Home Recipes Caramelized Cabbage and Onions

Caramelized Cabbage and Onions

Caramelized cabbage is a delectable side dish that transforms humble cabbage into a savory delight. You slowly cook thinly sliced cabbage in oil until it’s golden brown. 

The natural sugars in the cabbage caramelize, creating a rich, flavorful dish. It has the perfect balance of sweetness and earthy undertones.

Rich and flavorful caramelized cabbaged in a bowl
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Why You’ll Love This Caramelized Cabbage Recipe 

Caramelized cabbage is the perfect St. Patrick’s Day dish. It also works well for non-holiday occasions. Here are three reasons you’ll love it: 

  • It’s easy to make. You only need a few ingredients, and most are seasonings. The dish also comes together easily in less than 30 minutes. 
  • It’s full of flavor. Cabbage has a rich natural flavor of its own. Pair it with onions, herbs, and apple cider vinegar for a flavor explosion. 
  • It’s customizable. You can add other veggies or swap up the seasonings. You can also turn the dish into a hearty meal by adding a protein of your choice. 


You need the following ingredients to make caramelized cabbage: 

  • Cabbage – While you can make this recipe with red cabbage, I prefer green. Select a medium-sized head with few to no blemishes or dark spots. 
  • Olive oil – For cooking and caramelizing the cabbage. Extra virgin oil works best. 
  • Onion – Use one medium onion. I typically use white or yellow onions, but a red one would also suffice. 
  • Dried thyme – Thyme provides a nice, earthy flavor that really sets off the cabbage. 
  • Salt & pepper – For seasoning. 
  • Brown sugar – Don’t worry. The sugar won’t make your cabbage sweet. You won’t add enough of it. You sprinkle it over the cabbage to help it caramelize better. 
  • Butter – Stir it in at the end for a fuller, richer flavor. 
  • Apple cider vinegar – It adds a nice tanginess that really brightens the mostly earthy dish. 
  • Fresh herbs – I recommend using parsley or dill, but you can experiment. 
  • Greek yogurt & lemon juice – These are optional ingredients for serving. However, like the apple cider vinegar, they really lighten and brighten the dish. 

How to Make Caramelized Cabbage 

Making caramelized cabbage isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think. Simply follow these steps: 

1. Prepare the cabbage. Remove the outer leaves. Then, cut the cabbage into quarters and then into 1/2-inch strips. Trash the core. Thinly slice the onion, as well. 

2. Cook the veggies. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Then, add the onion slices and cook them until they soften. (About 5 minutes.) 

Finally, add the cabbage strips. Season them with the thyme, salt, and pepper, and add the brown sugar to help caramelize them. 

Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

3. Add the butter and vinegar. Once the cabbage has caramelized, add the butter. Stir gently and cook for another 2 minutes. 

Next, pour in the apple cider vinegar. Use it to scrape up any stuck-on browned bits from the pan. 

4. Finish the dish. Do a taste test and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Then, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the cabbage to serving dishes. 

Top with fresh herbs, Greek yogurt, and lemon juice (if using). Enjoy! 

A skillet of caramelized cabbage and onions

Recipe Tips & Variations 

Here are a few tips, tricks, and variations to keep in mind: 

  • Be even with the veggies. You want the onion slices and cabbage slices to be as uniform in size as possible. This will help them cook more evenly. 
  • Stir carefully! Don’t stir immediately after adding the cabbage. Give it time to caramelize on the bottom first. After that, though, stir frequently to avoid burning. 
  • Make it colorful. Use red cabbage instead. It provides a pop of color and a slightly sweeter flavor. 
  • Spice it up. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne. 
  • Make it a meal. Add cooked protein, such as crumbled sausage, chopped bacon, or shredded chicken.
  • Add extra crunch. About 2 minutes before finishing the dish, toss in a handful of your favorite nuts. Roasted sesame seeds also work well. 
Savory homemade caramelized cabbage in a bowl

How to Store & Reheat 

Here are storage tips to keep leftover cabbage fresh:

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  • To Store: Let the cabbage cool completely, then transfer to an air-tight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. 
  • To Freeze: Ensure the container is air-tight and freezer-safe. Freeze the leftovers for up to 1 month. 
  • To Reheat: It doesn’t matter if the leftovers are chilled or frozen. You don’t have to let them defrost before reheating them. Simply toss them in a pan with some water and cook over medium-low heat until warm. 

What to Serve with Caramelized Cabbage and Onions

Caramelized cabbage makes an excellent side dish for most meals. Try it with any of the following: 

Caramelized Cabbage and Onions

Course: RecipesCuisine: American


Prep time


Cooking time


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Try caramelized cabbage and onions for a quick and easy side dish! It’s full of sweet, tangy flavor and pairs perfectly with savory meat dishes.


  • 1 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving (optional)

  • lemon juice, for serving (optional)


  • Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut it into quarters, then slice each quarter into 1/2-inch thick strips. Remove and discard the core.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the sliced onion and cook for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
  • Add the cabbage strips. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar over the cabbage to help with the caramelization process.
  • Cook the cabbage for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The goal is to let it sit long enough in the pan to brown and caramelize on the bottom before stirring. Adjust the heat as needed to prevent burning.
  • Once the cabbage is nicely browned and softened, stir in the butter. Cook for another 2 minutes, until it’s fully melted and mixed in.
  • Pour in the apple cider vinegar and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. This will add a nice tangy contrast to the sweetness of the cabbage.
  • Check the seasoning and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Remove from heat.
  • Transfer the caramelized cabbage to a serving dish. Sprinkle it with chopped dill or parsley. Serve it with Greek yogurt and a drizzle of lemon juice. Enjoy!


  • No apple cider vinegar? Use red wine vinegar instead.
Caramelized Cabbage

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NaTaya Hastings
NaTaya Hastings is a food and recipe writer for Insanely Good Recipes. She’s an educator, boy mom, dog mom, and whatever-stray-enters-the-yard mom. As a result, she's constantly cooking for both humans and animals.

Luckily, she enjoys it!

Though born, raised, and still living in Alabama, her specialty is NOT down-home Southern cooking. Instead, she loves to experiment with Asian, Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic cuisines. She has two mottos when it comes to cooking. “The more spice, the better!” and “There’s no such thing as too much garlic!”

She’s also pretty good with desserts. Especially the easy, no-bake ones.

Her favorite things are cuddling with her four giant dogs, traveling, reading, writing, and hanging out in nature. She’s also pretty excellent at Dominoes.

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