How to Cook Cabbage – From Picking ,Preparation to Cooking

Getting Started

Cabbage is often not on everyone’s top food choices for many reasons. Many will often cite unpleasant memories of school dinners that put much emphasis on healthy choices such as cabbage. Your teachers were never wrong by the way.

Cabbage is rated as one of the best sources of vitamin C and manganese. It is rich in anti-oxidants too. We have come to think of cabbage as a punitive diet or something you eat when you are fat, ill, young, poor, or in prison.(1)

Nothing can be further from the truth. With excellent preparation, cabbage can be a sumptuous addition to virtually any vegetarian or non-vegetarian meal.

Know your cabbage before you cook it

A little background information about this wonderful vegetable would be important before you throw it into your pan. The cabbage is a member of the brassica family which includes other well known varieties such as kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and the Asian pak choi just to mention a few.

Various types of cabbage

Various types of cabbage

It is a huge family whose members are differentiated from other vegetables by their tightly packed leaves and an assortment of colors ranging from green to red, white, and even purple.

The most popular types of cabbage are the round Savoy variety that has crinkly leaves tightly packed together and the Chinese lozenge-shaped type. The two combine well with a host of other ingredients to create mouth-watering dishes.

Almost each type of cabbage has a unique taste or flavor, although many people hardly recognize this due to a life-long bias against cabbages. The flavors range from savory to tenderly sweet. However, if overcooked, cabbage tends to give off a rank smell. The trick is to ensure the vegetable is just mildly cooked.

Many varieties of cabbage are usually available all year round, especially during winter. Red cabbage is in full season during the month of November, while white cabbage can be found in great abundance in December.

The most common varieties during spring and summer months include the Chinese leaf, hispi, and pak choi cabbages. All varieties are plentiful in winter.

Choosing the best cabbage for your meals

A good cabbage worthy of a place on your plate should look bright and have fresh crisp leaves. Stay away from those with a puffy feel or with small brown spots made by insects burrowed inside.

Set of different types of fresh cabbage on a round wooden board

Set of different types of fresh cabbage on a round wooden board . Image by

Don’t buy cabbages with the outer leaves stripped away as they will definitely have lost their freshness. A nice cabbage with tightly packed leaves feels a bit heavy and solid. Buy a fresh cabbage that you can store in your refrigerator for up to five days.

Prep the cabbage well before cooking

The first thing you need to do, especially for varieties of cabbages with loose leaves, is to remove the old damaged outer layer of leaves before you slice away the hard central stalks.

Prep the cabbage well before cooking

Prep the cabbage well before cooking

Rinse the remaining part and then either chop or slice it depending on how you want to cook it. If you have a tightly packed cabbage, strip the outer leaves, slice it into quarters, remove the central stalk, then either shred or chop. For the red cabbage, a little vinegar added into water helps to retain the color.

How to Cook Cabbage ? Different ways to cook cabbage

Cabbage is quite versatile. It can be steamed, boiled, sautéed, or just simply cooked in a microwave to make nutritious side dishes.

Almost every type of cabbage can easily be shredded and stir-fried, steamed or blanched. Others can be fermented, chopped up and served as raw salads. Keep in mind that the cabbage should not be soggy, but best served with a little bit of crunchy feel to it.

Avoid overcooking cabbage as it only ends up losing most of its natural ingredients and with a rank smell too. White cabbage is notorious for developing the awful smell if overcooked.

Some cabbage varieties cook faster than others. White and green cabbages usually take three to five minutes to cook, while red cabbage takes a bit longer and is best for slow-cooking methods. When steaming or boiling cabbage, you can enhance its flavor by frying it in a pan with a little oil for around two minutes before serving.

Raw green, red, and white cabbages can be served as salads simply by cutting them into fine slices and marinating in lemon juice and olive oil. They are best combined with carrots and chilli to create delicious coleslaw.

 a bowl of coleslaw salad

a bowl of coleslaw salad

Cabbage can also be fermented to make popular delicacies such as sauerkraut and kimchi. The idea of eating fermented cabbage may not sound very attractive to many people, but take it from me, the sweet and sour delicacy is truly worth tasting.

