How To Cook Boiled Cabbage

Boiled cabbage doesn’t need to be boring. You can prepare delicious cabbage with a couple of simple ingredients. Learn how to make flavorful cooked cabbage with this simple southern cabbage recipe. Serve this easy side dish with one of your favorite main dishes, like roasted chicken or pan-seared pork chops, and you will have dinner in no time. 

boiled cabbage with bacon on a serving platter.

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Southern Boiled Cabbage

Boiling cabbage is one of the easiest ways to prepare the humble cabbage. But if cooked correctly, cabbage is a versatile accompaniment for a wide range of entrees from roasted pork to sausages. This southern staple is a simple recipe I know will soon be in your weekly rotation. It is easy to fall in love with the taste of cooked cabbage.

It is inexpensive, and you can enjoy a wedge of cooked cabbage with just a pat of butter straight from the pot. Don’t be intimidated. You can make delicious southern cabbage with this easy recipe.

Traditionally, cabbage is served on New Year’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, but you can cook a head of cabbage any night.

If this is your first time cooking this leafy vegetable, I will walk you through the steps so that you can master boiled cabbage

Choose the Right Head of Cabbage

Cabbage is hearty, but it is not indestructible. You must choose the right cabbage head to get the best results from this recipe.

When selecting a cabbage, you want to buy one with tightly compacted green leaves. If you can find the ones with the outer dark green leaves, that tends to mean the cabbage is a little fresher. 

Avoid heads with limp leaves or those which appear light for their size. A cabbage the size of a softball should weigh about one pound.

Ideally, you want a cabbage roughly twice the size of a softball for this recipe.

There are several different types of cabbage: green cabbage, red cabbage, napa cabbage, and Chinese cabbage, to name a few.

How to Store Cabbage

An unblemished, firm whole head of cabbage can be stored inside the refrigerator for several weeks. It can be stored at room temperature for 10 to 14 days.

You should pick off the outer dark green leaves when you store them. But those large leaves can indicate how healthy the cabbage was when it was picked.

How to Cut Cabbage

Half the secret of cooking fantastic boiled cabbage is knowing how to prepare it for the pot.

  1. First, remove any loose outer leaves from the cabbage, discard the cabbage leaves you remove, and then give the head a good rinse under the faucet. Be sure to dry the cabbage completely.
  2. Cut the cabbage in half and then in half again with a sharp knife. Be careful to cut through the core.
  3. Lay each cabbage wedge a flat side down on a cutting board. Then, cut away the core, but leave enough of the root end to keep the leaves together.
  4. Now, cut the cabbage into bite-sized pieces.
a bowl of cut cabbage

How to Boil Cabbage

It’s easy to prepare boiled cabbage. You can simply immerse the cut cabbage into salted water and remove it when it becomes fork-tender. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes.

But we want to show how to add more flavor to your cabbage. So keep reading…

How Long to Boil Cabbage

It’s easy to prepare boiled cabbage. You can immerse the cut cabbage in salted water and remove it when it becomes fork-tender. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes.

But we want to show how to add more flavor to your cabbage. So keep reading…

Cooking Cabbage Tips

  • Using a towel circle, keep the cabbage steady when making the initial cut. The last thing you need is to cut yourself. A simple solution is to roll up a towel and form a circle on your cutting board. Place your cabbage in the center of the towel ring when cutting the head in half to prevent it from rolling away.
  • There are many types of cabbage, use the right one for this recipe. Green or Savoy cabbage works best in this recipe. You should avoid boiling Red and Napa varieties of cabbage.

Boiled Cabbage with Bacon

If you have never tried boiling cabbage with bacon, you are in for a real treat. The smokiness of the bacon and the addition of salt complement the flavor of cabbage.

Boiled Cabbage with Bacon Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage – preferably green cabbage
  • Slices of bacon
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
boiled cabbage with bacon ingredients.

