Learn how to make Jamaican steamed cabbage with this tasty and easy recipe! Made with wholesome vegetables such as carrots and bell peppers, it makes for a quick, easy and flavorful side dish.
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I first had Jamaican steamed cabbage as a student in London, served alongside grilled jerk chicken and well, it was love at first bite. It goes without saying that after my first taste, I knew I had to learn how to make it at home.
why you will love this recipe
- This steamed cabbage recipe is flavorful, quick to prepare, and perfect for beginners as the steps are pretty straightforward.
- Made without cream, it is also dairy-free, whole-30, paleo-friendly, vegan, vegetarian and low-carb.
- Budget friendly and readily-available.
This is a summary of the ingredients you will need to make this recipe, along with possible substitutions. Detailed measurements and step-by-step instructions have been provided in the recipe card below.
- fresh cabbage - the best types of cabbage to use are the white and green kinds, as these have their leaves tightly packed together. Other hard cabbage types such as cannonball cabbage also work great. I do not recommend using the soft kind, such as savoy or bok choy.
- extra virgin olive oil - or any cooking oil of your choice. You can also use regular unsalted butter. Just be careful if on special diets such as the keto or paleo diets, as you will have to select a suitable diet-friendly cooking oil in this case.
- scallions (also known as green or spring onion) - these are in my opinion, a must-have. They add another dimension of taste to the dish, and I do not advise leaving them out.
- scotch bonnet pepper - this is a common kitchen ingredient in Caribbean cooking and almost never misses in most dishes. Feel free to omit this or use milder pepper, if you are not accustomed to eating spicy food.
- other vegetables and herb(s): red and yellow bell pepper (cut julienne style), red or yellow onion, garlic cloves, carrots, and thyme.
- salt to taste.
- water or vegetable stock - If you decide to use vegetable stock instead of water, then by all means check that it is low in sodium.
how to make Jamaican steamed cabbage with carrots
- Clean and slice the vegetables. In a medium-sized pot, non-stick wok, or pan, fry the onion and garlic.
- Add the scallions, carrot, scotch bonnet pepper, and thyme.
- Next, add the cabbage, salt, and water or vegetable stock, and allow this to steam covered, for a few minutes before adding the julienned peppers. Normally, the peppers are added to the pot together with the cabbage but adding them at a later stage gives the dish so much flavor! Check for salt, add more if needed then serve on plates and enjoy. For a more tender Jamaican steamed cabbage, allow the cabbage to cook longer.
refrigeration and freezing
- In the fridge - just like most vegetables, Jamaican cabbage can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for 3-5 days. When you are ready to eat it, just warm it up in a suitable container in the microwave.
- Freezing - You can also keep it in the freezer for up to 12 months. To use, thaw it overnight in the fridge and heat it up in the microwave or in a pan.
There is really no limitation on how you can adapt your steamed cabbage. Here are a few combinations that you can try out:-
- Seasoning - add a tablespoon of smoked paprika for some lovely color and a very mild heat or enhance the flavor by using all-purpose seasoning.
- Protein - add corned beef to make some tasty Jamaican corned beef and cabbage or use other types of protein such as saltfish, shrimp, chicken, sausage, or fried bacon.
- Coconut cream - for a more creamy taste, use one can of coconut milk instead of water.
- Heat- the scotch bonnet pepper is optional. Throw in the scotch bonnet pepper whole and then simply take it out before serving or use other milder peppers, if you prefer less heat.
- Cooking time varies with cabbage size and desired tenderness. Smaller cabbages cook faster, so adjust accordingly.
- If the pot seems dry, add extra water or stock in quarter-cup increments as needed, depending on cabbage type.
- Handle scotch bonnet pepper with care, preferably using gloves to avoid eye irritation.
- If your pot or pan is small, cook in batches, allowing each to wilt before adding more. This method may result in uneven cooking, with earlier batches softer than later ones.
In the Caribbean, Jamaican cabbage is normally served with Jamaican Salt Fish, Jerk Chicken or Pork, Ackee and Saltfish, Jamaican Rice and Peas, and pumpkin rice, just to mention a few. It is also the perfect dish to serve to guests during parties, summer grills, or potlucks as it goes well with just about anything!!
frequently asked questions
The time needed to cook this Caribbean cabbage will depend on how crunchy you like it. The traditional way is to however give the cabbage enough time to steam, normally around 20 to 30 minutes.
Eating cabbage has also been proven to provide many health benefits. It is loaded with fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and other useful vitamins and minerals. The good news is that a serving of this cabbage has only about 164 calories and only 10 grams of net carbs, making it a great side dish for those on a low-calorie and low-carb diet.
Updated on December 11, 2023: Certain parts of this recipe have been simplified to enhance clarity and readability.
Jamaican Steamed Cabbage
- 1 cabbage medium-sized
- ½ onion medium
- ½ cup scallions or green onion sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ½ large bell pepper red
- ½ large bell pepper yellow
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 carrot medium
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or regular unsalted butter
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper optional
- 1 cup water or vegetable stock
- Prepare, wash, and slice the cabbage, scallions (or spring onions), carrot, bell pepper, and onions. Crush garlic using a pestle and mortar or slice it finely.
- On medium heat, in a medium-sized pot, non-stick wok, or pan, heat oil and fry onions and garlic. Then add scallions, carrot, scotch bonnet pepper, and thyme.
- Add the cabbage, salt, and water or vegetable stock. Steam for about 10 minutes before adding the julienned peppers. Adding the peppers at a later stage enhances the flavor.
- Steam your cabbage for a further 5 minutes before serving if you prefer it crunchier. For a more tender Jamaican steamed cabbage, allow it to further steam, for about 10-15 more minutes before serving.
- Check for salt and add more if needed.
- Serve with saltfish and ackee, jerk chicken or pork, or your favorite Caribbean dishes.
INSTANT POT METHOD
- Set the Instant Pot to SAUTE and NORMAL temperature. Add olive oil and allow to heat. Fry the onions, scallions or spring onions, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper (optional) until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and allow to saute for about 3 minutes.
- Add the cabbage, julienned peppers, carrots and vegetable stock or water.
- Lock the lid of the Instant Pot and set the nozzle to SEAL. Set the settings of the Instant Pot to PRESSURE COOK or MANUAL and set the time to 3 minutes on HIGH.
- Once the set cooking time has passed, set the nozzle to vent for pressure QUICK RELEASE.
- Open the lid and stir. Add more salt if needed then serve.