The Ultimate Smothered Cabbage Recipe for Food Lovers

Picture yourself sitting down at a table filled with delicious and savory southern dishes. The aromas of smoked ham, fried cabbage, and collard greens fill the air as your mouth waters in anticipation. As a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, there’s one dish that never fails to leave a lasting impression on my guests: Southern “New Year’s” Smothered Cabbage Recipe.

The tradition of eating black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring luck and good fortune throughout the year. This hearty and comforting smothered cabbage recipe is a staple in the South during the holiday season, but it’s also perfect for any day of the year.

Made with simple ingredients like onion and bacon, this dish will fill your belly while satisfying your taste buds. The combination of tender cabbage and salty bacon provides a perfect contrast to each other, making every bite a warm hug in your mouth.

Whether you’re new to traditional Southern foods or want to start the new year right with a classic recipe, this smothered cabbage dish is sure to be one of your go-to recipes. So grab some ham hocks or smoked ham and break out your favorite pot; it’s time to cook up some soulful goodness!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern “New Year’s” Smothered Cabbage

Y’all, let me tell you why this Southern “New Year’s” Smothered Cabbage Recipe is a must-have for your table. First of all, the combination of savory bacon, sweet onion, and tender cabbage make for an irresistible flavor profile that will have your taste buds doing the happy dance. Plus, it’s a tradition to eat black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Day in the South, as they are supposed to bring luck and good fortune for the year ahead.

But this recipe is so much more than just a traditional dish. It’s soul food at its finest, rooted in the rich history and culture of Southern cuisine. The smothered technique used to cook the cabbage infuses it with deep flavor and produces a melt-in-your-mouth texture that will leave you craving more.

And let’s not forget about the versatility of this recipe. You can switch things up by adding in different proteins like smoked ham, sausage or ham hock to take it to the next level. Or use collard greens instead of cabbage if you’re feeling adventurous.

Overall, this Southern “New Year’s” Smothered Cabbage Recipe is one you’ll want to make time and time again. It’s a dish that brings people together and celebrates the start of a new year right. Trust me when I say that it’s a recipe that you won’t regret making!

Ingredient List

 Savory and hearty: Southern Smothered Cabbage
Savory and hearty: Southern Smothered Cabbage

Here are all the ingredients you’ll need for this Southern Smothered Cabbage Recipe:

Main Ingredients

  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper

Optional Ingredients

  • 1 can of black-eyed peas (rinsed and drained)
  • Smoked sausage, sliced
  • Potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Collard greens

Make sure to use fresh cabbage for this recipe. You can also add some black-eyed peas, which are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day in the South and are believed to bring good luck throughout the year. The bacon adds a smoky flavor to this dish, while the onion enhances the overall taste. And we can’t forget about the smoked ham hock, which is essential in bringing richness and depth to the gravy. For an extra taste and texture, feel free to add some sliced smoked sausage or chopped potatoes. And if you’re a fan of collard greens, adding them to this dish would make it even better!

The Recipe How-To

 Perfectly seasoned and slow-cooked to perfection
Perfectly seasoned and slow-cooked to perfection

Now that we have gathered all the ingredients, let’s dive into the recipe.

Step 1: Preparing the Cabbage

To start off making this Southern “New Year’s” Smothered Cabbage Recipe, clean a large head of cabbage and cut it into medium-sized wedges. Make sure to remove any damaged leaves before cutting.

Step 2: Frying the Bacon

Get out your cast-iron skillet, heat it over medium heat and add 4 slices of bacon. Fry them until they are crispy then remove them from the skillet and roughly chop them into small pieces. But keep the bacon grease in a pan for cooking later.

Step 3: Sauteing the Onion

Next, peel and chop one medium-sized onion and dice them finely. Put it on the skillet with the bacon grease, saute for about 3-4 minutes or until they are translucent.

Step 4: Adding Sweet Potatoes

Now is where we add our first variation – adding some sweet potatoes that will give a delightful sweetness to our dish, cut them into small bite-sized pieces and add them to the skillet.

Step 5: The Main Ingredient

The star of our show – one can of drained black-eyed peas goes next into the skillet with all other succulent flavors that will take this dish to another level! Mix all of these ingredients together for about a minute.

Step 6: Adding Your Seasonings

Next up, it’s time to add some flavor by mixing our custom blend of seasoning – paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper – in a small bowl or ramekin then sprinkle it over your mixture. Use any additional seasoning that you might like which suits your taste.

Step 7: Steam The Cabbage

Once you’ve seasoned everything, you need to quickly place the cabbage on top of the mixture. Add some water 1/4 cup at a time, and make sure if the bottom is not burnt. Then cover, and let everything simmer for about 15 minutes over medium heat.

Step 8: Finishing Touch

Finally, add your diced cooked or smoked ham hock or sausage, your collard greens, then put back our previously-fried bacon and chopped parsley on top – this will give you an explosion of taste in your mouth with every bite!

