Microwave Red Cabbage: Say Goodbye to Boiling!

The last time I cooked cabbage on the stove, I promised myself Iโ€™d find a more efficient way to do it. This easy microwave red cabbage recipe is the result! Your cabbage comes out flavorful, tender, and perfectly steamed, with no more tending over the stove required!

microwave red cabbage recipe dinners done quick

Why Youโ€™ll Love This Recipe

Did you know that red cabbage is packed with Vitamin C and antioxidants, making it a great immune booster? Itโ€™s even better for you than green cabbages! Itโ€™s a budget friendly veggie, and I love that gorgeous deep reddish purple color, which adds visual appeal to any meal.

But all those benefits aside, youโ€™ll love making red cabbage in your microwave. Youโ€™ve just got to stir it a couple times along the way, but the microwave does all the rest of the work for you! Just kick back and focus on whatever youโ€™re making to go with it.

Cabbage also keeps well in your refrigerator, meaning you can make a bigger batch and reheat it for several meals throughout the week. While itโ€™s a delicious side dish, you can also add it to salads, wraps or sandwiches, or inside of baked goods to create more meals.

holding up a big spoonful of red cabbage made in the microwave

No microwave? Thereโ€™s still another easy way to prepare your cabbage! Check out my Air Fryer Red Cabbage recipe for another great option!

Ingredients List

ingredients to make microwave red cabbage
  • ยฝ red cabbage
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • ยผ cup red wine vinegar
  • ยฝ tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • ยผ tsp black pepper (or more to taste)

Ingredient Tips and Substitutions

  • You may use any type of onion, or even swap in a shallot if preferred
  • Iโ€™m using a Granny Smith apple but you can use your favorite!
  • The sugar may be swapped for brown sugar, honey, or molasses if preferred. You may also add more, if you like a sweeter steamed cabbage
  • Red wine vinegar helps bring out the color of the cabbage even more brightly. However, you can use white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar instead
  • Variations: You may also add bacon for additional flavor. Additionally, feel free to experiment with other herbs and spices, such as caraway, cloves, cinnamon, anise, or thyme

Choosing and Preparing Your Cabbage

Itโ€™s important to start with the right cabbage and properly prepare it so you get the best results for your dish. Hereโ€™s how to choose and prepare a red cabbage for microwave cooking:

Selecting Fresh Red Cabbage:

Red cabbage is readily available in most grocery stores and markets. When choosing a red cabbage head, look for the following:

  • Color: Select a cabbage with deep, vibrant red or purple leaves. The color should be consistent throughout the cabbage
  • Texture: Avoid cabbages with wilted or damaged outer leaves. The leaves should be firm and crisp
  • Size: Choose a cabbage that suits your needs. Smaller cabbages are ideal for small households or individual servings, while larger ones are suitable for family meals or batch cooking

Storing Red Cabbage:

Proper storage is essential to keep your red cabbage fresh until youโ€™re ready to use it. Here are some tips:

  • Refrigeration: Store your red cabbage in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Place it in a plastic bag or wrap it in plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss and maintain freshness
  • Whole or Prepped: You can store a whole head of red cabbage for several weeks. If youโ€™ve already cut or prepped it, use an airtight container or resealable plastic bag and consume it within a few days

Washing and Cutting:

Preparing your cabbage for microwave cooking involves washing, cutting, and removing any tough parts. Hereโ€™s how to do it:

  • Clean Thoroughly: Remove the outer leaves if theyโ€™re wilted or damaged. Rinse the cabbage under cold running water to remove dirt and debris
  • Cut and Core: Cut the cabbage head in half and remove the tough core near the base. You can do this by making a diagonal cut or by cutting out a wedge with a sharp knife
  • Shred or Slice: You can shred the cabbage into thin strips or slice it into chunks or wedges. The choice of cut depends on the texture you want in your dish. I find that thin strips work best for microwave cooking. You can use a sharp knife, a slicer blade on a food processor, or certain box-style graters to achieve this cut

Step-By-Step Preparation

  1. Finely slice your cabbage and place it into a large, microwave safe bowl
finely slice up the red cabbage
  1. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to evenly distribute
add remaining ingredients to the bowl with the red cabbage
  1. Cover with a lid or microwave safe cling wrap, leaving a small vent opening for steam to escape
lightly cover the cabbage before placing it in the microwave
  1. Cook on high for 15-20 minutes, pausing every 5 minutes to stir, until cabbage is tender to your liking
  2. Taste and add additional salt and/or pepper if desired, then serve hot
overhead view of microwave red cabbage in a bowl with fresh apples on the side

