What Is Savoy Cabbage?

What is Savoy Cabbage?


With the popularity of so many cooking shows, these days, this has become a very popular question.  What is savoy cabbage?  More importantly, why are so many of the top chefs and cooks using it? Let’s get those questions answered.

savoy cabbage

Despite its rough looking exterior, the Savoy cabbage is tender and sweet tasting.

Let’s start with the appearance. As you can see from the picture, savoy cabbage has a very distinctive look. The highly contrasting shades of green, combined with the the deeply crinkled texture of the leaves, make savoy cabbages very appealing to the eye.
Some may look at these rough looking leaves and assume that they are tough and hard, even more so than the common, green cabbage that most people are used to, but they would be wrong.

But that brings to one of the many traits that makes savoy cabbage so popular with cooks and chefs.

Despite this rough appearance, the leaves of the savoy cabbage are tender, even when eaten raw. This makes them an ideal choice for salads, vegetable wraps, or as a bed for rice, fish, or other dishes. This in sharp contrast to the leaves of “green”  or “red”cabbages, that are hard and rubbery. Their only real use, in the raw state, is in making coleslaw. Even then, the texture can be too tough for many people to enjoy. On the other hand, savoy cabbage can make a tastier, and much more tender coleslaw.
As a side note, the terms “green” and “red” cabbage, refer to specific types of cabbages. Green cabbage is the typical hard, rubbery cabbage that most people are familiar with. Red cabbage is also fairly common. It is also hard and rubbery, with a slightly bolder flavor, than the green, and is most often used for the color contrast, rather than for the flavor. These are both high in many nutritional factors. Unfortunately, due to their texture and taste, people use them sparingly in their raw state. They become more tender, and less bitter tasting, when cooked, but they lose a lot of nutritional value in the process.

Savoy Cabbage is a milder and sweeter alternative to green or red cabbage cabbage

While the tenderness is a huge factor in the appeal of savoy cabbages, over other forms of cabbage, its taste is another reason for its popularity. The green and red cabbages have a slightly bitter taste, which some describe as peppery. Savoy cabbage, by comparison, is milder and sweeter, making it not only a good fit in salads, but also a much preferred alternative in just about any recipe that includes cabbage.


 The nutritional and health benefits of savoy cabbage

Like the rest of the cabbage family, savoy cabbage has high nutritional value. It is very low in calories, and contains no fat or cholesterol. It is a good source of dietary fiber, and protein. It is also rich in many vitamins and minerals, such as: Thiamine (B-1), folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, manganese, calcium, copper, phosphorous, and copper. They are also an excellent source of both Vitamins K and C. Each of the different types of cabbage have high nutritional value, as well as tremendous antioxidant and disease combating properties. These properties make cabbage one of the worlds healthiest foods.


Savoy cabbage is the most tender and sweet a variety of cabbage

As mentioned above, its tender leaves, and sweet taste, make it an ideal choice to eat raw in salads. These qualities also make it the preferred option in most recipes that include cabbage. In addition to its taste and texture, on the other highly beneficial trait is that it lacks the sulfur-like odor that most people, who have cooked cabbage, are more than familiar with. This makes Savoy cabbage the perfect choice of cabbage for cooking, as well.


What Is Savoy Cabbage? — 102 Comments

  1. I think it is a very cool looking cabbage, almost alien like. Other people describe the savoy cabbage as “pretty”. In any case, it definitely stands out. 🙂

  2. I was born in Europe and seen my Grandma cook with it all the time,it’s delicious… I can’t imagine my cooking without it,just ask my ex and my sons…It is more expensive here in States than green cabbage,and not available in every store,but if you can find it,buy it and enjoy it,it’s worth it… 🙂

    • Oh, very nice. 🙂 I think most people here in the states were not that fortunate. We grew up with the green cabbage, since it was so abundant. I know that I was not a big fan. Savoy cabbage is so much tastier.

      I agree, if you can find it, buy it….or grow it yourself if you have the right climate and a green thumb. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the information. I am making vegetable soup tonight and couldn’t find any regular cabbage that looked good. So, I picked up a head of savoy cabbage.

