how to prepare cabbage for stir fry | Family Cuisine

Cabbage is a vegetable that is commonly used in stir-fry dishes. However, it can be prepared in many different ways depending on what you are trying to achieve with the dish. The first step of preparing cabbage for stir-f

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How to prepare cabbage for stir fry

This Stir-Fried Cabbage is SO delicious and incredibly easy to make! Flavored with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil, this flavorful dish is ready in 10 minutes or less! You can serve this stir-fry as a healthy side dish, or add beef, pork, chicken, fish, tofu and even eggs for a fast weeknight meal! (low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, vegan-option, gluten-free option)

Are you looking for more quick and scrumptious stir-fry recipes? Try these family favorites next: Stir-Fry Honey Hoisin Beef, Chinese Chicken with Stir Fry Vegetables, Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry and Honey Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry!

Reading: how to prepare cabbage for stir fry

Overhead photo of stir-fried cabbage and carrots garnished with chopped peanuts and lime wedges in an antique skillet with chopsticks resting on the side of the skillet and a ramekin of sliced scallions next to the pan.

Stir Fried Cabbage: overview

If you are looking for an insanely quick and easy side dish, this is the perfect recipe for you! This stir-fry cabbage is an absolute breeze to prepare and it cooks in under 10 minutes!

Crunchy yet tender, this dish is full of delicious textures and flavors! Tender cabbage mixed with crisp carrots, mellow onions, delicate scallions, fragrant garlic and warm ginger. Finished with a simple slightly spicy and sweet stir-fry sauce, this dish gives new life to the often overlooked, humble head of cabbage!

You can pair this alongside grilled chicken, pork or an Asian-inspired main for a fake-out take-out dinner at home. Or, top it with sliced beef, pork, tofu or even scrambled eggs for fast and flavorful weeknight dinner!

What is stir fried cabbage?

Cabbage stir fry is a dish in which cabbage is quickly fried in a small amount of hot oil while being rapidly stirred in a wok. Stir fry is a cooking technique that originated in China.

Stir fry can be served as a main dish topped with chicken, pork, seafood or tofu, or it can be enjoyed as a side accompanied by a main dish.

What ingredients are in sautéed cabbage?

The exact ingredients in cabbage and carrots stir fry can greatly vary.

However, stir fry is a simple dish where the vegetables and sauce are the star. Therefore, it is imperative you use fresh ingredients.

  • Cabbage: Cabbage is the main ingredient. Make sure you purchase the best looking, fresh cabbage at the store. (Tips for how to select and store cabbage below)
  • Carrots: Carrots add a fresh, crisp, sweetness to the dish.
  • Onions: Yellow onions add a nice balance of slight bitterness and sweet flavor to the stir fry.
  • Garlic: Garlic adds a powerful, pungent flavor and is a must in stir fry.
  • Ginger: Ginger is another aromatic that is a must in stir fry. It lends a unique mild, warm and woody flavor.
  • Scallions: Scallions are fresh young onions that give the dish a delicate, fresh flavor.

The sauce:

  • Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is the base of most stir-fry sauces. Make sure you use low-sodium soy sauce so you can control the level of saltiness in the dish.
  • Honey: Honey adds a touch of sweetness.
  • Unseasoned Rice Vinegar: Vinegar is mild in flavor and helps round out all the flavors in the sauce.
  • Mirin: Mirin is similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content. It has a sweet flavor that contrasts the salty soy sauce beautifully.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil: Oil gives the dish a delicious depth of flavor. However, sesame oil is strong, so you only need a little bit.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: Red pepper adds a bit of spice to the dish to balance out the sweetness.

Overhead photo of a head of napa cabbage cut into half to expose the inside on a gray wood cutting board.

How to select and store cabbage?

Since cabbage is the star of this dish, it is imperative you select a crisp and fresh head of cabbage at the store.

What to look for when you select cabbage:

  • Color: Cabbage should have a bright color that is slightly shiny in appearance. Avoid any cabbages that have a lot of dark spots or show signs of rotting.
  • Firm: The outside should feel firm and dense to the touch versus soft and spongy.
  • Compact head: Choose cabbage with a tight, compact head.
  • Leaves: The leaves should look crisp and green rather than soft. A few loose hanging leaves is fine, but the whole cabbage should not look undone. If you are selecting a leafy cabbage variety, the stem should be firm.
  • Weight: It should feel heavy for its size.

