A Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage Recipe for Winter, Spring & Beyond

Technically a side, but we’re having a big plate for dinner.

March  7, 2019

In the United States, green cabbage averages at $0.62 per pound, so it’s almost too good to be true that it’s also versatile as heck. You can turn cabbage into soup. Or stuff it with beef and rice. Or pretend it’s pasta. Or you could sauté it.

Sure, this sounds like the humblest option of all, but what this recipe lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for in simplicity and deliciousness. In fact, it’s so simple and so delicious, some might say the whole thing sounds pretty suspicious.

That’s what husband of longtime Food52er Fiveandspice (known in the real world as Emily Vikre) said when he first tried this dish: "What did you put in this cabbage?! It's suspiciously delicious. Is it actually meat or something?"

No meat. Just onion, garlic, fresh ginger, butter, and cream. You sauté the alliums first, then add the ginger, then the cabbage. These spend some quality time together for 15 to 20 minutes, only to be deglazed with a big pour of heavy cream, which, as Emily writes, “picks up the browned bits from browning the cabbage as though it were the base for a gravy. It also mellows out the spicy ginger so everything practically melts together.”

It’s a very welcome side to just about any winter dinner—roast chicken, braised brisket, crispy bratwurst, pan-fried salmon, baked tofu, you name it. Emily’s even added in some leeks and tossed everything with hot pasta. “It was very savory and rich!” she said.

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Top Comment:
“I think you could eat a whole bowl of this as a meal for sure, but I put some apple sausage with the left overs for lunch today and it was so delicious too! I also think some nice crispy bacon chunks would be so good!!!”
— Taye

Sounds like dinner to me.

What’s your favorite way to prepare cabbage? Tell us in the comments!

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  • Helen Hollander
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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.


Helen H. April 7, 2019
I’m going to try it without the cream and add a little olive oil
robinorig March 20, 2019
I had forgotten about this recipe, made it a few years ago. Recently made Marcella Hazan's Smothered Cabbage and Rice. Cabbage is vastly underrated!
Author Comment
Emma L. March 21, 2019
Marcella's smothered cabbage recipe has been on my to-make list for awhile! Unrelated: Your dog looks very sweet! :)
robinorig March 21, 2019
Thanks! He's a gourmet eater himself! :)
Neil B. March 20, 2019
Any thoughts about making this lactose free for those of us who love cabbage, but can't be in the same room with dairy?
Becka March 20, 2019
Unsweetened soy or coconut coffee creamer? I had the same thoughts...;)
Author Comment
Emma L. March 21, 2019
Hey Neil! My first thought is coconut milk. Here's a recipe for coconut milk–braised collard greens, in case that's helpful in adapting this cabbage recipe: If you give it a try, please let me know how it goes!
Neil B. March 21, 2019
Two thumbs up Emma. I get to try this cabbage recipe and I have been partial to collard greens for half a century! Thanks...
Carrie May 13, 2019
Hi Neil, I made this last night and I veganized it by skipping the butter (olive oil only) and using coconut instead of dairy cream. I had frozen cubes of both coconut cream and light coconut milk and I used 2 cubes of each. It worked really well, the cabbage is yummy and I'm having it for lunch today.
Neil B. May 13, 2019
Thanks for the info Carrie - I've been reluctant to go with the coconut substitute - maybe you will get me off the fence!
Ironwood C. March 17, 2019
Great recipe for cabbage, but I could not bring myself to use the heavy cream firstly because of the sat fat, and, secondly, because I don't usually have it on hand. I tried the recipe subbing the cream 2 ways: (1) I diluted Greek yogurt with part skim milk until it achieved a heavy cream consistency, and warmed it in the microwave before adding to the hot pan; (2) I did the same thing using cream cheese and milk. Both were good, but, of course, the Greek yogurt option was lower in fat. I did keep the 2 tablespoons of butter in the recipe for both tests, but next time I am going to try subbing olive oil for the butter to lower the sat fat even more.
Tisha W. March 17, 2019
I first saw this cabbage recipe in the NYT, food section a few years ago. I made it and have been fixing it from then on. It's the best way to eat cabbage and hardly realize you are eating cabbage. Fixing it today.
Amy L. March 8, 2019
I'm going to make it and not tell 'you know who' what the vegetable is!
Author Comment
Emma L. March 8, 2019
Shhh I won't tell either!
Taye March 8, 2019
just made this recipe last night and it was a hit! its warm and comforting with this slight hit of spiced ginger which gives it a fun little taste twist. I think you could eat a whole bowl of this as a meal for sure, but I put some apple sausage with the left overs for lunch today and it was so delicious too! I also think some nice crispy bacon chunks would be so good!!!
Author Comment
Emma L. March 8, 2019
Yay, so glad you enjoyed! Love the idea of adding crispy bacon!
[email protected] March 8, 2019
This was one of my first "favorited" Food52 recipes. Still in regular rotation at our house. So yummy and makes cabbage taste like a valued part of the meal, instead of a veg thrown there because it's good for you.
Author Comment
Emma L. March 8, 2019
Love this so much: "makes cabbage taste like a valued part of the meal, instead of a veg thrown there because it's good for you."
Noreen F. March 7, 2019
Caramelized cabbage and onions with a bit of cream and a couple of duck sausages from my co-op nestled in the middle!
Author Comment
Emma L. March 8, 2019
That sounds wonderful! I've never tried duck sausage before—will have to keep an eye out for it...
Mj L. March 7, 2019
I love cabbage, this is cabbage porn for me! Can’t wait to try it!!!
Author Comment
Emma L. March 8, 2019
Maggie S. March 7, 2019
Sounds heavenly! My favorite side is red cabbage braised in balsamic <3
Author Comment
Emma L. March 8, 2019
Yum! That sounds amazing. I've been on a total balsamic kick lately—mostly for salads, but also with charred scallions!
Andrea S. March 7, 2019
Sheryl Julian from the Boston Globe turned me onto slowly carmelized cabbage a few years ago, we make it all the time. It's a gateway drug for other cabbage addictions, try haluski (cabbage and egg noodles with ham or sausage), Smitten Kitchen's cabbage galette or do a riff on a cabbage and wild/brown rice casserole with mushrooms.
Author Comment
Emma L. March 8, 2019
All of those sound so good! (Cue me scurrying to the supermarket and buying a cabbage for dinner.)