Easy Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe

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By Barbara Hodge • Last Updated: October 26, 2023
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Easy Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe

Vibrant and delicious pickled red cabbage made quick and easy – perfect for salads, tacos, burgers, sandwiches, rice bowls and much more! If you’re looking to brighten up your dining table with flavour and colour, learn this simple cooking technique for tasty pickled red cabbage today!

Pickled Red Cabbage

Home made pickled red cabbage is much better than shop bought. It’s also healthier as there is no additives or preservatives. And more than that, pickling cabbage is fun!

I used to buy jarred red cabbage. But there’s just no need to run to Woolworths or any other supermarket to buy pickled red cabbage for tacos anymore! You can make crunchy, vibrant pickled cabbage at home with a minimum of fuss.

I tried and tested this pickled red cabbage recipe to get it right. Of course, I wanted it to be tangy and full of flavour. And I wanted to draw out the striking deep pink/purple colour and ensure it was free of preservatives, artificial colours or flavours.

So with a little bit of preparation, you can make your very own pickling red cabbage today! Trust me, when family and friends see your salad brought to life, or tacos with a vibrant pickled red cabbage they won’t believe you made it at home! Bring joy into your life and share it with your loved ones! Read on!

Why You Love This Recipe for Pickled Red Cabbage
Credit: Instagram @hidden.river.acres

Why You Love This Recipe for Pickled Red Cabbage

You will love this recipe for pickled red cabbage because it’s:

  • A vibrant red pink colour
  • Easy to make with everyday ingredients
  • Perfect for preparing the day before and having it ready to go
  • Light, refreshing and delicious!

How this recipe came from

This recipe for pickled red cabbage was inspired by my pickled ginger (sushi ginger) and beni shoga (Japanese red pickled ginger). It’s one of my popular recipes on MIKLIA.

You may notice that Japanese pickled ginger is often served at sushi restaurants. And beni shoga is used as a topping for various Japanese dishes such as inari, yakisoba, rice bowls, okonomiyaki and much more.

I love these pickled Japanese ginger. It’s highly appetizing and has a striking deep pinkish colour without using any artificial food colouring. It’s peppery and delicious!

I found some in season red cabbage at the shops, and knew I had to make something similar to beni shoga and sushi ginger using everyday ingredients.

Vibrant pink colouring

I have to admit, I wasn’t happy with my first attempt at pickled red cabbage. The colour was dull, and not as flavourful as I had hoped.

After a bit more trying and testing, I decided to use a simple Japanese cooking technique called yude koboshi, boiling and draining the hot water. That’s how I make pickled sushi ginger and beni shoga.

Red cabbage on the right above has been soaked in boiled water and then drained, giving it a more vibrant colour. This allows the pickling sauce to quickly penetrate into the cabbage, and results in the cabbage turning into a striking pink colour!

You can see the differences in the photo above. The photo on the right has been soaked in boiled water. The taste is also great, and the texture is crunchy.

What to do with pickled red cabbage

You can add it to various dishes including:

  • Pretty much any salad
  • Rice or buddha bowls
  • Coleslaw with pickled red cabbage
  • Toping for tacos
  • Sandwiches and burgers

Also try it:

  • with onigiri
  • as a side in a lunch box
  • as a side with scrambled or fried eggs

Changing the vinegar to your selected cuisine

This quick pickled red cabbage is highly versatile, and can be customized for almost any cuisine.

Be creative and choose the kind of vinegar you think will suit the dish best. Here’s a few ideas:

  • rice vinegar – good for Mexican, Japanese, or any type of Asian cuisine
  • apple cider vinegar: fruity and suitable for any type of salad or as a breakfast side with eggs
  • malt vinegar or white vinegar: Western cuisine

Let me know how yours goes in the comment section below and let others know if you enjoy this recipe by rating the recipe card! Thank you.

The Ingredients for this recipe

Red wine vinegar: I love the flavour of red wine vinegar and its combination with fresh lemon juice for this recipe. I also found that the colour becomes more striking with it. When I didn’t have read wine vinegar, I used ⅔ rice wine vinegar to ⅓ red wine and it works well.

Any type of vinegar can work so try your favourite from your kitchen cupboard. Note that rice vinegar is milder than standard white vinegar. Apple cider vinegar works well too.

