How to Cut Cabbage
Here’s my quick guide for How to Cut Cabbage for dishes like Coleslaw and Sautéed Cabbage, plus to how to core, slice, or shred cabbage with a knife or mandolin. So much of how you experience food can be changed just by how you cut it, so here’s how to do it well!
While ingredients do matter, it’s incredible how much a dish can change simply from the texture.
How you cut cabbage matters, especially for dishes like Coleslaw, because it changes how heavy the vegetable feels on the palate, and how much you have to chew through it.
In this post I will show you the best way to prep a fresh head of cabbage from the store, plus how you can change up how you cut it depending on the dish, whether you’re making cabbage steaks, cabbage soup, or need some thinly sliced cabbage for slaw.
This technique applies to the standard red or green raw cabbage from the grocery store, but also to napa cabbage, savoy cabbage, and Chinese cabbage.
Consider Removing the Outer Leaves:
If the cabbage comes from the store with thick, dark, and fibrous outer leaves, and you’re making something like slaw where the vegetable will be eaten raw, you will likely want to remove those first.
Those outer leaves are tougher than the inner leaves. First thing, I remove them and save for cooked applications, like sautéed cabbage, soups, and cabbage rolls:
Simply pull them from the whole cabbage right at the root, and save for later.
How to Cut Cabbage:
Locate the stem on the bottom, then cut the entire cabbage into two equal halves through the hard stem, which will hold all of the leaves together as you keep cutting:
Cut those halves in half to yield quarters. Then it’s very easy to cut the core out of the cabbage quarters, like this:
From here, you can chop, shred, or slice the cabbage wedges as you desire.
(Discard the core of the cabbage, which is excessively tough).
How to Slice Cabbage:
For dishes where you want thin ribbons of cabbage, the next step is to use a sharp knife or mandolin to cut, laying the quarter on a flat cut side:
However, if you have a mandolin, I think it’s much better for slicing and shredding.
You will get more even, uniform long strands, and it can be a lot quicker than cutting with a knife:
You can see the difference here between the hand-cut thin strips on the left, and the mandolin-cut long shreds on the right.
It’s huge! What a different chewing experience you’ll have between those two.
I probably could’ve taken my time a bit more and made the knife-cut pieces thinner, but the mandolin is so much easier and ensures uniform slices.
You have to have some crazy good knife skills and a super sharp chef’s knife to come anywhere close to what you can do with a mandolin.
Now the shredded cabbage is ready to be used in whatever recipe you’d like, such as a garnish for Slow Cooker Asian Pork Tacos, swapping for the escarole in White Bean and Escarole Soup, or for a Classic Coleslaw:
The thin slices are also wonderful for a quick stir fry.
For more produce cutting guides, I have How to Dice Zucchini, How to Cut a Watermelon, and more in my Vegetable Sides section of the recipe index. Happy cooking!
Tips and FAQ
Do not store in an airtight container, sealed in a plastic bag, or too tightly wrapped with plastic wrap. Store in a somewhat breathable bag or container in the fridge for up to 3 days, in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, with paper towels inside to absorb excess moisture. I don’t recommend sealing it off entirely, because it can make the cabbage go bad quickly, but I also don’t recommend leaving it uncovered, because it can dry out and get shriveled. Leave it mostly covered, with a little bit of breathability.
Personally I am usually okay simply washing the exterior before prepping, because I rarely see bugs inside the tightly packed leaves. However, if it seems dirty inside, I will wash cabbage after it has been cut, chopped, or shredded, then dry thoroughly with a salad spinner, then with kitchen towels, then air drying briefly. I don’t like to wash cabbage right before making salad type dishes, because I don’t want the possibility of watering down the dressing with excess moisture. If you’re using the vegetable for soups, then it doesn’t matter when you wash.
Using a mandolin is undoubtedly a better choice, as the pieces will all be uniform, and usually much finer than you can do by hand. However, a knife can work too. Make sure to place each quarter on a flat side so it’s steady as you cut.
I have two different food processors and personally find it difficult to get consistent slices. The mandolin is superior.
Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.
How to Cut Cabbage
- 1 head red or green cabbage
- If using the cabbage for a raw preparation such as coleslaw, I recommend removing any thick and fibrous outer leaves.
- Rinse and dry the cabbage well, then cut in half through the stem.
- Cut those halves in half to yield quarters, then cut the core out of each quarter.
- Lay each quarter on a flat side, and thinly slice into ribbons. The cabbage is now ready to be used!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
9 Comments on “How to Cut Cabbage”
Please remind people o use the guard with a mandolin……just got a nasty injury….6 sts+ plus glue!
Use with caution…they are VERY sharp….cut through my thumbnail like butter.
This is the first time I’ve had simple instructions which I could follow without being encouraged to buy an expensive gadget. Shame on you all !! Found a basic mandolin for 5 of her majesty’s pounds. Thank you🔪 We did the cookie cheesecake things too. Gorge💛
Totally agree. I’ve been trying for years to get it so thin . Never knew a mandolin would do the trick 👏🏻👏🏻
Just found your site today and wanted to know if you had any recommendation for a mandolin for a first time user. I am interested in making coleslaw but would love to have a mandolin for other uses as well.
Nice comparison , convinced me to get my mandolin out. And take time to make quarters instead of whole hog shredding
Thanks a lot for this post.
Was wondering if I can see the photo of the mandolin you used in this post. Or better still the make.
Hi Winnie, they don’t make this particular model anymore. I think it was made by progressive and they changed it. Regardless, it was a fairly cheap Mandolin that was gifted to me, I would try to find a better rated one. Hope that helps.
Can I use the “S” blade to chop the cabbage instead of slicing it?
Breville food processor with adjustable slicing disc slices paper thin and quicker than a mandolin.