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A simple, nourishing, and flavorful side dish is ready in just minutes! This vegetarian fried cabbage with apples and onions is made without bacon, but you can certainly add some for even more smoky, hearty flavor. Serve it alongside roast chicken, meatloaf, pot roast, pork with cider gravy, or chicken and stuffing casserole for a cozy fall dinner.

Overhead shot of a pan of fried cabbage with onions and apples in a skillet

Vegetarian Fried Cabbage without Bacon

As the leaves change, the air becomes crisp, and the temperatures drop, the salads of summer just don’t sound quite as appealing. Instead, we turn to warming, hearty sides that take advantage of the fresh local produce of the season. This simple fried cabbage recipe is buttery, slightly sweet, tangy, and totally satisfying! Sure, you can add some crispy bacon to the pan for even more rich, smoky flavor, but it definitely isn’t necessary.

Square image of chef holding a skillet of fried cabbage

Is cabbage fried good for you?

Yes! Other than the butter that you use for stir-frying the produce, this simple side dish is loaded with nutritious ingredients — like cabbage, apples, onions, and vinegar. For instance, the cabbage along brings numerous health benefits, as it’s a low-calorie vegetable that’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Grating apple

How do you cut cabbage for frying?

For this simple fried cabbage recipe, you’ll just need half of a head of green cabbage. Start by slicing the head in half with a big knife. Cut out the core at an angle, and then finely shred the cabbage with the knife (similar to the texture and size that you might like for coleslaw).

Adding cabbage and onion to a skillet

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a skillet of Southern fried cabbage. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Butter: to cook the vegetables and add rich flavor to the dish.
  • Apple: for a hint of sweetness. I use Honey Crisp apples, but any variety that you enjoy will work well.
  • Green cabbage: just half of a head, which is about 3-4 cups thinly sliced.
  • Onion: pick a sweet onion, such as Vidalia.
  • Apple cider vinegar: for bright, acidic tang.
  • Sugar: to balance the acidity and enhance the flavor of the cabbage.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the flavors in the dish.
  • Ground nutmeg: for a touch of warmth in the background.
Stir frying cabbage in a cast iron skillet

How to Make Fried Cabbage and Onions

You’ll love this simple fried cabbage recipe! You don’t need any fancy equipment, and the prep time is minimal.

  1. Remove the core and thinly slice half a head of green cabbage; thinly slice an onion; and coarsely grate an apple.
  2. Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Sauté the cabbage for about 12-15 minutes, or until it’s tender and starts to brown a bit.
Square overhead shot of a skillet of fried cabbage

Serving Suggestions

You can’t beat easy side dishes like this cabbage stir fry for busy weeknight meals. Pair it with any of the following entrées:

Horizontal shot of a pan of fried cabbage

Storage

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheat the cabbage in a skillet over low heat just until warmed through. You can also warm individual servings in the microwave.

Recipe Variations

  • Fried Cabbage with Bacon: Dice a few slices of bacon or turkey bacon and brown them in the skillet before you add the vegetables. Instead of using 2 tablespoons of butter for frying, cut the butter back to 1 tablespoon and leave the bacon grease in the skillet for flavorful cooking fat.
  • Want a shortcut? Grab a bag of coleslaw mix from the produce section. You need about 3-4 cups of shredded cabbage altogether.
  • Add garlic to the skillet for even more savory flavor.
  • For less tang, cut the vinegar back to 1 tablespoon.
  • Use brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.
Square side shot of a skillet of vegetarian fried cabbage without bacon

Tips for the Best Fried Cabbage Recipe

  • Shred the cabbage as thinly as you like. Keep it fairly coarse, or slice it really thin for a delicate texture.
  • Garnish the cooked cabbage with chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, or rosemary. Make it spicy with a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne.
  • Make it a complete meal by browning sliced kielbasa (or other sausage) in the skillet before frying the cabbage.
Hands holding a pan of vegetarian fried cabbage

