Grilled Napa Cabbage with 3 Ingredient Dressing

Grilled Napa Cabbage with 3 Ingredient Dressing


Cabbage at cookouts is almost always pushed into the spot of being another boring coleslaw that is slathered in mayo and raisins. It’s time to give cabbage fresh new look with this crazy easy grilled Napa cabbage recipe that has a delicious dressing that is only three ingredients! If you have never grilled cabbage before you are missing out on an entirely different flavor profile that it brings when it is is slightly charred and softened in the center. 

I was skeptical at first that grilling cabbage would do anything but just give me some burned lettuce. But I saw a picture of it in Taste of Home magazine and I couldn’t get it out of my head. All my life the grill has been a place for burgers, hot dogs, and maybe if I was lucky a steak or two. 

grilled napa cabbage with lemons.


It wasn’t until I started experimenting on the grill on my own that I realized that you can basically grill anything and everything. I’ve tried my hand at grilling cabbage wedges, but I never seem to be able to keep them from falling apart. It’s not impossible to get it all held together with some toothpicks, but it’s not the simple, ready in ten minutes recipe I wanted it to be. But Napa cabbage solves that dilemma and is so much easier cut with keeping the core intact. It’s so easy even the most amateur of home cooks could do it successfully. 

My original idea for the dressing was to pull all of the Asian inspired ingredients out of my cabinet and start experimenting and see what gave me that tangy, savory flavor I was looking for. Turns out I only needed three ingredients to accomplish that! To be honest you could eat this cabbage without anything at all. The grill works magic making it soft and sweet with a hint of smokiness in the charred bits.

So now that I’ve convinced you that you need to have this grilled Napa cabbage in your life let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how you get this done. Here are my tips for making this dish amazing each and every time.


Tips for making grilled Napa cabbage:

  • Pick a large head of cabbage that is firm and where the leaves are tightly held together. Skip over any that are floppy or look wilted or browned.
  • Be sure and rinse and pat dry thoroughly. Because of the layers dirt can get down into the crevices of the cabbage so it’s always important to rinse it first. But be sure to fully pat it dry. I wouldn’t do this step until I’m ready to use the cabbage so it doesn’t wilt in the fridge. 
  • Cut it from the bottom. Using a sharp knife slice the cabbage in half working from the core up. Then with the flat side down slice the two halves in half again to create quarter sized pieces.
  • Get a light coating of olive oil. If you have spray oil that would be perfect in this situation. If not then be sure to spread it evenly with your fingers so you don’t have spots with a lot of oil.
5 from 8 votes
grilled napa cabbage with lemons.
Grilled Napa Cabbage with 3 Ingredient Dressing
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
6 mins
Total Time
16 mins

A beautiful side dish that comes together in less than 15 minutes total this is the totally revamped way to serve a salad at your next cookout.

Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: grilled salad
Servings: 4 Servings
Author: Hayley
  • 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Napa Cabbage Sliced into quarters
  • 1/4 Cup Sesame Oil
  • 4 Tbsp Soy Sauce or Coconut Aminos Low-Sodium
  • 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Sesame Seeds For garnish if desired
  1. Light your grill to preheat. Rinse and pat dry the cabbage and slice into four evenly size pieces being sure to keep the core of the cabbage intact. 

  2. Using your fingers or a basting brush evenly apply the olive oil to each piece of cabbage. You want to have a light coating on the outside of each piece.

  3. On a medium hot grill lay each piece of cabbage cut side down and close the grill. In about 3 minutes turn pieces again to lay the other cut side on the grill. Cook until the ends of the leaves have began to char and the core has began to soften. About 3 minutes.

  4. After removing the cabbage from the grill, mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the cabbage slices and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Cabbage is best served hot and with the dressing added directly before serving. The sesame oil can be substituted with olive oil but will miss out on some of the tangy, nutty flavor that the sesame oil brings to the dish.

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