Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

$5.68 recipe / $1.42 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.86 from 28 votes
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I get SO MANY awesome ideas from the wonderfully creative minds of my readers. You offer so much inspiration, expertise, and ideas, which makes blogging so much fun. :) One reader shared with me recently that she put a southwest spin on my classic Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry. I was so in love with that idea that I had to try it myself. I’m happy to report that this Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry is a tasty way to change things up if and when you get tired of Asian flavors. It’s just as easy and delicious as the original… ‘cept different. ;)

And I regret to say that I can’t find the original comment where the idea for a Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry was shared with me (was it on Facebook? Instagram? An email? I can’t find it!) to thank you personally here, so if you’re reading this, THANK YOU.

A skillet full of Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry with taco sauce drizzled over top

Keep it Simple or Jazz it Up!

I kept this Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry very simple to make the preparation easy, but you could go a little further and add things like sliced black olives or even some crispy tortilla strips. I think thin little crunchy tortilla strips would be an amazing texture addition to this stir fry (add after cooking). A few thinly sliced fresh jalapeños would also be amazing on top for those of you who like things spicy (hi, me!). You can really go crazy with this one and top it with just about anything that you like on tacos or taco salad.

But Dont’ Make Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry Without These…

The two things that I think wouldn’t skip, though, are the taco sauce and green onions. That tangy taco sauce really brightens the flavors and adds another dimension that takes the dish up about ten levels. You can sub your favorite hot sauce if you don’t have taco sauce, as long as it has a vinegar base.

A white plate full of Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry with taco sauce drizzled over top
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Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

4.86 from 28 votes
This Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry is a fast, easy, and flavorful way to make sure dinner is filled with plenty of vegetables.
This Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry is a fast, easy, and flavorful way to make sure dinner is filled with plenty of vegetables.
Servings 4
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 25 minutes


  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups) ($0.85)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef ($1.99)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder* ($0.30)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin ($0.05)
  • Salt to taste ($0.05)
  • 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles** ($0.99)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels ($0.44)
  • 2 green onions, sliced ($0.21)
  • Taco sauce or hot sauce to taste ($0.60)


  • Remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage and give it a good rinse. Remove the core, then finely shred the leaves. Set the shredded cabbage aside.
  • Add the cooking oil, ground beef, minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, and a pinch of salt to a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, breaking up the beef as you go, until the beef is fully browned. If using a higher fat content beef, drain the excess fat from the skillet.
  • Drain most of the liquid from the diced tomatoes, then add them to the skillet along with the frozen corn kernels. Sauté over medium heat until the corn is heated through and most of the liquid on the bottom of the skillet has evaporated. Taste the mixture and add more salt as needed.
  • Add the shredded cabbage and sauté for just a couple minutes more, or until the cabbage just becomes slightly wilted. Top with sliced green onions and a drizzle of taco sauce or hot sauce, then serve.

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*This chili powder is a mild blend of ground chiles and other spices.
**Like Rotel
To make this recipe even faster and easier, use bagged shredded cabbage and substitute the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and salt with a packet of taco seasoning.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 248.95kcalCarbohydrates: 22.78gProtein: 14.83gFat: 12.58gSodium: 573.5mgFiber: 5.85g
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Cabbage is really becoming one of my favorite versatile ingredients!

Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry in the skillet, viewed from the side

How to Make Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry – Step by Step Photos

Shredded Green Cabbage

Begin by finely shredding 1/2 head of green cabbage, or about 5 cups once shredded. If needed, you can use bagged pre-shredded cabbage.

Beef Garlic and Spices in the skillet

Add 1 Tbsp cooking oil, 1/2 lb. ground beef, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, and a pinch of salt to a large skillet. Sauté over medium heat until the beef is fully browned. If you’re using a high fat content beef, drain the excess fat away before the next step.

Browned beef, Diced Tomatoes with Chiles, and Corn in the skillet

Add one cup frozen corn kernels and a drained 10oz. can of diced tomatoes with chiles.

Can of Diced Tomatoes with Chiles

I used a generic brand of diced tomatoes with chiles, but this is basically Rotel tomatoes. If you can’t find something similar, you can use a small can of petite diced tomatoes and a small can of diced green chiles.

Cooked Beef Mixture in the skillet

Sauté the ingredients in the skillet for a few minutes, or until the corn is heated through and most of the liquid in the bottom of the skillet has evaporated (it’s okay for there to be a bit of saucy moisture, just not puddles of liquid). Taste the mixture and adjust the salt. You’ll want it to be slightly on the salty side so that it doesn’t get too bland once all the cabbage is added.

Add Shredded Cabbage to the skillet

Finally, add the shredded cabbage and sauté for just a couple minutes more (still over medium), or just until the cabbage begins to wilt. You want the raw edge taken off the cabbage, but for it to retain a little crunch.

Drizzle Taco Sauce over beef and cabbage stir fry

Sprinkle a couple of fresh sliced green onions over top, then drizzle with taco sauce or your favorite hot sauce. You want a sauce that is nice and tangy. I’ll admit the store bought one I used left a little to be desired, so now I have to come up with a recipe for homemade taco sauce! :D

Close up of Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry in the skillet with wooden fork on the side

And that’s it! Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry is on the table! 

