Image of Southern Style Cooked Cabbage

Southern Style Cooked Cabbage

Growing up, cabbage used to be one of my favorite vegetables. I remember loving it when we went to my Grandma’s house or my Auntie Rose’s house and there’d be a pot of simmering cabbage on the stove, made with ham hocks, if I’m remembering correctly. I do remember always thinking, damn…

we need a bigger pot of these!!

One of the ways I remember having cabbage at home was in what we as kids called “Japanese Food”, which was a flour/water/egg batter enhanced with cabbage, some sort of meat (which we almost never put in), and green onions. I’m assuming we learned this from my Mom (who passed away when I was 7). Into this batter I would put as much cabbage as I could and still have it be structurally sound. This batter was fried in hot oil, much like a pancake and then we topped it with either soy sauce, or ketchup, or my favorite – barbecue sauce. How’s that for a melding of Black and Japanese??

Gross right? No…I’m telling you, it was delicious. Come to find out (thank you internet), this really is a Japanese dish, not something we just made up as kids. It’s called Okonomiyaki which means “Japanese Pancake”. It’s a classic Japanese street food.

For years I didn’t cook cabbage as much as I wanted to because, well, it didn’t agree with my husband. Last year, when we went Paleo and I started buying organic vegetables, suddenly, he could eat cabbage with no ill effects. You know I’m doing my happy dance when we discovered that. So…here’s some good old fashioned cooked cabbage made with bacon instead of ham hocks.

Before we get started on this cabbage…if you are lucky enough to still have your Mom and/or Grandma or a favorite Auntie that cooks in your life…spend some time with them in the kitchen. I wish I did.

This is seriously, so easy! First, cut your cabbage into 1′ pieces, dice your 4 strips of bacon, chop your garlic.

Image of ingredients for Southern Style Cooked Cabbage

Add to a heavy pot or dutch oven the bacon fat and saute the bacon and garlic along with the red pepper flakes and thyme. Then add the cabbage and give it a good stir. Add in the broth (and vinegar if you’re using it) and bring it all to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it do it’s thing for about 20 minutes.

Image of sauteed cabbage in pot for for Southern Style Cooked Cabbage

Check the cabbage to see if it’s at the softness you desire. If not, continue to cook until it is at your softness happy place. Remember, if you are not serving it immediately, it will continue to cook in the covered pot if you just turn off the heat and let it sit.

Image of Southern Style Cooked Cabbage

This just brings back memories.

Image of Southern Style Cooked Cabbage
Print Recipe

Southern Style Cooked Cabbage

A deliciously simple side dish that's perfect for chicken, pork or beef. 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings: 4
Author: Lynette ~


  • 2 Tbsp bacon fat
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 head green cabbage, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar (or vinegar of your choice), optional
  • fine sea salt, to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste


  • In a dutch oven with lid or heavy pot with lid, heat bacon fat (I love bacon fat!) over medium high heat.
  • Add chopped bacon, garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook approximately 3 minutes or until the garlic is just starting to brown.
  • Add cabbage and give it a stir. Then, add the bone broth and vinegar (if using) and bring to a boil. 
  • Cover and reduce heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, check the texture of the cabbage. If you wish it to be softer, cook an additional 5-10 minutes.
    In adjusting the texture, please note that the cabbage will continue to cook in the covered pot a bit after you turn off the heat if you are not serving it immediately.
  • Adjust seasonings to your liking with fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper.


If you'd like to up the umami factor, add in some shitake mushrooms 10 minutes before it's all done cooking. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Tried this recipe?Mention @thegrainfreekitchen or tag #thegrainfreekitchen


  1. 5 stars
    Hi Lynette,

    I believe the “Japanese Food” recipe you mentioned is called okonomiyaki. It’s surprisingly popular around here (Toronto Canada) and there are even college-student-priced restaurants that sell it along with similar dishes.

    • Hi John!!
      I’ve seen it in DC as well. Gosh, I haven’t made it in years – it brings back such happy memories though. This was a staple in our house…my brother, my sister and I absolutely loved it. 🙂

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