More Cabbage Recipes to Try

Square side shot of a skillet of vegetarian fried cabbage without bacon

Fried Cabbage with Apples and Onions

4.96 from 24 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 118 kcal
A simple, nourishing, and flavorful side dish is ready in just minutes!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 apple, coarsely grated (I use Honey Crisp, but any variety will work)
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, thinly sliced (or use another sweet onion variety)
  • ½ head of green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 3 – 4 cups total)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • Dash of ground nutmeg

Instructions

  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add apple, onion, cabbage, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Sauté until tender, about 12-15 minutes.
  • Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Notes

  • Fried Cabbage with Bacon: Dice a few slices of bacon or turkey bacon and brown them in the skillet before you add the vegetables. Instead of using 2 tablespoons of butter for frying, cut the butter back to 1 tablespoon and leave the bacon grease in the skillet for flavorful cooking fat.
  • Want a shortcut? Grab a bag of coleslaw mix from the produce section. You need about 3-4 cups of shredded cabbage altogether.
  • Add garlic to the skillet for even more savory flavor.
  • For less tang, cut the vinegar back to 1 tablespoon.
  • Use brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.
  • Shred the cabbage as thinly as you like. Keep it fairly coarse, or slice it really thin for a delicate texture.
  • Garnish the cooked cabbage with chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, or rosemary. Make it spicy with a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne.
  • Make it a complete meal by browning sliced kielbasa (or other sausage) in the skillet before frying the cabbage.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the recipeCalories: 118kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 1gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 363mgPotassium: 281mgFiber: 4gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 310IUVitamin C: 45.7mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 0.6mg
Keyword: cabbage stir fry, fried cabbage, simple fried cabbage recipe, southern fried cabbage
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in September, 2018. The photos were updated in October, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    A quick delicious side enjoyed by the guys in my house! Thanks Blair – Tasty, easy and paired beautifully with pork chops. I will definitely make this recipe again and again.

    1. Wonderful! I’m glad to hear that the family approved! It’s definitely one of my favorite easy sides. And I agree — it pairs perfectly with pork!

      1. 5 stars
        It was fast, simple and delicious!
        I used rice as a side, and had a complete meal in 30 minutes. This recipe is one I will definitely make again as well as trying some of the other cabbage recipes. Thanks so much for a wonderful dinner for two! My husband really enjoyed this dish as well.

        1. I’m so glad to hear that, Debbie! It’s one of my favorites as well. Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a note! 🙂

        2. 5 stars
          This is probably the best ever!! I love vegetarian meals especially on Meatless Mondays! I served this on top of street taco’s. I omitted the sugar and no bacon. Thanks for all you do!!

        3. 5 stars
          This recipe is excellent Blair. My husband found it and I whipped it up. I did add 4 slices of bacon and doubled the recipe. Will definitely be making again. I will also be following you. So many yummy recipes you have. Thanks for sharing with us.

          1. Awesome, Maggie! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. Hope you find some more tasty meals to try!

    1. Hi, Helen! I prefer the Vidalia because it’s sweet, but if you don’t mind a less sweet onion, the red or yellow will work fine.

  2. We had this in buns with beautiful pork sausages and French mustard. Enjoyed by everyone on a cold night in the Blue Mountains. Australia. Thanks 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Great side dish! We had it with burgers but I could see it with sausage or spicy foods too! I am sharing this with my sister and a friend!

  4. 5 stars
    Really delicious! I cooked the onion in butter first before adding other ingredients and added leftover bacon at the end..we all loved it!

    1. Hey, Brittany! It wouldn’t be bad with sauerkraut, but I don’t think you need both, since both sides are made with cabbage. I’d pick one or the other. 🙂

    2. 5 stars
      I was pleasantly surprised how delicious this is. The mix of sweet from the apple and savory from the onions and cabbage was so good. A must keep recipe. Thanks for sharing.