    • I tried savoy cabbage for the first time and the taste is sweet and different fro regular cabbage. I truly enjoyed it and I will be eating savoy cabbage from now on.

  4. I am making stuffed cabbage rolls for dinner and have always used the green cabbage. I had to almost cook the cabbage well done before it was stuffed and even afterward the rib was always tough which made the roll fall apart when it was cut. I am super anxious to try the savoy cabbage. I have read that it is more tender and sweeter than the bitter, tough green cabbage. Can’t wait to try this cabbage in the stuffed rolls recipe.

    • I’m sure that you will enjoy it a lot more using the Savoy cabbage. 🙂 There really is a big difference between the Savoy and the tough and bitter green cabbage.

    • Being raised by my grandparents, lived in Hungarian community. Green cabbage in the 40’s and 50’s were huge. I recall from all those years ago that the entire cabbage ( after end is cut off ) was put into boiling water in large pan to cover with boiling water. The leaves, which were soft and malleable, were then removed and set to the side as they got soft. Cut the hard part out. I was taught by the best to roll, so each one was perfect. Homemade sauerkraut. Used fresh ground pork should and half good ground beef. Some rice with the meat and of course Paprika. I use 2-3 TBL of it. Then layer, sauerkraut, rolls, sauerkraut, rolls.

  5. I was born in northern Italy. My mom used Savoy cabbage exclusively. As a boy, I wasn’t even aware there was any other type of cabbage. I agree with the comments in the entry about the qualities of this cabbage. But, I’ve always wondered, why is it named “Savoy”? Is it named after the former royal house of Italy?

    • The Savoy cabbage gets its name from the Savoy region of the Western Alps, where it is believed to have originated. That area was, indeed, the feudal territory of the House of Savoy. 🙂

  6. I want to improve my cabbage rolls and thought Savoy might be the answer. Is there a downside to savoy – can it be cooked low and slow for cabbage rolls? Also – my last version of cabbage rolls (recipe purely out of my head)turned out awful. There was a strange minty type flavour in some of the cabbage rolls – we used two or three heads and I know we did not buy the cabbage at the same time from the strange grocer. I don’t know if I picked up some weird variety? The oddest thing was that with the leftover meat/rice I made a casserole (no cabbage) for the freezer. We ate this and it was great – no odd minty (?) taste. Did I do something somewhere somehow to create an odd outcome???

    Thank you for being there!

    • The main downside is that Savoy does not store as well as it’s sturdier cousins. There is no real downside in cooking with it. You just need to be aware that you don’t need to cook it as long as with tougher green cabbage, so that you don’t over cook it.

      As for the taste of that other cabbage, that is hard to say. I assume that you mean a bitter mint taste, and not the good mint taste. 🙂

      One possibility is that you are just interpreting the bitter taste as minty. Everyone’s sense of taste is a little different. Some think that green cabbage tastes peppery, but that’s not really how I interpret the taste myself.

      It could also be a factor of when the cabbage was grown and picked. Cabbage is typically a cold climate vegetable. The cold weather produces sugars within the plant which reduces the bitterness. If grown and picked in a warmer climate, there may be a noticeable difference in taste than when it is picked in a colder climate.

      Lastly, there are many hybrids of cabbage that are genetically designed for better longevity for large scale distribution. What you experienced may have been a taste variation of a certain hybrid.

      I hope that helps. 🙂

      • If you cook it for as long as you would regular green cabbage it may become too soft. You need to modify your cooking times to account for the fact that it is already a softer cabbage and doesn’t need to be cooked as long.

    • Microwaving should be fine. You can cook with Savoy, just like other cabbage, but you don’t need to over-cook it to get it to be somewhat tender, like you do with green cabbage. Adjust your cooking time accordingly.

      Freezing any vegetable of this type can be tricky. They contain a lot of water, so freezing them can be damaging. Still, it can be done. Only freeze raw cabbage, not cooked. Remove the external leaves, section it, and remove the core. Store the cabbage in as airtight of a container that you can come up with. Preferably one where you can pump or suck all the air out of.

  7. I suppose SAVOY is high in Vitamin K, which is then on the NO-NO list for those on blood thinners. Oh gasp………. I miss my veggies.