How to store cabbage:

  • Keep the cabbage whole: Do not cut the cabbage until you are ready to use it.
  • Crisper drawer: Whole heads of cabbage should be stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
  • Discard outer leaves: If any leaves have withered during storage, remove and discard them before using.

Properly stored, compact heads of cabbage, such as green cabbage, will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Leafy varieties of cabbage, such as Savoy or Napa cabbage, will keep for up to one week.

What type of cabbage to use in stir fry or saute?

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The type of cabbage you use when stir-frying is completely up to you! Each type of cabbage will offer a different type of flavor, texture and color.

  • Napa Cabbage: Also referred to as Chinese cabbage, Napa cabbage is oblong in shape with frilly, light green leaves. Napa cabbage has a wonderful mild, slightly sweet flavor with a slightly peppery kick.
  • Savoy Cabbage: Also known as curly cabbage, savoy cabbage has lacy ruffled leaves. While it is similar in shape to green cabbage, its leaves are more loosely layered and less compact. Savoy cabbage is more tender and less crisp than Napa cabbage with a mild, slightly earthy flavor.
  • Green Cabbage: Green cabbage is the most well-known of all the varieties. It has tightly packed, pale-green leaves. Green cabbage has a strong, slightly peppery flavor and crisp texture.
  • Red Cabbage: Red cabbage is similar to green cabbage, except it has a beautiful purple hue. However, keep in mind that its vibrant color does tend to bleed and stain or color the ingredients around it.

How to cut cabbage?

Cabbage can appear intimidating at first, but it is actually incredibly easy to cut! All you need is a large cutting board and sharp chef’s knife to slice cabbage into beautiful thin shreds!

  1. Prepare cabbage: Remove any tough or loose outer leaves. Rinse the cabbage and dry well!
  2. Cut in half: Place the cabbage so the bottom stem is resting against the board. Hold the cabbage securely and carefully cut down through the stem to cut the cabbage in half.
  3. Cut into quarters: Place the cabbage cut side down on the cutting board. Cut each half into quarters by slicing down through the stem.
  4. Remove the core: Cut out the core by cutting an upside down ‘V’ shape into the cabbage around the core. The core is tough to eat, so discard it.
  5. Slice the cabbage: Cut the cabbage lengthwise into long, thin shreds.

How to stir fry cabbage?

Fried cabbage is incredibly easy to make and comes together in under 10 minutes!

(Scroll down for the detailed measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page)

  1. Make the sauce: In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine all the ingredients from the sauce list. Whisk well to thoroughly combine. Set aside.
  2. Stir-fry onions & aromatics: In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the onion and stir-fry until almost softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan along with the white/light green parts of the scallions. Cook, stirring, until fragrant about 1 minute.
  3. Add cabbage & carrots: Increase the heat to high and immediately add the cabbage and carrots to the pan and stir well. Let the cabbage cook for 1 minute undisturbed (you want the cabbage to slightly char). Stir and toss the mixture well and then allow to cook undisturbed for another 1 minute. Toss rapidly and continue to cook, stir-frying, for 1 minute.
  4. Add sauce: Add the sauce to the pan and toss well so everything is coated. Cook until the cabbage is just tender and softened, about 1 minute.
  5. Taste: Remove from heat and stir in the dark green parts of the scallions. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt, pepper, fresh lime juice and/or sriracha. Transfer to a serving plate.
  6. Serve: Top with optional garnishes and serve hot. Enjoy!

How to make cabbage stir-fry step by step photos

(Don’t forget to scroll down for the detailed instructions in the complete printable recipe at the bottom of the page.)

Overhead photo collage of how to make stir fried cabbage step by step with written instructions on each step.

How long to stir fry?

Cabbage cooks extremely quickly. You should stir fry cabbage until it is slightly charred and just softened and tender. Avoid overcooking the cabbage as it will turn mushy and unappetizing.

The precise length of time will depend upon the variety of cabbage you select, how thin it is sliced and heat level under the pan. Thinly sliced napa cabbage will take about 3-5 minutes tops, while thicker cut green cabbage can take up to 10 minutes.

