Caramelized Cabbage & Onions
Jan 11, 2024, Updated Jan 31, 2024
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Easy and Delicious Caramelized Cabbage and Onions are a rich, buttery and insanely addictive side dish! The best pan fried cabbage ever with simple ingredients that anyone can make… perfect with pork, lamb, chicken, and seafood!
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Pan Fried Cabbage with Onions
This recipe originally appeared on Sweet C’s in 2011 as one of the first recipes I ever shared – and has continued to be one of my favorite easy side dishes ever since!
Of all of the countries I have visited, there is one that calls me more and more every time I think of it – my family’s homeland, Ireland is at the top of my favorite countries to visit.
Ireland is gorgeous, calm, steeped in tradition and incredible history – and despite the stereotype of terribly bland food, Irish cuisine is actually bursting with flavor and full of fresh, beautiful ingredients. I swear, everything in Ireland just tastes better – it has to be all the rain and green!
One of my favorite things to order when in Ireland is always cabbage. It’s everywhere, it’s fresh, it goes well with almost anything – and it is sooooo delicious.
I used to avoid cabbage, but have really come to love it, especially when it is pan-fried and caramelized to bring out the buttery rich and slightly sweet cabbage flavor that comes from letting it wilt and brown so the sugars can break down and caramelize.
Not only is the best pan fried cabbage super easy to make, but this side dish is PACKED with tons of nutrients – making it a delicious way to celebrate Irish food that won’t break your keto diet, paleo diet, low carb diet, Weight Watchers diet – and other healthy eating plans!
How to Make Caramelized Cabbage and Onions
To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:
- Butter: Butter adds richness and a creamy flavor to the dish. It’s used for sautéing the onions and cabbage and provides a lovely base for caramelization.
- White Onion: Diced white onion contributes a sweet and savory flavor to the dish. As it cooks, it becomes tender and sweetens further, enhancing the overall taste of the caramelized cabbage.
- Garlic: Garlic, whether whole or crushed, provides a robust and aromatic essence to the recipe. It infuses the dish with a delightful garlic flavor as it cooks alongside the cabbage and onions.
- Cabbage: Cabbage is the star of this dish. Sliced into thin strips, it offers a satisfying crunch and a mild, slightly sweet flavor. As it caramelizes, the natural sugars in the cabbage intensify, creating a deliciously sweet and tender result.
- Salt: Celtic sea salt or any preferred salt is used to season the dish. Salt enhances the flavors of the cabbage and onions, helping to balance the sweetness and bring out their natural taste.
After you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method:
- Add butter & onions. Heat butter in large pan on medium-high heat until melted and foamy. Add diced onions to pan, cook until soft and transparent, about 4 minutes. Stir to prevent sticking or burning.
- Add garlic. Add garlic to pan, cook until fragrant and soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add cabbage. Add cabbage to pan and toss well to coat in butter. Generously season with salt. Let cabbage reduce by half, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally as it cooks down to prevent burning and allow it to cook evenly.
- Caramelize. When cabbage has lost much of it’s volume and started to turn shiny, slightly translucent, and has lovely browned bits, it is ready to serve.
- Enjoy! Remove from heat and plate with your favorite meat, casserole, fish, or other main dish!
Tips and Tricks to Caramelized Cabbage & FAQs
Cabbage is healthy. Cabbage is extremely good for you, and something I try to incorporate more into our diets.
Make it keto. Use ghee to keep this recipe keto!
Make it vegan. Making this Easy Caramelized Cabbage and Onions side dish Vegan is easy – simply nix the butter in the recipe and opt instead for a high smoke point oil (I suggest avocado, rapeseed oil, walnut oil, or coconut oil – make sure your coconut oil is refined and doesn’t taste too much like actual coconut – this varies from brand to brand.)
Baked Buttery Cabbage and Onions. If you’re looking for a set it and forget it recipe for caramelized cabbage and onions, you can add the ingredients in a glass casserole dish and bake at 350 until golden brown. Be sure to stir often, checking the cabbage after 30 minutes to prevent burning or sticking to the dish, and help it cook evenly. Depending on the size of your cabbage, how thickly you slice it, and your oven, this will take anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour to get lovely, buttery, wilted and caramelized cabbage and onions.