    • It is fairly high in Vitamin K. Not as high as spinach, but a good amount, as do most green leafy vegetables. They also provide much more vitamin K after being cooked than they do in their raw state.

      That said, vitamin K is still something that you body needs. You may just have to severely manage the amount that you get, and how. I would recommend talking to your doctor or a nutritional specialist about your specific situation, and see if they can come up with a specific diet plan for you.

    • Excellent. I am very happy for you. Yes, once you try Savoy cabbage, you just can’t go back to eating green cabbage again, can you? 🙂

      Btw, I think they need to change the name of “green cabbage”. Most cabbage is green and I always feel like I have to explain which green cabbage I am referring to when talking about the bad one. 😀

  8. I bought savoy cabbage today at Krogers. I’ve never seen it before but when I saw it today at the store, I thought it was so beautiful I could not pass it by…even though I knew nothing about it and it was about $1.50 a lb! It’s nice to find your site. I am excited about finding such an eye appealing vegetable, also.

    • Yes, the savoy cabbage has this unique look that just catches your eye, doesn’t it? 🙂 I think you will be very pleased with the taste and texture. Enjoy. 😀

  9. I’m organically growing Savoy cabbage along with regular cabbage this year and the earwigs have feasted on the regular cabbage but left the Savoy cabbage alone. All cabbage was planted at the same time but it takes much longer for the Savoy cabbage to form heads. I’m anxious to try it since I have never eaten it before. Thank you for the freezing tips.

    • Interesting about the earwigs. That is good to hear. Planting your own is a great way to make sure you always have some available. Unless you are pressed for time, it might be better if you staggered your planting a bit. That way you won’t have them all ripening around the same time, and could more of them fresh rather than having to freeze so many.

  10. I just bought my first Savoy Cabbage. After finding this site I am very excited to make my meals for the week including it. I will have it raw for lunch and I will be making rolls, sautéing it for freezing, and using it for wraps. Thanks for the great feed back

    • You are very welcome, Evelyn. I am glad you found this site helpful. 🙂 I hope that you have found it a great, tasty addition to your meals.

  11. We recently picked this up about 3 months ago. I’ve always been an avid cabbage lover, but now Savoy cabbage is all I eat. I use it in every recipe with cabbage rather than the usual green cabbage. It’s flavor and texture are amazing. We eat Savoy cabbage at least twice a week now. I’d NEVER go back to the other!!! Everyone should try it!!! 🙂

    • That is awesome, Vanessa. 🙂 It does make a huge difference, doesn’t it?

      I agree, everyone should try it. A lot of people have still never heard of savoy cabbage, and many still accept green cabbage as the only cabbage, because they have never tried anything else. Such a shame. 🙁

      Thank you for sharing that, Vanessa. 😀

  12. I can’t imagine life without savoy cabbage! I grew up in Europe and it was a basic staple; we ate it all the time. Even now, when I go back home, the first thing is to buy some and make my favorite meal with it. Unfortunately, where I live (Hawaii), you can’t find it at all. I think once I did see it in a store but it was something like $8 per pound and that was just too much for me. I tried substituting Chinese cabbage and it did taste somewhat similar although not the same…

    • I am sorry to hear that. 🙁 I imagine that shipping to Hawaii is problematic for a lot of things. And the climate there is not ideal for growing cabbage. The weather is great for people, but a little too warm for cabbage. Cabbages really sweeten with the cooler weather.

      However, if you want to try growing them, I found this article from someone who has had some success growing cabbages in Hawaii. Maybe it will help you.

      Growing cabbage in Kihei

  13. My husband and I accidentally picked up Savoy Cabbage when picking our plants for the garden this year. Neither of us had ever heard of it so I tried it just like my green cabbage in recipes. What a great discovery! I tastes so much better, and its not quiet as harsh on the digestive system! I highly recommend this cabbage! And thanks to this sight found some really great recipes to feature Savoy in at my dining room table!

    • So you had a pleasant surprise? Very nice. 🙂 There must have been a little shock when they started growing an began looking quite different than you were expecting.

      I am glad to hear that you have finally discovered Savoy cabbage, and that you found out site so helpful to you. More importantly, I am glad that you are enjoying the Savoy cabbage so much. 🙂

  14. I am a produce sales associate and I had only seen the name Savoy beside a checkbox on a case of cabbage (green) I had a phone call from a lady asking if we had savoy and I had to tell her no. I really didn’t know what she was talking about I was pleased to come across the article on savoy cabbage. I am going to find some and try it out. We don’t carry it unfortunately.

    • I am sure you will enjoy it. 🙂

      Maybe you can pass the word along to the people that make the purchasing decisions. Then you will have it in stock and won’t have to go looking for it. 😀

  15. I want to make corned beef and cabbage…I have a savoy cabbage in my refrigerator…Can I use it with the corned beef? Or should I go back to the store and get a regular green cabbage?

    • Absolutely, you can use it with corned beef. Just mind the cooking instructions. You will not want (and don’t need to) to cook the Savoy cabbage for the same length of time as you would green cabbage.

  16. The description of this cabbage is right on.
    It is delicious and tender. Because so few people are familiar with savoy, only a few grocers carry it on a regular basis. How can we change that? I’m trying to urge grocers to give it a try. People will come back for more!

    • There’s the rub. Few people know about it because few grocers carry it. And few grocers carry it because few people ask for it specifically. It is a catch 22…sort of.

      I agree, the more people that try it, the more that people will convert. I imagine that the best thing to do is tell as many people as you can about it, and.or have them try it for themselves, and then tell everyone to start asking their grocers to carry it.

      I imagine that most people will look for it, and if they don’t find it they will just look elsewhere or buy something else, and never say anything to the grocer. I think making the grocers aware of it is a big first step. I applaud your efforts. 😀

  17. was looking for cabbage and pepper plants for my garden. Picked savoy cabbage by chance. Not sure about weather in Rochester, NY being cold enough during the summer. Will plant it any way and after reading about it. Can’t wait to try it.

    • Ideally you want to plant in mid-late summer for a fall harvest. Cooler weather is definitely preferable during the later growth stages. The cooler temperatures will sweeten the cabbage more. Early spring can also be a good time.

  18. I just purchased my first Savoy cabbage today. I’d never seen it before. I’m a fan of Napa cabbage and the Savoy is so pretty. I’m planning to make a stir fry with the Savoy and some chicken. This has been a helpful site!

  19. I had a few ‘odd’ looking cabbages growing in my veggie garden & slower growing at that. I couldn’t honestly remember the varieties that I planted so googled them & found your very interesting information. Thank you so much, I now can’t wait to try my Savoy cabbages. Very excited.

    • Awesome! I am sure that you will be pleased with your Savoys. I’m happy to hear that you found the site helpful. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. 🙂

    • You pick them when the head feels solid all the way through.

      Ideally you want to pick them when the weather is cool. Cool fall days are ideal ripening times. Daytime temperatures in the 60’s, or lower, would be a good time. Cabbage is resistant to frost, and thrives in cooler temperatures, and the cooler temperatures will sweeten the cabbage.

      Avoid temperatures that dip below freezing. If you think that might be a risk, cover your plants, over night, with a plastic sheet or a bucket, then remove the cover in the morning.

  20. This is the first year I have planted savoy cabbage in my garden. Its huge! I can’t wait to try it. I’m going to make stuffed cabbage rolls with it. This cabbage will be in my garden every year now….

  21. It’s fairly common in Germany and in France, where it’s called “curly green cabbage” for some reason. Never thought of using it raw even though I’ve cooked it very often. I’ll give it a try, thanks

    • That’s the region that it originates from, so that would explain it being more common.

      That probably also explains why they don’t refer to it as “Savoy cabbage”. It is named after the area that it originated in. I imagine that if you live in that area you would refer to it using a more colloquial term.

      In the U.S. most people refer to green cabbage as just “cabbage”, since it is, by far, the most common type we have.

  22. I dont know why my experience with Savoy was different, but I just put the pot outside because the smell completely overtook my house.

    • I’m not sure what you mean by your experience being different. Most of the discussion has been about taste and tenderness, not odor. All cabbage is going to produce an odor, when cooking, though Savoy will not be as strong as some other cabbages.

