How Long to Boil Cabbage: A Comprehensive Guide

Cabbage is a popular vegetable that is used in a variety of dishes around the world. It is a member of the Brassicaceae family and is known for its mild flavor and crisp texture.

Cabbage is rich in nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber, making it a healthy addition to any diet. In this article, we will discuss how long to boil cabbage, including tips on preparation, boiling times, and serving suggestions.

Types of Cabbage

There are several types of cabbage, each with their unique taste, texture, and appearance. Understanding the differences between the types of cabbage can help you choose the right one for your recipe. Here are some of the most popular types of cabbage:

Green Cabbage

Green cabbage is the most common type of cabbage and is often used in coleslaw, stir-fries, and soups. It has a dense head with tightly packed leaves that are a pale green color.

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is similar in texture to green cabbage but has a reddish-purple color. It has a slightly sweeter taste than green cabbage and is often used in salads, slaws, and braised dishes.

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy cabbage has crinkled leaves that are more loosely packed than green cabbage. It has a milder flavor and is often used in stews, casseroles, and soups.

Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, is commonly used in Asian cuisine. It has a mild flavor and a delicate texture, making it a great choice for stir-fries, salads, and soups.


Before boiling cabbage, it’s essential to properly prepare it. Here are some tips on how to prepare cabbage for boiling:

Washing and Cleaning Cabbage

To wash and clean cabbage, remove any outer leaves that are wilted or discolored. Cut the cabbage head into quarters, then rinse each piece under cold running water. Pat dry with a clean towel.

Related:  [Full Guide] How Long To Boil Broccolini

Cutting Cabbage

To cut cabbage, remove the core and slice it into pieces of your desired size. You can chop it into small pieces for coleslaw or leave it in larger pieces for boiling.

Adding Flavor

To add flavor to boiled cabbage, you can season it with salt, pepper, garlic, onions, or other herbs and spices. You can also add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice for extra tanginess.

How Long to Boil Cabbage

The boiling time for cabbage will depend on several factors, including the type of cabbage, the size of the pieces, and your personal preference. Here are some general guidelines for how long to boil cabbage:

Green Cabbage

For green cabbage, you should boil it for around 5-7 minutes for small pieces and 10-15 minutes for larger pieces. You want the cabbage to be tender but not too soft.

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage requires a slightly longer cooking time than green cabbage. Boil it for around 10-15 minutes for small pieces and 15-20 minutes for larger pieces.

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy cabbage is more delicate than other types of cabbage, so it requires a shorter cooking time. Boil it for around 3-5 minutes for small pieces and 5-7 minutes for larger pieces.

Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage is also delicate and requires a shorter cooking time. Boil it for around 2-3 minutes for small pieces and 3-5 minutes for larger pieces.

It’s important to keep an eye on the cabbage while it’s boiling to ensure it doesn’t overcook. Test the cabbage with a fork to see if it’s tender enough for your liking. If you’re unsure, you can always taste a small piece to see if it’s cooked through.

Serving Suggestions

Boiled cabbage can be served as a side dish or used as an ingredient in other dishes. Here are some serving suggestions for boiled cabbage:

Buttered Cabbage

One of the simplest ways to serve boiled cabbage is to toss it with some butter and season it with salt and pepper. This is a classic side dish that pairs well with a variety of main courses.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned beef and cabbage is a classic Irish dish that is typically served on St. Patrick’s Day. To make this dish, boil cabbage with corned beef for a flavorful and hearty meal.

Related:  [Full Guide] How Long To Boil Giblets For Stuffing

Cabbage Soup

Boiled cabbage can be used as an ingredient in soup to add flavor and texture. Cabbage soup is a popular dish in many cultures and can be made with a variety of ingredients like potatoes, carrots, and sausage.

Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed cabbage is a dish that is popular in Eastern European and Middle Eastern cuisine. Boiled cabbage leaves are stuffed with a filling made of ground meat, rice, and spices, then simmered in a flavorful tomato-based sauce.


In conclusion, boiling cabbage is a simple and easy way to cook this versatile vegetable. The boiling time will vary depending on the type of cabbage, the size of the pieces, and your personal preference. With these tips and guidelines, you can boil cabbage to perfection and enjoy it as a side dish or as an ingredient in other dishes. Experiment with different types of cabbage and seasonings to find your favorite flavor combinations.


How do you know when cabbage is done?

To check if the cabbage is done, gently press on the leaves with a fork or tongs. The cabbage should be tender but still slightly firm. If the leaves are mushy and falling apart, then the cabbage is overcooked. It’s important to keep an eye on the cabbage while it’s cooking and check it frequently to ensure that it doesn’t overcook.

How do you soften cabbage when boiling?

If you want to soften cabbage while boiling, make sure to cut it into smaller pieces to help it cook more evenly. You can also add a pinch of salt to the boiling water, which will help to break down the fibers in the cabbage and make it more tender. Another option is to blanch the cabbage in boiling water for a few minutes and then transfer it to ice water to stop the cooking process. This will help to retain the texture and flavor of the cabbage while still softening it.