This easy southern fried cabbage recipe is flavorful simplicity. Chopped cabbage and onions are sauteed until tender and infused with the deep smoky flavor of crumbled bacon.
I have always been enamored by southern food for its rustic simplicity. No one transforms basic staples into incredibly flavorful cuisine better than southerners, and like southern fried potatoes or fried corn, this southern fried cabbage is quite possibly the perfect side dish - Inexpensive, flavorful, and easy to prepare. how can you beat that?
What is Southern Fried Cabbage
Using red or green cabbage, southern fried cabbage is an easy side dish that is sauteed in a large frying pan with onion, garlic, and bacon. Sauteing the vegetables in bacon fat adds incredible flavor to the dish, while red wine vinegar and a bit of sugar round out the flavor of the tender cabbage in this popular southern dish.
You can make this into a full meal by tossing it with buttered noodles, similar to making German Haluski.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Bacon - Regular or thick cut bacon are both fine to use. You can substitute smoked sausage with olive oil as well.
- Fresh Cabbage - Green or red cabbage is both great.
- Yellow onion - You can substitute a sweet onion or red onion. Red onions will have a much stronger flavor. Feel free to also add a bell pepper for a little sweetness.
- Garlic cloves - You can substitute ¾ teaspoon garlic powder, but fresh garlic cloves are best.
- Red wine vinegar - You can give this dish a German twist by using apple cider vinegar and brown sugar instead. A splash of Worcestershire sauce can also be added to deepen the flavor.
- Granulated white sugar - Sugar is added to take the edge off the cabbage, but this can also be omitted if desired.
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Kosher salt - You can substitute ½ teaspoon table salt.
You can customize this simple recipe in different ways to create an even heartier side dish. One way is by adding potatoes to the fried cabbage with some Cajun seasoning to add some delicious flavor. Alternatively, add crushed red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.
How to Make It
Begin by first preparing your cabbage. To chop the whole head of cabbage, first cut the head in half through the stem, then chop into quarters, cutting through the stem again. At this point, the core can easily be cut out and the remaining wedges can be thickly sliced (about 1" strips). These stips can then be chopped into small pieces. For more tips and tricks as well as step by step instruction and photos, I recommend checking out my how to cut cabbage tutorial.
The key to making the best southern fried cabbage is to take your time. Cook the slices of bacon first in a large cast iron skillet to extract the bacon grease drippings and set the bacon aside with a slotted spoon, then slowly saute the cabbage with the remaining ingredients until the cabbage mixture is wonderfully tender and even slightly blackened.
Tip: I highly recommend removing bacon from the skillet while the vegetables saute. If bacon is sauteed in the skillet with the vegetables it turns soggy before everything has finished cooking. The dish will still have great flavor, but the texture will be far less ideal.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Leftover southern fried cabbage can be stored in your refrigerator for up to five days in an airtight container. This dish will not freeze well, so it is best enjoyed shortly after cooking.
This fried cabbage recipe reheats very well in the microwave. Although you can expect the crispy bacon to lose its crispness while the leftover cabbage dish sits in the refrigerator, however, the flavor will still be excellent the next day as the flavors meld together. Alternatively, it can just as easily be reheated in a nonstick skillet set over medium heat.
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Southern fried cabbage
- Large skillet
- 12 ounces bacon
- 1 head cabbage (cored and chopped, approximately 6 cups)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- Saute bacon in 12" skillet over medium heat until fully cooked. Remove from skillet, leaving drippings.
- Add cabbage, onion, garlic, vinegar, sugar, black pepper and salt to the bacon drippings and saute on medium heat for 25 minutes, or until cabbage and onions are tender. Stir frequently.
- While cabbage is cooking chop or crumble bacon.
- Add crumbled bacon to the sauteed cabbage when it has finished cooking. Toss to combine and serve.
This recipe was originally published on November 18, 2019 on FoxValleyFoodie.com.