Our Favourite Vegetarian BBQ Hack: Beer Can Cabbage

With the first day of summer right around the corner, grilling season is just getting started. Herbivores often get overlooked amid the meat madness that BBQ season brings on, but this recipe will convert even the most hardcore carnivores. You may not win friends with salad at a BBQ, but this beer can cabbage will have you crowned “most popular” at any gathering- provided they are giving out titles like that at your gathering.

You’ve probably heard the lore around beer-can chicken, but beer can cabbage? This boozy chicken has been a BBQ favourite for years, but how can vegetarians get in on this beer roasting action?

Beer can cabbage acts the same way as its chicken counterpart. Instead of stuffing a beer can into the open cavity of a chicken, a hole is cut into the base of a head of cabbage, large enough to fit a beer inside. When you hoist your cabbage up onto the BBQ, the aromatic roasted malt flavours will permeate through your cabbage, providing a smoky, flavourful roasted cabbage that is absolutely perfect for cutting up into sandwiches and burgers. To really bring your cabbage to the next level, be sure to pair this with your favourite BBQ sauce. Then simply top it with your favourite fixings, and of course, serve these up with the heart and soul ingredient of this recipe: more beer!

*If you want an even heartier burger, throw in a veggie or meat patty–it’s delicious either way.



  • 1 large purple cabbage (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 1 (12-ounce) can pale lager
  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 large white onion, cut into 1/2″ rings
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1 medium carrot (about 6 ounces), coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • 12 slices cheddar cheese
  • Sliced pickled jalapeños (for serving)


  1. Prepare your grill for medium-high heat.
  2. Cut a 3×3 inch square around the core of your cabbage at the base, then carefully remove this core with a knife. Use a knife and spoon to create a 3-inch deep cavity in the cabbage–large enough to hold a beer can. Discard the core, but keep this leftover cabbage to use in your slaw.
  3. You only need half of one can of beer for this recipe, so either drink the other half or pour it out for someone else to enjoy. Place the can with the remaining beer in the hole you have created in the cabbage so that the cabbage sits upright. Transfer to grill.
  4. Using a brush, coat cabbage with 3 tablespoons of barbecue sauce. Cover grill and allow cabbage to cook, brushing with sauce every 15 minutes until the the outer leaves have darkened and become crispy. After 45-60 minutes, the cabbage should be cooked through and feel tender when pierced with a knife. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, grill the white onion rings until cooked through and charred.
  5. While cabbage is cooking, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Slice up the reserved cabbage from the core. Combine the cabbage with the bowl of dressing mixture, along with the carrot and red onion. Mix to combine. This is your slaw.
  6. When the cabbage is finished cooking, remove from grill and discard the can. When the cabbage has cooled enough, cut it in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3/4 inch strips. Coarsely chop white onion rings and and toss them into a medium bowl along with the sliced grilled cabbage and remaining 1 ¼ cups barbecue sauce.
  7. Half hamburger buns and toast. Place 1 cup of barbecued cabbage on each bottom bun. Then give each bun 2 slices of cheddar cheese, ½ cup cabbage slaw, and as many pickled jalapenos as you desire. Seal your creation with the top bun!


And there you have it! What better way to enjoy a hearty veggie that’s in-season right now than with a beer and a barbecue. Have you got any other favourite vegetarian hacks? We’d love to hear your ideas. Happy grilling!

beer can cabbage


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