Quick-Pickled Cabbage

Pickled red cabbage in jars.
Diana Rattray
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 2 mins
Pickling: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 12 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 2 pints
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
31 Calories
0g Fat
6g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 31
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 254mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 18mg 88%
Calcium 34mg 3%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 181mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This quick-pickled cabbage is a delicious condiment to have on hand since it goes with just about everything. In addition to the tangy flavor, pickled red cabbage brings a pop of bright color to a plate; when the acidic vinegar brine comes into contact with the cabbage, the vegetable goes from deep purple to a beautiful shade of red. 

Quick-pickled cabbage is easy and convenient because it doesn't need to be fermented and is ready to eat in as little as 2 hours. (For the best flavor, however, refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours before serving.) Because quick-pickled vegetables are not processed, they are not shelf-stable and must be stored in the refrigerator.

Spoon some pickled cabbage on top of fish tacos, hot dogs, and burgers, as well as pulled pork sandwiches. You can also mix it with chopped cilantro and sliced green onions and serve it with chicken or meat as a flavorful and colorful topping.

1:15

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"It’s hard to beat a pickled recipe that is this quick, flavorful, and beautiful. Beyond the cabbage itself, the ingredients are pantry staples, which makes it easy to whip this up at a moment’s notice. Dishes were minimal. The spices and garlic added to the taste, giving it a nice boost." —Colleen Graham

Pickled Cabbage Tester Image
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium head red cabbage (about 2 pounds)

  • 1 1/4 cups water

  • 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional

  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds 

  • 12 black peppercorns

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for making quick pickled red cabbage

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  2. Using a large sharp knife, a mandoline, or a food processor fitted with the slicing disc, slice the cabbage into thin shreds. Set aside.

    Red cabbage sliced into shreds

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  3. Put the water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, if using.

    Brine for quick pickled cabbage

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  4. Put the shredded red cabbage in a bowl and then pour the hot brine over it.

    Quick pickled cabbage in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  5. Divide the brined cabbage between 2 (1-pint) jars, layering evenly with the garlic slices, coriander seeds, and peppercorns.

    Pickled red cabbage in a canning jar

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  6. Place the lids on the jars and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. For the best flavor, however, refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours before serving. This recipe can keep in the fridge for about seven days.

    Pickled red cabbage in jars.
    Diana Rattray

Tips

  • Two pounds of red cabbage yields about 4 cups once shredded. It's the perfect amount to stuff into two one-pint jars. Cut the recipe in half or double it to suit your needs.
  • The brine and red cabbage combination will stain porous materials and skin purple or pink, though it's not as intense as beets. Clean up spills quickly and try to avoid using wood utensils or white towels.

Recipe Variations

  • For a low-carb version of these quick pickles, prepare them with a sugar replacement, such as erythritol or stevia.
  • Make the pickled cabbage with green cabbage and add very thinly sliced carrots for color.
  • If you prefer the flavor of caraway seeds or mustard seeds, feel free to use them instead of the coriander seeds.
  • For a sweeter brine, add another teaspoon or two of sugar (or a sugar replacement).
  • You might also add different vegetables to the cabbage, such as sliced onions, shallots, or small cauliflower florets.
  • Since quick pickles are refrigerated, you can use a milder vinegar, such as rice vinegar or wine vinegar.

Is Pickled Cabbage the Same as Sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, which means the vegetable sits in a salt-water mixture for several weeks to kill off the bad bacteria and then preserve the cabbage. This quick-pickled cabbage recipe is not fermented, but it is simply brined in a hot vinegar-salt mixture and refrigerated. The pickled cabbage lasts only a week in the fridge, while sauerkraut is good for up to six months.