keeping this nutritious leafy green vegetable a beautiful vibrant green. Bok choy cooked in the microwave is fabulous when paired with garlic and a quick drizzle of sesame oil, and makes a great side dish to almost any meal.

Why This Microwave Cooked Bok Choy Recipe Works 

  • There is no pan or wok needed making for easy clean up. 
  • My Mom’s 3-minute method will be the simplest and fastest cooking method (and uses less oil!)
  • Our recipe testers say,
    • “Very easy method. Thanks for sharing!”
    • “Easy and delicious. Used garlic salt instead of regular salt, but otherwise followed this great recipe!” 


Bok Choy, Baby Bok Choy, or Tat Choi?

Bok choy (or “pak choi”) and baby bok choy are both popular vegetables in Asian cuisine and are easily found in most grocery stores, but they have some differences:

Size: The most obvious difference is the size. Baby bok choy is smaller than regular bok choy. It’s usually harvested when it’s about 6 inches long. Large bok choy is simply a more mature bok choy.

Texture and Flavor: Baby bok choy tends to have a more tender texture and a milder, sweeter flavor compared to its mature counterpart. This makes it ideal for quick cooking methods like sautéing or steaming.

Cooking Time: Due to its smaller size and tender leaves, baby bok choy cooks faster than regular bok choy. This makes it a convenient choice for quick meals.

Appearance: Baby bok choy often has a more compact shape, with leaves tightly clustered around a small, bulbous stem. Regular bok choy has larger, more spread out leaves and a thicker, more prominent stem.

Usage in Recipes: Both can be used interchangeably in recipes, but due to the differences in texture and cooking time, you might need to adjust the cooking process slightly. Baby bok choy is often preferred for delicate dishes or where a quicker cooking time is desired.
Tat Choi: Also known as Tatsoi, Tat Choi is actually from the family of brussels sprouts and mustard greens but looks very similar to baby bok choy while the leaves resemble brussels sprouts leaves. It’s mild in flavor, lightly sweet, with buttery leaves.

You can use this microwave method to cook all of these vegetables. The timing will be nearly the same – I’ll teach you how to judge doneness in the recipe card.


Cooked bok choy in sauce

Flavor Combinations

Garlic and Ginger: Once the bok choy has finished cooking in the microwave, I toss it in my wok with a high heat cooking oil to get it a little browned and caramelized, and then add minced garlic (or garlic powder if you don’t have any on hand) and grated fresh ginger. Continue to toss until fragrant and finish with a splash of sesame oil. 

Sesame Dressing: In a bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon each soy sauce, white vinegar, and olive oil. Then add 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of sugar if you like a little sweetness. Sprinkle in a little red pepper flakes for a little kick and a whole lot of flavor. 


Chopped boy choy in a wooded bowl

Ways to Enjoy Bok Choy 

There are various ways to enjoy bok choy with the use of simple ingredients.

Noodle Soup: Noodle soups are one of our favorite dishes here at Steamy Kitchen. They are affordable, quick, and easy to make. Try our Noodle Soup with Baby Bok Choy and Crispy Shallots and instead of cooking the bok choy over the stove, cook it in the microwave and then finish the recipe off the traditional way!  

Stir Fry: There is no better way to use Asian vegetables (and especially leftover bok choy) than in stir frys. Cook your bok choy in the microwave per recipe instructions and then head over to this Baby Bok Choy and Ground Chicken Stir Fry recipe for a simple, yet incredibly flavorful way to use microwave cooked bok choy. 

Buddha Bowls: Use your quick cooked bok choy in any Buddha Bowl you love. Some of our favorites to use them in are Crispy Tofu Buddha Bowl with Tangy PonzuRice Noodle Bowl with Vietnamese Dressing, and this Korean Beef Rice Bowl

Bok Choy Salad: Cooking bok choy isn’t the only way to go. Sometimes the best way to refresh your palate (in less time!) is with a crisp and delightful bok choy salad. Start by tossing thinly sliced crunchy bok choy with your favorite salad greens. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top for a nutty flavor that complements the freshness and crisp texture of the greens. For a twist, consider adding a light dressing of soy sauce, honey, and a dash of sesame oil to enhance the different flavors. Bok choy salad makes for a healthy side and great addition to a variety of main courses.