Southern Fried Cabbage

Our side of choice for a special Sunday dinner or just an average weeknight meal.

Southern Fried Cabbage
Photo: Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
Servings:
8

The Southern Living Test Kitchen described this Southern Fried Cabbage as a "super easy weeknight dinner," but they also agree that this would make the perfect side to any number of family meals, such as our Classic Beef Pot Roast.

Even on its own, this fried cabbage recipe is a humble dinner that many Southerners turn to, especially in cooler months when fresh vegetables are few and far between and the comfort food provides feels more vital than any other element of recipes.

As a bonus, cabbage is relatively inexpensive, and a head of cabbage can go a long way—into casseroles, coleslaws, and more. This fried cabbage recipe is still plenty light, but the bacon adds a richness that makes it filling and comforting at once.

Here, find out how to make Southern Fried Cabbage and what else you can serve with it.

Southern Fried Cabbage Ingredients

Making Southern cabbage requires only seven easily accessible ingredients: You'll need three slices of bacon, a small head of cabbage, and a small onion, plus water, kosher salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper.

While you can buy pre-chopped cabbage, we prefer to cut our own for this recipe. This way, you get universal cuts and the freshest possible pieces that can cook down to tender without becoming overdone and slimy.

ingredients for fried cabbage
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

How to Make Southern Fried Cabbage

To make Southern Fried Cabbage, first heat a Dutch oven medium heat. Add bacon to the pan, and cook while stirring until the meat is crisp and browned. Transfer the bacon to a plate, and do not clean the pan. You'll use the hot bacon grease to cook down the cabbage.

cooking bacon in Dutch oven
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

Next, add the onion and cabbage to the drippings in the Dutch oven. Stir in water, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper.

fried cabbage in Dutch oven
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

Cover the pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the contents are tender. This recipe, with the times as written, makes the cabbage tender, not crisp-tender, but if you prefer a more crisp fried cabbage, cook the cabbage a bit less to get the texture you desire.

Lastly, return the bacon to the Dutch oven, and stir to combine all ingredients before serving.

fried cabbage in dutch oven
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

What Meat Goes Well With Fried Cabbage?

Cabbage is an extremely versatile leafy vegetable, and it goes well with a range of proteins. Serve it with chicken, pork, beef, or whatever animal- or plant-based protein you like for a hearty, nutrition-packed meal.

Consider options like our Smothered Pork Chops or Cajun Meatloaf. Both of these need only a simple side or two to finish out the plate, and this fried cabbage would be the ideal pair.

What Does Southern Fried Cabbage Taste Like?

The cabbage in this dish melts in your mouth. Its natural sweetness, alongside the rich flavor of the bacon, rounds out the subtle heat from the red pepper for a perfectly balanced dish.

You can add any spices or aromatics you like. We kept the seasoning fairly simple for this classic version, but there's no reason you couldn't add herbs like thyme or oregano, or bump up the garlic flavor with garlic powder or onion powder.

Can I Freeze Southern Cabbage?

Cabbage is a hearty vegetable and can certainly be frozen after cooking. (However, this dish is best when fresh.) Freeze all the leftovers at once, and thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a skillet with a bit of butter or oil to help the cabbage crisp back up.

Or, to defrost in portions, separate the cabbage into smaller batches before freezing.

What Can I Do With Too Much Cabbage?

If you have leftover cabbage after making this recipe, there are endless possibilities for turning it into a hearty side—or even a main—dish.

As a side dish, our Tangy Rainbow Slaw is as nutritious as it is eye-catching. For a crowd-pleasing main dish, try our Slow Cooker Corned Beef Cabbage. Or turn it into a soul-warming soup, with our Corned Beef and Cabbage soup recipe.

Feeling extra creative? You can even turn cabbage into a natural, conversation-starting DIY table centerpiece!

Is Cabbage Good for You?

Although cabbage is low in calories, it's packed with nutrition. It contains protein, fiber, and is high in vitamin C and folate. It may help improve digestion, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and overall contribute to heart health.

Editorial Contributions by Alesandra Dubin.

Ingredients

  • 3 bacon slices, chopped (about 1/3 cup total)

  • 1 small (2 lb.) head cabbage, quartered, cored, and cut into 1-in. pieces (10 cups)

  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion (from 1 small onion)

  • 2 Tbsp. water

  • 2 tsp. kosher salt

  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium. Add bacon; cook, stirring often, until bacon is browned-crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate. Do not wipe Dutch oven clean.

  2. Add cabbage and onion to drippings in Dutch oven. Stir in water, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper until combined, about 30 seconds. Cover, and cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

  3. Return bacon to Dutch oven, and stir to combine. Serve.

Related Articles