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How to Cook Cabbage

Updated May 5, 2017
German Pork & Cabbage Casserole

Cabbage has been an indispensable food throughout the world for thousands of years. This mild-tasting vegetable is easy to grow, versatile and inexpensive. It comes in many different varieties and with loads of health benefits. Learn how to cook cabbage, shop for it and store it.

What Is Cabbage?

A cruciferous vegetable, like its cousins broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, cabbage provides a wide variety of health benefits. Cabbage is low in calories and high in:

  • Vitamin C
  • Dietary fiber
  • Folate

Cabbage Nutrition

  • One cup of cooked cabbage provides more than 50% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and can help keep your immune system healthy. Vitamin C content varies by the type of cabbage you choose, with red cabbage providing the most.
  • Some studies show that eating vegetables in the Brassica family, like cabbage, may help protect against some types of cancer. Cabbage releases compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates when it is digested. These compounds have been shown to have cancer-fighting abilities.
  • Cabbage for your bones? Bok choy, a type of Chinese cabbage, is a good source of calcium. One cup of cooked bok choy provides more than 10% of daily calcium requirements important for bone health.

What Are The Different Types of Cabbage?

With more than 400 varieties, it’s no wonder cabbage can be found in a variety of shapes, textures and colors. These are the most common varieties of cabbage.

Slow-Cooker Asian Beef Roast with Cabbage and Pasta

Green Cabbage—The most common cabbage, its compact round head has smooth green leaves. The color of the cabbage can range from very pale to dark green, depending on the variety. Green cabbage is terrific cooked or in salads.


Savoy Cabbage—This cabbage has a yellow-green color with sturdy, crinkly leaves and a milder taste than green or red cabbage. Savoy cabbage leaves are great for stuffing and using in salads and slaws or soups. Savoy cabbage is classically used in Borscht.

Slow-Cooker German Red Cabbage and Pork Ribs

Purple or Red Cabbage—Because they take longer to mature, this colorful cabbage is usually not as tender as green cabbage, but does have a slightly sweeter taste. Its brilliant color makes is perfect in salads, cooked or pickled.

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Napa Cabbage—Napa is one of several varieties of Chinese cabbage. This long, narrow variety is pale green with leaves that are very crinkly and thickly veined. It has a tender texture and mild flavor.

How to Select the Perfect Cabbage?


Cabbage is usually purchased whole. Cabbage can sometimes also be purchased precut or shredded in bags. Once cabbage has been cut, however, its Vitamin C content starts to decline.

Here are our simple instructions for choosing the perfect cabbage:

  1. Choose cabbage heads with shiny, crisp leaves (firmly packed, if head variety). Avoid cabbage with wilted or bruised leaves.
  2. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped, up to 1 week.


  • 1 pound of cabbage yields about 4 cups of shredded raw cabbage or 2 cups of cooked cabbage.
  • A medium head of cabbage weighs 1 1/2 to 2 pounds and serves 4.

How to Clean and Prepare Cabbage

Remove the thick outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut into wedges or pieces and rinse under cool water; discard core. Use a sharp knife to cut into smaller pieces, shred or chop. You can also use a shredded or food processor for easier shredding.

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chunky Guacamole

How to Thinly Slice Cabbage
To thinly slice cabbage, place a flat side of ¼ head of cabbage on cutting board. Cut into thin slices with a large sharp knife. Cut slices several times to make smaller pieces.

How to Cook Cabbage?

Cabbage often has a smelly reputation. But the strong smell associated with cooked cabbage is really just the result of overcooking. Aluminum pans intensify the odor, so avoid using them. Cook cabbage, uncovered, just until tender. You can also minimize vitamin and mineral loss by adding cabbage to boiling water.

When using red cabbage, add 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar per pint (2 cups) of cooking water used. This will help preserve the red color.

If you’re using cabbage to make slaw, shred the cabbage and then place in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes. Drain well and use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

What You Need

  • A chef’s knife
  • A cutting board
  • A colander
  • A Dutch oven
  • One head of green cabbage
  • Broth or water

Discard any wilted outer leaves

1. Discard any wilted outer leaves. Cut cabbage in half. Then, cut each half into three wedges, leaving enough of the stem to hold each wedge together. Rinse cabbage wedges in cold water.

Place cut and cleaned cabbage wedges

2. Place cut and cleaned cabbage wedges to Dutch oven and add broth or water.

Bring liquid to a boil

3. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until cabbage is tender.

Cabbage cooked in this manner is a perfect accompaniment to corned beef, try our classic recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Different Methods for Cooking Cabbage

  • How to Steam Cabbage? Steam cabbage wedges 9 to 14 minutes; shredded cabbage 5 to 8 minutes
  • How to Boil Cabbage? Boil cabbage wedges 8 to 12 minutes; shredded cabbage 3 to 7 minutes
  • How to Microwave Cabbage? To microwave cabbage, Place cabbage in microwavable casserole; add 2 tbsp water. Microwave wedges or shredded on high 6 to 13 minutes. Let stand 3 minutes.

What to Make with Cabbage


Sweet and-Sour Coleslaw

A classic side, especially, during the summer, coleslaw can be made with virtually any type of cabbage and paired with easy dinners like burgers or ribs. It’s a great way to use up a head of cabbage before you forget it in the back of your crisper drawer and it’s especially easy to make when you use your food processor to shred. Although we love the Classic Creamy Coleslaw made with green cabbage recipe and mayo-based dressing, it is certainly not the only way to season your coleslaw. For a fresh take try Easy Asian Cabbage Salad or Lemony Italian Coleslaw. For a lower calorie twist on the classic, try Sweet-and-Sour Coleslaw.

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Wraps with Coleslaw

In addition to being a side, coleslaw also tastes great piled on top of a pulled pork sandwich or rolled up in a fish taco or wrap. Try for yourself with our recipes for Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Wraps with Coleslaw, Sweet-and-Sour Portabella Sliders or Baja Soft Fish Tacos.

Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls in Creamy Bacon Sauce

Cabbage Roll Casseroles are made by baking rolls of cabbage – filled with sautéed ground beef and rice – and in tomato sauce, but Betty has all sorts of twist on this classic dish. Try Cabbage Rolls in Creamy Bacon Sauce, Slow-Cooker Tropical Stuffed Cabbage Rolls or Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls.

Cabbage Soup

German Sausage and Cabbage Soup

A hearty soup or stew made from cabbage, onion, carrots and sausage – usually kielbasa – is another way to make a hearty meal from this low-maintenance veggie. Try our German Sausage and Cabbage Soup or a twist with the recipe for Slow-Cooker Chicken Sausage and Cabbage Stew.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage is an Irish-American favorite on St. Patrick’s Day, but you don’t have to be Irish to love this dish. Cooked cabbage is a key player in this classic, and there’s more than one way to make it, try our Classic Corned Beef & Cabbage recipe featured above or make it even easier with our recipe for Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage. For a super fast version, try Confetti Corned Beef Hash, or take these flavors in a new direction with our recipe for Corned Beef & Cabbage Pizza.


Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

You don’t have to go out to have juicy, savory Chinese dumplings. Cabbage is a key ingredient in this this easy and delicious recipe for Pork and Cabbage Dumplings!

What to do with Leftover Cabbage

Cabbage is best stored whole. Green and red cabbage can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks; Savoy about 1 week. Place the cabbage in a plastic bag and store. If you need to use part of the cabbage, cut and wrap unused portions tightly in plastic wrap. Once cut, cabbage will need to be used within several days.

For even more ways to cook versatile cabbage, check out the recipes below.