Tips for the perfect stir fry

  • Prepare all the ingredients before cooking. Make sure you have all your ingredients prepared and ready to go before you start cooking. Stir-frying is a quick cooking technique and things move rapidly, so it is important to be prepared and have all your ingredients close by.
  • Use a wok or cast-iron pan. A wok is made for stir-frying as it has a large surface area and retains heat well. If you don’t have a wok, a cast-iron pan works great as it retains heat better than pans made from other materials.
  • Cook hot and fast. While you have probably heard the phrase “low and slow” when it comes to cooking, stir fry is the opposite. You want to cook over high heat (but not smoking hot!) and move quickly.
  • Stir often. In order to ensure everything is evenly cooked, you want to stir as often as the recipe states. Once the cabbage is charred to your liking, add the sauce and stir fry constantly for 1 minute.
  • Do not overcook. Cook the cabbage until it is just softened and tender-crisp. If you overcook the cabbage it will turn out mushy.
  • Garnish. To really enhance the dish, make sure you garnish your stir-fry with fresh herbs, fresh lime juice, sesame seeds and chopped peanuts.

What to serve with cabbage stir fry?

Vegetable stir fry can be served as a side or it can be customized and turned into a main. The options are only limited by your imagination!

As a main:

  • Protein: Add in beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, fish, tofu or eggs.
  • Vegetables: You can add more vegetables to make this a hearty vegetarian dish. Asparagus, bean sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms and zucchini are all terrific options.

As a side:

  • Edamame
  • Spring rolls
  • Egg rolls
  • Dumplings
  • Soup – miso, egg drop, wonton, hot and sour
  • Cucumber salad
  • Green Salad
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Kimchi
  • White, Brown or Fried Rice
  • Rice Noodles, Lo Mein Noodles or Ramen

Overhead, up close photo of stir fried cabbage and carrots garnished with chopped peanuts and lime wedges in an antique skillet.

Tips for storing cooked cabbage

Follow the simple tips below to ensure you are properly storing, freezing and reheating your leftovers!

How long will it keep?

Leftover cooked cabbage should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Properly stored, cabbage will last for up to 3 to 5 days.

To further extend the shelf life of cabbage and carrot stir fry, freeze it. (Instructions below)

Can you freeze cabbage stir fry?

Cooked cabbage can be frozen.

To freeze, prepare the recipe as directed. However, make sure you do not cook the cabbage all the way through until tender. Stir-fry the cabbage until almost softened and tender to avoid any texture changes after defrosting.

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Allow the dish to cool completely. Transfer cabbage into individually portioned freezer-safe resealable plastic bags. Squeeze out any excess air and seal the bag. Label the bag and store in the freezer for 3 months.

To use, thaw the cabbage in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat the cabbage in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat until it is just heated. Avoid overcooking the cabbage or it will turn mushy.

Is stir fry cabbage healthy?

This stir fry is packed with vegetables and good for you ingredients.

Cabbage is part of the plant species known as Brassica Oleracea. Kale, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and collard greens are all actually part of the same plant species as cabbage.

Health benefits of cabbage:

  • Low in calories and carbohydrates
  • High in dietary fiber and supports a healthy gut.
  • Packed with vitamin and minerals, such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.

Other ingredients and their health benefits:

  • Carrots: Good source of carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants.
  • Yellow Onion: Nutrient-dense they are rich in antioxidants and low in calories.
  • Scallions: Excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. Plus, it is a good source of iron and has a high amount of folic acid.
  • Ginger: Aids in digestion and lowers blood sugar
  • Garlic: Combats the common cold and helps detoxify your body

Calories and carbs?

The exact number of calories and carbohydrates will depend upon the precise measurement and brand of ingredients used. This recipe serves six and has approximately 78 calories and 13 grams of carbohydrates per serving.

Angled, up close photo of stir fried cabbage garnished with chopped peanuts and lime wedges in an antique skillet.

Insanely fast and easy to make, this stir fried cabbage recipe is perfect when you need a quick vegetable side dish! Plus, it can be topped with protein and double as a speedy weeknight dinner! Healthy and delicious, it’s the perfect recipe when you are in a pinch!

Until next week, friends, cheers – to speedy stir-fry!



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