White wine:The pickling sauce is brought to the boil so that the alcohol is released. I’ve found that with white wine, pickled cabbage becomes more flavourful.

Bay leaves: Almost any type of seasoning works including mixed pepper, herb salt, coriander seeds, mustard seeds or garlic cloves. Experiment once you mastered the basics and leave a note in the comment section below for others!

Red cabbage / purple cabbage: Find the deep purple coloured cabbage. Choose a cabbage that is firm to touch rather than soft.

How to Pickle Red Cabbage

How to Pickle Red Cabbage
Credit: Instagram @give_recipe

Pickling is fun! Everyone loves it! Let’s get started.


Before you start cooking, clean an air tight container with detergent and rinse it well with water, being sure to rinse all of the detergent off. Then dry out the jar completely.

If you’d like to keep this red cabbage pickles longer than two weeks, here are some instructions. Check it out in the FAQs section below.

Red cabbage pickling sauce

Add the ingredients for the sauce into a small pan and heat it up to medium. Once it’s boiled, turn it off. This helps ensure the alcohol is released and all the ingredients are combined well.

Soak the red cabbage with the boiled water

I’ve found this step changes the colour of the pickled cabbage dramatically. Heat up the water in the pan and turn it off as soon as it’s boiled. Then throw sliced cabbage into the water.

You will notice that the cabbage turns bluish. That’s fine. Drain the water. Then pour the pickling sauce into the bowl. Leave it until it’s cooled down.

Then transfer all the ingredients into the jar. Keep it in the fridge. You can enjoy fresh pickled red cabbage three hours later. The next day the colours and flavour will be even better, so if you can make it the day before you should.

That’s it! Serve and enjoy!

FAQs for Pickled Red Cabbage

How to save

You can save this cabbage pickles in the fridge for two weeks.

If you’d like to keep it longer, make sure the air tight container is clean.

Clean the jar with the detergent soap and rinse with water. Pour hot water about 140°F (60°C) in less than ⅓ of the jar and shake it (filling the jar may break the glass). Also clean up the top of the jar with the hot water. The fill with pickled cabbage.

Make sure the pickling sauce covers up the cabbage slices. Keep the them up to one month.

What to do with left over pickling sauce

I use it to liven up a salad, as part of a salad dressing. Just add a bit of oil, salt and pepper. It’s also pretty tasty on rice, or as part of a marinade for tofu!

Cabbage pickled recipe variations

Pickled red cabbage and carrot: I added julienned carrots the other day. Absolutely perfect for adding to salads, burgers and sandwiches!

Japanese pickled red cabbage: Use rice vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. Add one teaspoon of soy sauce and sesame oil before serving. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Or add half teaspoon of wasabi.

German Red Cabbage is called Rotkohl or Blaukraut in Germany. Traditionally, braised purple cabbage is cooked with butter, mixed withsliced onions and apples.

More Pickling Collection

Easy Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe

Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe

Barbara Hodge
Vibrant and delicious pickled red cabbage made quick and easy – perfect for salads, tacos, burgers, sandwiches, rice bowls and much more! If you’re looking to brighten up your dining table with flavour and colour, learn this simple cooking technique for tasty pickled red cabbage today!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings 1 jar


  • 1 bay leave
  • ½ teaspoon mixed pepper corn (optional)

Pickling sauce

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar (247ml)
  • 1 fresh lemon (can yield around 45ml)
  • ½ cup white wine (124ml)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (I use cane sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt (or Kosher salt)
  • 1 bay leave
  • ½ tablespoon mixed pepper corn

Cooking red cabbage

  • 2 cups red cabbage
  • 40 oz water (1 liter)


Red Cabbage pickling sauce

  • Mix up all the pickling sauce ingredients in the small pan and heat it up with the medium heat. Turn off the heat once it's boiled. Set aside.

Cooking red cabbage

  • Heat up the water with the medium in the medium pan. Once it's boiled, turn off the heat. Add cabbage slices. Drain the water once the cabbage turned into bluish.

Mixing up

  • Transfer the cabbage slices into the small glass bowl and pour the pickling sauce. Sit them for an hour. Then transfer all the ingredients into the jar. Leave it in the fridge.
  • The pickled cabbage is ready after three hours. Sit them over night. Flavour and taste become better.
    That's it! Serve and enjoy!


Add this pickled red cabbage to slaw salad. (optional)