This pickled cabbage is an old-word recipe that never goes out of style. It’s fresh, crunchy, and goes great on everything from bratwurst to tacos!
When I was a kid, my parents always had a wooden barrel of pickled cabbage hanging out in the house to last us through the whole winter. The longer it sat, the deeper the flavor got and the more we couldn’t resist going in for more. A Slavic staple, it’s so easy to prepare and goes wonderfully with so many modern dishes.
The Difference Between Sauerkraut & Pickled Cabbage
This pickled cabbage requires no vinegar or pickling liquid – just cabbage, beets, carrots, garlic, and salt. The natural juices from the veggies will slowly start to seep out as the mixture ferments, making for a naturally tangy salad. On the other hand, sauerkraut requires you to make a hot, spiced brine to soak the cabbage in. If this is more your style, try our recipe for quick overnight sauerkraut instead.
Hot Tip: I love making pickled cabbage in a commercial kitchen container. It’s big enough to batch cook in and comes with a handy lid to help with the fermentation process.
Making Pickled Cabbage from Scratch
The biggest ingredient in this pickled cabbage is patience! After you assemble it, you’ll need to wait about a week to dig in.
- Prepare the Veggies: First, slice or shred the cabbage into long, thin strips and peel and grate the carrots and beets. Next, dice the garlic up.
- Pack the Container: Now that your veggies are all prepped, toss them into a large container and
- Add Garlic: Slice the garlic into small pieces. In a large container, combine all the ingredients.
- Ferment the Cabbage: Cover the container slightly with a lid or plate and allow it to sit at room temperature for 5-7 days, giving it a good stir every now and again to distribute the liquid.
- Refrigerate the Pickled Cabbage: After the cabbage is pickled, transfer it to glass jars and store it in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
Expert Tips & Tricks
A couple of expert tips and tricks will help you pickle your cabbage like a pro!
- Use a mandolin slicer to make prep that much easier. While you can always slice your veggies with a sharp knife, enlist the help of a mandolin slicer to speed up the process and make the texture consistent.
- Stir the cabbage every couple of days. As the juices form at the bottom of the container, you’ll need to stir them every 1-2 days to keep the liquid flowing and make sure all the veggies get the attention they deserve.
- Tweak with your favorite seasonings. This recipe is really versatile, so feel free to add in your favorite spices. Black peppercorns, mustard seeds, cloves, bay leaves, and coriander seeds are all great options.
Different Ways to Serve Pickled Cabbage
Pickled cabbage is great as a side dish to just about any protein, but it’s also a fun topper when you’re craving a little crunch. Here’s a couple ideas to inspire you:
- Burgers, Wraps, & Sandwiches: Pop some of the cabbage onto easy cheeseburger sliders, flank steak wraps, or a Cuban pork sandwich for a pop of tang.
- Tacos: Whip up a fresh batch of crispy air fryer cod fish tacos and top them with pickled cabbage and lime crema.
- Hot Dogs & Bratwurst: Throw some hot dogs and bratwurst on the grill and pair them with pickled cabbage and your favorite condiment (spicy mustard, ketchup, or mayo).
- Soups: Add a bit of texture and tang to your favorite bowl or soup or stew. Classic borscht and shurpa soup both come to mind.
Best Practices for Storing
After the pickled cabbage has fermented at room temperature, transfer it into mason jars and store them in the fridge. It should keep for up to two weeks and get increasingly flavorful as it marinates.
Does pickled cabbage freeze well?
No, pickled cabbage doesn’t freeze well and will turn mushy upon thawing.
Can pickled vegetables be left unrefrigerated?
They can be left unrefrigerated during the fermentation process, but should be transferred into the fridge for story.
Do you use precooked beets or shred them raw?
You can shred them raw. They will soften as they ferment, so there is no need to boil them beforehand.
Can you use purple cabbage instead?
Yes, you can use either green or purple cabbage. Just be aware that purple cabbage tends to be a bit tougher and may need an extra day or two of fermentation.
More Tasty Cabbage Recipes
- Traditional Cabbage Rolls – Slavic stuffed cabbage leaves
- How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut – 4-ingredient pickled cabbage
- Crispy Roasted Cabbage Steaks – Thick roasted cabbage steaks with bacon
- Roasted Cabbage Wedge Salad – Chilled roasted cabbage salad
- 2 small cabbage heads
- 3 medium beets
- 3 large carrots
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp salt
- Slice or shred the cabbage into long, thin strips. Peel the carrots and beets and grate them.
- Slice the garlic into small pieces. In a large container, combine all the ingredients with the salt.
- Cover the container slightly with a lid or plate. Allow the cabbage to ferment for 5-7 days. Every few days, give it a solid stir to keep the liquid flowing.
- After the cabbage is pickled, transfer it to glass jars and store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Enjoy!