How to Boil Cabbage? Cook It Right for Maximum Health Benefits

How to boil cabbage
Credit: Nutrition Data/Cabbage

Cabbage is the most common vegetable which can be prepared in a variety of ways. You can boil cabbage, steam it, sauté it, stir-fry it, or simply eat it raw by adding to salads. It can also be pickled or fermented for dishes such as sauerkraut and kimchi. The most preferred way of cooking cabbage is by boiling it. For those of you who want to know how to boil cabbage and how long to boil cabbage for, then keep reading to find out.

How to Boil Cabbage?

Boiling cabbage is the simplest method of cooking this vegetable. However, you need to ensure that you don’t boil cabbage for too long. Doing this will hamper its taste, and will also result in loss of nutrients.

Before you start boiling the cabbage, you need to choose a cabbage variety of your choice. Not choosing the right variety may not give good results. There are many varieties of cabbage, such as savoy cabbage, red cabbage, Napa cabbage, and the Chinese variety of cabbage called bok choy.

Green cabbage

This cabbage tastes slightly sweet when cooked, and a peppery taste when eaten raw. It has waxy and fan-like leaves. Green cabbage can be cooked by using any method.

Red cabbage

Red cabbage has purple leaves and a denser taste than green cabbage. It can be used to add color to dishes, such as salads, stir-fries, and pickles. Boiling this cabbage may make it turn blue. You can squeeze in some lemon juice or add some vinegar to retain its color.

Napa cabbage

It tastes sweeter than green cabbage when eaten raw. This cabbage resembles a Romaine lettuce and has yellowish-green leaves. It is often used in used in salads and other cold dishes, and tastes best when stir-fried.

Savoy cabbage

Savoy cabbage looks rough, is dark green in color, and has crinkled leaves. It has a higher amount of vitamin A and K compared to the green one. Savoy cabbage has a mild flavor, but this type of cabbage isn’t easily available everywhere. It can be used as a substitute for sandwich wraps.

Bok choy

This cabbage is bitter, or it can be light and peppery and tastes best when sautéed. The leaves of bok choy are bunched loosely with celery-like stalks. It has a higher water content compared to the other varieties.

Preparation and Boiling Method of Cabbage

The leaves of the cabbage must be crisp and not wilted or marked. It must feel heavy for its size. Peel the outer leaves and wash the cabbage thoroughly to remove the dirt. You can try soaking the cabbage in saline water for 30 minutes before using it.

Cut the cabbage into halves, and chop off the stem at the bottom. Put it on a chopping board with the flat side down. Slice thick or thin strips as desired. You can also cut it in wedges.

Now, here is how to boil cabbage. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add the chopped cabbage. Instead of using plain water, you can even use chicken stock to give it more flavor. Boiling cabbage cut in wedges will take 15 minutes to cook.

Cook uncovered for five minutes. As the cabbage cooks, it will shrink in volume due to loss of water. Pour it into a colander to get rid of the excess water. Season it with salt and pepper.

Cabbage Nutrition Facts

Cabbage Nutrition

Credit: Nutrition Data/Cabbage

Cabbage is one of the healthiest vegetables available. Boiled cabbage retains its nutrients and doesn’t add extra calories like frying. However, you must ensure it is not overcooked.

A serving size of 100 grams of boiled cabbage with salt has only 23 calories and provides 62% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C, five percent of calcium, and two percent of vitamin A. It provides eight percent of the daily recommended intake of dietary fiber and 11% of sodium. It contains good amounts of potassium, manganese, folate, vitamin B complex, and vitamins C and K.

A compound in cabbage called 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM) protects against the harmful effects of radiation therapy. Cabbage also has a cancer-fighting compound called sulforaphane. This compound is found in other cruciferous vegetables as well.

3 Delicious Boiled Cabbage Recipes

If you want to know how to boil cabbage with bacon, here are two simple recipes for you to try. You will surely enjoy them.

1. Boiled Cabbage and Bacon Recipe


  • 3 pounds of cabbage, cored and chopped
  • ½ pound of thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of water, or more as needed
  • ¹⁄3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste


In a large saucepan, put the cabbage, bacon, two cups of water, and vinegar. Bring it to a boil over medium to high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for three hours, or until the cabbage is very tender. Add water as required.

In another bowl, whisk together ¼ cup water and flour and add it to the cabbage mixture. Simmer for five minutes. Season it with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Related: Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe Using Slow Cooker and Instant Pot

2. Instant Boiled Cabbage and Bacon Recipe


  • 1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium head of cabbage
  • 4 to 6 thick slicesof  bacon, diced
  • ½ to 1 cup of chicken broth or water, as needed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Cook the bacon in a saucepan. Do not cook until crispy. Remove the bacon pieces and place them on paper towels to drain the bacon drippings.

In the same pan, add the onions and cook them until brown, about five minutes. Chop the cabbage and add it to the pan, along with the chicken broth. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add more water or broth and cook for 10 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. Add the bacon pieces and heat through.

Cabbage and potatoes also go well very well together. If you want to know how to make boiled cabbage and potatoes, then give the following hearty, boiled cabbage and potato recipe a try. It will not disappoint your taste buds.

3. Boiled Cabbage and Potatoes Recipe


  • 4 medium white potatoes
  • 1 medium cabbage
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • Water


Peel off the outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, and then again cut each half lengthwise into quarters. Cut the core from each quarter, and cut the quarters into chunks.

Wash the potatoes and peel them. Cut them in quarters, the same way as you did the cabbage.

Arrange the cabbage, onions, and potatoes in a pot in even layers, and cover the vegetables with an inch of water.
Boil the them for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the cabbage and onion wedges fall apart.

Drain the vegetables to remove excess water. Serve hot.

Now that you know how to boil cabbage and are aware of the various types of this nutritious vegetable, you can make it a part of your healthy diet. The next time you buy a cabbage, try these simple and tasty boiled cabbage recipes. However, practice caution while eating cabbage if you have hypothyroidism or if you are on diabetes medications. Also, eating excess cabbage can cause gas or diarrhea, so moderation is key.



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