How Long to Boil Cabbage

Boiled cabbage plate

Cabbage is a veggie that comes in many shapes and sizes, forming part of the brassica family along with turnips, radishes, kale, and arugula. You’ll also find the aromatic cauliflower and many more veggies in this family.

Today, we’ll be exploring cabbage, specifically how long to boil it for if you want some nutritious greens with your dinner.

I. Cabbage 101


The most common varieties of cabbage are as follows:

  • Savoy: With crinkled leaves that become lighter in color toward the center of the cabbage, Savoy is one of the most favored varieties
  • Spring: The spring cabbage has soft, pointy leaves rather than the traditional rounded leaves of other cabbages
  • Red: Red cabbage has a tightly-packed and firm texture, along with purple leaves that are often shiny
  • White: With a texture much like red cabbage, white cabbage has paler leaves and it tastes sweeter

All of the above varieties of cabbage are very flexible, and you can serve them raw in salads, cook them quickly by stir-frying, steam them, or boil them for use in a variety of recipes.

By boiling the cabbage, you’ll maximize the nutrients you get from this veggie. Loaded with vitamins C and K, cabbage is also rich in magnesium, potassium, and valuable phytonutrients. Cabbage is also low in calories and high in fiber, so you’ll be getting plenty of goodness.

Before we show you how to boil cabbage the easy way, a few simple tips on how to prepare this stuff.

II. Preparing and Serving Cabbage

There are two main methods of preparing cabbage, depending on how many you are serving and how you’re cooking the cabbage.

  1. To serve small groups: If you are serving cabbage for just a few people, or if the recipe calls for the leaves to be left intact, peel these off one-by-one as you need them. You can then wrap the remainder of the cabbage and pop it back in the refrigerator. Use the leaves whole, or shred them if the recipe demands. You may need to discard some of the outer leaves if they show any signs of damage. You can compost these or use them for making stock. Cut away the tough central veins from each leaf if you need the cabbage to cook quickly
  2. To serve larger groups: Cut the cabbage into halves or quarters if you’re cooking for a larger crowd. With firmer red and white cabbages, you might need to cut out the tough part of the core first

OK, now we’ll get down to business and show you how to most effectively boil your cabbage with a simple but delicious recipe.

III. How to Boil Cabbage the Easy Way

First, grab some very basic ingredients.

What You Need

  • Cabbage (1 medium head)
  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Butter (3 or 4 tablespoons, melted)
  • Black pepper (freshly ground to taste)

What To Do

  1. Gather up all the above ingredients
  2. Rinse your cabbage thoroughly under some cold running water
  3. Cut it into 6 roughly equal wedges
  4. Add some lightly salted water to a Dutch oven then bring it to a boil. You will need about ½ inch of water
  5. Throw in the cabbage wedges and the salt for seasoning. Cover the pot
  6. Simmer the cabbage while covered for 10 minutes
  7. Turn the cabbage over slowly then simmer for 8 to 10 minutes more. When the cabbage is tender, it’s ready to eat
  8. Discard the water then return the pan to the heat source. Cook over a low heat until all the moisture is gone
  9. Add your melted butter to completely coat the cabbage
  10. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper then serve and enjoy!

IV. How to Tweak This Boiled Cabbage Recipe

If you prefer a heartier dish, try using some chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of water.

For more of a kick, try introducing some Cajun seasoning in place of the salt.

Anyone looking for an even more fiery taste could add some hot pepper sauce.

V. Which Is Better, Boiling or Steaming Cabbage?

While boiling is a traditional method of preparing cabbage that’s still popular today, steaming cabbage is becoming more and more widespread.

Many people dislike boiling cabbage because of the smell. This only assails you when the cabbage is overcooked, though. Cabbage boiled until it’s just tender will not fill the whole house with that smell of old socks.

If you still don’t like the idea of boiling cabbage, you have several other options, and we’ll break those down for you now.

VI. 3 Other Great Methods of Cooking Cabbage


  1. Steaming cabbage
  2. Frying cabbage
  3. Stir-frying cabbage

1) Steaming cabbage

Savoy cabbage and spring green cabbage responds especially well to steaming.

All you need to do is pop some into your food steamer and you’ll have tender cabbage in 5 minutes flat, minus the smell.

2) Frying cabbage

You can fry all types of cabbage effectively.

First, shred the leaves of half a head of your preferred cabbage. Remove all the tough stems from the leaves.

Glug 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a wok, then add the cabbage along with a couple of sliced cloves of garlic.

Stir fry the cabbage until it wilts. Next, add 75ml of vegetable stock. Cover and fry the cabbage for 2 or3 minutes.

3) Stir-frying cabbage

Try stir-frying some cabbage with some shallots and garlic cloves for about 5 minutes for a delicious and nutritious addition to any Asian-inspired meal.

VII. Conclusion

As you can now see, getting great cabbage is as simple as boiling it for 20 minutes or so, using nothing but salt and pepper with a lick of butter.

For anyone disinclined to fill the house with the fumes of this pungent veggie, we present several other cooking methods to help you get the best out of your cabbage. As we mention above, though, the stench of cabbage only appears when it is overcooked, so avoid this.

Before you head off today, bookmark Madiba. We are just warming up for a super-busy holiday season, and we’ll be bringing you more great guides as usual. Pop back soon as we add new content daily!

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