      That said, there are some tips that should help reduce the odor created during cooking.

      The first being that you don’t need to cook Savoy Cabbage for as long as green cabbage. It is already tender and doesn’t need the extra cooking time. The longer it cooks, the more smell that will be released. Another factor is the flame used. It is best to cook cabbage using a low flame. Cooking using a high flame will create a stronger smell. There are other tips that will also help reduce the odor when cooking. Check out our Cooking with Savoy Cabbage page for more tips.

  23. Savoy Cabbage will spoil you. Once you have savoy, you will not want to return to ordinary green cabbage or red cabbage. I suggest you pick smaller heads, and always choose the darkest green ones. I find that cooking the whole leaf (not cutting the veins), concludes to the best experience. I peel off the exterior layers, about 10 or less whole leaves, wash and set aside. Then I cut, minimally, the remaining head just enough to fit in a deep pot. Add enought water to sit the bottom (enough the steam) and a teaspoon of oil – stir it around a bit to mix. That will boil the tougher parts around the stem (or you can core it), and steam the bulk of the cabbage. Put the leaves that you set aside over top the cabbage in layers. Try to conceal the entire pot with the leaves. Put a lid on top that; A lid that has a steam release hole – And bring to a boil, then reduce and let gently simmer on low. Make sure you don’t let the pot steam all the water out. The teaspoon of oil that you added will keep the bottom from charing a bit. When you take the lid off, remove the whole leaves you placed on top. Sprinkle those with a little salt and eat them. You will see how amazingly tender and sweet savoy cabbage really is.

  24. I live in Chattanooga, TN. Wanting to try a new recipe, which calls for savoy cabbage. Cannot find it anywhere. Even called a farmer’s market in Atlanta. Any idea where I can find it?

  25. I purchased a Savoy cabbage by mistake as and didn’t notice it until I was home. I didn’t know or never heard of it so I cooked it just like I would’ve cooked a green cabbage.I haven’t eaten any yet but is this a suggested way to cook it,I’d like comments from anyone who cooks it plz. Thank you!!!!

    • No, you don’t really want o cook it like green cabbage. You tend to cook green cabbage longer to make it more tender, which you don’t want or need to do with Savoy cabbage. If you haven’t already you might want to check out our article on Cooking with Savoy Cabbage Hopefully that will help.

  26. Thanks to all of you…I had seen savoy cabbage at the store but never tried it.I love all cabbage and now savoy will be one on the top of the list.I’ve been cooking for 40 years and in the past couple of years I have been watching cooking shows ect.and I’ve learned so much.You can teach an old dog new tricks!

  27. Actually, from my experience, it’s tougher to cut a savoy head than a regular cabbage. And the savoy is still mild, but there is a slight taste of bitterness that isn’t in a regular green cabbage. It’s very mild, so it doesn’t detract from the taste of the food. There is this recipe that calls for me to shred the cabbage into small long slices. A relatively easy feat with the green cabbage, but perhaps because of its density, the savoy just needed more exertion from my muscles. All in all, it still tasted pretty good.
    The ‘ribs’ are tougher on savoy than regular cabbage. Though when sliced thinly enough, the ribs retain a crunch unlike the green.
    I suggest not to overcook this cabbage. The bite might be worst than the green kind.

    • Yeah, green would be easier to cut. It is much firmer. Similar to cutting a tomato that is on the underside of ripe is much easier than cutting one that has ripened more and is softer. There is more “give” when cutting something softer. If you do it on a regular basis though you adjust and adapt to it, and it gets easier.

      Yeah, you definitely don’t want to over cook it. It will become too soft and it will have a more bitter taste. It can also be a little more bitter if not grown and harvested under ideal conditions.

  28. I recently used this cabbage for the first time in one of my favorite dishes with ground turkey, onions, roasted garlic and other spices. It was a delightful surprise. I will certainly try it in other recipes.

  29. Good information, although you need an editor. Thanks for illuminating the differences between savoy and other cabbages. I’ve never seen savoy cabbage in local stores, though, and wonder where it might be available or in season.

