This red cabbage salad is a perfect holiday side dish and an easy lunch idea for autumn and winter.
Crunchy red cabbage, juicy orange wedges, mixed green leaves, and nutty pinto beans make a colorful and vibrant salad.
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We love red cabbage! It’s probably the crunchiest veggie in the world, and it has a slightly spicy and mustardy flavor that we really enjoy.
We often add it to quick salads, pasta salads, and side dishes. Here, however, we’ll show you how to make our favorite purple cabbage salad with thinly sliced raw red cabbage and a few other simple ingredients.
The first thing we do is slice the cabbage as thinly as possible. You can do that with a chef’s knife, mandoline slicer, or food processor.
Then we choose a fruit to add some natural sweetness to the salad. We recommend oranges, apples, or pears.
We then add mixed green leaves like lettuce, arugula, and pinto beans and toss everything into a quick, easy (but flavorful) mustard dressing.
Optionally, you can top the salad with crushed nuts, chopped cranberries, or shaved parmesan cheese.
We think it’s a wholesome and tasty way of eating this incredibly healthy vegetable.
Raw red cabbage (sometimes called purple cabbage) lasts forever in the refrigerator, so don’t be afraid of getting a whole head. We only use 1/4 head in this recipe. However, you can shred some of it in most salads or use it in our other red cabbage recipes.
Like most colorful veggies, red cabbage is packed with antioxidants and micronutrients, which, as you probably know, are beneficial to our health.
You can use lettuce leaves, arugula, romaine leaves, spinach, or any other type of leafy greens to mix with the red cabbage.
We like to add canned pinto beans to make the salad more fulfilling so that we can also eat it as a main for a quick lunch. In addition, beans provide us with healthy carbs, dietary fiber, and a good amount of plant protein to keep us satiated and nourished for several hours.
For pinto beans, you can substitute cranberry beans, red kidney beans, white beans, and chickpeas.
Orange adds juiciness and sweetness to the salad. You can substitute a ripe pear or apple for an orange.
If you don’t want to add fruit to a salad, try shaved fennel. It’s delicious with red cabbage.
Make our mustard dressing with the following:
- Extra virgin olive oil: substitute with avocado oil.
- Vinegar: apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar.
- Maple syrup: best if 100% pure.
- Mustard: Dijon mustard or yellow American mustard.
- Salt and pepper.
These are optional ingredients. Add one or more based on your preferences:
- shaved parmesan cheese (or dairy-free parmesan)
- dried cranberries (or raisins)
- chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, or pecans)
Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.
Slice the red cabbage as thinly as possible, and add it to a large mixing bowl.
You can do so on a cutting board with a chef’s knife, a mandoline slicer, or a food processor with a slicing disk attachment.
Add rinsed beans, orange wedges cut in half, mixed leaves, and optionally dried cranberries, chopped nuts, or shaved parmesan.
Pour in the mustard dressing, toss well, and serve.
Serve this red cabbage salad as a wholesome appetizer with:
- Homemade focaccia with rosemary and sea salt on top
- Easy 10-minute crostini: a perfectly crusty bread appetizer with oil, salt, and pepper
- Flatbread pizza brushed with garlic and parsley marinade
Serve it as a side dish for dinner:
Red cabbage salad with shaved parmesan
Our favorite variation is the one with shaved parmesan (or dairy-free cheese). It adds savory notes that go well with the other ingredients.
You can add the parmesan on top or mix it in the salad.
Red cabbage slaw
We make red cabbage slaw with sweet and crunchy carrots, tart green apples, walnuts, and thinly sliced purple cabbage.
You can then choose to dress it with a simple vinaigrette, or with mayonnaise. It’s easy, crunchy, and comforting, just like a white cabbage slaw.
Check out our red cabbage slaw.
Fennel and red cabbage salad
Fennel and red cabbage are a great match, and you can use them together raw to make a deliciously crunchy and aromatic salad.
Shave the fennel thinly and mix it with the thinly sliced cabbage. Add the orange, pine nuts, olives, and pomegranate seeds; then dress the salad with a quick orange dressing.
Here is our fennel orange salad you can use for inspiration.
Refrigerator: keep red cabbage salad leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The cabbage will lose some of its crunch, but it’s still edible.
Freezer: we don’t recommend freezing this recipe.
More winter side dishes
If you’re looking for Thanksgiving and Christmas side dish inspiration, take a look at these holiday favorites:
- Roasted brussels sprouts with a sweet and creamy mustard dressing
- Mashed sweet potato: a savory side dish perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations
- Green bean salad with cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, and a creamy vinaigrette
- Roasted sweet potatoes: fork tender, easy to make, and a versatile veggie side
- Easy roasted butternut squash: ready in 30 minutes with fresh herbs and spices
- Fennel and orange salad with pomegranate seeds, olive, and authentic Italian flavor
More cabbage recipes
Looking for more cabbage recipes? No problem, use up your leftovers with one of these recipes:
- Red cabbage slaw with apples, grated carrot, and walnuts
- Braised red cabbage with apple and cinnamon, a vegetable side dish for special occasions and the holiday season
- Shaved brussels sprouts salad with a delicious mustard vinaigrette and dried cranberries
- Tuscan bean soup with kale, cabbage, and plenty of authentic Italian flavor
For many more salad ideas, check out our salads category page.
Red Cabbage Salad
- 1 pound red cabbage that's about ¼ of a whole red cabbage
- ½ can (15 oz) pinto beans
- 2 oranges or pears, or apples
- 6 ounces mixed leaves lettuce, arugula, spinach leaves
- 1½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ tablespoon red wine vinegar or apple cider, or balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon mustard Dijon, or American
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup shaved parmesan or dairy-free chese
- ⅓ cup crushed nuts walnuts, pecans, or almonds
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries or raisins
- Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.
- Slice the red cabbage as thinly as possible, and add it to a large mixing bowl.You can do so on a cutting board with a chef's knife, a mandoline slicer, or a food processor with a slicing disk attachment.
- Add rinsed beans, orange wedges cut in half, mixed leaves, and optionally dried cranberries, chopped nuts, or shaved parmesan.
- Pour in the mustard dressing, toss well, and serve.
If you liked this red cabbage salad, you might also enjoy the following: