How to Make the Best Southern Cabbage Recipe

This southern cabbage recipe has a ton of meaty, salty flavor. It only takes 25 minutes to make and pairs well with just about any other comfort food.

This southern cabbage recipe is just one example of how Southerners can transform vegetables into delicious, crowd-pleasing side dishes. From fried okra and collard greens to cabbage with bacon, the cooks of the South have cracked the vegetable code.

Southern Fried Cabbage Recipe with Bacon

This southern cabbage recipe makes about 5 cups and takes 25 minutes from start to finish. If you end up with leftover raw cabbage, make this Quick Bean and Ham Soup or one of our crunchy coleslaw recipes.


  • 4 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 6 cups coarsely chopped cabbage (half a large head)
  • 1 tablespoon water

Editor’s Tip: I prefer this recipe with 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, but start with 1/8 and season to your preferred spice level. The same goes for the sugar and black pepper. It’s important to season to your taste.


Step 1: Crisp the bacon

Southern Cabbage Crisp The BaconLauren Grant for Taste of Home

The first step is to cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Don’t be afraid to let your bacon get crispy! It should be deep golden brown and just on the verge of making you nervous it’ll burn. This adds flavor and ensures it won’t get soggy too fast once mixed with the fried cabbage.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer each strip to a paper-towel-lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the drippings in the skillet and save the rest for a recipe that calls for leftover bacon grease.

Step 2: Cook the onion

Southern Cabbage Cook The Onion EditLauren Grant for Taste of Home

Heat the reserved grease over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about five minutes. Then stir in the sugar, salt, pepper flakes and pepper.

Step 3: Add the cabbage

Southern Cabbage Add The Cabbage Lauren Grant for Taste of Home

Add the cabbage and water and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Transfer the cooked cabbage to a serving dish and sprinkle with bacon. If you’re making this dish ahead, leave the bacon out until right before serving so it stays crisp.

Store any leftover cabbage in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat the cabbage in a skillet over low heat until it’s warmed through.

Tips for Making Our Southern Cabbage Recipe

  • Keep it simple: Use bacon with no added flavors, like maple syrup. (See our Test Kitchen’s picks for the best bacon brands.) Keeping the ingredients simple allows the star of the show—cabbage—to shine.
  • Use thick-sliced bacon: It’s important for two reasons. First, it renders more fat, guaranteeing you’ll have enough to cook the cabbage. And second, when you get a bite with bacon, it has a ton of meaty, salty flavor.
  • Become a cabbage pro: If you’re not used to prepping cabbage, check out this guide on how to shred cabbage, which covers how to safely remove the tough core. You’ll be roughly chopping the cabbage for this southern cabbage recipe.
  • Omit the bacon: If you’d prefer to skip the bacon, leave it out and use 2 tablespoons of butter in place of the bacon grease.
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Lauren Grant
The veggie- and cheese-obsessed lady behind the food blog Zestful Kitchen, Lauren Grant is a trained Culinary Scientist and Journalist. She is a blogger, writer, recipe developer, and self-taught photographer.