Let's rehab the reputation of this vegetable. With these methods, you'll learn how to cook cabbage in ways you and your family will actually enjoy eating. The answers to how long to cook cabbage and the best ways to cook cabbage so it maintains as many vitamins as possible are all here.

By Karla Walsh
Updated February 27, 2020
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Think cabbage is just for raw coleslaw and lettuce wraps or serving with corned beef? The Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen is on a mission to change your mind. Cooking cabbage can be quick and easy, and cabbage recipes featuring warm vegetables make for delicious side dishes and entrées. Start by removing the core and preparing the greens, then discover multiple ways to cook cabbage. Once you find your favorite method of cooking cabbage, you’ll be counting down until you can eat your veggies again.

How to Prep Cabbage

Remove the loose outer leaves and rinse the head of cabbage with water. On a cutting board (such as this handy Over the Sink Bamboo Cutting Board, $23.99, Bed Bath & Beyond), use a chef's knife to slice the head in half through the core. Slice each half into quarters.

Left: Scott Little
Right: Scott Little

Use the knife to remove the core from the wedges. Either cook the cabbage as-is in these wedges or coarsely chop it. To chop, lay a wedge, cut side down, on a cutting board. Hold the knife perpendicular to the wedge and cut it into ¼-inch-wide pieces.

Cabbage Math: One medium head equals about 6 cups of chopped cabbage.

Now you’re ready to use this prepared pile of greens in one of the best ways to cook cabbage.

How to Boil Cabbage

It may be thought of as a basic cooking method, but boiled veggies can take on loads of flavor depending on what you use for boiling liquid. This New England Boiled Dinner is proof that boiled cabbage can be one of the best ways to cook cabbage.

  1. In a saucepan, bring a small amount of water to boiling. Add cabbage.
  2. Cook uncovered 2 minutes. This allows some of the strong-smelling hydrogen sulfite gas that is emitted during cooking to dissipate.
  3. Cover the saucepan and continue to cook until crisp-tender (plan on 6 to 8 minutes for wedges and 3 to 5 minutes for chopped). Drain well.

How to Steam Cabbage

Steamed cabbage is a good option when you're serving cabbage with something else boldly flavored as the cabbage won't take on additional flavor during steaming.

  1. Cabbage wedges are recommended for this method of cabbage cooking. Insert a steamer basket (like Circulon’s Nonstick Stock Pot with Steamer, $49.99, Target) inside a saucepan. Add enough water to the pan so the water level is just below the bottom of the basket.
  2. Bring water to boiling. Add cabbage wedges to the steamer basket.
  3. Cover and steam 10 to 12 minutes or until cabbage is crisp-tender.
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How to Sauté Cabbage

This may be the most common way to cook cabbage on the stove because you can incorporate so many flavors and ingredients while keeping a close eye on doneness.

Get the Sautéed Red Cabbage Recipe
  1. Chopped cabbage is recommended for this method (though this bacon-and-cabbage recipe is proof that wedges work, too). For 6 cups chopped cabbage, in a large skillet heat 2 to 3 tablespoons cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped cabbage.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Cook and stir cabbage 4 to 6 minutes or until cabbage is crisp-tender.

How to Cook Cabbage in the Microwave

When you've got other dishes cooking on the stovetop, you can turn to your microwave to cook cabbage, too.

  1. Place cabbage in a microwave-safe bowl along with 2 tablespoons water. Cover with vented plastic wrap or a microwave-safe lid.
  2. Microwave, covered, on 100% power (high) until crisp-tender, rearranging or stirring once. Plan 9 to 11 minutes for cabbage wedges and 4 to 6 minutes for chopped cabbage.

How to Cook Cabbage in an Instant Pot

We know you love using your Instant Pot for everything, so here's what to know about pressure cooking cabbage in whatever brand of the appliance you've got.

  1. Chopped cabbage or shredded cabbage is recommended for this method. Place 6 cups chopped or shredded cabbage in the electric pressure cooker with ¼ cup water, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt and black pepper, a tablespoon of canola oil, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1½ teaspoons dried herbs (such as thyme).
  2. Lock lid and cook on high pressure 2 minutes. Quickly release pressure, and open lid carefully. Stir before serving.

How to Buy the Best Cabbage

Cabbage is available in several varieties—such as Napa, savoy, and red—with the round green type being the most common in American markets. Cabbage isn’t just economical; it's also a good source of fiber, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Plus it tastes incredible in everything from Corned Beef and Cabbage to Grilled Cabbage Steaks with Chimichurri.

Cabbage is available year-round. Select a head that is heavy for its size, brightly-colored, and free of brown spots and withered leaves. Store cabbage in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 5 days. (Don’t miss all of our top tricks to store produce so you don’t waste a dime on food waste.)

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