5 Ingredients or Fewer

Green Cabbage Slaw (Krautsalat)

October 21, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

This mild, addictively delicious salad -- which falls somewhere between coleslaw and sauerkraut -- is a traditional German recipe that was made by my relatives. This dish was a favorite of my mother's when she was a child, but as the recipe was not written down, she recreated it based on her taste memory. The key to this recipe is soaking the cabbage in boiling salt water, which wilts the cabbage and gives it a lovely soft texture yet a bit of crunch. The cabbage is best if shredded quite fine -- we use a mandoline in our family, but the long blade of a box grater, the slicing blade of a food processor, or even a sharp, long knife will also work well. This dish is a wonderful accompaniment to almost any meal and is especially nice with roasted meats, poultry, or fish. At the bottom of the recipe I've included a modern variation that uses additional vegetables and herbs, which adds extra vibrancy and complexity to this salad. Try both versions! —sonya gropman

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Sonya gropman is a visual artist living in New York City.
WHAT: A 5-ingredient salad that’s part sauerkraut and part coleslaw.
HOW: Soak finely shredded cabbage in boiling salt water for 30 to 60 minutes, drain, and add other vegetables as you see fit. Toss everything with a simple vinaigrette and serve it to a crowd (or keep it for yourself).
WHY WE LOVE IT: We don’t know about you, but we don’t have time to wait weeks for cabbage to ferment into sauerkraut. Behold this recipe: the lazy, impatient man’s version of kraut. It packs more punch than coleslaw but requires only an hour of anxious expectation. Win, win. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 medium-sized green cabbage
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus extra if needed
  • 4 tablespoons white vinegar
  • White ground pepper (or black pepper), to taste
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
  1. Trim the core out of the cabbage and shred it finely into a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl.
  2. Boil the water with the salt. Pour the boiling salted water over the cabbage, and let sit until the water cools, 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. Drain the cabbage using a colander. Press down on the colander with a slightly smaller plate in order to force out as much water as possible. Return the drained cabbage to a clean, dry bowl.
  4. Put the vinegar and pepper in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly add the oil until blended with the vinegar. Pour the vinaigrette over the cabbage, tossing gently to distribute evenly. Taste for salt, adding more if needed. The slaw will be ready to eat immediately, though the flavor and texture will mellow and improve if allowed to stand for an hour or more.
  5. Variation: Prepare steps 1 through 3 above, then add the following to the cabbage in the bowl: 2 carrots, shredded on the large holes of a box grater; 1 small shallot, minced; 1 bunch arugula, chopped small; and1 to 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram, minced. Then continue with step 4 above.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Anya Zhuravel Segal
    Anya Zhuravel Segal
  • Dan
  • Tracy Morgan
    Tracy Morgan
  • Madelaine Linebarger
    Madelaine Linebarger
  • Mamasays

