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Does purple and green cabbage cook the same?

Cabbage comes in a variety of colors, but two of the most common are green and purple. Both add great flavor and nutrients to dishes, but they have some key differences when it comes to cooking. Understanding how purple and green cabbage differ can help you choose the right one for your recipes.

What is the difference between green and purple cabbage?

Green and purple cabbage are different cultivars of the same plant species, Brassica oleracea. The main differences between them are:


Green cabbage has light green leaves. Purple cabbage is darker in color, with leaves that range from deep purple to blue or reddish-purple.


Green cabbage has a mild, delicate flavor. Purple cabbage has a peppery, tangy taste.

Nutrient content

Both contain vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber. Purple cabbage has more vitamin C and anthocyanins, which are antioxidant compounds that give it the purple color.


Green cabbage is more versatile and common in things like coleslaw and stir fries. The bolder flavor of purple cabbage makes it ideal for dishes like braised cabbage, salads, and slaws when you want a kick.

How does cooking affect purple and green cabbage differently?

The different chemical makeups of green and purple cabbage cause them to react differently during cooking. Here are some of the main ways their cooking behaviors differ:

Color change

Green cabbage retains its original light green color when cooked. Purple cabbage will turn a shade of blue, green, or grey when cooked. The anthocyanins change color based on the cabbage’s exposure to heat and acids.


Green cabbage leaves soften faster during cooking compared to purple cabbage. Purple cabbage leaves tend to remain somewhat crispy, even when thoroughly cooked.


The tangy, peppery notes of raw purple cabbage mellow out a lot more compared to green cabbage when cooked. Green cabbage retains a higher amount of its original fresh, vegetal flavors.

Nutrient retention

Some studies show purple cabbage retains more antioxidants like vitamin C and anthocyanins after cooking compared to green cabbage. This is likely because the sturdier cell structure of purple cabbage leaves protects the nutrients better.

Best cooking methods for green and purple cabbage

To highlight the unique characteristics of each type, here are some recommended cooking methods:

Green cabbage

– Raw in salads and slaws
– Quick stir frying or sautéing
– Braising or boiling in soups and stews
– Roasting wedges or slices

Purple cabbage

– Raw in salads, slaws, and wraps
– Braising or simmering in liquids to soften texture
– Roasting chunks or wedges to caramelize
– Grilling for charred flavor

How to adjust recipes when substituting green for purple cabbage (or vice versa)

When swapping one for the other in recipes, keep these tips in mind:

– If the dish cooks quickly, the substitution will work well since the cabbage won’t have time to change color and texture drastically. In long-cooked dishes, expect more variation.

– Use less purple cabbage compared to green when substituting. The bolder flavor means you need less purple cabbage to get the same amount of cabbage flavor.

– Add lemon juice or an acidic ingredient like vinegar when cooking purple cabbage. The acid helps retain the purple color better.

– For salads, slaws or raw dishes, purple cabbage will need less dressing or oil to coat since it has more natural moisture.

– If using purple cabbage in place of green in a warm side dish or sauté, add a splash of water periodically to keep it from drying out.

– When steaming or microwaving purple cabbage, wrap in a damp paper towel to prevent over-drying on the edges.

Cabbage cooking times

Below are approximate cooking times for boiling, braising, roasting, and sautéing each type of cabbage.

Green cabbage

Cooking method Cooking time
Boiling chopped green cabbage 5-8 minutes
Simmering wedges in broth or liquid 25-35 minutes
Sautéed green cabbage 8-12 minutes
Roasted green cabbage wedges at 400°F 25-40 minutes

Purple cabbage

Cooking method Cooking time
Boiling chopped purple cabbage 6-10 minutes
Braising wedges 30-40 minutes
Stir-fried purple cabbage 10-15 minutes
Roasted purple cabbage wedges at 425°F 30-45 minutes

As you can see, the denser structure of purple cabbage means it often takes a little longer to become tender when boiled, braised, or roasted.

Recipe ideas for green and purple cabbage

Here are some recipe ideas that highlight the best qualities of each cabbage variety:

Green cabbage recipes

– Coleslaw with creamy dressing
– Stir fried cabbage with ginger and garlic
– Cabbage roll soup or stuffed cabbage rolls
– Braised corned beef and cabbage
– Cabbage steaks with herb rub

Purple cabbage recipes

– Purple cabbage coleslaw with lemon-herb dressing
– Braised purple cabbage with apples and onions
– Grilled purple cabbage wedges
– Purple cabbage salad with creamy blue cheese dressing and walnuts
– Potstickers stuffed with pork and purple cabbage


While both green and purple cabbage can be used interchangeably in some recipes, understanding their differences in flavor, texture, and cooking times can help you get the best results. When their unique characteristics are highlighted through proper cooking methods, both cabbage varieties add wonderful colors, tastes, and nutrients to a meal.

So whether you opt for the mild sweetness of green cabbage or the tangy crunch of purple, you can’t go wrong incorporating these nutritious cruciferous vegetables into your recipes. With the tips above, you can easily swap one for the other and adjust cooking times and techniques to enjoy their fantastic flavors.