Jamaican Steamed Cabbage is a healthy, flavourful and easy to make Jamaican vegetable side dish that goes with almost anything! It’s steamed cabbage that’s been lightly seasoned and loaded with veggies such as carrots, colourful bell peppers and onions. Add saltfish or corned beef to turn this side dish into a delicious filling main course item.
Looking for more Jamaican side dishes to try? Check out this Jamaican Callaloo for the perfect greens to serve. Also, try my Easy Jamaican Pigeon “Gungo” Peas and Rice or my Jamaican Rice and Peas for classic Jamaican rice side dishes as well.
Table of Contents
Jamaican Steamed Cabbage
It’s so interesting that as I write these Jamaican recipes, they each open the floodgates of childhood memories. Growing up Jamaican is something I talk about quite frequently on this blog site. Needless to say, I am quite proud of my Jamaican background and I am so happy I get to share bits and pieces with you.
I love that recipes such as this steamed cabbage, remind me of my grandmother and mother. Eating veggies, like most kids wasn’t always my first choice. But, whenever steamed cabbage came around I would dance! Especially if my mom added saltfish or corned beef (bully beef and cabbage with white rice was and still is a vibe). It’s such a flavourful and delicious vegetable side dish that you can serve with just about anything! So, let’s get into it!
Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe:
- Loaded with Veggies – this is a great way to add extra veggies into your diet, whether its bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beans etc. the options are endless.
- Rich in Flavour – the ingredients are simple, but there’s just something about sauteeing veggies then allowing to steam until tender crisp!
- Quick and Easy – the most time consuming part of making this recipe is prepping the veggies, which you can do ahead of time. Once your ready to toss this dish together it take no more than 10 minutes!
- Great Dish for Special Diets – whether you are on a low carb, keto, paleo, whole30, vegan, or vegetarian diet, this is the recipe for you!
- Great Alternative to Rice – if you’re looking to switch things up, or looking for a low carb option look no further.
- Use Up Leftovers – this is a great way to use up any leftover cabbage that’s laying around in the fridge.
- Affordable Recipe – you can make this flavoursome budget-friendly recipe with readily available ingredients for less than ten dollars, and these days that’s a steal!
What is Jamaican Steamed Cabbage?
Jamaican steamed cabbage is simply a cabbage side dish that is sauteed together with a medley of vegetables and traditional Jamaican herbs and spices.
You can add any of your preferred veggies such as carrots, bell peppers, beans, broccoli, asparagus etc. and make this dish your own. However, traditionally bell or sweet peppers, carrots and onions are what’s used.
Is Cabbage Good for You? (Cabbage Benefits)
Cabbage is an exceptionally healthy vegetable with a rich nutrient profile. It’s apart of the brassica plant family, which includes other vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale.
Cabbage has very low calories which is great for those on a low carb diets such as keto. It’s also full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, folate and calcium. These help to lower cholesterol and fight inflammation.
Types of Cabbage
Green Cabbage – this is the most common variety of cabbage that’s found in most major grocery stores. They have smooth leaves that are greener on the outer parts of the cabbage and more white towards the center.
Red Cabbage – this type of cabbage has a bright purple colour with white veins. It has a similar taste, and shape as green cabbage and can be used interchangeably depending on the dish.
Savoy Cabbage – the texture and density of this cabbage is much softer than green or red cabbage. It’s leaves are loosely packed and crinkly and are yellowish/greenish in colour.
Napa Cabbage – comparing to savoy cabbage round appearance, napa cabbage has an oblong shape with frilly leaves and is most commonly used in East Asian It’s texture is softer than green or red cabbage as well, shreds exceptionally well and is often eaten raw.
What’s Needed to Make this Recipe (Kitchen Equipment)
- Large Skillet or Sauté Pan – ensure your skillet or pan is large enough to hold all the ingredients.
- Cutting Board – this makes the prepping the cabbage much easier.
- Large Knife – a sharp, large chefs knife works great in cutting through and slicing the cabbage.
How to Prep and Cut Cabbage
- Remove Outer Leaves – remove any damaged, torn, browned outer leaves and discard.
- Cut in Half – using a sharp chefs knife cut in half lengthwise, all the way through the core.
- Rinse Thoroughly – rinse cabbage thoroughly and place the halves, cut side down, on the cutting board.
- Slice – thinly slice the cabbage (lengthwise), discarding the core.
Ingredients and Ingredients Notes
- Cabbage – use green cabbage (sometimes called white cabbage), thinly sliced. It is possible (but not recommended) to use any other varieties of cabbage as long as you adjust the cooking times (some are softer than others needing less time to cook).
- Carrot – this adds colour, crunch and sweetness, julienned.
- Onion – this is an essential aromatic that you just can’t leave out! It adds great flavour especially combined with the garlic.
