A blue ribbon red cabbage salad.
Summer food should be bright and colorful. This easy red cabbage salad recipe (or slaw, if you like) tastes crunchy and bright, and comes together in minutes. Get the recipe for this essential summer side.
What’s the Difference Between Salad vs. Slaw vs. Coleslaw?
The answer to the salad vs. slaw question lies in the dish’s main ingredients. This sounds like an S.A.T. reasoning question, but basically: All coleslaws and slaws are salads, but not all salads are coleslaws. The difference comes down to the cabbage.
Slaw is any raw vegetable salad with other grated, chopped, or shredded vegetables. Salad, of course, is an umbrella term that can have any number of greens, vegetables, and proteins.
Let’s go one step further.
Coleslaw is a cabbage-based slaw. Coleslaw is called coleslaw because of the Old English “col,” referring to cruciferous crops like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. In fact, you can hear the word “col” in “cauliflower.”
Coleslaw’s more common iteration employs a mayonnaise-based dressing for the cabbage salad, but a vinegar-based dressing is also popular.
How to Make This Easy Red Cabbage Salad Recipe
Technically, this is a red cabbage coleslaw and a red cabbage salad. But I just call it slaw and salad interchangeably because the most important thing is how it tastes. And it’s great.
This vinegar-based red cabbage slaw, adapted from the wonderful Silver Palate cookbook’s recipe for Mardi Gras Slaw, comes together in mere minutes. Here’s what to do:
- Shred the red cabbage by slicing it in half lengthwise and then face-down into thin strips.
- Create carrot “ribbons” with the peeler, discarding the tough outer peels.
- Combine with the red wine vinaigrette, and voilà!
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Can I substitute green cabbage for red? Yes!
- Red cabbage is very hearty. So you can dress the salad up to a day in advance. Just give it a toss before serving to redistribute the dressing and fluff it up a bit.
- Start with half the dressing. Add more as necessary.
- Feel free to add extra ingredients. Make this red cabbage slaw your own. I love the idea of thin-sliced apple, raisins, or other sweet element here. Pumpkin seeds would add texture and a bit of crunch and protein. Scallions add a pop of additional color.
If you like this red cabbage slaw, check out these recipes:
- Baby Kale Salad With Buttermilk Dressing
- Summer Strawberry Bibb Salad
- Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancake)
Easy Red Cabbage Slaw
- 1 head red cabbage, shredded (about 4 to 6 cups)
- 4 medium carrots, washed and peeled
- 1 large shallot, diced fine
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey (or sugar if you like)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon French grain mustard
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon caraway seed
- 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 12 turns fresh-cracked black pepper
- 2 scallions, green and light green parts, sliced very thin (optional)
- Prepare the cabbage: Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage and discard. Slice the cabbage in half lengthwise through the stump. Place each half face-down on a cutting board and slice very thin. Place the slices in a large mixing bowl, breaking up the dense leaves with your hands.
- For the carrots: Wash, then peel the tough outer layer from each carrot and discard. Continue to peel the carrots all the way to down to nubs, creating lots of long carrot ribbons. Add them to the cabbage.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the shallot, vinegar, honey or sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking, until the dressing emulsifies.
- Add about half the dressing to the slaw and toss, along with most of the scallions. Taste for seasoning and add more dressing as necessary. Garnish with the reserved scallions.This red cabbage slaw will keep for up to two days, dressed, covered in the refrigerator. Toss again before serving.