      1. I made the full recipe tonight for just 2 of us. The cabbage was a decent size so I added an extra apple and used a large yellow onion to compensate. I expected lots of leftovers but there is just over 1 cup left! My husband devoured it like it was his job! Will definitely make again but I might use different vinegar, all I had on hand was Braggs Cider Vinegar and white distilled. The Braggs (with the mother) was a bit potent but still delicious if anyone was wondering.

        1. That’s awesome — I’m so glad that your husband approved, too! 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to leave a note!

          1. 5 stars
            This recipe is excellent Blair. My husband found it and I whipped it up. I did add 4 slices of bacon and doubled the recipe. Will definitely be making again. I will also be following you. So many yummy recipes you have. Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. 5 stars
    My grandmother made this at least once a month, minus the nutmeg and vinegar. She boiled wide egg noodles and fried them for a few minutes with the cabbage mixture at the end. Made a great meatless Friday meal. I’m making your version tonight with a pork loin and spätzle. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Your grandmother’s version sounds delicious, too! I love this dish so much — I would happily pair it with some noodles and enjoy it as a meatless entree. Thanks, Diane! 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    NOTE Due to allergies I did not use butter, and used 4 drops of stevia. All three of my kids, ages 11, 13, 14 Loved it! We paired it with chuck roast. Used a granny smith green apple. So tasty. Thank you! will make again, and again.

    1. That’s great, Nevaeh! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a note and let me know. That’s awesome that your kids even enjoyed it!

  7. 5 stars
    Great basic recipe! I love sausage with apple, so cooked up about 1/2 lb, and used that fat to cook onion, etc., and added the sausage back in at the end. Also made little apple slices instead of grating them because I didn’t want them to get lost in the mix. I coul eat this till it comes out of my ears! And I never used to like cabbage – ha!

  8. 5 stars
    I really liked this.I used 2 small apples and grated cabbage apples and red onions in my food processor. I served with pork tenderloin but I’m thinking it will a nice change to boiled cabbage this St Patrick’s day. Had some leftovers and it reheated nicely

  9. Hi there!
    What kind of apple do you recommend? Red or green? Will be making this week to pair with kranskies I got at the market 🙂

    1. Hi, Rebecca! Really, whatever you prefer! I usually use Honey Crisp because that’s what we tend to keep in our fridge. That said, Granny Smith is nice for a little bit of sweet-and-sour tang. Hope you enjoy the dish!

  10. 5 stars
    Can’t wait to try this recipe. Nobody mentioned this – but we grew RED cabbage in our garden, can this be used instead of the green cabbage? And, we use maple syrup for our sweetner.

  11. I grew up eating fried cabbage and apples. My grandmother was of German descent and my mom grew up eating food like this. She loved anything with cabbage and vinegar.
    When I saw this recipe I knew I needed to try it.
    I made it exactly as written, then at the end I added a package of sliced smoked sausage.
    Delicious!

    1. Thank you, Debbie. I’m like your mom — love anything with cabbage and vinegar. 🙂 It must be the Polish in me. I’m so glad that you enjoyed the dish. The smoked sausage is a perfect addition!

  12. 5 stars
    I am not a cook but, I try. I tried this dish once before and even though I shredded the apples too small and they were a bit mushy, my family loved it!! Yay!! Trying again and will cut the apples a little larger. Hoping to perfect it for us. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  13. 5 stars
    We have “fried” cabbage in butter for years, but the unique flavors this recipe adds takes it to a new level. We just served it to guests, with marinated chicken breasts, grilled in a cast iron skillet, and it was a big hit. ZERO leftovers!

  14. 5 stars
    Made this tonight as I had too much cabbage from my CSA pickup this week! It was fabulous. Used a bit more onion & apple (and I thinly sliced it as grating it was not working). Used brown sugar and only 1 TBS of apple cider vinegar. I used a macintosh apple which I think was exactly perfect for the tart vs sweetness taste. Served it with pork chops!