How To Cook Cabbage

Discover how to cook cabbage as we teach you all you need to know from start to finish. Includes shopping and prep tips, cooking techniques, even flavoring!

I can still remember watching my Grandma make her famous coleslaw when I was a little kid. And it always turned out delicious.

But that's the ONLY cabbage I would eat -- raw, in the form of coleslaw. Let me just say I had NO idea what I was missing!

Now, cabbage is one of my fave veggies because it is SOOOO easy to clean and prepare, especially on those busy nights. And it's delectable, especially when cooked, which allows it to become more digestible and the nutrients more available.

Before you learn how easy it is to make your own recipe, it's important to learn how to select your head of cabbage. Then I'll show you how to prep and flavor your vegetable to perfection. And we'll round it out with the health benefits of this interesting and highly nutritious veggie.

How To Select Cabbage

The first thing I always notice in the produce department when I look at all the cabbage lined up on the shelves is that they are all USUALLY in pretty good shape. Cabbage is a really hardy vegetable and it takes a lot to break it!    :)

Still, it's a good idea to know the signs of what a good head of cabbage looks like. You basically want to choose a head that has smooth outer leaves, with no nicks or tears or bruises or cracks. In other words, it should be smooth -- well, like anyone's head!

If you see any damage on the outside, chances are there will be damage on the inside, most likely in the form of worms or other pests.

Also, look to the bottom to see if the leaves are beginning to separate from the stem -- if so, pass on it as this is an indication of age.

Interestingly, the red or purple variety takes longer to mature. You will find the leaves to be thicker and a little more tough than the green variety.

How To Clean and Prep Cabbage

So here's the main reason I love making cabbage so much -- it truly doesn't get too much easier than this in the world of vegetables.

Remove outer leaves and discard. Cut the head into quarters or desired size. Your cabbage is now ready to be used in any way you'd like.

You may be wondering "Don't I have to soak it or clean it somehow?" Only if you want to. Cabbage is SO compact, that once you peel off those outer leaves, the cabbage is good to go.

How To Cook Cabbage

Here are the cooking techniques we use and recommend for cabbage.

Click the one you'd like to learn more about for complete cooking instructions.

A silver pot with a lid
A red oven
A ceramic-coated saute pan with a lid
A collapsible steamer

Or eat it RAW!
Great shredded in salads or coleslaw.

Cabbage Vegan Flavor Matches

Create your very own cabbage recipe with some of your favorite ingredients from this list of foods that match perfectly.

(What are Flavor Matches?)


  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Bulgur
  • Butter, non-dairy (I like organic Earth Balance)
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Celery
  • Chestnuts
  • Coconut
  • Coconut Nectar
  • Cream, non-dairy and organic (I like Silk Soy Creamer)
  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Leeks
  • Lemon
  • Juniper Berries
  • Madeira
  • Mayonnaise, dairy- and egg-free (I like Vegenaise)
  • Miso
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Onions
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Pepper
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Potatoes
  • Salt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Savory
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Vinegar


  • Apples
  • Bay Leaves
  • Cheese, non-dairy
  • Chestnuts
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Miso
  • Onions
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Sucanat, or other organic brown sugar
  • Thyme
  • Vinegar, especially wine
  • Walnuts
  • Wine, especially red


  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Celery Root
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lime
  • Nut Oil
  • Peppers, green
  • Vinegar, especially sherry and white wine

Helpful Hints

The green variety works best for coleslaw or other raw dishes.

The Napa or Savoy variety has more delicate, crinkly leaves and is the most tender and sweet -- if using to "stuff", this would be your best choice since it holds up nice and strong when exposed to longer cooking times.

Happy cooking!

If You Like Cabbage Try...

Brussels sprouts
Brussels Sprouts!
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