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Can Grilled Cabbage Be A Crowd Pleaser ? How To Make Yours Great

If you’re looking to change up your grilling routine, look no further. These grilled cabbage steaks are going to be a hit at the BBQ party.

While grilled cabbage isn’t a very common thing, it’s actually delicious, if you know how to make it.

So let me help you out with that.

So can grilled cabbage be a crowd pleaser ?

Yes, if grilled properly then grilled cabbage can be a crowd pleaser. The sauce/topping you add makes all the difference, so I’m going to insist on that too.

The thing with cabbage is that it’s a rather neutral flavor, and will take almost anything you throw at it. So you can season and sauce it however you like, or however your guests like.

And the novelty of it will also turn the grilled cabbage into a hit, just for being unexpectedly good.

The whole point of grilled cabbage is to change up things, and include more veggies into one’s daily meals. And what better way to do that but by grilling them ?

What makes grilled cabbage great ?

Grilled cabbage is very different from boiled or fried cabbage. Those usually have a soft texture, and actually become mushy after a while if you don’t know when to stop cooking.

They’re also a bit bland in taste, since cabbage doesn’t have a very distinctive flavor.

But it does resemble cauliflower in a way, and can be a bit off-putting unless seasoned with something strong like onion, garlic, bacon, curry, etc.

But what about grilled cabbage ? Is grilled cabbage any good ? And how is it different ?

First, it’s not as mushy as boiled or fried cabbage. This leads to a more interesting texture. It’s soft enough to easily cut into and chew, but crisp enough on the outside to give a bit of a crunch.

Second, the grill really changes cabbage’s overall flavor. If fried cabbage that manages to get burned is horrible, then grilled cabbage is going to be great, since it’s a different flavor.

So you’re getting soft on the inside, crisp on the outside, smoky flavor, and char marks all over your cabbage slices. It really does make a great combination.

Again, this is half the meal. The other half is the sauce or seasoning, and how well you do that is going to determine the success of your meal. I’ll get to that in a bit.

How to make grilled cabbage steak

When making grilled cabbage you’re going to need very little in the way of ingredients.

The main ingredient here is the cabbage head, and a bit of seasoning. The sauce recipe will follow shortly.

So for grilled cabbage you’ll need:

  • 1 cabbage head, large if you’re having many guests.
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil for a light rub

As soon as you’re ready to grill the cabbage, you can take it out of the fridge.

Remove the thick outer leaves (first 5-6) to get to the clean, tender leaves on the inside. Run the cabbage under a stream of cold water.

Pat dry, and also remove the outside stem, if that’s something your cabbage still has.

Get yourself a very large, very easy to handle kitchen knife. A chef’s knife or a cleaver will be good. You need something with a wide, sturdy blade as cabbage can be very stubborn and roll out of your hands.

Use a kitchen towel to keep it in place, and see-saw motions instead of just pushing down, or even sliding forward and back.

You’ll need to cut large slices of the cabbage, and I recommend you cut it from top to stem (vertically). This way the leaves will mostly stay in place.

Cutting them horizontally will net you a mess of broken leaves that won’t stay put. Unless you’re using aluminium foil, and I’ll get to that in a bit.

The cuts (steaks) should be about an inch thick, possibly less if your cabbage is very large and has thick veins.

Once your cuts are all done, fire up the grill to medium-high.

Oil your cabbage steaks with a bit of vegetable oil, or olive oil, or any oil you like. Just be sure to not overdo it, as it can ruin the flavor.

Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

As soon as your grill is hot enough, place the well oiled and seasoned cabbage steaks onto it.

Let them sit, undisturbed for 5-6 minutes on one side, with the lid on.

After those minutes have passed, try and flip the steaks. They should come off easy, but still hold together fairly well. Be sure to use a wide spatula, or possibly two if you’re afraid of it falling apart.

Once successfully flipped, let the cabbage sit again for about 10 minutes, with the lid on.

How long you need to cook them is determined by how thick the slices are, and how fresh/young the cabbage is.

Check every few minutes with a toothpick. If it slides into the cabbage very easily, you’ve gone too far and the slices will be hard to remove without ruining them.

