Learning how to cut purple cabbage properly is important if you want it to be right size, shape and texture for using in different recipes.
This guide is meant to help you with that and also serves as a companion post for purple cabbage recipes on this site, including purple cabbage soup, purple cabbage slaw, steamed red cabbage and this pickled purple cabbage.
I'll walk you through the basics of handling this bright and beautiful veggie and share ways of slicing, chopping and shredding it.
While a chef's knife is all you need to cut cabbage any way you want, I'll also touch on ways you can make use of kitchen gadgets such as mandoline, peeler, grater and food processor.
Now you might be wondering: Isn't cutting purple cabbage similar to cutting green cabbage?
Well you're right — it mostly is. But stick around because this guide goes much beyond cutting techniques.
It includes tips for avoiding common cutting mistakes, selecting best cabbage, proper storage and much more.
Plus I've also shared recipe ideas that will inspire you to use purple cabbage (aka red cabbage) in different ways. Ready then?
- What is purple cabbage?
- A little prep before cutting
- Instructions (with step-by-step photos)
- Sliced vs shredded vs chopped purple cabbage
- Cabbage cutting mistakes
- Important measurements
- Recipes involving purple cabbage
- How to buy a good purple cabbage
- Other ways of cutting purple cabbage
- Safety measures
- Storing purple cabbage
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is purple cabbage?
Purple cabbage is part of same plant species that includes kale, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli (and green cabbage of course).
Just like green cabbage, you can eat it in raw, cooked or pickled forms in variety of dishes.
Purple cabbage differs from its green sibling not just in color but also in nutritional profile.
It's typically in season late fall to early spring but is readily available in grocery stores all year round.
A little prep before cutting
Before you start cutting the purple cabbage check its outer leaves and remove any wilted, bruised, damaged or discolored ones.
Then clean by rinsing it under cold water and gently rubbing off any dirt or grit. Pat dry with kitchen towel.
If using the whole head, wash it now. But if using only a portion, skip the washing at this stage to avoid excess moisture and resulting accelerated spoilage.
Cut the cabbage into a chunk you'll use (half, quarter etc) and store the rest covered in plastic/cling wrap in the fridge.
Remember to wash and pat dry the portion you'll use before cutting or shredding it further.
Instructions (with step-by-step photos)
Follow these simple, photo-assisted instructions to cut purple cabbage. Don't miss the printable version of these instructions at the end of this post — super handy!
Start off by placing cabbage on a cutting board, root-end down. Grab your chef's knife and slice it right down the middle.
Then take each half and lay it on the cutting board, flat-side down. Cut in half lengthwise again and you'll end up with four quarters/wedges in total (the two you see in the photo are just from one half).
Now with each quarter resting on its cut side, you'll want to get rid of the core. Slice it out diagonally from each piece.
Once the core is removed it's time to get slicing. Hold the cabbage steady with a claw grip (curve your fingers like a claw and use your fingertips to keep the cabbage piece in place).
Start slicing from the pointy end of cabbage piece, working your way towards the end where the core used to be. You can make the slices as thin or thick as you need…and that's it!
Note: For shorter pieces, take those slices you've made and give them another cut, this time going across.
And if you'd like longer pieces, rotate the cabbage quarter/wedge (before you start slicing) so the longer side faces you, then slice it lengthwise.
Don't forget to check out the safety tips I've shared below.
Sliced vs shredded vs chopped purple cabbage
When prepping cabbage, the way you cut it (slicing, chopping or shredding) can affect its final texture in your dish.
Sliced cabbage — whether cut in thin or thick strips, gives a robust texture that's great for sautéing, stir-frying or adding to salads for that satisfying crunch.
Shredded cabbage — with strips much more thinner than sliced cabbage, works nicely for coleslaw or as a taco topping when you want a lighter, subtle presence.
Chopped cabbage — cut into small, bite-sized pieces, blends well in stews, casseroles or soups. These pieces are usually squares or rectangles (no strict rule about it though). The key is to ensure that pieces are roughly uniform in size for even cooking and consistent texture.
Btw — when people talk about chopping cabbage, they can also be referring to slicing or even shredding it. So it's also used as a generic term.
