I wish I had some way to make sure that the sleeper recipes in my book don’t get overlooked, maybe a scratch-and-sniff box or a pop-up page. This recipe would need both—it is just that good. — Elizabeth Heiskell

A pot with slice cabbage in it ready to turn into sauteed cabbage.

Sautéed Cabbage

5 / 6 votes
There are only a few ingredients for this recipe, but when done right it will become a weeknight hit. It’s all in the technique. Make sure your heat is medium; you want the cabbage to caramelize but not burn—there is a fine line. Be very careful and stir often.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories77 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 1 medium head (2 pounds) green cabbage*
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Cut the cabbage into quarters. (Any time you are cutting something like a ball that rolls, always give it a flat side to keep your fingers safe.) Cut the core out of the cabbage and discard it. Slice the cabbage crosswise as thin as possible.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: You can compost the core or save it for making soup stock.

  • In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, warm the butter and olive oil until the butter melts. Add the cabbage, salt, and pepper and sauté until the cabbage begins to brown, 10 to 20 minutes.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: If there is too much cabbage to fit in your pot, cook the cabbage in batches.

  • Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve immediately.


*Can I use this recipe to sauté other kinds of greens, too?

You absolutely can—and should. The supporting ingredients and directions are perfectly suited to any other leafy greens in the brassica family, like kale, shredded Brussels sprouts, collard greens, Savoy cabbage, kohlrabi, and gai lan. Keep an eye on the caramelization process with any of them, the timing might change with different veggies.

Adapted From

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 77 kcalCarbohydrates: 1 gProtein: 1 gFat: 9 gSaturated Fat: 3 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 11 mgSodium: 222 mgPotassium: 4 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 gVitamin A: 124 IUVitamin C: 1 mgCalcium: 2 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Elizabeth Heiskell. Photo © 2021 Angie Mosier. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Forlorn and forgotten, cabbage rarely gets noticed. It patiently waits for summer to be made into coleslaw or a healthy salad. Sadly, it’s often overlooked as a wonderfully diverse, economical, and delicious vegetable-readily available and adaptable to so many regions, seasons, and dishes. This recipe for sautéed cabbage is a wonderful, simple, jumping-off spot for those whose familiarity is raw slaw or salad.

The prep is quite simple, seasonings are those on hand, and the finished dish, while delicious as is, could take on many incarnations; a blank canvas is always a good friend in the kitchen. This flavorful preparation could easily reflect different ethnicities, depending upon variations in seasonings. And for the pasta averse (carb watchers or gluten-free), cabbage is a great alternative to spaghetti squash or veggie noodles.

After enjoying this initial foray into cooked cabbage, use your culinary imagination and steer towards the Far East, Southwest, or Eastern Europe-all easily tweaked with your choice of oils, herbs, and spices! I served this with grilled salmon and roasted asparagus.

The simplicity of this sautéed cabbage is what makes it work so well, and lets the cabbage be the star. By slicing the cabbage thin, nearly a chiffonade, you get a good size and texture for the leaves to reach that lovely golden-brown coloring of the edges in short time (under 10 minutes in enameled cast-iron), and a pile of sliced cabbage becomes a soft and glistening tangle to pile onto the plate and serve alongside some potatoes or under some nicely browned sausages.

I used a light, not-too dense/heavy savoy cabbage, and it retained a ruffled texture even in the thin slices, and the pepper and butter were really compatible elements. If there had been any leftovers, it would have nicely gone into some colcannon potatoes the next day, but alas it was too delicious to last.

This would of course work with any beautiful green cabbage (looking at you, lovely cone head-shaped ones, for the next turn). Keep tossing it, and the edges will pick up color but you may want to lower the heat if the bottom of the pan is beginning to scorch.

Who knew that in 30 minutes you could make such a lovely, flavorful vegetable side dish from a humble head of cabbage with almost nothing more added? Honestly, I never thought of sautéing cabbage and the only time a head of cabbage ends up on my grocery order is when I’m making sauerkraut or coleslaw. So do take the plunge and try this sautéed cabbage. It’s a very small investment of $$ and time for a really great result. But please be patient and do not rush the cooking time.

The caramelization of anything takes time and just like onions, mushrooms, etc. you will reap the benefit of great flavor if you let the ingredients release their sugars and come to a light brown (not burnt, please) color. Depending on the power of your burners, you may start to see a brown bit of fond forming at the bottom of the pan. No need to panic – this is flavor! I always keep a small amount of water nearby and use it to deglaze the pan so that these bits pop right back into the main event and don’t leave you with any burnt bitterness at the bottom of the pan.

Burnt will clearly impact the flavor of your dish, not to mention the pain it is to clean-up. I served it with an Asian chicken dish and basmati rice.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is delicious and simple. Being of Eastern European descent, and my mom made a lot of dishes using cabbage. This way is my favorite…when the cabbage gets a little caramelized. She would add egg noodles and browned butter and that was our dinner at least a few times a month. This is great as is, but try using purple cabbage and at the end, add a teaspoon apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon maple syrup. A little sweet and sour cabbage is a delicious side to almost any protein.

  2. 5 stars
    I’m addicted to brats with kraut, and this was an amazingly fresh way to change things up. Simple, easy and delicious!