Boiling cabbage is quite easy. Simply start by boiling water in a saucepan then add the cabbage. Cook it while uncovered for approximately 2 minutes to dissipate the strong smell of hydrogen sulfite. Then cover the saucepan and let the cabbage cook for around 8 minutes until it becomes crisp and tender. Drain and serve.

If you want to steam cabbage, cut it into wedges, put a steamer basket in the saucepan then add water until the basket is slightly immersed. When the water boils, add the wedges into the steamer basket. Steam the cabbage for around 12 minutes while it is covered until it is crisp and tender.

You may also choose to sauté chopped cabbage using a very easy method. Place 6 cups of chopped cabbage in a skillet. Heat 3 tablespoons of cooking oil then put the cabbage. Lower the heat to medium and stir for 6 minutes until the cabbage is tender.

Cabbage can also be cooked in a microwave simply by placing it in a microwave-safe container with two tablespoons of water. Cover it well with a microwave-safe cover or waxed paper. Microwave it for up to 11 minutes on 100% power until it is crisp and tender.

A few sumptuous cabbage recipes    

Here are a few cabbage recipes to spice up your diet with this vitamin-rich vegetable.

Cabbage served with beans and lentils

This is a great summer dish that uses the best summer greens. The following recipe makes 6 servings.


  • ½ sliced Hispi cabbage
  • Cooked puy lentils
  • Summer greens, just a handful
  • A clove of finely chopped garlic
  • Frozen peas
  • Handful cooked broad beans
  • A nice mixture of herbs including mint, tarragon, and parsley
  • 1 lemon


Boil or simply steam the summer greens and cabbage until hot, then mix them with the cooked broad beans, lentils, peas, and the garlic. Give the dish a nice dressing with olive oil, chopped herbs, and a squeeze of lemon, then season and serve while hot.

Confetti Slaw complete with a dressing of Poppy seeds

This is another nutritious cabbage recipe that is low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol. It is rich in vitamins, iron, calcium, and fiber. The following recipe makes 4 servings.

Confetti Slaw

Confetti Slaw . Image by


  • Two tablespoons of cider vinegar
  • A cup of sliced red cabbage
  • One cup of sliced green cabbage
  • One and a half teaspoons of natural honey
  • One and a half teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • Half a cup of matchstick carrots
  • One and a half teaspoons of fresh dill well chopped
  • A teaspoon of poppy seeds
  • Quarter teaspoon pepper
  • A teaspoon of olive oil


Simply combine the ingredients in a bowl and add the cabbage last. You can enhance this delicious side dish with whole-wheat crackers and low-fat cheese.

Asian Coleslaw

Coleslaw. Salad with red cabbage, carrot, red onion and beetroot

Coleslaw. Salad with red cabbage, carrot, red onion and beetroot

Why not try something exotic with this luxurious exotic delicacy? It combines red, green, and napa cabbages to create a perfect dressing for any meal. The coleslaw is made of peanut butter, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, vinegar, some little oil, and soy sauce.


  • Six tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • Same amount of vegetable oil
  • Three tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Five tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
  • Three tablespoons of brown sugar
  • One and a half tablespoons of minced garlic
  • Two tablespoons of fresh ginger root well minced
  • Five cups of green cabbage cut into thin slices
  • Two cups of red cabbage cut into thin slices
  • Two cups of napa cabbage well shredded
  • Two red bell peppers cut into thin slices
  • Two julienned carrots
  • Six chopped green onions
  • Half a cup of chopped cilantro


Whisk together the peanut butter, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and brown sugar in a bowl. In another larger bowl, combine the green, red, and napa cabbages as well as the red peppers, onions, cilantro and carrots. Throw into the peanut butter mixture in the other bowl and serve.


There are many ways you can create a delicious meal by combining cabbage with other ingredients. If you want to get the best out of this nutritious vegetable, just cook it in a simple style and dress it up nicely. It makes mellow salads too with a bit of butter and vinegar or citrus for a little acidity. Cooked right, cabbage is one of the most delicious vegetables you can ever have.

CatchyScoop Team