Fried Cabbage and Smoked Sausage

Whether served as a side dish or a main course, this fried cabbage and smoked sausage recipe offers a satisfying meal that is both comforting and delicious. Tender cabbage is seasoned with crispy bacon and savory sausage for a hearty meal.

Southern fried cabbage and smoked sausage with bacon in a large cast iron Dutch oven with hot sauce and a basket of cornbread muffins on the side.

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Southern fried cabbage and smoked sausage is a versatile dish bursting with flavor and texture.  It’s perfect as a budget-friendly weeknight main dish or as comfort food on a chilly evening.

Ingredients and tools you will need

Once you have your ingredients in hand, you will be able to whip up this quick recipe that’s ideal for busy weeknight dinners.

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 7 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 (14-ounce package) smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch disks
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onions
  • 1 head of white or green cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds), cored and cut into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Sharp chef’s knife
  • Large Dutch oven or stock pot – at least 5 quarts
Collage of ingredients needed to make cabbage and smoked sausage recipe

Prepping the cabbage

The outermost leaves of a head of cabbage are tough and not good to eat. Producers typically leave them on during transport to provide protection, but likely they’ll be damaged and bruised. Remove and discard these loose, darker green leaves until you get to tight, lighter green leaves underneath. Additionally, if any other leaves look wilted or damaged, pull those off too. Rinse the cabbage under cold water to remove any remaining dirt and debris.

The very center of a head of cabbage, known as the core, is tough and bitter. To remove that, cut the cabbage in half through the center of the core with a sharp knife. Some people like to cut a triangle into each half around the core and remove it that way. I think it’s easier to cut the cabbage once again into quarters. Lay each quarter with a flat side down on a cutting board, then postion your knife at an angle and cut out the center piece. If you need a bit more instruction, check out my step-by-step instructional video at the end of this post.

Finally, position your knife parallel to the cut edge of the cabbage and begin slicing the cabbage into ribbons. I cut mine about 1/4-inch thick. You can do all this ahead of time, just be sure to use the cut cabbage within two days.

How to make this Southern Fried Cabbage recipe

Heat one teaspoon of vegetable oil in your stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the chopped bacon and cook for four minutes until the bacon releases some of its grease. Add the sliced sausage to the hot bacon grease and spread it around so as many of the sausage pieces as possible are touching the bottom of the pan. Let the sausage and bacon fry for eight minutes in the bacon fat until the edges of the sausage start to turn brown and the bacon is crisp.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage and bacon from the pot and set aside. Add the chopped onion and sauté for two minutes. Then add the chopped cabbage to the pot. If all the sliced cabbage leaves won’t fit into the pot, don’t sweat it. Give the cabbage leaves a couple of minutes to cook down, then add the rest. Stir the cabbage leaves until they are coated with the hot oil.

Cook the cabbage for 10-15 minutes. I like my cabbage tender, so I cooked it for the full 15 minutes. But if you prefer your cabbage to have more of a firm texture, check it after 10 minutes. Keep cooking until the cabbage reaches your desired consistency.

Add the apple cider vinegar and season the dish with Cajun seasoning, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Add salt and additional pepper to taste. If you like a little more heat, you can even add more red pepper flakes. Stir the sausage and bacon back in and warm for an additional five minutes until everything is heated through. Remove the pot from the heat and serve the cabbage and sausage skillet warm with a side of rice or egg noodles.

Storage and reheating instructions

Storage. Within two hours, transfer any leftover cabbage to an airtight container with a lid. Store in the refrigerator and consume within four days. This dish does not freeze well.

Reheating. Individual servings of fried cabbage and sausage can be reheated on a microwave-safe plate for one minute. You can also cover it in a medium saucepan and reheat the dish over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until it is heated through.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to blanch or boil the cabbage before frying?

Blanching the cabbage in boiling water for one minute does help retain the green color of the cabbage leaves, but it is not a necessary step to cook the cabbage all the way through. I don’t blanch my cabbage ahead of time.

Can I cook this in oil instead of grease?

After removing the sausage and bacon from the pan, you can remove the remaining grease as well and replace it with about 1/4 cup of cooking oil such as canola, vegetable or peanut oil. I don’t recommend trying to cook this in olive oil since that doesn’t have a high heat point.

Could I use turkey bacon or turkey sausage?

Yes. However, since turkey products have less fat, you may need to add a bit of cooking oil to the pot in order to fry the cabbage.

Can I make this in an air fryer?

I don’t recommend it. The term air fryer is misleading. It’s not actually a fryer but a countertop convection oven. Therefore, you would not achieve the same results.

Would this work with a different type of cabbage?

Red cabbage could be substituted with no changes to the recipe. Keep in mind the compounds that give red cabbage its color will leach out into the rest of the food, leaving your dish with a grey or blue color. Other cabbage varieties such as Savoy or Napa have more delicate leaves, so expect to cut the cooking time.

Can I use a different type of sausage?

Andouille sausage or kielbasa sausage can be substituted with no changes to the recipe.

How do I avoid the cabbage from becoming too soggy?

Cabbage leaves break down the longer they cook. If you desire a firmer texture, check the cabbage after it has fried for 10 minutes.

Bowl of Southern fried cabbage and smoked sausage with bacon and a rustic fork with hot sauce and a basket of cornbread muffins on the side.

Serve Southern cabbage and sausage with

Southern fried cabbage and smoked sausage with bacon in a large cast iron Dutch oven with hot sauce and a basket of cornbread muffins on the side.
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5 from 1 vote

Southern Fried Cabbage and Smoked Sausage with Bacon

Whether served as a side dish or a main course, this fried cabbage and smoked sausage recipe offers a satisfying meal that is both comforting and delicious. Tender cabbage is seasoned with crispy bacon and savory sausage for a hearty meal.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Cook Time 34 minutes
Total Time 34 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 382kcal
Author Lisa B.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 7 strips thick cut bacon chopped
  • 1 14-ounce package smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch disks
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onions
  • 1 2 1/2 pound head of cabbage, cored and cut into thin strips (about eight cups)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the bacon and cook for 4 minutes until the bacon begins to render off some of its fat.
  • Add the smoked sausage and continue to cook for 8 minutes until the sausage starts to brown and the bacon is crisp.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and sausage from the pan. Do not drain the grease.
  • Add the onion to the pot and saute for two minutes.
  • Add the cabbage to the pot. Stir to coat the cabbage in the hot grease.
  • Saute the cabbage in the hot grease for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cabbage leaves start to become soft.
  • Stir in the apple cider vinegar.
  • Season the cabbage with the Cajun seasoning, black pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes.
  • Add the sausage and bacon back to the pot. Cook for another five minutes until the bacon and sausage are heated through.

Video

Notes

Storage. Within two hours, transfer any leftover cabbage to an airtight container with a lid. Store in the refrigerator and consume within four days. This dish does not freeze well.
Reheating. Individual servings of fried cabbage and sausage can be reheated on a microwave-safe plate for one minute. You can also cover it in a medium saucepan and reheat the dish over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until it is heated through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 604mg | Potassium: 595mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 445IU | Vitamin C: 85mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 2mg

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