How To Cook & Boil Cabbage

Boiled cabbage doesn’t need to be boring. You can prepare flavorful cabbage with the addition of a couple of ingredients. Learn how to make flavorful cooked cabbage and your family will request this again and again.

a plate of boiled cabbage with bacon

Admittedly, there are a lot of jokes when it comes to boiled cabbage. But if cooked correctly, cabbage is a versatile accompaniment for a wide range of entrees from roasted pork to sausages. It is cheap, and you can enjoy a wedge of cooked cabbage with just a pat of butter straight from the pot. Or, if you are more ambitious, cabbage is the main ingredient in several popular side dishes. Learn how to make the perfect >cooked cabbage with this easy-to-follow recipe.

Choose the Right Head of Cabbage

Cabbage is hearty, but it is not indestructible. To get the best results from this recipe, you need to choose the right head of cabbage. When selecting a cabbage, you want to buy one which has tightly compacted, green leaves. 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, for this recipe, you want a cabbage roughly twice the size of a softball.

How to Store Cabbage

Unblemished firm cabbage can be stored inside the refrigerator for several weeks. It can store at room temperatures for 10 to 14 days.

a bowl of cut cabbage

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 leaves from the cabbage, and then give the head a good rinse under the faucet. Be sure to dry the cabbage completely.
  2. With a sharp knife, cut the cabbage in half, and then in half again. Be careful to cut through the core.
  3. Lay each quarter of the cabbage with 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 into bite-sized pieces.

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, and 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

When you overcook cabbage, it not only turns into mush, but it can develop that classic cabbage stench most people associate with the food. No one wants to eat or smell that. Avoid making a stink by boiling your cabbage just until it is for fork-tender. The exact time depends on how large you cut your pieces but should take about 8 to 10 minutes, uncovered.

Boiled Cabbage Tips

  • Keep the cabbage steady when making the initial cut by using a towel circle. The last thing you need is to cut yourself. A simple solution is to roll up a towel and form a circle with it on your cutting board. To prevent your cabbage from rolling away, place it in the center of the towel ring when cutting the head in half.
  • There are lots of 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.

bacon, cut cabbage and salt

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 the salt compliment the flavor of cabbage.

a serving dish with boiled cabbage with bacon

Love cabbage? Try these 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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a plate of boiled cabbage with bacon

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 4 votes
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Boiled cabbage
Servings: 6
Calories: 136kcal


  • 3 pounds cabbage
  • 1/4 pound bacon
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  • Wash cabbage, 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.
  • Slice 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 pieces can be pierced with a fork.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Recipe Tips for the Cook

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
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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. 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 🙂

  2. 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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