Day 339: Cabbage Sprouts ♥

Cabbage Sprouts, another unusual vegetable explained ♥ A Veggie Venture.
Hey, vegetable lovers! Today I cooked a brand-new vegetable (new-to-me anyway), something called a "cabbage sprout". First job, figure out what it is, second step, figure out how to cook it.

Fresh & Seasonal, A Spring Specialty. Weeknight Easy. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly & Freestyle Friendly. Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free.

Cabbage sprouts! I'd never seen them before! Has anyone else come across cabbage sprouts before?

Obvious question: What is a cabbage sprout? (And no, I don't mean broccoli, which apparently means "cabbage sprout" in Italian.) A cabbage sprout is the size of a fist, like loose cabbage leaves, even loose-leaved Brussels sprouts. At the center is a small sprout, about an inch wide, a wonderful little treasure bud that's even more reminiscent of a Brussels sprout.

From the name "cabbage sprout", I suspected – but didn't know for sure – that a cabbage sprout might be a young cabbage, that if it were allowed to grow, the bud in the center would become 'the cabbage' and the outer leaves would become, well remain, the outer leaves of a cabbage. WRONG.

So I asked a farmer at the farmers market. That bud in the center is NOT an immature cabbage. Instead, when a cabbage is harvested, the "sprouts" pop up around the spot where the head was removed! RIGHT!

Cabbage Sprouts, another unusual vegetable explained ♥ A Veggie Venture.
Next question: How do you cook cabbage sprouts? My ever-reliable sources (Epicurious, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, even straight Google and Wikipedia searches) yielded nothing. With tummies grumbling and everything but the vegetable ready to go, I decided on a quick braise, a bit of butter, a bit of liquid, cover and cook.

The ultimate question: How do cabbage sprouts taste? Well, they don't taste much like green cabbage, instead more like a winter green such as collard or kale. They've got good chew factor and taste very "alive" and fresh. I would definitely cook cabbage sprouts like this again! I might try another cooking method, maybe a slow-cook approach with bacon drippings.

Just updated. First published way back in 2006.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon butter (or just a splash of broth)
1 pound cabbage sprouts
Salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter over MEDIUM heat in a large, deep skillet. Remove the sprouts' outer leaves, wash well, discard any that are damaged or seem too thick to cook (in my batch, there were only a couple of leaves like this). Slice off the root end, exposing the center sprout, cut it in half length-wise. Add to the skillet and stir to coat with the butter. Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally, adjusting heat as necessary, adding water or broth as necessary, until fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Season to taste, serve and enjoy!

SHOP AROUND! Because grocery chains stock for neighborhood tastes, a good way to widen your vegetable possibilities is to switch from one store to another on occasion. At this Schnucks store inside the City of St Louis, vs the near-suburbs where I live, I found two brand-new veggies, cabbage sprouts and something called "slick mustard". More on the mustard later!

Still Hungry?

More Favorite Cabbage Recipes

~ Swedish Red Cabbage & Apples ~
~ Cabbage & White Bean Stew ~
~ Peasant Cabbage Tomato Soup ~
~ more cabbage recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Caraway Cabbage ~
~ Baked Cabbage Wedges ~
~ Alice Waters Coleslaw ~
~ more cabbage recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2006, 2015 & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Great photo. I've never seen or heard of this before.

    BTW, my store has promised to have broccoli rabe by next Monday or Tuesday, so I'm excited.

  2. What a neat discovery! I've never heard of these before either. Thanks for sharing. Why don't you include this interesting post in Kalyn's next Weekend Herb Blogging?

