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Pickled Cabbage – Easy, Healthy Side Dish

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This savory, sweet-sour Pickled Cabbage can definitely lighten up any meal. Its crunchiness makes it to the A-list of healthy yet delicious side dishes.

Pickled vegetables are so popular everywhere because they are very easy to make. They don’t have to be costly, too. A lot of varieties can also be made in a certain vegetable or mixtures of vegetables. And lastly, they are so popular because of the health benefits they are providing.

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Cabbage is a known healthy and popular vegetable too, for pickling. However, different types of cabbage can also give off different amounts of nutrients.

For this recipe, we will be using red cabbage to be pickled.

photo of pickled red cabbage in a bowl

Pickling overview

Pickling is the process of preserving or extending the shelf life of foods usually in salt solution (brine), or in an acid solution (vinegar). The pickling procedure also affects the food’s flavor and texture.

The foods that are usually pickled are fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, dairy, and eggs. They are soaked in the preferred solution, and antimicrobial herbs and spices like garlic, cloves, mustard, or cinnamon are usually added.

As mentioned, brine or salt solution and vinegar are used for pickling. These are the only two basic categories of pickles.

With brine, it also encourages fermentation, where the growth of “good bacteria” makes the food less vulnerable to “bad” spoilage-causing bacteria. Popular examples are kimchi and sauerkraut.

While vinegar is a strong acid in which few bacteria can survive. The most common example is the bottled cucumber pickles that we usually see in the supermarket.

The acidity or salinity of the solution, the temperature of fermentation, and the exclusion of oxygen determine which microorganisms dominate. They also determine the flavor of the end product. Thus, pickling does not require that the food be completely sterile before it is canned or bottled.

Pickling has been around since ancient times and has been explored in so many ways. This is to make sure that the people have enough food supplies for the long winters, famine, long travels, and other times of need.

This method is done in so many ways, depending on the cultures and places the pickles are made. They have distinctive flavors and can be colorful, too. That’s why pickles are like art or should we say, pickling is a universal culinary art.

The Ingredients

Red cabbage

Among the family of cabbages, red (purple) cabbage is among the healthiest providing rich sources of nutrients. Moreover, vegetables that are red, purple, or blue in color have anthocyanin.

It is a type of antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as protects our heart. The red cabbage is also rich in vitamins C and K3. A combination that aid in skin health, wound healing, blood clotting, and bone health.

When red cabbage is pickled, it can last 4 – 5 weeks in the fridge. The cabbage is best shredded in pickling. It can be done with the use of a food processor, mandolin, or knife. 

A 1 pound ( around 450 grams) of cabbage yields approximately 1 quart or 2 pint jars (4 cups) of pickled cabbage. It also depends on how you tightly packed the jars In this recipe, measure 2 cups of shredded red cabbage tightly. You can just eat the unused cabbage fresh as salad. Well, that’s what I did!

Other types of cabbages can be pickled, too. Don’t worry if you can’t find red cabbages in your area. Although the taste may be different, I’m sure they can also be as delicious as the red cabbage.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV is fermented juice from crushed apples with water. There are different types of ACV. There is this distilled ACV where you’ll notice that the liquid in the bottle is clear. Another one is where the liquid in the bottle looks cloudy with some substance floating around.

This floating substance is called the “mother.”Don’t worry about it. It’s natural and safe to consume. It usually settles to the bottom of the bottle. The “mother”, the cloud of yeast and bacteria, is what makes ACV healthier.

These are probiotics that give our digestive system a “boost.” ACV’s other healthy properties include having antioxidants and antimicrobial effects. It is also rich in nutrients such as vitamins B and C and minerals. It can also contain acetic acid and citric acid

Apple cider vinegar can be a good choice as a means of pickling the red cabbage because of the health benefits it provides. However, you can still use other types of kinds of vinegar, too.

Salt, sugar, and water

Salt, sugar, and water will complete the marinade. This will also determine the outcome of the flavor. You may adjust the amount, too. As for the sugar, the sweetness is important as it softens the acid taste of the vinegar and bitterness of the cabbage.

But if you are watching your carb intake, you can use alternative sweeteners like erythritol or monk fruit. This will be perfect for someone who is also on the ketogenic diet.

Making the easy and healthy pickled cabbage

This pickled red cabbage recipe I prepared is the most basic and simplest one and I love the flavor. You can try to add something like some shredded carrots, garlic, and other vegetables, spices, and herbs you fancy. Make it colorful, too.

But if this is your first time making this pickled cabbage, I suggest this recipe. Then, a little at a time, adjust the ingredients to your liking or experiment with your add ons.

To begin with, gather the ingredients listed below.


  • 2 cups red cabbage, sliced thinly or shredded
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Red cabbage leaf

Not much isn’t it? 


Place the cabbage in a bowl. Add the salt and sugar and massage until the cabbage is reduced. 

Transfer to a jar, pressing down firmly. 

In a bowl combine the apple cider vinegar and the water and pour over the cabbage into the jar.

Cover with the cabbage leaf and refrigerate overnight.

There you have it!

Make it as sides to your dish like fried and grilled, as add ons to burgers and sandwiches, as a base blend to your salads, as toppings to your tacos and nachos, and so many others.

Pickled Cabbage - Easy, Healthy Side Dish

Pickled Cabbage - Easy, Healthy Side Dish

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes

This crunchy Pickled Cabbage can lighten up any meal. It is trendy for being straightforward and yet healthy side.


  • 2 cups red cabbage, sliced thinly or shredded
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Red cabbage leaf


  1. Place the cabbage in a bowl. Add the salt and sugar and massage until the cabbage is reduced. 
  2. Transfer to a jar, pressing down firmly. 
  3. In a bowl combine the apple cider vinegar and the water and pour over the cabbage into the jar.
  4. Cover with the cabbage leaf and refrigerate overnight.

Did you make this recipe?

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Try these other vegetable salad recipes, too:

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