Cabbage cutting mistakes
- Not using a sharp knife — makes cutting process harder and can lead to uneven pieces
- Holding the cabbage incorrectly — important for control and safety. Hold the cabbage with a claw grip tucking your fingers away and using your knuckles to guide the knife.
- Using the wrong knife size — a very big knife can be difficult to handle while a very short one won't cut through effectively. A standard 8-inch chef's knife is a good choice.
- Not securing the cutting board — slippery cutting board is dangerous. Keep it steady by placing damp kitchen towel or non-slip mat underneath.
- Rushing the process — might result in mistakes and accidents. Take your time and make nice controlled cuts.
Understanding conversions like whole cabbage to cups can be quite handy, so here are some useful measurements:
- Average weight of medium purple cabbage — It's usually around 2 pounds (approximately 900 grams) but can vary. Use a kitchen scale if you want to be very precise and sure.
- Conversion to cups — one medium 2 pound head typically yields about 8 to 10 cups of sliced or shredded cabbage. Volume can vary depending on how tightly the measuring cup is packed.
- Weight of each cup — a cup of shredded cabbage generally weighs between 90 grams (3 ounces) and 110 grams (4 ounces). Again, weight can vary based on thickness of shreds and how tightly you pack them.
Recipes involving purple cabbage
To be honest, I'm putting together this list more for myself than for you. My forgetful brain always struggles to come up with ideas when it comes to using leftover purple cabbage.
- Purple cabbage soup — hearty soup with cabbage, carrots, celery and beans.
- Purple cabbage slaw — coleslaw variation with purple cabbage, shredded carrots and a yum dressing.
- Pickled purple cabbage — cabbage quick-pickled in a spice-infused, vinegar-based pickling liquid.
- Purple cabbage and apple salad — thinly sliced cabbage and apples tossed in a light vinaigrette.
- Roasted cabbage steaks — cabbage slabs roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper and spices.
- Stir-fried cabbage — sliced cabbage stir-fried with soy sauce, garlic and other veggies.
- Cabbage rolls — blanched purple cabbage leaves stuffed with ground meat and rice and then baked.
- Braised purple cabbage — cabbage slow-cooked with apples, vinegar and spices.
- Cabbage berry smoothie — purple cabbage blended with berries and a little honey.
- Purple cabbage kimchi — fermented cabbage made using gochugaru, garlic and ginger.
- Sauerkraut — shredded and salted purple cabbage naturally fermented for few weeks.
- Purple cabbage pasta — colorful addition to pasta dishes.
- Tacos — crunchy, colorful topping for traditional or fish tacos.
- Purple cabbage and quinoa salad — cooked quinoa and purple cabbage tossed in a zesty dressing.
How to buy a good purple cabbage
Here are some tips that'll help you choose a high-quality purple cabbage (or even a green one):
- Firmness — go for one that feels firm and dense when pressed. Firmness indicates freshness. Soft or spongy ones may be decaying inside.
- Weight — a good one will feel heavy for its size.
- Color — look for bright and vibrant color.
- Leaves — outer leaves should be tightly packed, crisp and free from damage.
- Size — larger heads usually have milder flavor and smaller ones tend to be stronger in taste. Also factor in the quantity you need.
- Season — these are available year-round but freshest during peak season (typically late fall to early spring in North America).
Other ways of cutting purple cabbage
The main instructions above are for slicing cabbage using a chef's knife, but there are other tools you can use and other ways you can cut and prepare your cabbage.
- Using mandoline for slicing/shredding — adjust the mandoline to the desired thickness and carefully slide cabbage back and forth across the blade(s). Use the safety guard provided with your mandoline and consider wearing cut-resistant gloves for added safety.
- Using box grater for grating — cut the cabbage into wedges or manageable pieces. Firmly hold the box grater on a sturdy surface and grate the cabbage down the largest grating side. Watch out for your fingers and again, consider using a cut-resistant glove for safety.
- Using food processor for slicing — select the right slicing plate/attachment for your food processor and insert it securely. Cut the cabbage into chunks that will fit into the feed chute of your processor. Process/slice in batches and pay attention as slices from a food processor can be inconsistent.
- Using knife for cutting into squares — cut the cabbage in half, then lay each half flat on cutting board and cut 1-inch thick slices vertically. Next, turn the slices and cut horizontally to create cabbage squares.