  3. I've never heard of them either! Thanks for the enlightenment.

  4. Well, first I heard of cabbage sprouts was last night talking with my mom. She said she was cooking some for dinner. We went on with the conversation then I got the chance to check back with her about her dinner. "Mom, what's cabbage sprouts?" Gees! You should have heard her trying to explain to me what exactly this was. I kept throwing in a questions trying to be sure what it was--about the cabbage head being cut away and what's left at the ground level starts to develop "sprouts." "Oh, it's like Brussel sprouts?" "No, it's not." "Well will it be another cabbage if it's left to grow." "No, it won't." Well, what is it!? It's greens, something like collards . . . So I finally said they don't have anything like that here in Tucson. I've never seen it. My mom's in Chicago and said she got that batch from a Farmer's Market. The merchant had said they were all gone, but my mom looked in the spot and picked around until she got at least a pound and asked how much he wanted for what she had. He told her she could just have it. So she got a bargain dinner and introduced me to something I'm certain I'll have a heck of a time locating. I am an absolute vegetable nut and this sounds like some really great eating! I will be searching for it.


  5. What a story, Pollie! Keep your eyes out, they're worth finding! And let me know how it goes, once you do find them.

  6. I love cabbage sprouts. I have been eating them since I was a kid and I am in my thirties. Grocers in Ohio carry them throughout the year.

  7. My husband grew up in St. Louis, but spent summers in Mississippi. He knew about cabbage sprouts so when we found them at Schnucks in the city, we've been having a feast. I never ate them before, but love most veggies. We've had them weekly since he said they're not in season for long. We cook it just like you mentioned with a little butter ... almost a saute. They've chewy, but good. And yes, it's hard to explain to anyone what they taste like.

  8. Try this-cabbage sprouts mixed with collard greens (equal amounts) and onions. Serve with yams and cornbread.

  9. I can't believe that someone has finally posted something on cabbage sprouts. When we were growing up every spring my father would come home with a very large bag of cabbage sprouts. He would boil them and after draining he would add olive oil, salt and pepper. It was the most fantastic vegetable and I always looked forward to this great tasting vegetable. I've been trying to find this vegetable but no one seems to know what I'm looking for when I try to describe it. It's been over 50 years since I've had any. It's a meal in itself.

  10. I have been trying to get some cabbage sprouts for some time. We had them all the time when I was living in detroit, Michigan (that war when I was a young girl, I am now in my sixties.) I now live in Alabama and no one here knows what they are. I would like to have some, even if it means that I have to grow them myself.

  11. Hi Alanna, I live in Lima Ohio and I am trying to find out where I can buy cabbage sprouts. I truly love them but they are so hard to find. Thank You In Advance.

  12. Hi Susan, I've seen cabbage sprouts only in later winter and very early spring -- and even then, only by chance. I think people don't know what to do with them but I'm with you, they're good!

  13. I just bought them in a farmers market in the Chicago area. They are fantastic. I slow cook them with smoked turkkey.

  14. Dear Alanna,
    I lived in Chicago for many years. I was
    "introduced" to cabbage sprouts and they became one of my favorite vegetables, in fact, I love them!!! Where can I buy them in Southern California? I like cabbage, and I love brussel sprouts, but there is something so special and unique about the cabbage sprouts that I miss. I am a meat eater, and recognize the importance of eating vegetables, especially the darker, leafy green ones. The cabbage sprouts offered another choice I had that I truly enjoyed. If necessary, I will try to grow them if I can get the seeds, bulbs, etc. In fact, maybe you can provide information on how myself and others can appeal to our local growers to add them as a crop. With the increasing vegetarian population and interest in healthy eating habits, I'm sure that there are alot of people who would enjoy them. Thanks to you and anyone else in advance.


  16. I LOVE cabbage sprouts, too! So delicious, and they boil up so tasty and tender. I also season by boiling with smoked turkey. I add about 1/3 c olive oil, a little cider vinegar, sliced onion, sliced bell pepper, salt, garlic and a little cayenne pepper and boil it all up together. Heaven in a pot.

    You're welcome. LOL

  17. This is my favorite green. I grew up in detroit and each time I go home for a visit I bring back to NY 5 pounds that I get from western market on woodward and nine mile road. I prepare them by washing and removing the bottom stub about 1/4 inch(the hard part) and then cut them into 1/2 inch ribbons. Then I put a ham hock or sliced salt pork in the pot with water to the top and cook for 2-3 hours. Season to taste with salt, pepper, or hot pepper flakes. Good eating!!!

