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How to Fry Cabbage Southern Style

Learn how to fry cabbage that’s tender and perfectly seasoned. Add your favorite additions (like onion and a pinch of sugar) if you like it that way and whip up this super affordable supper side dish in less than a half hour.

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a skillet of cabbage with a spoon in it

Fried cabbage is such a simple dish—one of the great examples of not just southern food, but how un-fussy real food can be.

Just cabbage, bacon, salt and pepper makes your house smell like somebody passed gas in it, but it will taste better than that, I promise! You can never say I don’t tell you the truth.

How do you chop cabbage for frying?

Start by removing the outer leaves and core. Slice the cabbage in to 1-inch thick slices. Cut each slice into 3 or 4 1-inch slices and cut those in to even “cubes” if you will. Gently lift and loosen the leaves so you have a decent pile of cabbage. Don’t worry if some of the cabbage is more hard and dense. It will soften as it cooks and separate.

What fat is best to fry cabbage in?

Cabbage on its own won’t have much flavor so your fat choice does matter. I prefer a few slices of bacon that are gently fried so the fat will render. You can also use butter and if you have to, you can use vegetable oil but I prefer refined coconut oil.

how to fry cabbage in steps

Once the bacon is crisp remove it from the skillet and add the cabbage and salt. Salt helps draw out moisture and soften more easily. Stir the cabbage until the edges start to brown then add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover the skillet with a lid.

Steam, stirring occasionally about 12 minutes until the cabbage is soft enough to suit you. Add the bacon back in and adjust seasoning as needed.

Fry your cabbage with these optional adjustments

There are a lot of ways to make a lot of recipes and I know people feel strongly about how their families did things. My family made fried cabbage as the recipe is listed here but if you want to add other optional ingredients, here’s how:

  • Onion: Add 1/2 of a small yellow onion, diced in to 1/2″ pieces when you add the cabbage.
  • Sugar: A pinch when adding the cabbage adds subtle sweetness.
  • Cider vinegar: A couple of teaspoons added at the end can add a bit of tartness

What do I serve with fried cabbage?

Here are a few classics to go with your fried cabbage:

a skillet of cabbage with a spoon in it

How to Fry Cabbage Southern Style

Learn how to fry cabbage that's tender, flavorful and perfect alongside your favorite southern menu.
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 6 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 26 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Optional Ingredients, See Note 1

  • 1/2 small white onion chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Instructions

  • Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage, slice in half and remove the core.
  • Cut the cabbage in to 1" thick wedges, then cut the wedges in to 1" pieces. This is a rough estimate. Just do your best. Set aside.
  • In a large (12") heavy bottomed skillet add the bacon and cook on medium heat to allow the bacon to release its fat and get the bacon crispy–about 7 minutes or so. If you don't want to use bacon, refined coconut oil, butter or avocado oil would also work.
  • Remove the bacon and leave about 3 tablespoons of fat in the skillet. Increase the heat to medium high and add the cabbage, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Stir frequently (but not constantly) just until the cabbage starts to get a little brown on the edges (about 4 minutes), add a splash of water (about 3 tablespoons) then cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium.
  • Cook 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is tender. If you'd like it more firm cook it less. If you want it softer, cook it a couple of minutes longer.
  • Crumble or chop the bacon and add it back to the cabbage. Serve warm.

Notes

Depending in where you were raised, you may be used to eating onions or a bit of sugar in your fried cabbage. To use the onions, add them at the beginning with the cabbage and cook together as usual. 
To add sugar, sprinkle it on just before covering with the lid to steam. 

Nutrition

Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 841mg | Potassium: 464mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 222IU | Vitamin C: 84mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 1mg

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