Two plates of Southwest Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry on a patterned napkin
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  1. My Family got mad I was making this because, “our son won’t eat cabbage”. Guess what? He Loved it! Thank you for this tasty recipe.

  2. Yummy! I am not vegan, but I had a package of seitan chorizo in my refrigerator, so I used that as the swap for the beef. It was delicious and very quick to throw together on a weeknight. I chopped up some pickled jalapeños and threw them in since I did not have canned tomatoes with chiles. Thank you for another excellent recipe!

  3. This was delicious! The only changeI made was adding chopped yellow onions with the meat. I servd this on a bed of tortilla chips that were getting a bit stale and needed to be used.🤫 Sriracha sauce, shredded cheese, cilantro, and homemade yogurt (we use it like sour cream) were our toppings. We will definitely make this again. Thanks so much for the delicious recipe!

  4. This inspired my lunch today! I had a little leftover taco meat (mixed with some black beans) and an even littler bit of leftover mexican rice so dumped those in the skillet with cabbage and some bell pepper and a bit of rotel and boom. Since my meat & rice were well seasoned I didn’t even add any seasonings. The leftover rotel is slated for queso later this week so no waste there 👌🏼

    For those asking about the taco sauce, Cholula is perfect on this 😋 

  5. This is a great recipe! It’s become part of my regular dinner rotation. When I serve it to my family, I call it “Taco Stir Fry.” I add a can of black beans and use a full pound of ground beef, and usually serve it over rice. I let people add toppings they want like shredded cheese, diced avocado, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, hot sauce, etc. Whatever is good to put on tacos is good on this. The shredded cabbage ends up being like the lettuce on a taco. So far this is the only way I can get my husband to eat cabbage.

  6. We get lots of cabbage from our CSA and this is my kids FAVORITE way for me to use it. Thank you! Turns out you add Tex-Mex flavors to anything and my kids will love it, and my husband likes that it’s low-carb.

  7. Made tonight!! Added black beans and jalapeños!!
    Was AWESOME!!! $$$
    Definitely a winner and will make again soon!

  8. Simple and delicious! I used leftover cherry tomatoes + tomatoes from pico de gallo (squeezed to let excess juice out) + tomato paste mixed with a bit of water as I didn’t have a can of rotell or diced tomatoes. I ran out of fresh garlic yesterday, so subbed garlic powder & I also used leftover salsa verde to add a kick and some extra juice. I accidentally used a whole lb of ground turkey and it was honestly too much. I wanted the cabbage to be the bulk of the recipe, like yours, but it was still yummy (just very meaty – again, my bad!). Don’t make my same mistake!

    Thanks so much Beth! I heard about your website on the Food Heaven Podcast and have been excited to check it out ever since. It did not disappoint! I’m looking forward to making more of your recipes :) Take care!

  9. Can you share your taco sauce recipe ? We had a favorite but I can’t find it in the stores anymore so I would love to try yours 

    1. Unfortunately I don’t have a recipe for taco sauce (yet). For this recipe I used a bottled sauce from the store. I don’t remember which brand, but the label in the photos looks a lot like El Paso!

      1. I have to tell you that the in my opinion the best taco sauce is the Food Lion brand (no kidding). They have a mild and a medium. If you want hotter, but store doesn’t have medium, then just use mild and add some hot sauce in. This is the tastiest taco sauce I have found. I put it on all kinds of food!

      2. I just looked and we don’t have any food lion stores here. :(

  10. This was fantastic! I was afraid that it wouldn’t make enough food because the calorie count was so low (when I input it all into MFP) but 4 servings was perfect. Super quick to make since I used a bag of coleslaw. Also added a can of black beans for some extra protein. So good! Will definitely be added to my rotation of meal prep recipes. 

  11. I have made this three times. The family loves it. I serve it over rice with grated cheese and sometimes crispy tortilla strips.

  12. I make this recipe all the time. It’s in my monthly recipe rotation. I usually use a whole (smaller) cabbage and a regular size can of diced tomatoes. I also add the spices after draining the fat. It’s always a fit! I serve it with a side of sweet potatoes.

  13. Question: What hot sauce can be used? Something like Frank’s or sriracha?
    Review: What a great way to incorporate CABBAGE, an under-used veggie, into a tasty and economical family meal. To reduce fat/cholesterol, I browned the beef first and drained it well before adding it back to the pan with the spices. Removing as much fat as possible takes away some of the taste, but that’s become my practice. To compensate, I added a small diced yellow onion and some of the additions mentioned in earlier comments like 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and some Worcestershire sauce.
    Thank you for an easy and tasty meal.

    1. It’s really up to you with the hot sauce. If you like hot sauces as much as me, you might like any type of hot sauce on this. Taco sauce definitely goes the best since it has those southwest flavors in it, but if you want to branch out to other types of hot sauce there are no boundaries. :)