  18. Another great way to enjoy these sprouts is to wash them and make sure they are dry. And then fry them in bacon grease to the crunchiness/tenderness of your desire. I love them that way!

  19. I posted on November 26, 2011. I'm still looking for cabbage sprouts in Los Angeles. Help....I am missing out of enjoying one of my favorite vegetables!!! Julie

  20. Just a note to thank you for the blog about cabbage sprouts you posted back in 2006. It solves a Roman economic history problem I have been wrestling with for a couple of years, about some of the foods in Diocletian's price edict of 301AD. The edict is a list of over 1000 Roman consumer products with a maximum price allowed for each, and it has an entry for cabbage sprouts next to cabbages (they were called Cymae in Latin and Ñrmšnoudšsmh in Greek).

    No one knows what they are. Everything from brussels sprouts ( which is impossible as they hadn't been developed yet), to garlic sprouts, to young cabbages has been suggested by the Roman food experts.

    Now it all makes sense, including their position in the edict and the price. They are next to cabbages because they are a byproduct, and at 4 denarii a bunch they are more expensive than cabbages because you get far less weight of second growth sprouts than original cabbage. They are a delicacy that the Romans had the sense to recognise and cultivate and we don’t.

    Now I've got to find some and try them. I have never seen them in a store. I know this is all insanely nerdy and esoteric, but many thanks anyway.

  21. Grew up in South west Indiana. We go to grocery store and there would be cabbage sprouts right next to Brussels sprouts. Grew up with my mom sauteing them in a Lil butter or bacon grease, delish. The only problem I have is...when you grow them, is it a certain cabbage you grow OR ...once you have Brussels sprouts do you just let them grow a Lil bigger? I want to grow them myself.

  22. AnonymousMay 07, 2020

    Got lazy after harvest. Left a bed of spring cabbage that had been harvested growing through the summer/fall/winter. Following spring, the cabbage plants were shooting out some good looking shoots. Picked them and pan fried - sauteed with a little butter, or lard. Oh my. What a great tasting veggie.
    Next, planted some rutabagas too thick, didn't thin them out. Left over summer/fall/winter. Rutabagas next spring sending out some wonderful looking shoots! Taste better than Brussel sprouts. Didn't get enough of the root to eat, but I let them continue to grow, along with the cabbage shoots. Now we've some delicious vegetables coming up when nothing else is ready yet.

  23. I grew up eating these in Memphis TN but until a market opened in Hazel Crest IL, I’d not seen them in IL. These were a special treat my mom always looked for at Easy Way in Memphis during the winter holiday season. They were always better if they’d gotten a “little cold” on them. She’d pick them, wash them good and flavor with smoked turkey, salt, pepper and a little oil. Very tasty. Sadly my mom and Easy Way are no longer with us.

    Mustard greens are an excellent leafy green. I cooked a bath Ed of these tonight. After picking and washing the grit out of them in multiple washes I added to a pot that had partially cooked lean smoked pork neck bones but ham hocks, lean ham, ham bone, or smoked turkey will do. I’ve also used chicken stock as well as just plain water. Mustard greens are my favorite green preferably slick mustards as they have a lighter texture than curly mustard to me. If I’m not mistaken the mustard greens are the plant that produce mustard seeds. But don’t quite me on that. I’m in my mid 50s but I grew up with a lot of poor women who survived the depression or worked in cotton fields or on tenant farms. They all grew vegetables in their yard as a way to supplement their store bought food. Most had a patch of mustard, turnip and collard greens. I rarely saw kale and spinach but I always saw fresh herbs and garlic. Very good and very healthy for its time. As I grew older smoked pork fell out of favor for smoked turkey and olive oil or canola oil was used.

    I’ve a Taiwanese friend and there is a similar mustard green in that culture as well. In fact although our cultures are worlds apart we’ve found MANY similar green leafy veggies. It’s been very eye opening to both of us.

    1. The Life After ~ Thank you! I so loved reading this small window into your life, all inspired by lowly cabbage sprouts. And thank you for the tip on slick mustard greens, this has been my “year” to delve into greens and I missed that distinction. Just lovely, this ... again, thank you.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna