Blanched cabbage is tasty, as is steamed, and cabbage sauteed in butter is even better, but have you tried smoked cabbage? The leaves absorb wood-fired flavor beautifully and develop a lovely golden brown color during smoking. Moreover, the wood smoke imparts a mouthwateringly fruity flavor accompanied by hints of bitter char. Serve smoked cabbage alongside various proteins or add to wraps, sandwiches, etc. All you need is a smoker, pellet grill, charcoal grill, or gas grill (along with smoking wood).
This smoked cabbage recipe is AMAZING alone, but I decided to top it with chili lime butter. The butter goes on at the end, melting into each wedge to create yet another layer of mouthwatering flavor. Chili lime butter adds spice, and lime’s tart brightness with the cabbage’s complex smokiness is sublime.
Why You’ll Love Smoked Cabbage
- Great way to up your vegetable intake – Even those who aren’t cabbage fans will fall hard for smoked cabbage. Most who don’t like the vegetable dislike its bitterness, which is why applewood is used here. The wood’s sweet fruitiness makes cabbage’s bitterness much more subtle, whereas another wood (like hickory) would enhance it.
- Simple smoking recipe – Unlike smoking meat which involves a fair amount of temperature monitoring, you add the cabbage to the grates, flip it a few times as it smokes, and it’s evident when the cabbage is done.
- Chili lime butter – Don’t those three words make your mouth water? Although added at the last minute, this flavored butter takes smoked cabbage to the next level. You will want to put it on everything.
- Affordable – The total cost of ingredients is maybe $10. Not bad for a delicious side dish that will change how you eat cabbage forever.
Smoked Cabbage Ingredients Notes
- Cabbage: Use cannonball cabbage, also known as green cabbage, for this recipe. A firm green or red cabbage will also work but varieties like napa and savoy, are too delicate to smoke.
- Oil: Oil helps the seasonings stick. The fat also promotes browning.
- Seasonings: Smoking wood does most of the work, so this recipe keeps seasonings simple with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
- Applewood: Although it isn’t exactly an ingredient, applewood is needed to infuse the cabbage with a smoky flavor. Depending on what you plan to smoke the cabbage in, you will need chips, chunks, or pellets.
(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)
How To Make Smoked Cabbage
- Preheat: Preheat your smoker or grill to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re using a charcoal or gas grill instead of a smoker or pellet grill, you must set it up for smoking. For charcoal, create a two-zone fire and add wood chips (that have been soaking for 30 minutes) once it is within the desired temperature range. For a gas grill, add wood to the smoker box or, if your grill does not have a smoker box, wrap dry chips in a foil pouch, poke holes in the pouch, and nestle it right over one of the burners.
- Prep: This entails removing a few outer leaves and cutting the cabbage into quarters—super simple prep!
- Season: Brush cabbage wedges with oil, then season.
- Smoke: Place the cabbage on the grates to smoke. You’re looking at 45 minutes of total cook time.
- Make the butter: As the cabbage cooks, make the butter. There’s no need to form it into a log because it will melt as soon as you add it to the cabbage but feel free to if you’re feeling fancy!
Variations, Substitutions, and Cooking Tips
Use a dry rub – This recipe keeps seasonings simple to highlight cabbage’s natural flavor and how sweet smoke enhances that flavor; however, seasoning the wedges with your favorite dry rub would also be amazing.
Make it vegan – Replace the chili lime butter with a chili lime vinaigrette, or use vegan butter instead of dairy butter.
Use another smoking wood – Cherry is another sweet, fruity option. Maple is also really nice, and hickory has a robust bacon-like profile.
Bacon Crumbles – Sprinkle bacon crumbles on top.
Dressing Alternative – A quick and easy dressing can be made with a 1/2 stick of butter and Italian or Sun Dried Tomato dressing.
What To Serve With Smoked Cabbage
You can’t go wrong with a grilled steak, smoked chicken, or pork chops. For vegans, use smoked cabbage in salads or alongside smoked tofu steaks. You can chop it up and add the cabbage to soups and stews as well.
Storage And Freezer Tips
Smoked cabbage doesn’t freeze well, but you can refrigerate it. Refrigeration will compromise the crispy edges, but the cabbage will taste just as good as when you took it off the grates. Store smoked cabbage in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
How To Reheat
Microwave smoked cabbage in 30-second intervals or reheat in a 350-degree oven. If using the oven, place the cabbage on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven for 5-10 minutes, checking the cabbage periodically. The oven is the best option to retain the browned edges developed during smoking.
- 1 large head of green cabbage
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh lime juice
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat a smoker or grill to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Use applewood for this recipe.
- Remove the thin outer leaves from the cabbage, cut the cabbage in half (toward the core), then cut each half in half.
- Brush the cabbage with oil, then season with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
- Transfer the cabbage wedges to the grates (cut side down), close the lid, and smoke for 15 minutes.
- Flip each wedge to the other cut side and smoke for 15 minutes.
- Arrange the cabbage wedges, so they are curved side down, and smoke for another 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the butter, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, chili flakes, and salt.
- Remove the wedges from the smoker/grill and plate. Immediately top with a tablespoon of chili lime butter, so it melts, then serve.
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