Boiled cabbage is a southern staple and a dirt cheap one for those on a budget.  You don’t have to go to Cracker Barrel to get your fill of delicious southern food.  Learn how to make southern boiled cabbage in your own kitchen.

boiled cabbage on top of mashed potatoes and a light blue plate

Boiled cabbage special ingredient

If you aren’t used to eating greens and cabbage, and you try to make them at home, your first time may lead to disappointing results. Leafy greens like kale, turnip greens, and mustard greens can make you want to gag if you leave out that one secret southern ingredient: fat.

Basically, I’ve learned the key to making any vegetable taste great is either a bit of butter, bacon, or some other fat. Which brings me to cabbage.

knife and chopped cabbage on cutting board

I know the name boiled cabbage doesn’t sound exciting and when my mother-in-law told me that’s what she was making I was a little leery — but holy wow. When you taste it, you’ll be excited because the cabbage actually tastes good. Like, real good.

I don’t think I can let the cabbage take all the glory because if it were just cabbage boiled in regular water, I’m not sure it would be as good. Remember how I said the key to making any leafy green taste good is either butter or bacon or both? Well, when you add a couple tablespoons of bacon grease to the water you boil the cabbage in, it results in a soft, tender, melt-in-your-mouth cabbage flavored bacon.

boiled cabbage on top of mashed potatoes on a light blue plate
What to serve with boiled cabbage

I personally love serving boiled cabbage with skillet pork chops or slow cooker pinto beans. You really can’t go wrong with any classic southern dish.

Then spoon that onto delicious mashed potatoes, and follow it with a bite of moist cornbread. Now tell me you haven’t reached the equivalent of a southern-flavored heaven.

And the best part? Cabbage is dirt cheap and does not need to be purchased organic because most pests don’t like it. Maybe it’s because they’ve never had it boiled in bacon water. This means, you can have a quick, tasty, healthy, and cheap side dish.

Boiled cabbage

Simple Southern boiled cabbage that will turn cabbage haters into cabbage lovers.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword boiled cabbage, southern
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8
Author Tara Buss


  • 1 medium sized cabbage cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 tbsp bacon grease
  • 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • water chicken broth, or a combination of both


  1. In a large pot, add enough water/broth to fill the pot half way.
  2. Turn heat to medium high and let the water/broth come to a boil.
  3. Add the bacon grease, salt, and cabbage to the water and bring to a low boil.

  4. Cover with a lid and let lightly boil for 20 minutes; stirring occasionally. You’ll want to taste test for doneness. I like my cabbage to be pretty soft but it’s a personal preference.

Recipe Notes

Most Southerners I know also add a pinch of sugar.  I try not to eat too much sugar, but if you feel something is missing, feel free to add a bit.