This easy caramelized cabbage and onions recipe is a spectacularly delicious side dish! Serve it on St. Patrick’s Day or with any other dinner.
Caramelized cabbage is a revelation! In all my years of making caramelized onions, I don’t know why it never occurred to me to give cabbage the same treatment. Naturally sweet and savory, with a delightfully rich flavor.
Add it to your St. Patrick’s Day recipe list. It’s fantastic alongside Irish stew with lamb (with a glass of apple cider whiskey punch, of course). For non-holiday dinners, pile the cabbage on top of turkey cutlets or mix it into a roasted vegetable bowl.
In the beginning stage of cooking the cabbage, ths skillet will be full to overflowing. However, cabbage wilts and cooks down easily. In this recipe, a whole head of cabbage (12+ cups of shredded cabbage) and an onion cook down to 3 to 4 cups of cooked vegetables.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS CARAMELIZED CABBAGE RECIPE:
These are the main ingredients needed for this recipe (affiliate links included)…
- CABBAGE: Use a medium head of green cabbage. A medium head of savoy cabbage can be substituted.
- ONION: Use a medium-sized yellow onion. White onion can be substituted.
- OLIVE OIL: A tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
- GARLIC: Use 3 cloves garlic and mince them.
- NUTMEG: Freshly grated nutmeg has fantastic flavor, but feel free to substitute with bottled ground nutmeg. For freshly grated, use whole nutmeg and grate it on a zester.
- RED PEPPER FLAKES: Find crushed red pepper flakes in the spice aisle. If you’re sensitive to spice, omit this ingredient and use ground black pepper instead.
- SALT: Use kosher salt. Be sure to taste the cabbage and add salt to taste.
- PARSLEY: Use flat-leaf parsley, which is sometimes sold as Italian parsley. For extra flavor, stir in additional fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme, dill or cilantro.
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
Tools you need to make sautéed cabbage:
- SKILLET OR BRAISER: Use a large nonstick or enameled large cast-iron skillet with high sides. I love my Le Creuset braiser for this recipe. Don’t have a skillet with high sides? Use a large saucepan instead. If it’s not nonstick, you may need to use more oil.
- TONGS: Use tongs to toss the cabbage and onions with the oil before it cooks down. These are my all-time favorite tongs.
- WOODEN SPOON: Use a wooden spoon or wooden spatula to stir the cabbage as it cooks and to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.
💙What’s to love about this caramelized cabbage and onions:
▪️Simple ingredients: It doesn’t take much to turn humble ingredients into something pretty spectacular. Caramelizing the veggies produces a naturally sweet and rich flavor. No need to add brown sugar!
▪️Plant-based: While fried cabbage with bacon is a more traditional dish, this vegan recipe capitalizes on the natural flavors of the caramelized veggies. And I love that it’s packed with fiber!
▪️Versatile: Serve this sautéed with your St. Patrick’s Day dinner, or as an easy side dish any day of the week.
How to make caramelized cabbage:
- PREP THE CABBAGE: Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut it in half through the core and carefully remove the core with a sharp knife. Lay one cabbage half, flat side down, on a cutting board and thinly slice. Repeat with the other cabbage half.
- PREP THE ONION: Cut the onion in half through the root, peel and thinly slice.
- THE SKILLET: I use an enameled cast-iron braiser, like this one, but any nonstick skillet or braiser with high sides will do. Why do you need high sides? Because there’s A LOT of cabbage before it starts to cook down. If you don’t have a suitable skillet or braiser, use a large nonstick saucepan. If it’s not nonstick, you may need to use additional olive oil.
- HEAT THE OIL: Heat the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat.
- CABBAGE & ONIONS: Add the sliced onions and cabbage. Use the tongs to toss the veggies with the olive oil. As the cabbage cooks down (and it will cook down a lot as it cooks), switch to a wooden spoon or wooden spatula.
- CARAMELIZE: Stir the vegetables very frequently as it cooks, using the wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. The cabbage is down when it’s golden brown. The whole process should take about 20 minutes, give or take, depending on your stove and pan.
- SEASON: About 10 minutes into cooking the cabbage, season with salt and crushed red pepper flakes. The nutmeg is added at the end of cooking. I suggested starting with the lesser amounts of spices that are suggested in the recipe card. Taste at the end and adjust as needed.
- FINISH IT OFF: Once the cabbage and onions are caramelized, stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the parsley. Serve it up!
There are tons of delicious ways to serve caramelized cabbage and onions. Here are a few of my favorites:
Serve it as a side dish to almost any meat dish, from classic St. Patrick’s Day food, such as corned beef or lamb stew, to baked chicken breasts or oven roasted pork tenderloin.
If you like hint of creaminess, dollop some plain Greek yogurt or sour cream on top.
As a sauce:
Make a white wine sauce, such as the ones with these turkey cutlets, and stir in the caramelized cabbage mixture. Serve the sauce over turkey, chicken, pork or white fish.
On a pizza or sandwich:
If you love caramelized onions on a pizza or sandwich, why not swap in this cabbage mixture instead? So good!
In a bowl:
Make my popular roasted veggies bowl and mix in a 1/2 cup of the cooked cabbage.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Sautéed green cabbage is best served right after cooking it, but tastes almost as good when reheated later. I suggest gently reheating the cooked cabbage in a skillet set over medium-low heat.
Sturdy cabbage, such as green, Savoy or purple cabbage are all good options for caramelizing. I tend to avoid using more delicate varietals, such as napa cabbage, because the cooking time is typically shorter than the onions and they become very limp.
Sure! I love serving up fried cabbage without bacon as an easy meatless side dish. However, many Irish cabbage recipes include bacon, pancetta or even chopped corned beef. If using bacon, cook it first in the skillet, using some of the fat for frying the cabbage. Once the cabbage and onions are caramelized, crumble the cooked bacon into the mixture.
Caramelized Cabbage and Onions
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 head green cabbage halved, cored & thinly sliced
- 1 medium yellow onion cut in half and thinly sliced
- 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt to taste
- 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg to taste
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick or ceramic skillet or braiser pan with high sides. If you don’t have a skillet with high sides, use a large saucepan.
- Add the sliced cabbage and onion. The skillet will be very full, but the cabbage will cook down quickly. Use tongs to toss with cabbage and onions with the olive oil.
- Once the mound of cabbage cooks down a bit and becomes more manageable, use a wooden spoon or wooden spatula to stir the cabbage as it cooks, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
- After about 10 minutes, stir in the kosher salt and red pepper flakes.
- Continue to cook, stirring very frequently and scraping browned bits off the bottom, until the vegetables are golden brown, about 20 minutes total.
- Add the garlic and nutmeg. Cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the parsley. Serve.
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