Caramelized Cabbage & Onion Pasta
4.92 from 12 votes

This caramelized cabbage & onion pasta is one of my favorite winter comfort food dishes! It’s deeply savory, a little sweet, easy to make, and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Two plates of a vegan cabbage and onion rigatoni dish are resting on a white surface. The pasta is garnished with flecks of green parsley.

This delicious, smoky, savory, and ever-so-slightly sweet caramelized cabbage onion pasta has become a fan favorite.

Each and every time I make it, I understand why! I love the recipe every bit as much as my readers do.

Originally, I prepared the pasta as a St. Patrick’s Day dish. I figured cabbage, onion, and bacon would at least echo my vegan colcannon.

As I made the pasta, I realized that my winter pasta repertoire is a bit limited.

Summer vegan pasta ideas are plentiful. There’s so much in-season produce to use. I whip up burst cherry tomato pasta, my beloved vegan pasta bake with ricotta, vegan feta pasta, butternut zucchini pesto pasta, zucchini corn pasta, pasta alla Norma, and many more.

In the winter, one of two things usually happen. The first is that tomatoes are involved. I go with my 20-minute marinara sauce and whatever pasta I have at home. Or, I make my vegan pasta alla vodka.

If that’s not the go-to, then I’ll probably make my creamy vegan mushroom pasta or beans & greens pasta.

This caramelized cabbage onion pasta gives me—and it will also give you—a reason to create pasta with two vegetables that you may not always associate with pasta!

Onion and cabbage find their way into many of my winter recipes. Yet until I cooked them down to soft and sweet, juicy perfection, I didn’t realize how wonderful they’d be as a pasta “sauce,” of sorts.

An angled photograph two plant-based pasta dishes, which have been served on round, white ceramic plates.

How to make caramelized cabbage onion pasta

This pasta dish is wonderfully simple. You’ll achieve a lot of flavor without too many complicated steps.

A white frying pan contains lightly browned onions.

Step 1: “caramelize” your onion

Why the quotes? Welllll, technically speaking, the onion in this recipe isn’t quite caramelized.

Typically, it takes quite some time to caramelize onions—about 40-45 minutes. You can read a full description of the process in my recipe for classic vegan French onion soup, which uses caramelized onions as a base.

For this pasta, you’ll only brown the onions in this recipe for 8-10 minutes. So, I’ve taken some technical liberty with my recipe title!

Even so, 10 minutes is enough to give the onions flavor, depth, and savory sweetness. And that is the point of caramelization.

Step 2: add plant-based bacon

Do you need to add a plant-based bacon to the cabbage onion pasta?

No. If vegan meat isn’t for you, then you don’t need to make this addition.

However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I think the vegan bacon makes the pasta more flavorful! It also adds protein to the dish, and you may find that it increases the pasta’s satiety.

You have options for this “bacon.” It could be my baked, crispy tempeh bacon, which is what I usually use. You can also use eggplant bacon or mushroom bacon.

Finally, you could use a store-bought vegan bacon of choice. These are usually seitan or tempeh-based, but mushroom and coconut bacon options are available in stores, too.

My personal favorite is the “Benevolent Bacon” from SweetEarth foods.

A white sauté pan has just been filled with sliced cabbage and plant-based bacon.

Step 3: add cabbage, broth, and smoked paprika

Next, you’ll add vegan broth, smoked paprika, and your cabbage, the star ingredient of the pasta, to the pan.

All of this will cook until the cabbage is tender, sweet, and smoky.

Step 4: boil pasta

While you’re working some magic with the onion, cabbage, and vegan bacon, you’ll bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook some pasta.

By the time the pasta is ready, the cabbage should be just about ready, too.

You’ll add your pasta to the large sauté pan in which you’ve cooked the vegetables and vegan bacon.

Cooked pasta has just been added to a skillet with sautéed vegetables.

Step 3: finish the pasta

All that’s left now, really, is for you to taste the pasta and adjust it to your liking. I usually add a splash of white balsamic vinegar and adjust the salt and pepper a little.

You can serve the pasta with fresh chopped parsley, or you can simply plate it and serve it exactly as it is.

A plate of tube shaped pasta with caramelized cabbage and onion has been garnished with chopped green parsley.

Is the pasta gluten-free?

That depends on the type of pasta that you use! And yes, the caramelized cabbage onion pasta certainly can be gluten-free. Just make sure that you use a GF certified pasta in the recipe.

Can I substitute or omit the vegan bacon?

You can. The smoked paprika in the pasta recipe will help to create smoky flavor, which is part of what the vegan “bacon” will do.

However, I really love the added protein and texture that a plant-based bacon will contribute to this recipe.

If you have some at home, or you’re up for making some tempeh bacon or oven-baked eggplant bacon, it’s well worth a try.

Do I have to use green cabbage?

The answer is no! Red/purple cabbage also works well. It will turn the whole dish dark purple, which certainly isn’t a bad thing.

Napa cabbage is also a nice variation, if that’s what you find or have.

Meal prep & storage

The leftovers of the caramelized cabbage onion pasta will keep for up to four days in the fridge. And they can also be frozen for up to 8 weeks.

I love including this recipe in my vegan meal prep for the week.

The Vegan Week

Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.

Whether you have three, two, or even just one hour of time to spare, The Vegan Week will show you how to batch cook varied, colorful, and comforting dishes over the weekend.

Serving suggestions for caramelized cabbage onion pasta

I’ve served this pasta many times with a big, simple green salad.

Wintery salads with radicchio, chicories, or curly endive are also a really nice accompaniment. Their bitter flavor compliments the sweet and savory pasta well.

The pasta is great with roasted broccolini or steamed or sautéed greens. Essentially, any vegetable you have could be a side dish.

And finally, I love serving this recipe with my perfect winter chop salad.