But if the toothpick gets some resistance from the cabbage, but still goes through, then you’re done. The grilled cabbage should be tender on the inside, but a bit crispy on the outside.

How to avoid a mess when grilling cabbage

A mess is pretty much bound to happen when grilling cabbage, simply because of the way it’s made.

Cabbage is basically one big ball of leaves, and only the stem/heart in the middle is holding everything together. Which is why I recommend slicing it vertically, so you don’t disturb the layout too much.

But you can also avoid a mess by using aluminium foil. Either use heavy-duty foil, or 2-3 sheets of regular aluminium foil.

Oil and season your cabbage as usual, and place it onto the aluminium foil. Wrap it well enough that the cabbage will be held together, but leave a small opening for the steam to release and the smoke to enter.

If necessary, poke a few small holes into the foil with a toothpick.

After the final flip, you can almost completely open the foil to allow more smoke to come in, For this, you need very sturdy aluminium foil.

With this method, any kind of slice will do, but you’ll get less char marks. Easier cleanup, though.

Best sauces to serve with grilled cabbage

So we’ve just established that the best grilled cabbage is largely decided by its sauce. Now, many sauces and toppings will do in this case, but I’ll leave you with two options here.

If the grilled cabbage is the main dish

A wonderful sauce for such a dish, being a main one, is going to have to go well with a smoky flavor.

And for this I recommend a nice cheese and garlic sauce. Bacon bits optional.

For garlic cheese sauce, you’ll need:

  • 7 oz cheese of your choice, I recommend fresh, stringy cheese
  • 7 fl oz whole milk
  • salt and pepper, or possibly cayenne
  • a few chopped parsley leaves
  • garlic powder, or 2 cloves grated fresh garlic
  • (optional) fresh bacon, chopped finely

In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Make sure it doesn’t spill over. Keep it on a low flame. Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you like. Add the parsley as well.

Separately, cut up the cheese in very, very small bits. As small as your patience will allow. It needs to melt into the milk.

Once the milk is hot, and the cheese cut, add the cheese to the milk. Turn the heat off, never let it get back to boiling point or the cheese will become powdery and get a terrible texture.

Stir the pot for a couple of minutes, it will look bad at first. But after a few minutes the heat of the milk will melt the cheese, and you should get a well coagulated sauce.

If you want to add any bacon, fry it up in the same pan as the sauce, before beginning any of this. Before adding the milk.

If you’re planning on adding fresh garlic instead of powdered, that will need a quick fry (30 seconds) in a bit of oil, or in the bacon fat if you’re using bacon.

All in all, you should have a very fragrant cheese and garlic sauce, and it should be the consistency of a thicker heavy cream.

If you want your sauce thicker, do not use a 1:1 cheese and milk ratio. Double the cheese, or half the milk, whichever way you like.

If grilled cabbage is a side dish

If your grilled cabbage is a side dish, you’ll want something fresh to go with it, that won’t overpower the main dish.

So I recommend you go for a Greek Tzatziki sauce. You’ll need:

  • 14 oz Greek yogurt, I recommend you don’t skimp on the fat here
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • a lot of garlic, either powdered or fresh.
  • 1 large English cucumber

In a very large bowl, cut up the English cucumber into small cubes. You’ll need it very small, something like 1/8 of an inch.

If your yogurt has some whey on top, make sure to strain it since we don’t need a lot of water content, aside from the cucumbers.

Add all the yogurt into the bowl, along with the seasonings, garlic, and olive oil.

Stir everything together, and you should have a very delicious and fragrant sauce/salad.

Let sit in the fridge (covered) at least an hour before serving; this need to be very well chilled.

The cucumber will bring a nice crunch to the meal, and also keep it light.

If you want this sauce to keep overnight, make sure to remove the cucumber seeds when cutting the veggie. This also means you’re going to throw out much of the cucumber, so you might want to use two in this case.


Grilled cabbage is a great way to change things up when you’re grilling 5 days out of 7, and it’s bound to raise a few questions from your guests.

Which is always great, since it allows you to both show off your grilling knowledge, and impress your guests.

Always keep trying new things, who know what new recipe you might happen upon ?