Ornamental Separator

Cabbage, with Onions

Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home

This recipe is Zen-like in its brevity. There are only five ingredients mentioned, two of which are in the title. The cook is asked to fry them as cakes but without any method suggested. Sweating the cooked vegetables with salt helps to dry them out so the batter adheres better.

18th Century

Boil them separately, and mix them in the proportions you like; add butter, pepper, and salt, and either stew them or fry them in a cake.

— Mary Randolph’s The Virginia House-Wife, pg. 136.

21st Century


  • 1/2 head of green cabbage
  • 1 white onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • butter, lard or vegetable oil for frying


  1. Split the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. With a knife, chop cabbage into long ¼ inch strips, or mince finely.
  2. Halve the onions and slice them into long ¼ inch strips, or mince finely.
  3. Boil the cabbage and onions until tender.
  4. Drain the vegetables; add butter along with salt and pepper. The dish can be served hot at this point, or battered and fried in cakes as described in steps 5-8.
  5. Drain the cabbages and onions in a colander. Add salt to sweat the vegetables for about 20 minutes. This will ensure the batter sticks to them.
  6. Combine the flour, eggs and milk together to make a batter about the consistency of pancake batter.
  7. Mix the drained vegetables in the batter.
  8. Make the cakes by putting about ½ cup of the vegetable mixture in a medium hot frying pan. Fry until the cakes are brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Learn More


Historic Foodways