My Jamaican steamed cabbage recipe is a family favorite recipe. Extra veggies are perfectly cooked, and the Scotch bonnet pepper adds a touch of heat, and a burst of fresh thyme, transforming the humble cabbage into something special.
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Full Recipe Ingredients/Instructions are available in the
recipe card at the bottom of the post.
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My family all loves cabbage, an ingredient I like to include in my family meal plans most weeks. This easy Jamaican steamed cabbage can be prepared and cooked in no time, making it a go-to recipe for those busy weeknight dinners.
The addition of a Scotch bonnet pepper adds a nice fiery twist, elevating the flavor of the cabbage in this traditional Jamaican side dish.
This recipe is courtesy of my mother, who made us this flavorful dish weekly. We like to serve it along with our favorite Jamaican recipes, like oxtail or curry chicken.
What is Jamaican cabbage?
This authentic Jamaican cabbage recipe steams the cabbage with other vegetables, a Scotch bonnet pepper, and a few fragrant sprigs of fresh thyme. This is a stable side dish in Jamaican cooking, it uses ingredients that are not only easy to find in most stores but affordable too.
You can find these simple ingredients in your local grocery store. Here is what you will need for this recipe.
- Head of cabbage
- Roma tomato
- Yellow onion
- Green onions
- Fresh thyme
- Scotch bonnet pepper (or habanero pepper)
- Olive oil
- Unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
How to make Jamaican steamed cabbage
This simple side dish can be prepared, cooked, and on the table in less than 20 minutes, which makes this a winning side any day of the week. Here are the directions for making this easy 3-step dish. You can also print this out using the recipe card below.
Add all ingredients to a large pan over medium heat and cover with a lid.
Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes until the cabbage is soft and tender. Remove from heat and remove the stalks of thyme before serving.
These tips will help you make the best Jamaican steamed cabbage you’ve ever tried.
- The longer you cook your cabbage, the more it will soften. For crunchier cabbage, cook for 6-8 minutes; for softer cabbage, cook for about 10-12 minutes.
- This dish is best served immediately while it’s still hot so the cabbage does not overcook.
- If you don’t like too much heat in your food, cut back on the Scotch bonnet pepper, or leave it out altogether. You can also use a milder chili pepper if you prefer.
- To keep the carrot thin, use a vegetable peeler to thinly slice the carrot.
This steamed cabbage recipe can be easily adapted to suit your tastes. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Adapt the heat level in your dish by adding or reducing the amount of Scotch bonnet pepper or simply leaving it out.
- For those who like their food really spicy, add cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce for a little extra heat.
- Buy pre-cut cabbage to cut down on prep time.
- A teaspoon of paprika adds a hint of smoky flavor to the cabbage.
- Add extra depth of flavor by adding 1-2 allspice berries.
- Vary the vegetables and add some colorful bell peppers.
- Make it a one-pot meal by adding protein, like thinly sliced chicken or shrimp.
What kind of cabbage to use
There are many different types of cabbage, and they can all work with this dish. I prefer green cabbage but use whatever cabbage you have on hand.
Some options include napa cabbage or red cabbage. They all have slightly different flavors and textures, so you can play with them to see which one you like best.
Napa cabbage is softer and milder, red cabbage is more bitter and crunchier, and green cabbage sits between the two.
It’s worth noting that a softer napa cabbage will cook a little quicker, whereas a crunchy red cabbage will take a little longer, so adapt cooking times to suit the variety of cabbage you use.
How to adjust this steamed cabbage recipe
This recipe serves six but can be easily adapted to make a bigger or smaller batch. Here are the best ways to do this.
Double: To make a large batch of this cabbage, double all the ingredients; just make sure to use a big enough pan or cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a big sauté pan, you can use a large dutch oven instead.
Halve: If you’re only serving one or two people and don’t need as many servings, you can cut the ingredients in half. Keep an eye on the cooking time as it will cook faster when there’s less cabbage in the pan.
What meat goes well with steamed cabbage?
If you want to serve this tender cabbage recipe with your favorite protein, you can absolutely do so!
This easy side dish is versatile and pairs well with pork chops, chicken, sausages, steaks, and rich and hearty stews.
