Fried Cabbage with Bacon Recipe

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Fried cabbage with bacon and onions – salty, sweet, buttery, hearty, and so delicious – this Irish inspired recipe is a huge hit for the whole family!

If you love salty, sweet, buttery, rich flavors from fried cabbage with crisp and crunchy bacon, this recipe is for you. Popular in both Irish and Southern households, this humble side dish is a nostalgic classic that is hearty and delicious – and works in a variety of low-carb diets – including keto eating plans.

sautéed cabbage and bacon in a white bowl
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browned cabbage and bacon in a white bowl

Pan Fried Irish Cabbage with Bacon and Onions

While a lot of people think of fried cabbage as a southern dish, I also think of it as an Irish classic! This is hands down my absolute favorite cabbage and bacon recipe – super simple, easy, and delicious in just one pan – one of the most delicious dishes you can make to celebrate Saint Patricks Day!

Check out my web story about making this dish!

We’re using American-style bacon in this recipe as it’s what I have available to me in Northern Colorado, but traditionally as an Irish dish, it would be made with Irish-style bacon (which is also called “back-bacon”.) Irish-style bacon comes from the back, not the belly, of the pig – making it more like Canadian bacon, or ham – than American bacon. You can use either for this recipe – being American, I love American style bacon, but I also really love the more subtle, less salty flavor of Irish-style bacon too. You can also use pancetta, prosciutto, ham, or finely diced smoked sausage.

This dish makes me think of some of my trips through Ireland (you can see a couple below or click here for more) – it’s simple, delicious food with humble ingredients that make you feel like you’re at Grandma’s. Ireland gets a bad rap for food – and while the touristy stuff can be pretty flavorless, you can find some of the most delicious, beautiful, and vibrant fresh foods prepared simply in a way that makes them shine in Ireland – whether it’s five-star fine dining, or cozy home-style dinners with favorites like this that taste like Grandma made them.

This keto cabbage dish is naturally low carb – making it a great choice for keto, low carb, paleo, and gluten free diets.

We’re going to show you how to make this recipe – explaining how to cut the cabbage and the onion, so if you’ve never made this dish before, you can get perfect results your first time. If you don’t want to read all this extra information, please use the clickable table of contents or skip to recipe buttons above.

How to Pan Fry Cabbage and Bacon

This recipe is super simple, but involves a bit of prep work if you’ve never cut a cabbage before. You can use bags of pre-shredded cabbage, but we like the rustic chopped texture where some leaves will be a bit crunchy, some will be soft and buttery, some caramelized and crispy, which comes from chopping cabbage.

How To Cut Cabbage:

  • Start by setting your cabbage head on it’s base.
  • Using a sharp, long knife, slice in half.
  • Slice halves into quarters.
  • Using your knife, cut the bottom stem (the hard, solid interior of the cabbage) out of the cabbage wedges and discard.
  • Then, slice quarters into 2-3 long wedges.
  • Cut cabbage into 1-2″ squares.
  • Discard any floppy or soft outer leaves.

How to Cut Onions:

  • Cut the onion in half.
  • Leave ends of onion on to help hold onion together for easier dicing, but remove onion peel and any papery brown layers and discard.
  • Lay one half face down, and cut long thin strips towards the end of the onion – do not cut all the way to the end (so the onion stays together at the very end and is easier to cut.)
  • Rotate onion so you’re holding the end, and cut thin strips, against the cut you just made (this should make perfect, even, small diced squares of onions.)
  • Cut all the way down to the base, then discard the end.

To prep garlic, you can rough chop, dice, or mince your garlic according to your taste. Additionally, you can use pre-minced garlic, or garlic paste.

