Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Braised Cabbage

published Mar 22, 2016
Sweet and Spicy Braised Cabbage
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(Image credit: Karla Conrad)

How long does it take to braise cabbage until tender and translucent in the oven? One hour. In the pressure cooker? Five minutes of pressure-cooking time — or 15 minutes from start to finish. Pressure cooking will not only cook vegetables faster, but compared to conventional boiling and braising, it retains more vitamins and minerals, too. Make this side dish of sweet and spicy braised cabbage the next time you want a flavorful companion to any roast meat.

(Image credit: Karla Conrad)

Even though the pressure cooker cooks the veggies at a higher temperature, it exposes the vitamins and minerals to the heat for less time. Most vegetables, with a few exceptions, will be tender with five minutes or less of pressure-cooking time (check my vegetable pressure-cooking time chart for details).

Pressure-Cooker Nutrition Study

A 2007 study published by The Journal of Food Science measured vitamin C retention in broccoli using five cooking methods. The researchers pressure-cooked broccoli at high pressure (15PSI/1 bar /250°F) for two minutes and found that 92 percent of the vitamin C was retained compared to 78 percent retention for steaming and 66 percent for boiling broccoli without pressure.

You don’t have to be a scientist to figure out that pressure-cooked veggies retain more nutrients. The difference is in the flavor. Pressure-cooked vegetables boast a more intense, concentrated flavor — that’s the extra nutrients staying inside the food and not being cooked, burned, or evaporated away. Even a humble vegetable, like a carrot, can really shine after pressure cooking. It’s like tasting veggies in HD.

I’ve cooked vegetables in the pressure cooker over the last 10 years, so I’ve gotten used to this amazing extra flavor. When I recently ordered a side of broccoli at a restaurant, I was surprised by how dull and flavorless it was.

This recipe is low on prep and high on flavor. The cabbage is sliced in wedges so they can be browned before braising, adding a bit of extra “oven-roasted” flavor. The water used to braise the cabbage transforms into a spicy, sweet, and tart sauce.

The key to braising veggies in the pressure cooker is to use the least amount of liquid that the pressure cooker needs to pressure. Most electric pressure cookers have a minimum liquid requirement of about 1 1/2 cups. This recipe achieves that minimum using a combo of water and vinegar.

Sweet and Spicy Braised Cabbage

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1 tablespoon

    sesame seed oil

  • 1

    medium cabbage (about 3 pounds), divided into 8 wedges

  • 1

    medium carrot, grated (about 3/4 cup)

  • 1 1/4 cups

    + 2 teaspoons water, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    raw demerara sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    cayenne powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 2 teaspoons



  1. Preheat the pressure cooker (by pressing brown/sauté mode).

  2. Add the sesame oil and brown the cabbage wedges on one side (about 3 minutes). In the meantime, grate the carrot. To the pressure cooker add the 1 1/4 cups water, vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and hot pepper flakes and swish around. Then add the cabbage wedges (browned side facing up) and sprinkle carrots on top.

  3. Close the lid and pressure cook for 5 minutes at high pressure. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with Normal Pressure Release (twist the valve on the lid to the "open" or "venting" position). Remove the lid tilting it away from you.

  4. Arrange the wedges and any loose leaves onto a serving platter. Reheat the cooking liquid (by pressing brown/sauté mode) to a boil. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of water to make a slurry. Then pour the slurry into the pressure-cooker base.

  5. Boil the cooking liquid mixture until it's just starting to thicken. Pour this sauce over the cabbage wedges and serve.