It also works well with fish and vegetable-based dishes, and I’ve included some serving suggestions below.
How to serve this steamed cabbage recipe
Jamaican steamed cabbage is easy to make and can be served with a variety of different main dishes, including meat, fish and vegetable-based dishes.
Try it with my Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken, or Jamaican Rice and Peas.
It also makes a great low-carb alternative to rice when served alongside stews and curries.
If you love cabbage as much as I do, here are some other great cabbage side options to serve with dinner, including my fried cabbage, instant pot buttered cabbage, sweet and sour cabbage, or Jamaican corned beef and cabbage.
How to store
To refrigerate: Keep any leftover cabbage in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. You can reheat it in a small bowl in the microwave in 30-second increments until it’s warm all the way through.
To meal prep: This is a great recipe to prep ahead of time; all you need to do is steam right before you’re ready to eat. Slice the cabbage and prepare the other ingredients earlier in the day, then follow the instructions on the recipe card when ready to cook.
For this recipe, I prefer to slice the cabbage, but you can also shred or chop the cabbage. Keep in mind that thinner shredded or finely chopped cabbage will cook faster.
I always rinse the outer layers of cabbage before chopping and cooking. Just be sure to shake off any excess water after rinsing.
There’s no need to soak cabbage before you cook it. It will be slightly crunchier if it’s not soaked beforehand.
The longer you cook your cabbage, the more it will soften. For crunchier cabbage, cook for 6-8 minutes; for softer cabbage, cook for about 10-12 minutes.
If you have tried this Jamaican cabbage recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below!
Jamaican Steamed Cabbage
- 1/2 cabbage sliced, about 4 cups
- 2 carrots peeled and sliced
- 1 Roma tomato chopped
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 4 green onions chopped
- 4 stalks thyme
- 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper seeds and stem remove and chopped
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper or to taste
- Add all the ingredients to a large pan over medium heat and cover with a lid.
- Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes, until the cabbage is soft and tender. Remove from the heat and remove the stalks of thyme before serving.
- The longer you cook your cabbage, the more it will soften. It comes down to taste, so cook for 6-8 minutes for crunchier cabbage. For softer cabbage, cook for 10-12 minutes.
- The heat in this cabbage side is easily adapted to suit tastes by adding or reducing the amount of Scotch bonnet pepper you add to the dish. If you don’t like your food spicy, you can leave it out altogether.
- To keep the carrot thin, use a vegetable peeler to slice the carrot thinly.
- This recipe uses kosher salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount of salt suggested.
Cathy Diane Miles
Friday 5th of May 2023
Hi. I love ur recipes special ur Jamaican oxtail stew is there another way of u could cook oxtails .thank you Cathy
Monday 8th of May 2023
Thank you. Absolutely! I also have an oxtail soup recipe that has a different flavor profile. https://www.myforkinglife.com/oxtail-soup/
Monday 16th of January 2023
OMG! This recipe turned out delicious! Followed instructions to the “t” and it was perfect! Not surprised as all your recipes are awesome! Thanks Tanya! We need a cookbook now!
Tuesday 17th of January 2023
Thanks so much Wanda! Glad you liked the recipe. A book is on my goals list.
Saturday 14th of January 2023
Thanks for this recipe! I made it to go along with Jamaican Braised Pork Neck Bones and Red Beans and Rice. The cabbage was a perfect addition to what turned out to be a wonderful meal. I wasn't able to find Scotch Bonnet Peppers so I substituted Yellow Habanero. I did however use your suggestion of using a peeler to thin slice the carrots. The flavor combination was spot on. Next try I will turn up the heat a bit. Two big thumbs up!
Tuesday 17th of January 2023
Thanks Christopher! I agree, peeling the carrots is my favorite part of this recipe. When I saw my mom do it, my mind was blown lol.
Monday 31st of October 2022
Hi! Think I can use red cabbage in this recipe?
Tuesday 1st of November 2022
Hi Aisha, you can, it'll just taste and look slightly different.
Sunday 9th of October 2022
I made this Jamaican steamed cabbage today and it came out pretty tasty! Not to sure what flavor profiles the allspice berries really added, but it was delicious. I omitted the scotch bonnet, but can easily see how a little heat would kick up the dish.