Slow Cooker Cabbage
Yes, you can cook cabbage in the slow cooker and it comes out silky, tender, and full of flavor! Elevate the humble cabbage with this minimal prep recipe. You’ll just need a handful of simple pantry ingredients and a slow cooker for a versatile, surprisingly tasty go-to side dish recipe that works well as a side for weeknight dinners or on the holiday table.
About this Slow Cooker Cabbage
Well, okay, I get it, not everyone gets excited about cabbage.
I’m hoping, though, that this recipe will convince you otherwise!
We’re taking the humble, inexpensive, easy-to-find vegetable and elevating it with a slow braise and a punch of flavor that yields a silky, tender side that’s perfect for everyday and versatile enough for Thanksgiving or any holiday table.
The best part is that it all comes together in the crockpot for a one-pot meal that goes big on flavor but keeps things very minimal on prep steps & clean up.
Tip: I’ve included loads of variations for anyone who wants to turn this side dish into a more substantial meal – like adding sausage, ham or potatoes – or who’s hoping to make a vegetarian or vegan version!
Process & Tips
This recipe couldn’t be easier to make and is my go-to side dish for gatherings & parties.
Simply add your chopped cabbage, vinegar, water, salt and bacon (if using) to your crockpot.
Then let your slow cooker work it’s magic.
After it’s cooked, you can stir in the optional butter, adjust salt to taste & you’re ready to dig in!
Tip: Instructions for how to cook this on high for a shorter cook time are also included in the recipe card below, keeping your options open on busy weeks.
Why Use the Slow Cooker
I love using the slow cooker because it completely simplifies the process of adding veggie sides to any meal.
And, because nearly all of my slow cooker vegetables are dump-and-go (meaning there is no pre-browning or sautéing required) the prep is fast and easy.
Just chop, stir and go!
As a bonus, the slow cooker takes the load off the oven and stove top, making it a fantastic option for potlucks, parties, and holiday meals.
How To Cut a Whole Cabbage
To slice the cabbage, cut into quarters, then trim and discard the core.
Stack the leaves if necessary, then lightly flatten with your hand and then cut each stack of leaves into 1-inch pieces for this recipe.
No need to be too delicate with it – trust me, you can’t mess this up!
I know I’ll get this question and usually I’m very much on team prepared-produce – but, sorry, please don’t use bagged slaw mix for this recipe!
The shreds are too thin and it will come out as cabbage mush (and no one wants that, right?).
Really, cutting a whole cabbage is easier than you think, and as a bonus, whole cabbage is generally less expensive than the bagged mix anyway!
Make it vegetarian or vegan
This cabbage can easily be made vegetarian and vegan by skipping the bacon.
Just be sure to use some vegan or traditional butter to finish, and to add a much-needed dose of flavor from the fat.
Make cabbage and potatoes
Add 10 small red or yellow potatoes, sliced into quarters, along with the cabbage and cook according to the recipe instructions.
Make cabbage with sausage
This beef sausage, cabbage & sweet potato stew is always a hit in our house, and adding sausage would be another great way to turn this side dish into a satisfying, protein-packed meal!
Simply add 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages to the slow cooker along with the cabbage before cooking.
Make crockpot cabbage with ham
Another simple way to make this side dish into more of a meal is to add ham, and the method is essentially the same as adding the sausage.
Simply add 1 pound of chopped ham to the slow cooker along with the cabbage and cook according to the instructions below.
Tip: If you want to make this recipe with red cabbage, I recommend this recipe for slow cooker red cabbage!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Cabbage: I used green cabbage for this recipe but red cabbage would also work if you’re looking to bring a nice punch of color to this side dish.
Apple cider vinegar: I love how apple cider vinegar pairs with the other ingredients in this recipe (it really helps balance out the richness of the butter and bacon). But you could also use red wine vinegar in its place.
Bacon: Just like how Brussels sprouts and bacon are made for each other, I’m a big fan of pairing bacon with cabbage. Since you’re adding already cooked and crumbled bacon to the slow cooker, it’s also a great way to use up any leftover bacon you have in the fridge. Feel free to omit it entirely for a vegetarian and vegan friendly version.
Kosher salt: Look for kosher salt with the regular iodized salt at the grocery store (it has a subtler flavor). Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.
Butter: We love finishing this with butter (traditional or vegan), since the fat adds flavor and an extra silky texture to the finished dish. But you can skip it to lower the fat and calories of this recipe if desired.
You can also build a grain bowl with your favorite cooked grain – like brown rice, white rice or quinoa. Then add your cooked cabbage along with fresh greens, protein of choice, fresh or cooked veggies, and your favorite healthy dressing or sauce.
This Recipe Is…
Slow Cooker Cabbage
- 1 medium head cabbage, cored and sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional, omit for vegetarian and vegan)
to add at the end:
- 3 tablespoons butter, traditional or non-dairy
- To a 6-quart slow cooker, add the cabbage, salt, water, cider vinegar, and bacon (if using) stirring to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours, or until the cabbage is very tender. If possible, quickly stir the cabbage once during the cook time. Otherwise, do not uncover during this time.
- Turn the slow cooker off. Uncover and stir in the butter. Taste and add additional salt, vinegar, or butter if desired.