How to Make Boiled Cabbage with Bacon

  1. Wash the cabbage and remove any wilted outer leaves.
  2. Cut the cabbage into quarters and cut out the core from the quarters.
  3. Cut the quarters into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Cut the bacon into ½-inch pieces.
  5. Cook the bacon in a large pot, a large Dutch oven, or a really large skillet over medium-high heat until the bacon is browned and crispy. Do not drain the bacon.
  6. Add the cold water to the pot, then add the cut cabbage.
  7. Simmer the cabbage uncovered until the cabbage pieces have softened and can be pierced with a fork.
  8. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a slotted spoon to spoon the cabbage and place it into a serving dish if desired.  This will help remove a lot of the liquid that it makes.
  9. Get the full recipe down below, click here. 
boiled cabbage with bacon on a white serving platter.

Recipe Variations

  • Add the bacon, chop up a large onion and place it into the pot. 
  • Add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes during the last five minutes of cooking.
  • Instead of cooking with plain water, use some chicken broth or stock.

How to serve boiled cabbage

I like to serve my boiled cabbage with a beef roast, or even some roasted chicken thighs. It’s a great side dish to serve. Now many people love to serve this up with some hot sauce like Tobasco, or Krystal.

overhead view of southern boiled cabbage with bacon.

What can you serve with boiled cabbage? 

I know this will soon become one of your favorite cabbage recipes. Here are some favorite vegetable side dishes that go well with tender cabbage. 

If you are looking for main dishes, here are some recommendations: 

  • Pan-fried pork chops 
  • Roast Chicken 
  • Roast beef

Want additional sides to serve with this simple side dish? Try some of these. 

  • Buttered noodles 
  • Mashed potatoes 

How to store leftover cabbage

After the cabbage has cooled store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. To reheat I recommend reheating in a pot on low heat to medium heat in a saucepan on the stove until it is warm.

You can freeze leftover boiled cabbage for up to three months, simply store it in a vacuum-sealed bag or an air-tight container. Thaw completely before reheating.

Love cabbage? Try these cabbage recipes!

More Budget-Friendly Side Dishes

Be sure to take a look at more of my great side dish recipes and budget meals.

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boiled cabbage with bacon on a serving platter.

Boiled Cabbage

Boiled Cabbage is a simple and healthy side dish perfect for pork, chicken, and ham. Learn how to make classic boiled cabbage with this easy recipe.
5 from 8 votes
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Boiled cabbage
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 136kcal


  • 3 pounds cabbage
  • 1/4 pound bacon
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


  • Wash cabbage and remove any wilted leaves.
  • Use a heavy knife to quarter the cabbage.
  • Cut out the core of the cabbage and slice the quarters into bite-sized pieces.
  • Cut the bacon into ½ inch slices.
  • Place bacon in a large pot and cook over medium-high heat until the bacon browns. Do not drain the bacon.
  • Add the water to the pot.
  • Add the cut cabbage to the pot.
  • Cook uncovered until the cabbage pieces can be pierced with a fork.
  • Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.



If desired you can add a chopped white onion to the cabbage when cooking for additional flavor. 


Calories: 136kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 958mg | Potassium: 423mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 222IU | Vitamin C: 83mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Pat

    My Mom swears, from her 20’s, that she had boiled cabbage and canned corn beef. I got the boiled part but how to add the corn beef? Can you help me with that?

  2. Joe R

    Absolutely delicious. I’m a single man and live alone but entertain quite regularly. When my friends heard that cabbage was to be featured at my latest get together 2 of them upon arrival said that they had “snacked before they came” in an attempt to lessen their obligation to eat much… when this dish was served up EVERYONE was astonished! The two who said they snacked earlier ended up taking home leftovers (which are just as delicious on day 2 if cooked to fork tenderness) xoxo thanks a million and keep em comin 🙂

  3. Cat

    5 stars
    Instead of bacon i use fat back, much better flavor i cook the fat back first drain then cut up
    I slice up the cabbage put it in a fry pan, when it cooks down some then i add the cut up fat back. cook till done. I some times add onions to it.

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