What to Serve With Red Cabbage

  • Meatloaf
  • Shepherdโ€™s pie
  • Roasted pork
  • Kielbasa
  • Bratwurst
  • Brisket
  • Schnitzel
  • Duck
  • Lamb
  • German potato salad
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Scalloped potatoes
  • Spaetzle
  • Brown rice
  • Applesauce

There are many great main courses and additional sides that go well with red cabbage. This microwave red cabbage dish has all the flavors of a braised cabbage with apples, so it pairs well with a variety of things!

Try it with my Air Fryer Kielbasa, Air Fryer Brisket Sandwich, Air Fryer Bacon Wrapped Brats, Air Fryer German Potato Salad, Microwave Applesauce, or Air Fryer Scalloped Potatoes.

Recipe FAQs

Can I Use a Microwave-Safe Glass Container For Cooking Red Cabbage?

Yes, you can use a microwave-safe glass container for cooking red cabbage.

Make sure the container is labeled as microwave-safe, and avoid containers with metal trim or lids that are not microwave-safe.

How Long Should I Microwave Red Cabbage to Achieve the Desired Tenderness?

The microwave cooking time for red cabbage depends on the quantity and the desired tenderness. One serving usually requires 4-6 minutes, whereas a half cabbage or more requires 15-20 minutes usually.

Larger portions will require more time. Use short cooking intervals, and check the tenderness as you go.

Are There Any Seasonings or Herbs That Pair Particularly Well With Red Cabbage?

Red cabbage pairs well with various seasonings and herbs, including salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, or vinegar for added flavor.

Experiment with your favorite seasonings to find the combination that suits your taste.

Can I Store Leftover Microwave Red Cabbage, and If So, How?

Yes, you can store leftover microwave red cabbage. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it.

Leftover red cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for around 3-4 days. Reheat it in the microwave or use it in another recipe.

Is it Possible to Make Microwave Red Cabbage With Bacon or Other Ingredients?

Yes, you can add bacon or other ingredients when cooking red cabbage in the microwave. To incorporate bacon, cook it separately until crispy, then crumble it and sprinkle it over the cooked cabbage as a flavorful garnish.

You can also experiment with other ingredients like apples, onions, or caraway seeds to create unique flavor profiles.

Can I Use Purple Cabbage Instead of Red Cabbage For This Recipe?ย 

You can use purple cabbage or red cabbage for this recipe, because they are actually the same thing!

The two terms are used interchangeably for the same variety of cabbage with vibrant purple-red leaves.

Can I Microwave Red Cabbage Without Losing its Vibrant Color?

Yes, you can microwave red cabbage while preserving its vibrant color. Adding vinegar or lemon juice is best to help it maintain the color.

Also make sure to cook in shorter bursts until it reaches the desired tenderness level, as overcooking tends to make it bleed more color out.

Is it Necessary to Cover Red Cabbage When Microwaving it?

Itโ€™s not absolutely necessary, but it is recommended to cover red cabbage when microwaving it.

Use a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap to trap steam and moisture, which helps cook the cabbage evenly and prevents it from drying out.

Can I Season Red Cabbage Before Microwaving it?

Yes, you can season red cabbage before microwaving it. Seasonings such as vinegar are best for flavor when cooked, so it is actually advantageous to do so.

You can always tweak the level of salt and pepper after cooking, to ensure the seasonings are well balanced.

How Do I Prevent Red Cabbage From Becoming Too Soft in the Microwave?

To prevent red cabbage from becoming too soft in the microwave, avoid overcooking it. Use shorter cooking intervals, checking the cabbageโ€™s texture after each interval.

Aim for a tender-crisp texture, as it will continue to soften slightly after removal from the microwave.

Can I Use Microwaved Red Cabbage in Salads and Other Dishes?

Absolutely! Microwaved red cabbage can be used in various dishes, including salads, stir-fries, wraps, and side dishes.

Its vibrant color and mild, slightly sweet flavor make it a versatile addition to many recipes. Just be sure to allow it to cool slightly before adding it to salads or cold dishes.

