What Is Green Cabbage?

A Guide to Buying and Cooking Green Cabbage

Halved and whole heads of green cabbage in a basket

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Green cabbage, also known as cannonball cabbage, is one of the most ubiquitous vegetables in the world. Leafy and crunchy, it's cheap, nutritious, and can be served raw or cooked in any number of ways. 

What Is Green Cabbage?

Green cabbage is a leafy green vegetable that grows in tight, spherical heads, which gives it its nickname of cannonball cabbage. It's a cruciferous vegetable, which means that it's a member of the botanical family Brassicaceae, along with broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale

Cabbage is thought to have been cultivated for at least 4,000 years, and possibly longer. Cabbage was widely eaten throughout the ancient and medieval world, and it may have been introduced to the New World in the 16th century. It's been a staple food in countries such as Ireland, Russia, and Germany. 

The leaves are pale green in color and have a crunchy, waxy consistency. The core of the cabbage is generally removed before preparing as it can be too tough to eat. Cabbage can be eaten raw, cooked (braised is especially good), pickled, or fermented. 

How to Use Green Cabbage

Green cabbage can be cooked in a variety of ways, some of the most common being stir-frying, sauteeing, simmering, steaming and braising. Corned beef and cabbage, a dish traditionally enjoyed on St. Patrick's Day in the United States, is made by simmering a corned brisket of beef (i.e. a brisket of beef that's been pickled in brine) along with cabbage and carrots until the meat and vegetables are tender.  

To boil cabbage, slice it in half through the core, and then quarter it to make wedges. Then either chop the wedges or cook them whole. Boiling chopped cabbage takes around 3 to 5 minutes, and 6 to 8 minutes for wedges. Drain before serving. You can steam whole wedges in a steamer basket in 10 to 12 minutes. 

Roasting brings out a significant amount of flavor and sweetness due to the caramelization of the carbohydrates. Simply quarter the cabbage, brush it lightly with olive oil, season generously with kosher salt and roast on a sheet pan for 45 minutes at 400 F. 

Another option is steaming. Because the leaves are quite sturdy, they can be steamed and then stuffed with ground meat, rice, or other grains. It's also a common ingredient in various types of soup, and it can be pickled and made into sauerkraut.

Green cabbage is also frequently served raw, like in salads, and it's the main ingredient in the classic American coleslaw

Chopped cabbage on a cutting board with a knife nearby
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Coleslaw in a glass bowl
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Corned beef and cabbage in a large decorative bowl
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Sauerkraut in a glass jar
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Stuffed cabbage rolls in tomato sauce on a white plate
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What Does It Taste Like?

Green cabbage has a vegetal, mildly peppery flavor which is mellowed by cooking. It can give off a sulphurous smell during the initial phase of cooking, but this tends to dissipate as the sulphur compounds cook away. Its flavor is not dissimilar to cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, both of which it is related to.

Nutritional Value

A 100-gram serving of raw green cabbage is about 92 percent water, and provides 25 calories, 1 gram of protein, 6 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of dietary fiber along with negligible fat. It's also a source of vitamin C and vitamin K.

Green Cabbage Recipes

The following recipes use a variety of methods to prepare green cabbage, including roasting, simmering, and serving raw.

Where to Buy Green Cabbage

Green cabbage is one of the most ubiquitous vegetables in the world, and can easily be found in the produce department of any grocery store or supermarket. You can also easily find green cabbage at farmers' markets, especially in the spring and fall. Look for heads that are tight, heavy for their size, and whose outer leaves show no signs of wilting or browning.


Before cutting, a whole head of green cabbage can be stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, unwrapped, for 2 weeks to two months. Once you cut it, wrap it tightly and store it in the crisper drawer and use it within 2 to 3 days. Don't wash green cabbage until just before you're ready to use it, as wetness can accelerate spoilage. 

Green Cabbage Vs. Savoy Cabbage

There are several main types of cabbage besides green cabbage, including red cabbage, which has a purple color, and napa cabbage, which has an elongated shape and is sometimes also referred to as Chinese cabbage. But the cabbage that is perhaps most similar to green cabbage is called Savoy cabbage.

Like green cabbage, Savoy cabbage is round, but the main difference is that its leaves are lacy and curly, and they aren't as densely packed as those of a head of green cabbage. The flavor of Savoy cabbage is somewhat sweeter and the leaves are more tender.