An easy Savoy cabbage recipe with optional addition of bacon – all in the Irish cooking tradition.
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Read on for relevant tips and step-by-step pictures (1 min)
About This Savoy Cabbage Recipe
This tender buttered cabbage as they call it all over Ireland is one of the easiest savoy (or any other cabbage for that matter) recipes in our contingent. It never fails us.
The secret is of course to use the best butter you can get your hands on. That alone nearly guarantees the resounding success of the vegetable dish.
And in addition to enjoying the cooked cabbage as a delicious side dish this method of preparing it works flawlessly if your intent is to fold it into mashed potatoes to make Irish Colcannon. For those on keto diets the low carbs, calories and abundant nutrition are deliciously attractive.
Ingredients You Will Need
Savoy cabbage. Savoy cabbage with its mild, earthy flavor, crinkly leaves and appetizing green color works perfectly in this recipe. It cooks faster than white or regular green cabbage. If you intend to substitute with white/green cabbage you will need to braise it quite a bit longer or go the route of instant pot buttered cabbage where you would high pressure cook it briefly.
High quality butter. Butter is what coats our cabbage with flavor so the better the butter you use the better the dish will taste. Look for Irish or other European butter.
Garlic cloves. To infuse the butter with its characteristic sweet flavor once cooked.
Salt and black pepper. To season the dish – if using salted butter go easy on the salt. (Caraway seed is one of the spices that goes great with cabbage in case you want to add a pinch).
Water. Only a small amount is needed to create a steamy bath for the cabbage to wilt and transform into a true delicacy. You can substitute with chicken broth or vegetable broth for more flavor.
Optional – 3 strips of thick bacon. Not an integral part of the recipe but should you crisp a few bits if bacon and sprinkle them over the butter cabbage before you serve it you will add a whole new layer of flavor. We always add bacon if we have it handy when making Savoy cabbage.
TIP: Savoy cabbage size. The typical head will easily yield about a pound of shredded cabbage, once you have removed the tough inner stalk and ribs. If you can only find smaller Savoy cabbage heads, use a whole one and about a quarter or a half from another one to get to the quantity guideline for the recipe. Savoy is not as crisp as regular cabbage and tastes better when cooked. If you have extra just cook that too – you can always reheat the leftovers.
Instructions – How to Cook Savoy Cabbage with Butter (the Irish Way)
The pictures above and below pretty much sum up the step-by-step process of preparing buttered cabbage – it is beyond simple.
- Prep. Overall, be sure to remove the outer leaves and do not shred the head too thinly. If you intend to garnish with crispy bacon prepare the bacon before you start cooking the cabbage.
- Cook. Over medium heat in a pot for which you have a lid melt the butter, sauté the garlic and add the chopped cabbage. Toss to coat it with butter, then add the water and season. Stir and cook covered for about 6 minutes total, stir once in the middle of this time stretch.
- Serve. When the cabbage has softened to your liking (should not be mushy but still retain a degree of firmness), add an extra knob of butter and stir around as it melts. You can either fold in the crispy bacon bits before you serve or sprinkle them on top as shown below.
Serve Buttered Savoy Cabbage
Butter cabbage is a natural partner to grilled or pan seared sausages, corned beef, salmon, baked chicken legs, pork chops, pork steak, pork shoulder roasts and more. It tastes best if served right after it is prepared, but the reheated version does not disappoint.
And because it is so versatile and low carb we often intentionally make a double recipe and save half of the cabbage to use as filling for homemade pot stickers, spring rolls, pierogis or cabbage and pork strudels.
Recipe Variation – Buttered Cabbage and Onions
To spruce things up you can add the sweetness of onions into the mix by making a small modification to the base buttered cabbage recipe. Follow the steps below.
- Slice a large onion (sweeter variety preferred) in half and then thinly across.
- Add an extra tablespoon of butter in the beginning of the recipe and sauté the onion until translucent and just beginning to get darker.
- Then add the garlic and Savoy cabbage and proceed with the recipe as written.
Other Ways to Enjoy Savoy Cabbage
Savoy cabbage can be used as a substitute for regular white and green cabbage as well as napa and Chinese cabbage. Owing to this versatilityit is excellent for stir-frying and lovely in soups. If lightly blanched its texture softens and once cooled down it is delicious in salads.
It can also be used to make cabbage rolls – in fact it is much easier to shape than other types of cabbage.
A quick Savoy saute in olive oil over medium-high heat makes a wonderful bed for skillet cooked or grilled bratwursts. You can also flavor the sauteed cabbage with Gochujang sauce and serve it with fried eggs for an easy vegetarian meal.
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- 1 lb Savoy cabbage, cut*
- 3 tbsp good quality butter (Irish or other European)** + one extra knob to toss in the end
- 3 cloves garlic, minced***
- coarse salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 3 tbsp water
- 3 strips thick cut bacon (optional, for garnish)
- Clean the cabbage - remove outer leaves, cut into quarters, remove stalk and any tough ribs. Cut into rough shreds. If using bacon, slice into thin strips and cook until crispy in a pan over medium heat, then set aside to drain over a paper towel).
- In a deep pot for which you have a lid or Dutch oven over medium heat melt the butter and sauté the minced garlic until just fragrant. Add the cabbage and toss well so it gets coated with butter. Add the water, season with salt and pepper, stir and cover with lid. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Remove the lid, stir cabbage, replace lid and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in a knob of butter and serve. If you prepared crispy bacon bits sprinkle them on top as garnish or fold them into the buttered cabbage before you serve it.
*A large head will typically amount to 1 lb once the core and thickest ribs are removed from the cabbage. Otherwise use a medium head and about a quarter to a third from a second medium head (or simply adjust the other ingredients up a bit and cook everything you have).
**If using salted butter go easy on the salt when seasoning.
***Not all Irish recipes for buttered cabbage call for garlic. You can skip it, but it does add a lot of flavor so we recommend that you use it.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 108Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 242mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 3gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g