- Bell Peppers – use any colour combination- red, yellow, orange or green, julienned. This too add a touch of sweetness and vibrant colour.
- Garlic – garlic is also an essential building block to great flavour in this recipe similar to onions. You can either mince or finely chopped the garlic.
- Fresh Thyme – this herb is included in almost every Jamaican dish, and is certainly included here as well.
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper – this is optional as it is often very spicy, so keep intact to get more flavour than heat or finely chopped as desired for more heat.
- Butter – this is he fat of choice used to saute the cabbage and veggies, you can also use a neutral oil or ghee.
- Chicken Stock – you can also use water or vegetable stock, this is to help the cabbage and veggies steam and soften.
- Seasonings – use seasoning salt or all purpose seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
How to Make This Recipe
1. Prep Cabbage – remove any old, browned outer leaves of the cabbage and rinse under cold water.
Then using a sharp knife cut in half lengthwise, all the way through the core.
Place the halves, cut side down, on the cutting board and thinly slice the cabbage (lengthwise), discarding the core.
2. Saute Veggies – over medium high heat, melt butter in a large saute pan.
Add carrots, onions, bell peppers, garlic, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper. Saute veggies for about 2 to 4 minutes, until tender crisp.
3. Add Cabbage and Steam – add cabbage, chicken stock, and season with salt, pepper and all purpose (seasoning salt).
Toss until ingredients evenly mixed, cover and allow to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, serve warm, and enjoy!
See My Story Below for Step-by-Step Instructions
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
The options are endless in regards to the variations to the this steamed cabbage recipe. One of the more common variations is to add corned beef to make Jamaican corned beef and cabbage or “bully beef and cabbage”. You can also add saltfish, to make Jamaican saltfish and cabbage. These are two common dishes in Jamaican cuisine as well. Some other variations for steamed cabbage include the following:
- Veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans etc. I find, harder veggies such as these work best alongside the cabbage.
- Protein – you can play around with this recipe and turn it into a stir-fry adding chicken, beef, shrimp to name a few.
- Hot Pepper – if you can’t find the scotch bonnet pepper, you can use habanero pepper or your favourite hot pepper as a substitute.
- Veganize – substitute regular butter with vegan butter or olive oil and swap chicken stock for vegetable stock or water.
- Add Saltfish – see notes below on how to prepare this dish.
- Add Corned Beef – see notes below on how to prepare this dish.
What is Corned Beef?
Canned corned beef also known as “bully beef” in Jamaica is a type of ground beef meat that’s been cured in a salt brine with a mix of spices, cooked and canned. A popular brand is the Hereford corned beef.
How to Make Corned Beef and Steamed Cabbage “Bully Beef and Cabbage”
- Prepare the steamed cabbage as listed in the recipe card below. Once you’ve added your cabbage, and it has steamed until tender crisp, add the corned beef.
- Cover the pan with a lid and allow the corned beef to heat through, then mix the cabbage, veggies and corned beef together until combined.
What is Salted Codfish?
This is referred to simply as saltfish in the islands, also known as salted cod, salt cod, bacalao, bacalhau or baccalà. It is a type of preserved meaty white fish that has been salt-cured and dried until all the moisture has been extracted.
How to Make Saltfish and Steamed Cabbage
- Prepare the steamed cabbage as listed in the recipe card below. Once you’ve added your cabbage, and it has steamed until tender crisp, add the saltfish.
- Cover the pan with a lid and allow the salted codfish to heat through, then mix the cabbage, veggies and saltfish together until combined.
How to Prepare Saltfish for Cooking
There are two common methods to remove the excess salt from saltfish. One involves soaking the fish overnight in water, alternatively you can also use the boiling option.
It’s important to note, the aim is never to remove all the salt from the fish completely but to simply rehydrate and remove some of the salt.
Method One: Overnight Soak (Desalting Saltfish)
- Soak in Water – rinse fish and place the fish into a large bowl and add boiling water until fish is fully submerged. Cover the bowl and let the sit at room temperature overnight.
- Drain and Taste – in the morning, drain off the salty water and pick off a piece of the fish to check for saltiness. Note, thicker/inner pieces may need more soaking time.
- Repeat if Necessary – this time you will not need to soak overnight, instead, add the fish to a pot of boiling water and allow to boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until desired taste is reached.
Method Two: Boiling (Desalting Saltfish)
- Rinse – rinse your salted codfish in water and cut into smaller pieces.
- Bring to a Boil – add the fish to a pot of boiling water. ensure the water covers the fish. Let it boil for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Drain and Repeat – drain salt water from pot, taste test your fish. If still salty, add a fresh batch of hot water to the pot and repeat the steps until desired taste is reached.
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
- Cabbage – cut the cabbage into equal sized slices to ensure even cooking.
