Grilled Cabbage with Sweet Chili Sauce

Whip up a batch of this grilled cabbage for a quick appetizer or side dish with a delicious Asian twist. Fresh napa cabbage is quartered, seasoned, and grilled to smoky perfection before being covered in an irresistibly tangy, spicy-sweet chili sauce.

overhead: grilled cabbage on a blue platter smothered in sweet chili sauce

This recipe for grilled cabbage with sweet chili sauce is one of my new favorites. You are going to love how smoky, sweet, and fresh charred cabbage tastes all at once. It is a simple recipe with a surprisingly bold kick — especially when we add the sweet chili sauce!

While the instructions in this post focus mostly on grilling the cabbage, I made sure to include a link here for making your own sweet chili sauce. This scrumptiously sweet, tangy, and spicy sauce brings the dish bursting to life. Save some sauce for dipping and get ready for every taste bud to light up with delight!

extreme closeup: charred cabbage with sweet chili sauce, fresh herbs, and a lime slice

For more delicious DIY sauces, check out my Tonkatsu Sauce, Sweet and Sour Sauce, and this yummy Ginger Sauce.

overhead: ingredients needed for this grilled cabbage recipe
overhead: charred cabbage on a baking sheet

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Napa Cabbage – Also sometimes called celery cabbage, napa is mildly sweet with hints of iceberg, cabbage, and celery. You can find it in most major grocery stores, right alongside regular cabbage. Look for the oval-shaped heads of cabbage with bright green, frilly leaves.  
  • Olive Oil – Olive oil is one of my main go-to’s for its versatile flavor and high smoke point. Peanut, avocado, or canola can be used if needed. 
  • Kosher Salt – The best choice for adding and enhancing flavor without too much saltiness.
  • Black Pepper Adds a complementary pop of woodsy, peppery sharpness that plays beautifully with the sweet chili sauce. 
  • Sweet Chili Sauce – This sweet, spicy, and tangy condiment takes this grilled cabbage recipe to the next level! Filled with robust ingredients like chili peppers, garlic, ginger, onion, and more, it adds major layers of flavor to everything it touches. You can find store-bought versions (usually in the international aisle), but I highly recommend you check out my DIY version!
  • Garnishes – Cilantro and lime add the perfect pop of freshness and brightness to finish off the dish.
overhead: grilled cabbage on a blue platter with sweet chili sauce on top

Tip From Kevin

Hot to Clean a Cabbage

Remove the thick outer leaves, cut the cabbage into wedges, and rinse in a colander under cold running water. Shake each wedge dry to remove excess water, then pat them with a clean paper or cotton towel.

How to Make Grilled Cabbage with Sweet Chili Sauce

  1. Prepare the Grill. Preheat your grill to 400 degrees F. Alternatively, you can preheat your oven to 400 degrees F for kitchen cooking. 
  2. Prep the Cabbage. Wash and remove any damaged outer leaves from cabbage. Rinse in a colander under cold running water. Shake each wedge dry to remove excess water, then pat them with a clean paper or cotton towel. Then, use a very sharp knife to slice the head of cabbage in half, lengthwise. With the cut side up, generously drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper over both halves. 
  3. Grill the Cabbage. Place each half, cut side down, on the grill and cook for 8 minutes. To get nice char marks, rotate each piece 90 degrees halfway through cooking. If you are cooking in the oven, use a grill pan to get similar marks. 
  4. Move to Pan. Take the cabbage halves off the grill and transfer them to a baking tray, cut side up. Cover the whole thing with foil and put it back on the grill (or in the oven) for an additional 20 minutes. If you like your cabbage on the softer side, feel free to add a bit more time. 
  5. Slice & Serve. Remove the foil from the pan and use a knife to cut each half into 2 pieces. Transfer to a serving tray and drizzle all the cabbage quarters with sweet chili sauce. Serve with plenty of fresh limes and chopped cilantro.
side view: grilled cabbage recipe with sweet chili sauce and fresh herbs on top

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to soak the cabbage before grilling?


No soaking is necessary for this grilled cabbage recipe. A nice thorough rinse will do the trick.

If you are working with a cabbage that still has a lot of dirt or small critter present, it is okay to soak the bunch for a little while. Just make sure to remove the excess water before making your charred cabbage.

What should I serve with grilled cabbage?


The sweet chili sauce in this recipe gives the grilled cabbage a touch of Asian flair, making it a perfect appetizer or side dish for any of your Asian-inspired favorites. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to get you started:

Miso Soup, Egg Drop, or Sizzling Rice Soup
Crispy Egg Rolls or Spring Rolls
Kung Pao Chicken or Honey Chicken 
Mongolian Beef or Broccoli Beef Stir Fry
Szechuan Pork and Eggplant Stir Fry

Can I make this grilled cabbage recipe in advance?


These charred cabbage wedges truly are the best straight off the grill, so I don’t recommend grilling them more than about 30 minutes in advance. 

One thing that you can do ahead of time is make the sweet chili sauce. If you are crafting the homemade version (highly recommended), you can make it up to a week ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Grilled Cabbage with Sweet Chili Sauce

This recipe for grilled cabbage highlights tender napa cabbage, charred to perfection and slathered in a spicy sweet chili sauce.
Servings: 4
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 28 minutes
Total: 33 minutes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Preheat grill to 400°F.
  • Wash and remove any damaged outer leaves from cabbage. Rinse in a colander under cold running water. Shake each wedge dry to remove excess water, then pat them with a clean paper or cotton towel.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the cabbage lengthwise in half. Cut side up, drizzle each half with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill cut side down for 8 minutes, turning 90 degrees once for nice char marks.
  • Remove from grill, and turn cut side up on baking tray. Cover with foil and place back in grill to cook for another 20 minutes (See Note 1).
  • Remove foil, transfer to serving tray and cut each half into 2 pieces lengthwise. Pour the Sweet Chili Sauce over each and serve with sliced limes and cilantro on top.

Notes

For in kitchen cooking: Preheat oven to 400°F and use a grill pan to char the cabbage.
  1. I like it a little firm and not completely limp, so cook longer for your desired tenderness.

Nutrition

Calories: 152kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 525mg | Potassium: 577mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 800IU | Vitamin C: 71mg | Calcium: 186mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: side dishes
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): grilled cabbage with sweet chili sauce

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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