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This casserole provides a lovely, snappy contrast to tender barbecued pork or brisket.

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Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

active:
20 mins
total:
40 mins
Yield:
Serves 8 (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)
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A warm, creamy, luxurious dish accentuated with a crispy Parmesan-breadcrumb topping, this cabbage casserole adopts our favorite elements of a baked potato gratin (the crispy, crunchy crust), but replaces the potato disks with a base of cabbage and onions with a dynamic, snappy texture. A dash of Worcestershire sauce brings a welcome savory note that makes this Cabbage Casserole the perfect pairing for your smoked meat or succulent burgers.

But this recipe isn't just great for summer cookouts; with simple ingredients that are accessible year-round and a rich combination of flavors and textures, Cabbage Casserole can become a brilliant addition to your Thanksgiving spread. The brightness of the cabbage and celery will balance out the heavy turkey and potatoes, and because there are no ham hocks or other meat products involved, this dish is vegetarian-friendly.

What's in Cabbage Casserole?

The beauty of Cabbage Casserole lies in the fact that it can be customized to suit any flavor preferences and dietary restrictions. Some choose to put meat in their casserole, others go entirely plant-based, and others omit the meat but include dairy and other animal products. This particular casserole falls into the latter category, with a smooth cream sauce smoothing out the tang of the cabbage.

To make Southern Living's Cabbage Casserole, you'll need to start with a two-pound head of cabbage, which you'll shred until you get 10 cups worth (we'll tell you more about which type of cabbage to use below). You'll cook the cabbage with celery, onions, and garlic, a spin on a French mirepoix that offers a pleasant allium funk and a hint of sweetness. 

The cream sauce used for this casserole is, essentially, a bechamel (one of the classic French "mother sauces"). You'll start by whisking butter and flour together to make a roux, then will add evaporated milk, which has a thicker consistency than regular milk, lending the sauce an extra level of richness. Worcestershire sauce brings a hint of umami, and grated Parmesan provides salty, nutty, cheesy goodness.

A hefty sprinkle of breadcrumbs finishes the dish off and gives the casserole a fantastic level of textural contrast. "I use panko breadcrumbs for cabbage casserole," says recipe developer and cookbook author Brian Theis of The Infinite Feast, endorsing the famous Japanese breadcrumb's light and crispy mouthfeel. However, if you don't have panko, "you can use regular breadcrumbs or even crushed Ritz crackers." 

This recipe as written isn't vegan friendly, but some inventive commenters have found ways to adapt this decadent side dish into a plant-based treat. Commenter Ellen says that she "substituted almond milk and veggie oil margarine" for the condensed milk and butter. Also, nutritional yeast can replace the Parmesan cheese, offering very similar flavors.

The Right Cabbage for Cabbage Casserole 

In terms of its flavor and structure, green cabbage is the best choice for a baked casserole with a creamy sauce.

"It doesn't release a vivid color when it is cooked, and it is much larger than the red variety, which will give you more filling for your casserole," says CEO and recipe developer Anna Silver of Cook For Folks. Green cabbage leaves tend to be thicker and more substantial than Napa cabbage leaves or Savoy cabbage leaves, so they won't be easily weighed down by heavier casserole ingredients. Also, green cabbage's taste is more neutral than that of sweet red cabbage, which allows it to blend more harmoniously with this recipe's flavors. 

How to Make Cabbage Casserole

We start this recipe by washing and shredding the cabbage. You may feel tempted to wash your cabbage as soon as you bring it home from the market, but because storing damp cabbage in the fridge can speed up its spoiling process, it's best to wait until you're about to use it.

Once the cabbage head is rinsed, use a sharp chef's knife to chop it into thin shreds. The oven should be preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit as soon as the cabbage is prepped.

Next, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

melting butter in a saucepan
Credit: Will Dickey

Once the butter has melted, add the cabbage along with a mirepoix of onion, garlic, and celery. Use a wooden spoon or a spatula to stir for 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables become tender.

cooking cabbage in a pan
Credit: Will Dickey

Scoop the veggie mixture into a baking dish that's been lightly greased with cooking spray.

cooked cabbage in a casserole dish
Credit: Will Dickey

To make the cream sauce, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, then make a roux by whisking flour into the butter for about 1 minute, or until it becomes smooth and thick (but not long enough for the flour to start browning).

beginning stages of a roux
Credit: Will Dickey

Add the condensed milk in a slow stream while continuously whisking. When all of the milk is in the pan, whisk for 3 more minutes, or until the mixture achieves a smooth texture. Remove the pan from the heat and add ½ cup of Parmesan, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until smooth, then pour the cream sauce over the cabbage in the baking dish.

making sauce for a cabbage casserole in a saucepan
Credit: Will Dickey

The breadcrumb topping is made by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in the microwave, then combining the melted butter with breadcrumbs and ½ cup of Parmesan. The breadcrumb mixture should then be sprinkled evenly over the top of the casserole.

cabbage casserole before it goes into oven
Credit: Will Dickey
cabbage casserole ready to go into the oven
Credit: Will Dickey

Bake the casserole in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs take on a golden color.

How to Serve Cabbage Casserole

This cabbage casserole effectively combines characteristics of mac & cheese, coleslaw, and potato gratin, so it's easy to swap out any of those popular side dishes for this comforting option. Cabbage casserole is great alongside smoked or grilled meats at a barbecue, or—as we mentioned—as a side for a rich cold-weather roast, like a turkey or a roast beef.

If you'd like to turn this casserole into an entree, you can add protein in the form of cooked ground meat or chickpeas. 

How to Store Cabbage Casserole

According to Silver, the best container for storing cabbage casserole is "an airtight Tupperware" or another resealable (and, yes, airtight) glass or plastic vessel. When stored this way, Theis says that a cabbage casserole should stay good "refrigerated for up to 3 days." 

Can I Freeze Cabbage Casserole for Later?

According to Theis, it should be very possible to freeze the casserole for later use. He estimates that, when kept in a freezer-safe and airtight container, "it should last in freezer for about 10 months."

Editorial contributions by Taylor Tobin.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet set over medium. Add cabbage, celery, onions, and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a 3-quart lightly greased (with cooking spray) baking dish.

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  • Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium; whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and thick, about 1 minute. Gradually add milk to saucepan, whisking constantly to remove any clumps. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and smooth, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan until smooth. Pour sauce over cabbage mixture.

  • Place remaining 1 tablespoon butter in microwavable bowl, and microwave on HIGH until melted, about 30 seconds. Add breadcrumbs and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan to melted butter, and stir until combined. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over cabbage.

  • Bake in preheated oven until casserole is bubbly and breadcrumbs are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

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