Glaze with whiskey. When your cabbage and onions have started to reduce in the pan (about 5-10 minutes after cooking on medium high), add 1/2 cup Irish whiskey to the pan (making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan), and bring to a rapid boil. Carefully light whiskey on fire (use a long match to be safe), and let Whiskey burn down and turn into a rich, sweet, and smoky glaze for your fried cabbage and onions!
Yes, you can use other types of cabbage, such as green cabbage, Savoy cabbage, or red cabbage. Each variety will bring its unique flavor and texture to the dish.
To prevent the cabbage from becoming mushy, make sure not to overcook it. Cabbage should be tender but still retain some of its natural crunch. Cooking it over medium heat and stirring occasionally can help achieve this texture.
Absolutely! You can customize the flavor by adding herbs like thyme, rosemary, or bay leaves. Additionally, you can season with black pepper, red pepper flakes, or a pinch of sugar for variation.
While grass-fed butter is preferred by some for its potential health benefits and richer flavor, you can use regular butter or even a plant-based alternative like olive oil if you prefer.
Leftover caramelized cabbage and onions can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat it gently on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving.
While cabbage can be frozen, the texture may change after thawing and reheating. It’s best enjoyed fresh, but if you wish to freeze it, store it in an airtight container for up to 2-3 months. Thaw and reheat gently before serving.
Caramelized cabbage and onions make a great side dish for roasted meats, grilled sausages, or as a topping for burgers. It also complements hearty dishes like mashed potatoes or pierogi.
What to Serve With Caramelized Cabbage and Onions
Roasted Chicken: Caramelized cabbage and onions provide a sweet and savory contrast to the crispy skin and tender meat of roasted chicken. It’s a classic combination.
Pork Chops: The natural sweetness of the caramelized cabbage and onions complements the savory flavors of pork chops. You can also add some apples or apple sauce for a delightful twist.
Sausages: Whether you’re serving bratwurst, Italian sausages, or any other type, caramelized cabbage and onions make an excellent accompaniment to sausages. It’s a popular pairing in many cuisines.
Grilled Steak: The caramelized cabbage and onions add a sweet and slightly tangy element to a juicy grilled steak, creating a well-balanced meal.
Burgers: Use caramelized cabbage and onions as a topping for burgers. It adds depth of flavor and a touch of sweetness to your favorite burger recipe.
Pierogi or Dumplings: Caramelized cabbage and onions are a classic filling for pierogi or dumplings. The combination of caramelized cabbage and onions with dough is irresistible.
Potato Dishes: Pair caramelized cabbage and onions with potato dishes like mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, or crispy roasted potatoes for a hearty meal.
Vegetarian Options: If you prefer a vegetarian meal, serve caramelized cabbage and onions alongside grilled portobello mushrooms, vegetable stir-fry, or as a topping for a veggie burger.
Rice or Grains: Serve it as a side dish with rice, quinoa, or other grains for a complete and satisfying meal.
Soup or Stew: Use caramelized cabbage and onions as a topping for hearty soups or stews, adding a flavorful garnish to your bowl.
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- 3 tbsp butter, grassfed preferably
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1/4 cup garlic, whole or crushed cloves, skin off
- 1 cabbage, (use half if very large cabbage - whole head if small) sliced into thin strips
- 1 tsp salt, celtic sea salt preferred
- Heat butter in large pan on medium-high heat until melted and foamy.
- Add diced onions to pan, cook until soft and transparent, about 4 minutes. Stir to prevent sticking or burning.
- Add garlic to pan, cook until fragrant and soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add cabbage to pan and toss well to coat in butter.
- Generously season with salt.
- Let cabbage reduce by half, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally as it cooks down to prevent burning and allow it to cook evenly.
- When cabbage has lost much of it's volume and started to turn shiny, slightly translucent, and has lovely browned bits, it is ready to serve.
- Remove from heat and plate with your favorite meat, casserole, fish, or other main dish!
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 76Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 15mgSodium 536mgCarbohydrates 6gFiber 1gSugar 2gProtein 1g