Cabbage appears in a wealth of different varieties, and is in fact part of a bigger family known as brassicas that extends to cauliflower and kale. Easily available varieties are red, savoy, spring and white.


What are the main types of cabbage?

  • Red cabbage has firm, tightly packed and shiny purple leaves
  • White cabbage has a similar texture to red cabbage but has very pale leaves and a sweeter flavour
  • Savoy cabbage has leaves which are crinkled and wavy, and get lighter towards the middle
  • Spring cabbage has softer leaves that form more of a point instead of a round shape
  • Hispi cabbage (aka sweetheart cabbage) is a sweeter and more tender green cabbage, with a pointed shape

What's the best way to serve cabbage?

All are extremely versatile: they can be served raw in salads such as coleslaws but can also be quick-cooked, such as in stir-fries, or simply steamed and even slow-cooked (braised) or used in soups and stews. See our recipe ideas below and also check out our collection of cabbage recipes. Also browse our red cabbage recipes for some festive ideas.

How to prepare cabbage

Half chopped cabbage

There are two ways to prepare cabbage, depending on how many you want it to serve, and how you want to cook it.

To serve a small number of people, or for recipes when you need to keep the leaves whole:

  • it’s a good idea to peel the leaves off individually, taking what you need then putting the rest of the cabbage back in the fridge, wrapped up. You can then use these leaves whole or shred them as needed.
  • Depending on how old the cabbage is, you may not want to use the outer leaves, particularly if they are bruised, blemished or damaged. If they’re no good for stock, they can be composted.
  • The central vein in each leaf is tough, particularly on the outer leaves, so you may wish to cut this away, too, especially if you want to cook the cabbage quickly as this part is very dense and will take a long time

To serve a bigger crowd:

  • Halve or quarter the cabbage, lay it cut-side down on a board and chop or shred the leaves.
  • For firmer cabbages, such as the red or white ones, you may wish to cut out the tough part of the stem or core first.

How to steam cabbage

Best for: spring green cabbage, Savoy cabbage

Put your prepared, shredded cabbage in a steamer and steam for 5 mins or until tender.

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How to boil cabbage

Best for: all types

Put the cabbage leaves or shredded cabbage in a large pan and cover halfway with water. Bring to the boil and cook for 3-5 mins or until tender. This is often followed by blanching – see the next point.

How to blanch cabbage

Best for: all types

To blanch (so the leaves can be sautéed or fried later), cover with water and boil for 3 mins. Transfer the leaves to cold water to refresh.

How to fry cabbage

Best for: all types

Shred the leaves from half a head of cabbage, removing any tough leaf stems. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a wok, then add the cabbage and 2 sliced garlic cloves. Stir-fry until the cabbage starts to wilt then add 75ml vegetable stock. Cover and cook for 3 mins until just tender.

Stir-fried red cabbage in a pan

How to braise cabbage

Best for: red cabbage, white cabbage

Finely slice 1 large onion and put it and 50g butter, or 50ml olive oil, in a heavy-based, flameproof casserole dish. Fry the onion over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 mins. Cut the core from a 750g cabbage and finely slice the leaves. Add this to the casserole dish and toss everything together, cooking over a low heat, while you peel and slice 1 apple. Crush 1 tsp juniper and 1 tsp caraway seeds together, then add these and the apple slices to the pan. Season and pour in 500ml cider, red wine or water. Stir well and bring to a simmer, cover the dish and cook for 20 mins.

Other ways to serve cabbage

Whole cabbage leaves can be used filled, rolled and baked. Shredded cabbage can be pickled or fermented to make sauerkraut or kimchi.

Basic cabbage stir-fry recipe

Serves 6


  • 1 cabbage
  • 4 tbsp fat (you could use butter, olive oil or goose fat)
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled


  1. Quarter the cabbage, remove the core and shred the leaves.
  2. Blanch in a pan of boiling salted water for 3 mins, then hold under a cold tap to cool. Drain well.
  3. Heat the fat in a pan and fry the shallots, rosemary sprig and garlic cloves for 5 mins until golden.
  4. Discard the garlic and rosemary, toss in the cabbage, stir-frying until reheated. Season and serve.

Our top cabbage recipes

Cabbage with bacon & onions

Cabbage, bacon and onions in an oval dish

Give your greens a bit of crunch with John Torode’s speedy side – perfect for Sunday lunch.

Cabbage soup

A pan and bowl of cabbage soup topped with cheese chavings

Get three of your 5-a-day with a bowl of this healthy, low-fat cabbage soup. It's delicious on its own topped with parmesan shavings, or served with a hunk of crusty, buttered bread

Braised stuffed cabbage

Stuffed cabbage rolls in an oval dish

Slow-cooked cabbage leaves stuffed with a tasty rice mixture make a hearty veggie main, or an alternative side dish.

Garlicky linguine with cabbage & anchovy

Linguine with cabbage and anchovy and breadcrumbs

This thrifty pasta dish of Savoy greens and crispy pangrattato breadcrumbs is beautiful in its simplicity.

Pointed cabbage in white wine with fennel seeds

Pointed cabbage in white wine with fennel seeds, in a dish

For a quick version of sauerkraut, try cabbage simmered in white wine, with onions and herbs. The acidity of this side dish pairs well with the unctuousness of roast pork.

Roasted hispi cabbage with a garlic & chilli crumb

Charred hispi cabbage leaves on a plate, coated in breadcrumbs

Try Tom Kerridge's impressive charred hispi cabbage recipe with a punchy breadcrumb coating. Served with his festive porchetta or a roast ham, it works wonderfully as a vegetable side dish.

Italian-style roast cabbage wedges with tomato lentils

Italian-style roast cabbage with tomato lentils on a plate

Cabbage leaves are roasted to give a beautifully crisp, caramelised texture on the outside and a soft, sweet centre. This dish makes for an impressive veggie centrepiece served with Italian-inspired lentils and golden roast new potatoes.

Get more cabbage inspiration...

Cabbage recipes
Savoy cabbage recipes
Christmas red cabbage recipes
White cabbage recipes
Bubble & squeak recipes
Red cabbage recipes


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