    • Thanks. I make grammatical errors all the time when typing, and I don’t always catch them all. Sorry about that. 🙁

      Unless you mean that I just say too much. If so, then there’s not much I can do about that. 😛

  30. I buy organic savoy cabbage but even though I slice it very thinly it always seems to be very tough. I have tried cooking it for a short time and for a much longer time – still tough. Help please!

  31. Thanks for being there with the answer to what is savoy cabbage. both my sons love cabbage and this will be a nice new treat for them. again thanks for the information.

  32. It is June in New Mexico, and in my garden the Savoy is not making a head, just sweet leaves about 8″ x 5″. I guess just go with it in salads. Any other ideas?

    • There could be many factors. Firstly, it takes longer for Savoy cabbages to form heads (80-90 days). Also, being a cooler climate vegetable, high temperatures, especially in the earlier stages, can be a factor.

      Too much nitrogen and not enough phosphorous in your fertilizer can also be a factor.

      And, of course, make sure they are getting plenty of water.

  33. It’s the best of all the cabbages. The only kind my family has ever cooked. It’s tastier, Healthier a the the texture is perfect. I wouldn’t serve any other cabbage.

  34. I have just read a book to eat right for your blood type and it states for type 0 blood type that cabbage inhibits thyroid hormones and it encourages weight gain and causes big problems for type o. Chinese cabbage red/white can be used sparingly. I have been purchasing in a bag Asian salad by Marketside, it state savoy cabbage, and wonder if that would be different than the regular cabbage as being a problem for me as it states a problem for people with type o blood. What do you think? Have you read this book?
    I love this savoy cabbage, and hope that you can give me some insight on this information as I would like to follow this change in eating for my blood type. It does state the vitamin K is very important to clotting of the blood and need to eat vegetables like spinach, romaine, collard greens,broccoli and do hope that savoy cabbage is good too. Thank you for your reply.

    • I have not read the book, but I understand the concept. Here’s the thing:

      Yes, certain foods can inhibit thyroid hormone production. They are called Goitrogenic foods, but it is really only an issue in people that have hypothyroidism, or are iodine deficient. It is a non-issue with people that have healthy thyroid activity.

      The blood type diet theory claims that people with type-O blood have a higher tendency to have thyroid problems, and that diet assumes that you have hypothyroidism. If you don’t have thyroid problems, and you get enough iodine in your diet, you shouldn’t have to worry about the vegetables that you eat.

      Also, there seems to be some contradiction in what they say you can eat and what you can’t. First, all cruciferous vegetable fall into that category, which would include the collard greens and broccoli, that you said that they recommended, and all forms of cabbage. Spinach is also considered goitrogenic, as are many other fruits, vegetables, and nuts: cauliflower, radishes, turnips, sweet potatoes, kale, bok choy, bamboo shoots, pears, peaches, strawberries, brussels sprouts, peanuts, pine nuts, etc. That’s a lot of healthy food you would have to cut out of your diet, which I don’t think it is necessary.

      Again, eating these foods has no negative effects on people with a healthy thyroid and proper iodine consumption. If you have thyroid issues, you may need to consider modifying your diet, but talk it over with your doctor first. Even if you have hypothyroidism, you can usually still eat these foods. Cooking them greatly reduces the impact that they have on the thyroid.

  35. September 11th, I helped plant 45 savoy cabbage transplants in raised beds at the local community garden. We spaced them roughly 24 inches apart and that appears to be about the right spacing. After three weeks, they are doing great and should be ready for harvest around November 1st, give or take a week to ten days. We are in planting zone 7. I have tasted a few leaves raw and it is indeed milder than regular cabbage.

  36. I had my first taste of savoy cabbage in an exceptional meal this evening: Savoy cabbage rolls stuffed with red quinoa, accompanied by a variety of steamed baby root vegetables in a mild tomato sauce. This is my new favourite cabbage! I was in vegetarian heaven!!

  37. How would you compare the taste of Savoy cabbage with Filderkraut/conehead/arrowhead/Sweetheart cabbage? They are a bit sweeter too. They make killer sauerkraut, wonder if Savoy could be substituted???

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