- Using knife to cut wedges — cut the cabbage in half vertically, then slice each half into wedges, adjusting the size as desired. Don't cut out the core as it will help the wedges stay intact during cooking or preparation.
- Using knife to cut steaks — place cabbage upright on cutting board with the root end facing down. Then slice vertically into 1-inch thick slices, creating round cabbage steaks. Keep the core intact to hold the slices together.
- Stable cutting surface — use a non-slip cutting board or place damp kitchen towel or non-slip mat underneath for added stability.
- Sharp tools — sharp tools require less force, reducing the risk of slips and accidental cuts.
- Proper grip — hold your knife, peeler or mandoline securely but not too tightly. Relaxed grip allows for better control and reduces strain on your hands.
- Be cautious with peelers — direct the peeler away from your body and fingers and keep your fingers away from the blade's path.
- Care with mandolines and box graters — use safety guard that comes with these and wear cut-resistant gloves for added protection.
- Use food processors with caution — always follow manufacturer's instructions and ensure the cabbage is cut into manageable pieces. Be careful when handling blades or removing sliced cabbage to avoid accidental cuts.
- Avoid distractions — vital for maintaining control and reducing the risk of injury.
Storing purple cabbage
- Refrigerate — avoid washing cabbage before storing as excess moisture can promote spoilage and mold growth. And if you've washed it, let it air dry. Then tightly cover leftover cabbage piece(s) in plastic/cling wrap and refrigerate in crisper drawer of the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks. Sliced, chopped or shredded cabbage can also be refrigerated in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag but will only keep well for 3 to 5 days.
- Freeze — freezing can change and soften the texture so it's best to use frozen cabbage in cooked dishes rather than raw ones. To freeze, remove any wilted or damaged outer leaves, then slice, shred or wedge the cabbage. Blanch in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes (slightly longer for wedges), then transfer it to an ice bath. Once cooled, drain and dry completely. Spread it out on parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze overnight. Next, transfer the frozen cabbage to freezer-safe bags or containers. Properly sealed, blanched cabbage can be stored in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Apart from the obvious color difference, purple cabbage has slightly sweeter more peppery flavor compared to milder taste of green cabbage. They both belong to same cabbage family though!
Absolutely — just keep in mind though that purple cabbage may bleed color while cooking, changing the appearance of the dish or tinting other ingredients. As far as taste and texture are concerned, purple cabbage can be easily used in place of green cabbage in coleslaws, stir-fries, salads etc.
Yes — the purple hue can fade and take on a bluish tint when exposed to heat. This happens due to the sensitivity of its natural color compounds to pH levels. But adding some acidity such as vinegar or lemon juice can help preserve the color during the cooking process.
- 1 head of purple cabbage - (aka red cabbage)
- water - for washing cabbage
- Check and remove any wilted or damaged outer leaves. Rinse the cabbage under cold water to remove dirt/grit and then pat it dry.
- Place it on a cutting board, root-end down. Grab your chef's knife and slice it in half.
- Lay each half flat-side down on the cutting board. Cut each of these in half again (lengthwise) to get four quarters/wedges.
- With each quarter resting on its cut side, remove the core by slicing it out diagonally.
- Once the core is removed, hold the cabbage steady with a claw grip (see instruction photos in the blog post above).
- Starting from the pointy end of the piece, cut thin or thick slices — depending on your preference — working towards the end where the core was.
- For shorter strips, take those slices you've made and give them another cut, this time going across. And for longer pieces, rotate the cabbage quarter/wedge (before you start slicing) so the longer side faces you, then slice it lengthwise.
- Repeat the slicing process for each quarter. Ta-da!
- Purple cabbage soup
- Purple cabbage slaw
- Pickled purple cabbage
- Purple cabbage and apple salad
- Roasted cabbage steaks
- Stir-fried purple cabbage
- Purple cabbage rolls
- Braised purple cabbage
- Cabbage berry smoothie
- Purple cabbage kimchi
- Purple sauerkraut
- Purple cabbage pasta
- Purple cabbage and quinoa salad
The nutritional information provided here is calculated using a third-party nutrition calculator. These values are estimates, and we cannot guarantee the correctness of the displayed numbers. Please see our disclaimer page.