Finally, don’t forget toppings! Cashew parmesan, quick pickled onions, a drizzle of nice balsamic, and extra chopped tempeh bacon are all great ways to finish this tasty dish.

Two plates of caramelized cabbage onion pasta are resting on a white surface. Each has been lightly garnished with chopped parsley.
4.92 from 12 votes

Caramelized Cabbage & Onion Pasta (Vegan)

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter (14g; substitute olive oil)
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 pound green cabbage, shredded or thinly sliced (450g; about 1/2 medium-sized head of cabbage, or 5-6 cups)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (240ml, plus more as needed)
  • 8 slices tempeh bacon (or 4 slices store-bought vegan bacon of choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (substitute 1 teaspoon sweet paprika)
  • 8 ounces medium-shaped pasta of choice (225g)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 splash white balsamic vinegar (Optional and to taste; red balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar is also fine)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Heat the butter or oil in a large, roomy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion.
  • Cook, stirring every now and then, for 10 minutes, or until the onions are gently browning and translucent.
  • Add the tempeh bacon and sauté for 1 minute more.
  • Add the cabbage, 1 cup vegetable broth, and smoked paprika. Continue cooking the vegetables for 10 minutes, stirring often, or until the onions have darkened and the cabbage is very tender. If the vegetables get at all dry, add a few extra splashes of broth.
  • While the onions and cabbage caramelize, cook the pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta and vegetables are both ready, drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Add both the pasta and a half cup the pasta water to the skillet.
  • Warm all of the ingredients through. Taste, and then add salt, pepper, and/or vinegar to your liking. If the mixture gets a little dry, add some more of the pasta water. Serve the pasta, topping each portion with a tablespoon of chopped parsley, if you like.
Two plates of caramelized cabbage onion pasta are resting on a white surface. Each has been lightly garnished with chopped parsley.

If you try the pasta, I’d love to hear how you like it! Enjoy.

xo

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Categories: Recipes, Pasta
Method: Stovetop
Ingredients: Cabbage
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan

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Recipe Rating




    35 Comments
  1. 11/2023. I made this for dinner tonight. I used a full teaspoon of smoked paprika. I will say that my husband and I just loved this pasta dish. The onion and cabbage were pleasantly mild and I love smoked paprika. It comes together very quickly and I will definitely be making this again. Thanks for the recipe! Marylu

  2. 5 stars
    Made this last night. It was delicious and simple to make. Very comforting on a chilly evening. My husband and I ate it up so we only got 2 servings out of it. I will make this again and keep it in my go to rotation.

  3. 5 stars
    So simple and so delicious. Have to be honest I was very dubious but it was great. I’m looking forward to the left overs for my lunch in work tomorrow. Thank you for the recipe.

  4. 4 stars
    MMMM, very good recipe, made it last night for hubby and myself with angel hair pasta, next time maybe add some garlic! A good alternative to having pasta with gravy (red/pasta sauce for non Italians!)

  5. I really want to make this but I can’t find anywhere on the page where you tell me how many servings this is for?? With a larger family I need to know so I have enough food. 🙁

    • Hey Sarah! I’m so glad you caught this—I just fixed it. Sorry for the confusion. It makes 3-4 servings. I’d say if you have a bigger family or prefer larger portions of the dish, I’d double it for sure 🙂

  6. Wow! Thanks a lot! This was an amazing recipe! I added a splash of white wine with the broth and I used chipotle seasoning instead of paprika. I will definitely cook this again soon!

  7. 5 stars
    So delicious! I wasn’t sure when to add the smoked paprika so I sprinkled it on when it was mostly finished cooking. Made some bacon-y tofu crumbles and used bean pasta. This is going on my remake list.

  8. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I added chicken along with the bacon (which I fried up first with some paprika and oregano) but left everything else the same. We will definitely make this again, thankyou! 🙂

  9. I found this recipe and your website today after googling “cabbage and ravioli.” I have never written a comment about a recipe on anyone’s website before. But, oh my goodness! Best recipe for a quick meal ever! Other than swapping vegan hot dogs for vegan bacon, I followed your directions as written. I can’t praise the results enough!
    Thank you and I’ll be reading through your website tonight.

  10. We had most of the ingredients, so we went for it. We subbed field roast sausages for the bacon and added random fridge things – celery, mushrooms and chickpeas. I was out of stock so I used Imagine brand mushroom soup. Honestly, soooo good! I had never thought about using stock to make a sauce, so the core of this recipe will be useful for a lifetime! Adding a little bit of vinegar made everything really pop. Thanks for this recipe, it will be endlessly useful and malleable!

  11. I made this. Didn’t have bacon so used vegetable sausage and seasoned it with mustard. It was great

  12. 5 stars
    I just made this. So delicious! A great way to use cabbage- different from the usual- and the onions set off the sweetness perfectly. Yum!!!

  13. I am making this for the second time because my husband asked for “that cabbage & onion” dish again. It is delish! Thank you Gena!

  14. This looks so good! I love caramelized onions on anything. I never thought of adding cabbage to pasta though! I can’t wait to make this.

  15. Looks delicious, as always! I’ve been on a cooked cabbage kick lately, but hadn’t thought to combine it with pasta! What a great idea. Will be trying your recipe soon! 🙂

  16. Gena,

    I am so doing this pasta! Thank you. During the summer I hate turning on the stove so anything that can go on top with a minimal amount of fuss is welcomed.

    I am so impressed that you are doing an oncology rotation. If there was ever a time when someone would need help eating, this would be it. Even if you just talked with the person about their struggle to eat, that would be helpful. I hope you get a lot out of this particular segment even if you never have to directly use the knowledge again.

    Have a good rest of your week and thank you for the recipe!
    Libby