How to Pan Fry Bacon and Cabbage:

  • Cut bacon into thick chunks, pan fry until crunchy. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Drain off most of the bacon fat – leave a little if desired for taste, but too much will give an oily texture.
  • 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 and cabbage to the pan, tossing evenly to coat in butter.
  • Generously season with salt and pepper. 
  • Let cabbage reduce by half, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally as it cooks down to prevent burning and allow it to cook evenly. Add bacon back to pan.
  • 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.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days, three months in the freezer.
fried cabbage and bacon in a white bowl

Tips To Perfect Pan Fried Cabbage and Bacon & FAQs

Use the right pan. We love heavy pans that conduct heat evenly and are naturally nonstick – and I personally use these Greenpans for almost every recipe. A nonstick frying pan makes this recipe simple, easy, and delicious!

Remove the Bacon. To keep your bacon chewy, crunchy, and delicious in this recipe – but still give the dish tons of bacon flavor – it is important to crisp it and then remove to the side while cabbage cooks. If you add bacon into the pan and leave it in, it can get soft and soggy – which is harder to eat, and frankly less appetizing.

Leave a bit – but not too much – bacon grease. Just be sure to leave bacon grease in the pan after removing so you can get all that smoky, meaty flavor infused into your cabbage as you cook it!

Add bacon back to pan after much of thee cabbage’s moisture has cooked off – or it will suck up the moisture from the cabbage.

Recipe FAQs

How long can I store leftovers?

This recipe can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to four days.

Can I use a shallot instead of onions?

Yes – you can substitute shallots for onions in this recipe if you’d prefer an earthier, more subtle flavor.

Can I use pancetta instead of bacon?

Pancetta, prosciutto, Irish-style bacon rashers, diced smoked sausage, and other salty hams will work in place of bacon in this recipe – but we love the crispy crunch of thick-cut American bacon.

Can I use shredded cabbage?

Yes! Using shredded cabbage will cook your cabbage more evenly. We like the rough chopped texture, but also like the shredded texture. You can even save time by buying bags of pre-shredded cabbage.

Do I drain the bacon grease?

If your bacon gives off a lot of grease, you will want to drain some off, and leave a bit for flavor. We prefer pan-frying cabbage in a primarily butter base – with a bit of bacon grease for flavor – as we find too much grease gives an overly oily texture and mouthfeel. If you prefer to pan-fry in just bacon grease and skip the butter, that is totally fine, and up to you!

pan fried cabbage and bacon in a white bowl

Other Irish Food Recipes You’ll Love:

If you’re in the mood to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with an Irish themed menu, the following recipes are some of my favorites!

fried cabbage and crispy bacon in a white bowl

Fried Cabbage with Bacon and Onions Recipe

If you love this fried cabbage with bacon and onions recipe as much as I do, please give it a five star review and help me share on facebook and pinterest.

browned cabbage with crunchy bacon and onions in a white bowl

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cabbage and bacon in a white bowl

Pan Fried Cabbage with Bacon and Onions Recipe

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Fried cabbage with bacon and onions - salty, sweet, buttery, hearty, and so delicious - this Irish inspired recipe is a huge hit for the whole family!

Ingredients

  • 4 strips thick cut bacon, diced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 head cabbage, diced
  • 2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp celtic sea salt

Instructions

  1. Cut bacon into thick chunks, pan fry until crunchy. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Drain off most of the bacon fat - leave a little if desired for taste, but too much will give an oily texture.
  3. Add the butter to the pan on medium-high and heat until melted and foamy. 
  4. Add diced onions to pan, cook until soft and transparent, about 4 minutes. Stir to prevent sticking or burning. 
  5. Add garlic and cabbage to the pan, tossing evenly to coat in butter.
  6. Generously season with salt and pepper. 
  7. Let cabbage reduce by half, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally as it cooks down to prevent burning and allow it to cook evenly. Add bacon back to pan.
  8. 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.
  9. Serve immediately.
  10. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days, three months in the freezer.
Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 148Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 23mgSodium 586mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 4gSugar 7gProtein 6g

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About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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6 Comments

  1. Hi Courtney, was wondering , when making the cabbage , onions & bacon, do you add the butter to the bacon grease? Thanks!

    1. Hi Karen, ikr, this is years late!! 🙂 But I was thinking the same thing because it wasn’t written quite right! BUT I’ve made this several times and YES just add the butter to the bacon grease!