This smothered cabbage recipe is best served hot with any main entree of your liking, but it’s also delicious as a standalone dish. So, there you have it; you brought southern cuisines together in a simple and easy-to-make way!

Substitutions and Variations

 Bringing in the New Year with a delicious traditional dish
Bringing in the New Year with a delicious traditional dish

Now, let me be honest with you, the beauty of Southern cooking is that it allows plenty of room for experimentation and personalization. Although this recipe is already amazing as it is, I know some of you might want to tweak a few things to make it fit your taste buds.

To start with, instead of bacon, you can use ham hock or smoked ham to add a more smoky flavor to the dish. Or even a combination of different meats like bacon and sausage. If you want to make it vegetarian, you can omit the bacon and add more onions and mushrooms for that umami flavor.

If cabbage isn’t your thing, you can also try this recipe with collard greens or Brussels sprouts. The cooking time may vary depending on the veggies you use, so keep an eye on it.

For those of you who are superstitious and planning to eat black-eyed peas and cabbage for New Year’s Day, but don’t have much time to cook, this recipe can be done in a slow cooker or instant pot. Just brown the meat and saute the onions first before adding them to the slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a one-pan meal, try making skillet smothered cabbage with potatoes. Cut up some potatoes into bite-sized pieces and throw them in with the cabbage during cooking. You end up with a perfectly balanced meal without needing to fuss too much.

Remember that cooking is all about having fun while experimenting guided by your taste buds. So feel free to mix and match ingredients until you find what satisfies your cravings.

Serving and Pairing

 Simmering on low, the flavors meld together in perfect harmony
Simmering on low, the flavors meld together in perfect harmony

Now that you’ve made this delectable Southern “New Year’s” smothered cabbage recipe, it’s time to serve and pair it with some complementary flavors. This dish is a great addition to your New Year’s Day feast, as it is believed to bring good luck and prosperity for the upcoming year.

Serving Suggestions:

This smothered cabbage can be served as a side dish or a main course depending on your preference. It pairs well with a variety of foods including:

1. Black-eyed peas – A classic Southern New Year’s Day tradition is to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens with ham hock for good luck. Add them as a flavorful side dish to this smothered cabbage recipe.

2. Smoked ham – A salty and smoky flavor of ham is perfect to accompany the sweet yet savory flavors of the cabbage. You can crumble a little cooked ham or ham hock into your smothered cabbage for an extra layer of flavor.

3. Sausage – You can try variations by adding chopped sausage, like smoked or kielbasa or even Andouille sausage, to add some bold flavors in the dish.

Pairing Recommendations:

This dish goes well with light or medium-bodied wines, beers, or other beverages that have enough acidity to cut through the rich and earthy flavors of the slaw-like dish. Here are some suggestions for pairing:

1. Pinot Noir – This wine pair well with savory flavors while complementing the natural sweetness in the cabbage.

2. Amber Ale – The toasted flavors of amber ale balance out the sweetness and add complexity to the savory components of this Southern smothered cabbage recipe.

3. Sweet Tea – A classic sweet tea drink complements the sweet and sour flavors of the dish.

No matter what you serve it with, this traditional Southern New Year’s dish will always be a hit at your dinner table any time of the year.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A southern classic that's sure to please any crowd
A southern classic that’s sure to please any crowd

Let me tell you something, sugar: there’s nothing better than a recipe that can be prepared ahead of time. This Southern Smothered Cabbage Recipe is no exception. It’s the perfect dish to cook the night before your New Year’s Day celebration – that way, you can enjoy the festivities without worrying about being stuck in the kitchen all day.

If you’re making this recipe ahead of time, cook the cabbage and ham hocks as directed, but don’t add the bacon or potatoes just yet – save those ingredients for when you reheat it. Once it’s cooked, let it cool in the fridge, then store it in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve. Y’all can even freeze leftovers if needed.

When reheating, I suggest adding some broth or water to the pot and bringing it to a simmer before adding back in the bacon and potatoes. This will help prevent dryness and ensure that all flavors are fully incorporated. You can reheat on the stove or in a microwave – whichever tickles your fancy.

Trust me honey, this recipe always tastes better when shared with loved ones, so take extra special care when reheating and serving. Your guests will sure be appreciating your thoughtfulness and kindness while they indulge in this smothered cabbage goodness!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Comfort food at its best: Smothered Cabbage
Comfort food at its best: Smothered Cabbage

Southern-style cuisine is all about soulful flavors and comforting dishes. And when it comes to making smothered cabbage, you want to ensure that every bite packs a punch of flavor. After all, this dish is a southern tradition that symbolizes good luck and prosperity for the New Year. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to make the perfect smothered cabbage recipe.

Tip #1: Use High-Quality Ingredients

The key to making delicious southern-style food is starting with the freshest and highest quality ingredients. Make sure your cabbage is fresh and crisp, your bacon is thick and smoky, and your sausage and ham hocks are of good quality. By using high-quality ingredients, you’ll be able to enhance the flavors of the dish and create a depth of flavors.

