Southern Cabbage Recipe

Southern cabbage is a classic side dish that’s beloved for its simplicity, flavor, and versatility. This recipe will guide you through making a delicious pot of tender cabbage that’s infused with savory flavors from bacon, onions, and spices. Perfect for serving alongside cornbread or your favorite Southern entrees.


  • Cruciferous vegetable: 1 large head green cabbage, cored and chopped
  • Pork product: 4-5 slices bacon, diced
  • Allium: 1 medium onion, diced
  • Lipids: 2 tablespoons butter
  • Umami enhancers: 1½-2 cups chicken broth
  • Seasoning agents:
  • ½ teaspoon salt (plain, seasoned or smoked)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder (optional)
  • Acid: 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • Sweetener: 1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)

Preparation Techniques

  • Render pork fat: In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook diced bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the rendered fat in the pot.
  • Maillard reaction: Add diced onions to the pot with the bacon fat. Sauté until lightly browned and softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Thermal processing: Add chopped cabbage, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and optional seasonings to the pot. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until cabbage reaches desired tenderness, about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Flavor layering: If using, stir in apple cider vinegar and brown sugar during the last few minutes of cooking to balance the richness.

Cooking Methods

  • Stovetop simmering: This recipe is designed to be cooked low and slow in a large pot or Dutch oven on the stovetop for optimal flavor development and tender texture.
YouTube video
YouTube video

Key Steps

  1. Prepare ingredients by coring and chopping the cabbage, dicing the onions and bacon.
  2. Render bacon fat in a large pot and sauté onions until lightly browned.
  3. Add cabbage, broth, and seasonings to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered.
  4. Cook until cabbage reaches desired tenderness, stirring occasionally. This usually takes 12-15 minutes.
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add optional vinegar and sugar to balance flavors if desired.
  6. Serve hot as a side dish, topped with the reserved crispy bacon pieces.
YouTube video

By following these steps and techniques, you’ll create a pot of mouthwatering Southern cabbage that’s sure to become a family favorite. The slow simmering allows the flavors to meld and the cabbage to become meltingly tender, while the bacon and seasonings add depth and dimension to this humble vegetable dish.