- Heat – gently steam the cabbage over medium heat. If the heat is too high, the cabbage will not cook through and may burn/stick to the edges or bottom of the pan.
- Steaming Time – depending on preference, if you like your cabbage with a bit of crunch steam for approx. 10 minutes, if you prefer softer cabbage steam for around 15 minutes.
- No Fresh Thyme – substitute with dried thyme leaves.
- Amount of Liquid – you may want to add an additional tbsp or more of stock, depending on how much veggies you have and how firm/soft you want your cabbage. Adjust as needed.
- Caramelization – the longer you allow the cabbage the steam, the softer the cabbage will be changing the colour from a vibrant green/white to a mellow brownish more caramelized colour.
- Spice – if you don’t like spicy food you can leave out the scotch bonnet pepper.
Like many Jamaican side dishes, this steamed cabbage recipe can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
If serving for breakfast you can do so along with saltfish and Jamaican Fried Dumpling. If serving for lunch you can do so with Jamaican Escovitch Fish and Jamaican Festival Recipe. Lastly, if serving for dinner try Jamaican Rice and Peas and Jamaican Oxtail Recipe with a side of steamed cabbage.
How to Prep Ahead
This recipe is best prepared and enjoyed on the same day. However, you can prep your cabbage and other veggies ahead of time and store refrigerated in an airtight container or ziploc bag until ready to use.
Refrigerate – store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
Freeze – store leftovers in the freezer for up to a month in a freezer safe container.
Reheat leftovers by warming in a microwave in 30-second increments until it’s warm through. If stovetop is preferred, heat a pan over medium low heat, add leftover cabbage, cover until warmed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
For tender crisp cabbage, it takes around 5-8 minutes. For softer cabbage, it takes around 10-12 minutes.
Cabbage can be chopped and stored in food freezer bags to be used at a later date. Alternatively, you can use the remaining cabbage in these Pork & Chinese Cabbage Dumplings as a filling or as coleslaw on these recipes: Jerk Chicken Sandwich, Easy Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Lime Dressing, or this Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich!
Yes, you can freeze this recipe once completely cooled in airtight freezer safe container.
Yes! Cabbage is an extremely healthy vegetable. It’s rich in fibre, low in fat and contains very few calories. Great for those on low carb, keto, paleo diets.
Use green cabbage (sometimes called white cabbage), thinly sliced. It is possible (but not recommended) to use any other varieties of cabbage as long as you adjust the cooking times (some are softer than others needing less time to cook).
Add corned beef to make Jamaican corned beef and cabbage or “bully beef and cabbage”. You can also add saltfish, to make Jamaican saltfish and cabbage, two very popular Jamaican dishes. However, you can add any protein of your liking – shrimp, chicken, beef, pork etc.
I prefer rinsing the outer cabbage leaves after removing any damaged/browned leaves, to ensure any dirt or debris is washed off.
Interested in more Jamaican Recipes? Check These Out!
- Easy Jamaican Pigeon “Gungo” Peas and Rice
- Jamaican Pickled Vegetables (Escovitch Sauce)
- Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
- Jamaican Curry Shrimp (Seafood)
- Vegan Jamaican Bulgur Wheat & Peas (Rice & Peas Remix)
- Jamaican Rasta Pasta
- Quick & Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken
I’d greatly appreciate if you left a star ★ rating (located below), as well as leave a comment if you found this blog post helpful and tasty!
Also, don’t forget to keep up with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!
Lastly, sign up to our monthly newsletter for all TSS updates straight to your inbox!
Jamaican Steamed Cabbage
- Large Skillet or Sauté Pan
- Cutting Board
- Large Knife
- 1/2 head Cabbage thinly sliced
- 1 large Carrot julienned or shredded
- 1/2 medium Onion julienned
- 1/2 small Yellow Bell Pepper julienned
- 1/2 small Red Bell Pepper julienned
- 3 cloves Garlic minced or finely chopped
- 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper whole, or finely chopped as desired
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 2 tbsp Chicken Stock or vegetable stock, water
- 2 tsp Seasoning Salt or all purpose seasoning, more or less to taste
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Remove any old, browned outer leaves of the cabbage and rinse under cold water. Then using a sharp knife cut in half lengthwise, all the way through the core. Place the halves, cut side down, on the cutting board and thinly slice the cabbage (lengthwise), discarding the core.
Jamaican Steamed Cabbage
- Over medium high heat, melt butter in a large saute pan. Add carrots, onions, bell peppers, garlic, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper. Saute veggies for about 2 to 4 minutes, until tender crisp.
- Add cabbage, chicken stock, and season with salt, pepper and all purpose (seasoning salt). Toss until ingredients evenly mixed, cover and allow to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, serve warm, and enjoy!