Tip #2: Don’t Overcook Your Cabbage

One of the biggest mistakes people make when cooking smothered cabbage is overcooking it. Cabbage naturally has a high water content, so it’s important not to cook it for too long, or you’ll end up with a mushy mess. To avoid this, cook your cabbage until it’s just tender enough to bite into but still has texture.

Tip #3: Add Bacon or Ham Hocks for Extra Flavor

If you want to take your smothered cabbage recipe to the next level, add some bacon or ham hocks for extra flavor. The smokiness from the bacon or ham hock will infuse into the cabbage and give it a rich, savory taste that can’t be beat.

Tip #4: Let Your Cabbage Marinate Overnight

For even more depth of flavor, let your smothered cabbage marinate overnight in the refrigerator before serving. This allows all of the flavors to meld together and creates an even more complex flavor profile.

Tip #5: Serve with Black-Eyed Peas and Collard Greens

In the Southern tradition, serving smothered cabbage with black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day is believed to bring good luck and prosperity for the year ahead. So don’t forget to include these dishes in your Southern New Year’s Day feast.

By following these tips, you can create a smothered cabbage recipe that’s bursting with flavor and soulful goodness. So go ahead and start your New Year off right with this traditional Southern dish.


As a chef specializing in Southern-style cuisine, I know that there may be some questions about this Smothered Cabbage Recipe. Whether you’re making it for New Year’s Day or just because you love Southern comfort food, I want to help ensure that everything goes smoothly in the kitchen. In this section, I’ll address some frequently asked questions about the recipe and provide answers to help make your cooking experience as stress-free as possible.

What is the tradition of cabbage on New Year’s Day?

As we approach New Year’s, many people follow the eastern European tradition of consuming cabbage either as a dish or as cabbage rolls. This customary practice is believed to bring good luck, especially when it comes to money. The idea is that by eating cabbage on New Year’s, you can increase your chances of having financial prosperity in the upcoming year.

How do you make Patti Labelle cabbage?

To start off this southern-style recipe, grab a large pot and heat up some grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Once heated, it’s time to add in our star ingredient – cabbage, alongside onions, and bell peppers. Add some stock, a pinch of sea salt, seasoning salt for extra flavor, black pepper, and cayenne for a kick. Cover the pot with a lid and let everything cook together for about 10 minutes, making sure to occasionally stir to prevent burning until the cabbage has wilted and is tender.

Are you supposed to cook cabbage on New Year’s Day?

Eating black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Day is a customary practice in New Orleans to bring in good fortune for the upcoming year. Although I wasn’t fond of cooked cabbage, I came up with a recipe that completely changed my perspective on it.

Why put bread soda in cabbage?

One useful trick to enhance the smell and appearance of boiled cabbage involves the addition of baking soda to the cooking process. This can prevent the distinct odor of cooked cabbage and help maintain its vivid green color, even if it has been boiling for a while.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Southern “New Year’s” Smothered Cabbage recipe is more than just a dish – it’s a tradition. It brings together the rich history and soulful flavors of Southern cuisine and is the perfect way to start your New Year’s Day or celebrate any special occasion. With its combination of tender cabbage, savory bacon, and smoky ham hock, it’s no wonder this dish is a crowd-pleaser.

Not only is this recipe delicious, but it also has cultural significance. Eating black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Day is a longstanding tradition meant to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year. By incorporating these ingredients into your meal, you’re honoring the traditions of Southern culture and passing them down to future generations.

So, whether you’re looking to start a new tradition or simply want to enjoy a comforting soul food dish, this Southern “New Year’s” Smothered Cabbage recipe is sure to impress. With its simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, anyone can make this dish at home. And with the flexibility to substitute or vary the ingredients, you can make it your own.

I invite you to try this recipe for yourself and experience the joy that comes from sharing home-cooked meals with loved ones. Whether enjoyed on New Year’s Day or any day of the year, this dish embodies the warmth and hospitality of Southern cuisine. So go ahead and start cooking – you won’t be disappointed!

Southern "New Year's" Smothered Cabbage

Southern “New Year’s” Smothered Cabbage Recipe

It is a New Orleans tradition to eat black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Years day. Its supposed to bring you luck in the year to come. I personally didn't care for cooked cabbage until I came up with this recipe.
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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern American
Calories 587.1 kcal


  • 1 head cabbage, sliced
  • 1 lb bacon, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper


  • In a large pot cook bacon, remove and drain, reserving the fat.
  • Add onion to bacon fat and cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Add cabbage and drained bacon and saute for 5-10 minutes.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 245gCalories: 587.1kcalCarbohydrates: 16.5gProtein: 16.4gFat: 51.3gSaturated Fat: 17.1gCholesterol: 77.1mgSodium: 986.6mgFiber: 6.1gSugar: 8.4g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Easy, Stove Top, Vegetable
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