Recipe Pro Tips

  • The cooking times in this recipe are based on a 1000W microwave. For higher or lower wattages, youโ€™ll need to adjust accordingly. Similarly, for a bigger or smaller quantity of cabbage, youโ€™ll need to adjust as well
  • You can leave your cabbage to marinate up to 12 hours in advance in the seasonings before cooking. This cuts down on prep time before cooking, and helps to give a more pickled cabbage flavor
tender steamed microwave red cabbage on a spoon

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • Store leftover cooked red cabbage in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, or you may freeze it for 8-10 months for longer term storage
  • To reheat, microwave a portion of braised cabbage for about 1 minute on high, stirring halfway through to promote even heating

More Microwave Vegetables to Try

Final Thoughts

This microwave red cabbage recipe is so much easier to make than standing over the stove. Paired with onion, vinegar, and apple, it turns out like a braised cabbage but with far less effort!

Of course, you can modify the seasonings and flavors to fit your preferences, or to pair with whatever youโ€™re serving alongside your tender cabbage.

Cabbage is a budget friendly and healthy dinner option, and this cooking method makes it even easier to enjoy. Itโ€™s one of my favorite fall side dishes, and perfect for your Oktoberfest smorgasbord too!

If youโ€™re looking for more great recipes to use up a head of cabbage, make sure to check out my tasty Air Fryer Cabbage Rolls for some stick to your bones comfort!

microwave red cabbage recipe dinners done quick featured image

Microwave Red Cabbage (With Apple)

This microwave red cabbage recipe gets tartness from vinegar and sweetness from apple for a braised flavor profile. Making steamed cabbage is easier than boiling, for an easy side dish!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Servings 2
Calories 163 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
ย ย 

  • ยฝ Red cabbage head
  • 1 Small onion, thinly sliced (such as Vidalia)
  • 1 Medium apple, peeled, cored, and diced (such as Granny Smith)
  • 1 Tsp granulated sugar
  • ยผ Cup red wine vinegar
  • ยฝ Tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • ยผ Tsp black pepper (or more to taste)

Instructions
ย 

  • Core and finely slice your cabbage, then place it into a large, microwave safe bowl
    ยฝ Red cabbage head
  • Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to evenly distribute
    1 Small onion, thinly sliced, 1 Medium apple, peeled, cored, and diced, 1 Tsp granulated sugar, ยผ Cup red wine vinegar, ยฝ Tsp salt, ยผ Tsp black pepper
  • Cover with a lid or microwave safe cling wrap, leaving a small vent opening for steam to escape
  • Cook on high for 15-20 minutes, pausing every 5 minutes to stir, until cabbage is tender to your liking
  • Taste and add additional salt and/or pepper if desired, then serve hot

Notes

  • You may use any type of onion (I chose Vidalia), or even swap in a shallot if preferred
  • Iโ€™m using a Granny Smith apple but you can use your favorite!
  • The sugar may be swapped for brown sugar, honey, or molasses if preferred. You may also add more, if you like a sweeter steamed cabbage
  • Red wine vinegar helps bring out the color of the cabbage even more brightly. However, you can use white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice instead
  • Variations: You may top with crispy cooked bacon for additional flavor. Additionally, feel free to experiment with other herbs and spices, such as garlic powder, caraway, cloves, cinnamon, anise, or thyme
  • The cooking times in this recipe are based on a 1000W microwave. For higher or lower wattages, youโ€™ll need to adjust accordingly. Similarly, for a bigger or smaller quantity of cabbage, youโ€™ll need to adjust as well
  • You can leave your cabbage to marinate up to 12 hours in advance in the seasonings before cooking. This cuts down on prep time before cooking, and helps to give a more pickled cabbage flavor
  • Store leftover cooked red cabbage in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, or you may freeze it for 8-10 months for longer term storage
  • To reheat, microwave a portion of braised cabbage for about 1 minute on high, stirring halfway through to promote even heating
  • Exact nutritional values will vary based on brand and variety of ingredients, any swaps or sides added, and actual quantity consumed, so please consider this a guideline only

Nutrition

Serving: 453gCalories: 163kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 4.9gFat: 0.6gSaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 663mgPotassium: 857mgFiber: 8gSugar: 23gVitamin A: 534.3IUVitamin C: 169mgCalcium: 148mgIron: 2.6mg
Keyword easy red cabbage recipes, how to cook red cabbage, microwave cabbage, Microwave red cabbage, microwave red cabbage recipes, microwave red cabbage vegetarian, red cabbage and apples microwave recipe, red cabbage recipes
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Katie Vine