Wondering what goes with cabbage? Learn the best ingredient pairings, meal ideas, popular flavor combinations, and other helpful tips.
Knowing what goes well with cabbage gives you a starting point for putting meals together using the ingredients you already have on hand.
Whether you want to reduce food waste, get more creative in the kitchen, or improve your cooking skills, it starts with understanding what flavors pair well together.
What is Cabbage?
Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable in the Brassica plant family, along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi rutabaga, and turnips.
It's inexpensive, long-lasting, and versatile. And despite these incredible qualities, it remains a very underrated vegetable.
The most common varieties of cabbage are green, red (also called purple), savoy, and napa (or Chinese).
Green cabbage is the easiest to find and is typically the least expensive. It has a round head with thick, tightly packed, smooth outer green leaves that fade to pale green or white the closer they get to the center. Its texture is crunchy and tastes slightly peppery taste when eaten raw. Once cooked, it becomes sweeter and less spicy.
Red (or purple) cabbage
Red cabbage looks very similar to green cabbage in size, taste, and texture, except its outer leaves are reddish-purple in color. The color turns brighter when it comes into contact with acids such as lemon juice or vinegar and dulls when cooked.
The white core of the cabbage should be removed from both the green and red varieties before preparing as it can be too tough to eat.
Napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage) has an oblong-shaped head with thick white ribs and crinkly, tender pale green/yellow leaves. It's less pungent than red and green cabbage with a mild to slightly sweet taste.
Savoy cabbage is similar in shape to green cabbage except it has softer, more tender, crinkled, frilly leaves that aren't as densely packed. Like napa, it's milder and sweeter in taste than the red or green varieties.
When to Buy
Napa cabbage is available year-round, while red, green, and savoy varieties are available from November through February. Look at the seasonal produce guide to see what's in season right now.
What to Look For
Look for heads with firmly packed leaves and avoid any that are wilted or brown. It should feel heavy for its size.
How to Store
When stored properly, cabbage can last up to 3 weeks to 2 months. To make it go the distance, don't wash or cut it until you're ready to use it.
Cabbage thrives in a cold environment and should be stored whole in a crisper drawer. You can put it in a plastic bag to help retain moisture, but it isn’t completely necessary. Just don't tie the bag to allow air to flow in. When stored whole, cabbage can last up to 1 month in the fridge.
Once cut into, store it in a reusable bag, ziplock bag, or container where it can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge. It's important to note that softer varieties like napa and savoy don't keep as long due to their tender leaves.
What Goes Well With Cabbage?
Bell peppers, carrots, celery, chile peppers, cucumber, fennel, garlic, ginger, horseradish, jicama, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, scallions, shallots, spinach, and turnips.
Apples, coconut, lemons, limes, oranges, and tomatoes.
Caraway seeds, celery seeds, clove, coriander, cumin, curry leaves, dry mustard, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, nutmeg, paprika, pepper: black and white, poppy seeds, red pepper flakes, and kosher salt.
Bay leaf, cilantro, dill, marjoram, mint, parsley, tarragon, and thyme.
Nuts & Seeds
Cashews, chestnuts, pecans, sesame seeds, and walnuts.
Unsalted butter, cheese: blue, cheddar, feta, parmesan, swiss, cream: use coconut cream or cashew cream for dairy-free, and sour cream.
Bacon, beef, chicken, corned beef, duck, ham, pancetta, pork, prosciutto, salmon, scallops, shrimp, and turkey.
Apple cider, champagne, chicken broth, chili sauce, dijon mustard, golden raisins, honey, mayonnaise, olive oil, olives, pasta, rice, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, tofu, vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, champagne, red wine, rice, sherry, and white wine), and wine: white and dry red.
Popular Cabbage Pairings
- apples + apple cider vinegar
- bacon + blue cheese + walnuts
- balsamic + brown sugar
- chestnuts + pork
- pancetta + ricotta
What To Make With Cabbage
Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that can be used in a number of ways beyond coleslaw such as baked, braised, grilled, sautéed, stir-fried, steamed, marinated, or eaten raw.
Napa cabbage is particularly great for making kimchi, a pungent, fermented Korean condiment, but is also used in salads and slaws. It can act as a more nutritious wrap for burgers, hot dogs, burritos, dumplings, enchiladas, or stuffed cabbage leaves. Just blanch the leaves first to soften them and make them more pliable.
Use red or green cabbage raw when you want the crunchy texture to shine through such as apple cabbage salad, slaws (both American and Asian styles) for fish tacos and sandwiches, poke bowl toppings, noodles with peanut sauce, burger bowls, quick-pickled cabbage, fresh spring rolls, and sushi burritos.
Their sturdy leaves withstand heat better than savoy or napa varieties when braised, baked whole and in wedges, or grilled for cabbage steaks. But all varieties do well when cut and cooked for meals such as vegetable soups, crispy rice paper dumplings, pot stickers, egg rolls or egg roll bowls, stir-fries, fritters, sautéed until crispy and served with dragon bowls or creamy polenta and a protein of choice.
Use cabbage in a healthy breakfast hash with pork sausage or bacon and apples, as a unique nacho topping, added to pasta, or to make any kind of savory galette.
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