Can You Eat Cabbage Raw?

Written By Lewis Crutch


Boiling, steaming and frying cabbage doesn’t have to be the only way to cook it. In fact, is it possible to not cook it at all? Can you eat cabbage raw or is it not worth it?

Can You Eat Cabbage Raw?

Yes, you can eat cabbage raw, and it is actually quite common in various dishes you may not have even thought of. Raw cabbage is often used in salads, coleslaws and pickles. It provides a crunchy texture and a peppery, slightly bitter flavour that can add contrast to a dish.

There are several varieties of cabbage, and most of them can be eaten raw. However, the flavour and texture can vary significantly between different types of cabbage, which might influence your choice depending on the dish you are preparing.

  1. Green Cabbage: This is the most common variety of cabbage and it works well raw. It has a slightly peppery flavour and a crunchy texture, making it a popular choice for coleslaw.
  2. Red Cabbage: Similar to green cabbage, red cabbage is also commonly eaten raw. It has a vibrant purple colour which can add a splash of colour to salads and slaws. Red cabbage tends to be a bit tougher than green cabbage, so it may benefit from being sliced very thinly or massaged to soften it up before eating.
  3. Savoy Cabbage: This variety has crinkly leaves and a mild flavour. It is tenderer than green or red cabbage, making it a good choice for salads.
  4. Napa Cabbage: Also known as Chinese cabbage, Napa cabbage has a mild, sweet flavour and tender leaves. It works well in salads, and is commonly used in Asian cuisine, especially kimchi.
  5. Bok Choy: Another type of Chinese cabbage, bok choy has a mild flavour and can be eaten raw, although it is more commonly cooked.
  6. White Cabbage: This is often used for pickling and making sauerkraut, but it can also be eaten raw. It has a mild flavour and a crisp texture.

Cabbage can be eaten raw and there are a variety of types of cabbage to choose from, each with its own unique flavour and texture characteristics.

What Does Cabbage Raw Taste Like?

Raw cabbage tastes very much like cooked cabbage, except that it has a fresher taste although some people find it can have a bitter aftertaste. Ultimately, it will still have a pronounced cabbage flavour, whether it’s cooked or raw.

This isn’t a problem if your palate can handle strong, bitter flavours. You can always add some extra seasoning, such as salt, paprika or garlic, to lift the taste and make it palatable. Lemon juice can also work well to balance the bitterness.

How Do You Eat Cabbage Raw?

There are some fairly obvious ways to use raw cabbage but there are also some slightly more unusual options. Here are 8 options to try:

  • Coleslaw: Shred green or red cabbage thinly, and mix it with grated carrots and sliced onions. Dress the mixture with a combination of mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and mustard to create a creamy and tangy side dish that pairs well with grilled meats or sandwiches.
  • Cabbage Salad: Chop Napa or Savoy cabbage into bite-sized pieces and combine it with other fresh vegetables such as peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Dress the salad with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper for a light and refreshing side dish.
  • Fish Tacos: Use thinly sliced green or red cabbage as a crunchy topping for fish tacos. The raw cabbage adds a fresh and crispy element that contrasts well with the soft texture of the fish and the warm tortillas.
  • Spring Rolls: Use whole leaves of Napa cabbage or Bok choy as the wrapper for fresh spring rolls. Fill the leaves with a mixture of vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and vegetables, and serve with a dipping sauce.
  • Cabbage Wraps: Use large, whole leaves of Savoy cabbage as a wrap for various fillings. You can fill the leaves with a mixture of cooked grains, vegetables, and protein, and then roll them up for a healthy and gluten-free alternative to traditional wraps.
  • Sauerkraut: Although sauerkraut is fermented and not truly raw, it starts with raw cabbage. Shred white cabbage finely, mix it with salt, and pack it tightly into a jar. The cabbage will ferment over time, creating sauerkraut, which is a tangy and probiotic-rich condiment.
  • Cabbage Slaw with Asian Dressing: Shred Napa cabbage and mix it with sliced carrots, peppers, and spring onions. Dress the slaw with a dressing made from soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and a touch of honey for a side dish with Asian flavours.
  • Cabbage and Apple Salad: Combine thinly sliced red cabbage with julienned apples, and dress the mixture with a vinaigrette made from apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and mustard. The sweet and tangy flavours of the apple complement the bitterness of the red cabbage.

We have a recipe for our cabbage-heavy coleslaw that you can check out here.

Benefits of Eating Cabbage Raw

Cabbage contains all sorts of vitamins and minerals and is low in calories. A quick overview of cabbage can tell you just how good it is for you.

It contains vitamins K and C, Folate, Manganese, Calcium and Potassium, to name a few. It’s high in fibre and is also thought to help with inflammation. 

You can get all of these nutrients from cooked cabbage, but to maximise your nutrition levels, you should try to eat your cabbage raw. The cooking process can remove some nutrients as the hot water leaches the nutrients out of the vegetable.

So you can be sure that when eating cabbage raw, you get the maximum amount of nutrients available. 

Cabbage Slaw

4.5 from 2 votes
Course: Cook, How-TosCuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Easy


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Cooking time


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This is the ultimate coleslaw that’s loaded with two varieties of cabbage!


  • 200 g Green Cabbage

  • 200 g Red Cabbage

  • 2 Carrots

  • 150 g Mayonnaise

  • 2 tbsp Cider Vinegar

  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard

  • 1 tbsp Granulated Sugar

  • Salt and Pepper, to Taste


  • Start by washing the green and red cabbages thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris and remove any damaged outer leaves. Use a sharp knife or a mandolin to finely shred both types of cabbage and place them in a large mixing bowl.
  • Next, peel and grate the carrots, adding them to the bowl with the cabbage. If you’re using an onion, peel and finely slice it before adding it to the bowl as well.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and sugar. Whisk these ingredients together until you have a smooth and well-combined dressing.
  • Pour the dressing over the shredded vegetables in the large mixing bowl. Use a pair of tongs or your hands (you might want to use gloves for this) to toss everything together, ensuring the vegetables are well coated with the dressing.
  • Season the coleslaw with salt and pepper to taste, remembering that cabbage can absorb a lot of flavour, so don’t be shy with the seasoning.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and let the coleslaw chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This chilling time is crucial as it allows the flavours to meld together and the cabbage to soften slightly. Give everything a good stir before serving and taste to check if additional seasoning is needed.
  • Your homemade coleslaw, featuring a vibrant mix of green and red cabbage, is now ready to be enjoyed! It pairs well as a side dish with grilled meats, sandwiches, or can be a colourful addition to a picnic spread.

Recipe Video

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