32 Reviews

Wendy July 4, 2020
Lovely salad! Just made it and it will surely become a staple in our household. Thank you!
sonya G. July 6, 2020
Thanks, Wendy! I'm so happy to hear you like this salad as much as we do!!
Anya Z. November 21, 2019
Would rice vinegar work instead of white vinegar? The recipe sure sounds fantastic!
sonya G. November 21, 2019
I haven’t tried it with rice vinegar, but I suspect it would be great. Please let me know if you try it!
Claire G. February 24, 2019
I used to live in Croatia, and they also eat this salad (probably because Germans love to vacation there, haha!) and my sister and I tried SO MANY TIMES to recreate it but could never get the texture right. AT LAST I know that I have to soak it in boiling water! Thank you! :)
sonya G. February 25, 2019
So happy to hear this, Claire!! You're so welcome, and enjoy.
serena January 23, 2019
This was quite lovely. I made it exactly as stated without the variation. I made it as a side, but it would be delicious on a brat or dog.
sonya G. January 23, 2019
Serena, I’m so happy to hear you liked it, thanks for leaving a comment. Absolutely, this would be great on a brat or hotdog!!
Alison June 26, 2018
I made this with half green cabbage and half red cabbage--I had the slightly unrealistic notion that I would wind up with a variegated blend, but after the soaking in hot water, the end result was a pretty uniform pink! anyway, this was delicious, and incredibly easy to make. IN addition to about a quarter cup of finely chopped white onion (no shallots hand), I added a teaspoon of sugar in the dressing (my mother always did this with her cabbage slaw). I also needed to make a bit more dressing than the recipe indicated, but assume that this is partly because my cabbage quantity may have been more generous than the author's. We had it first with grilled baby back ribs, and then with bratwurst, and I totally recommend it with savory pork foods. I thought I might need more seasoning, but it was lovely as is. definitely will make again.
sonya G. June 29, 2018
Alison, I'm so happy to hear that you liked the krautsalat!
Dan March 29, 2018
My uni cafeteria in Germany made great Krautsalat, sometimes flecked with small pieces of speck.
sonya G. March 30, 2018
Dan, Ha! It seems there is a great love of flecking small pieces of speck in many dishes in Germany! :) Traditional Jewish dishes don't use it, of course. I'm sure it would be a tasty addition, though honestly this recipe is also very good without any additions at all. Please let me know if you try it, though!!
WillGP September 11, 2017
This was good and perfect to serve warm or at room temperature. And, it is easy to make. However, instead of the 2 tablespoons of salt, I might just try 1. It just seemed to be a little too salty, and I do like salt. Nevertheless, I would give it 5 stars because it doesn't require exotic ingredients, or a trip to a specialty store...and, it is a good home style food.
sonya G. September 11, 2017
I'm glad to hear you liked the recipe, WillGP! In general we find that adding 2T of salt seasons the dish well (since the salt is going in the water, not directly onto the cabbage) - but certainly reduce the salt if it's too salty for your taste!!
Bascula March 16, 2017
Do you think this would be good in a grilled Reuben sandwich?
sonya G. March 16, 2017
Bascula, yes, I think it would be fantastic!!
Tracy M. March 22, 2015
Any idea how long this will last in the fridge after making? Thanks!
sonya G. March 22, 2015
Well-covered, it ought to last in the fridge at least 1-2 weeks. Enjoy!
Madelaine L. February 13, 2015
My Grandma always made red cabbage and always sweet and sour. I will try this though. But sweet and sour always brings back fond memories. She made the best Deutsches Kartoffel Salat too!
sonya G. March 5, 2015
Madelaine Linebarger, My grandfather made incredible Kartoffel Salat as well! If you try this, I hope you like it -- it's very different from sweet + sour red cabbage, but equally delicious.
Mamasays January 7, 2015
I just made this and it is delicious! I added some caraway seeds although celery seed would be yummy too come to think of it....
sonya G. March 5, 2015
shelikes_it, Glad you liked it! One of the great things about this recipe is its versatility -- I've never tried it, but I'm sure celery seed would be great.
sonia January 4, 2016
My mother would make a salad like this with celery seed added to it. It was awesome!
sonya G. January 4, 2016
sonia, celery seed sounds great!
Susan W. January 6, 2015
I wonder if anyone knows if Napa cabbage will work. I bought a huge one for my miso soup and I have a ton left. I wonder if it can stand up to the boiling, salted water.
Stephanie January 9, 2015
I haven't made this yet, but it looks great! I'd probably skip the boiling water soak for napa. You could probably just salt and drain the shreds for 30 minutes and then rinse and squeeze.
Susan W. January 9, 2015
Actually, I made it and did the boiling, salted water. I let the salt dissolve and the water cool to hot before I added the cabbage. It's an okay recipe, but not my favorite. Maybe using regular cabbage makes a big difference. I just happened to have the napa staring at me, so I used it. I bought some arugula to add and I have fennel and caraway seeds to play with, so that may add more interest for me.
sonya G. March 5, 2015
Susan W, I'm sorry I didn't reply to your comment sooner (I somehow missed seeing these comments when they were first posted). Napa cabbage is very different than green cabbage and I imagine the recipe turned out very differently as a result.
Trine M. January 5, 2015
So easy and tasteful! I use cabbage in many recipes, and it adds so much crunch to the food instead of the regular green chopped salad.

Trine - http://ww.klisjehjemmet.no
sonya G. March 5, 2015
Trine Midtun, I'm glad you found the recipe easy and tasty!
HalfPint January 5, 2015
Finally! I had this salad in Munich many years ago and have been looking for a recipe ever since. But all I could ever find was the cabbage salad that was sweet & tart, often made with red cabbage, which wasn't what I had. I think this is it and I can't wait to try this.
sonya G. March 5, 2015
HalfPint, I am curious to hear if this is indeed the recipe for the salad you ate in Munich?