2 Ways to Steam Cabbage: a Quick and Easy Recipe

Steamed Cabbage
lizzardo/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • 13 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 8 mins
  • Yield: 2 Servings
Ratings (30)

Whether you use the stove or the microwave, steamed cabbage is a fantastic side dish. It is quick and easy and is an excellent companion to beef, pork, ham, and sausage.

Surprisingly, cabbage is one of the few things that actually cooks well in the microwave. If you don't have a stovetop steamer or steam basket, use the microwave. No microwave or steamer? Not a problem. All you need is a large pot with a lid and a metal colander.

Steaming any vegetable is a breeze no matter what tools are at your disposal. You'll find that steaming is one of the best ways to enjoy many of your favorite veggies. You get to enjoy their natural flavor, yet it's enhanced with this simple cooking method and a little seasoning.

For steamed cabbage, you can keep it very simple. This recipe can be used with either the microwave or stovetop method and the simple addition of butter and salt lets that delicious cabbage flavor shine.

If you like, add freshly chopped dill with 2 tablespoons of sour cream instead of the butter. Or, just add a few of your favorite dried herbs to the butter and salt.

What You'll Need

  • 1/4 small cabbage cut into slices
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt to taste

How to Make It

This recipe serves two people, but you can easily increase the servings. Begin with more cabbage and use 2 tablespoons butter for every 1/4 of a cabbage head.

How to Steam Cabbage in the Microwave 

  1. Place the sliced cabbage in a small microwave-safe casserole dish.
  2. Add 1/4-inch of water.
  3. Cover and microwave on high for 8 minutes.
    • If your microwave doesn't have a turntable, turn the dish 1/4 turn halfway through cooking.
  1. Drain water from the dish and add butter and salt.

How to Steam Cabbage on the Stove

  1. Fill a large pot with water and set a steam basket or metal colander on top of the pot.
    • The water in the pot should be just below the basket.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, then add the sliced cabbage to the basket.
  3. Cover the basket with a lid and steam until the cabbage is tender and crisp.
    • Most cabbage takes about 5-8 minutes.
    • Some varieties like Napa, bok choy, and savoy cabbage may only take 3-5 minutes.
    • If using a colander, be sure that you leave a little space so the steam can escape. Tilting the lid works quite well.
  4. Remove the cabbage from the basket and add butter and salt.

Tip: Is your mesh colander too big for your pot? All is not lost, you just need to cover the gap.

  • Simply tear off a piece of foil that reaches halfway around the pot, then tear that in half lengthwise.
  • Wrap these two pieces of foil around each side of the pot and colander to seal the steam inside.
  • If you fold the edge of the foil over the top of the colander it will stay in place (foil's very flexible, so mold it into place).

More Ways to Cook Cabbage

After this recipe, you will have cabbage left over, so why not try cooking it different ways?

  • Boiled Cabbage - Possibly the most popular way to prepare cabbage is to boil it. You will want to try the homemade hot pepper sauce in this recipe.
  • Skillet Cabbage - The vinegar and sugar give this cabbage a sweet-sour flavor that's delicious with crumbled bacon or diced ham.
  • Roasted Cabbage - This easy recipe is definitely worth trying as you explore cabbage. Instead of pasta, slices of cabbage are topped with a homemade pesto sauce.
  • Chinese Cabbage - A popular variety of cabbage used in Chinese cuisine, the Napa cabbage is a great alternative to the cabbage you're probably most familiar with.