From stir fry to coleslaw to corned beef and cabbage, cabbage is one of the more versatile vegetables out there. It’s been incorporated into the traditional dishes of dozens of cultures and cuisines.
But, cabbage can be something of a challenge when it comes to chopping and preparing it.
The size and shape of a large cabbage makes them hard to control while you shred the vegetable.
Plus, even if you shred the cabbage it’s even more difficult to get the shreds to an even shape and size.
You can buy pre-shredded cabbage at almost every grocery store. But buying pre-shredded you have no idea how fresh the cabbage really is. You also have to choose from pre-portioned sizes, instead of shredding exactly the amount you need.
The good news is that there is an easy technique that will let you quickly shed evenly sized pieces of cabbage quickly, every time.
In this guide you’ll learn:
- How to prep a cabbage
- How to make your cabbage easier to cut and shred safely
- How to shred any kind of cabbage with a knife
- And Much More!
What's in this Guide?
What Are The Benefits of Shredding Your Own Cabbage?
Shredding your own cabbage is a great way to get more control over the freshness of your meal. But there are lots of other benefits to chopping and shredding your own vegetables, and cabbage is no exception.
Shredding your own cabbage can also help avoid oxidation. While oxidation doesn’t change the nutrients of your cabbage and other vegetables a ton, it does affect nutrition a little. More importantly, oxidation can change the texture and taste of cabbage and other vegetables.
All that is not to mention that pre-shredded cabbage comes in a lot of packaging and is more expensive. The plastic bags and other packaging that your cabbage comes in adds up over time. A small bag of shredded cabbage, or coleslaw mix, often costs almost as much as a whole cabbage.
Shredding your own from the whole cabbage gives you a lot more food. It’s a lot easier to start playing with adding more cabbage into your diet in other foods. I personally am rather fond of sauteed cabbage with my morning eggs.
The last big advantage of shredding your own cabbage is that you can control the size of the cabbage. For coleslaw and salads you can get that nice finely shredded thin cabbage, and can use larger slices to complement heartier dishes like potato cabbage soup and corned beef and cabbage.
What You Need To Know About Shredding Cabbage With A Knife
The main thing you need to know to successfully shred cabbage with a knife is that shredding is a relatively small part of the process. Prepping your cabbage to shred is important for making sure you get the right flavor and texture of cabbage.
Fresher cabbage will also generally taste better than older cabbage. The taste difference is noticeable within a few days of bringing your cabbage home from the grocery store. Fresh cabbage is much better for raw dishes, or if you want to use the shredded cabbage as a garnish.
Older cabbage is still usable, but it will taste better, and have a better texture if it’s cooked. Use cabbage that’s a couple of days old for stir fry, soups, and roasts.
Cabbage is still safe to eat even after it’s gone a little soft, but it’s up to you if you still enjoy cabbage that’s gone soft. If you want to eat soft cabbage, stir fry and other sauteed dishes will help hide that texture has changed, since sauteeing tends to make cabbage a little softer anyway.
The last thing I want to cover that you should know before shredding your own cabbage is that there are substantial differences between purple or red cabbage and regular green cabbage. The main difference is in their nutrition, but some people can also taste differences between the two varieties.
Red cabbage is usually a little more valuable nutritionally. That’s because it has slightly higher levels of Vitamin C and antioxidants. In addition, the same compounds that make it a purplish color are also less common in your diet than the compounds found in green cabbage.
However, red cabbage also has a slightly more peppery flavor. Depending on your preferences, that can add to cabbage dishes, or make them less appealing.
Supplies You’ll Need To Shred Cabbage With A Knife
Most of the stuff you need to shred cabbage are tools you should already have in your kitchen. That’s great because you won’t need to get any specialty tools to take advantage of this fantastic vegetable.
Cabbage can also be a little intimidating at first. The good news is that this is one vegetable that looks challenging, but that can be easily cut. You won’t need any specialty knife skills, or even a ton of knife experience, to safely shred cabbage.
Here are the basic tools you need to shred cabbage:
- A sharp knife (a chef’s knife, santoku, or other large knife is a better option than a smaller knife)
- A large cutting board
- A wet towel or grip pad
- A colander
- A bowl large enough to hold the cabbage
What Are The Different Ways to Shred Cabbage
There are only a couple of ways to successfully shred cabbage at home. You can use a grater, which works but gives you a lot less control and will usually result in much smaller pieces of cabbage.
You’ll also still have to do most of the same prep work to shred cabbage with a grater as you would to shred cabbage with a knife.
The other alternative is to shred cabbage by hand with a knife.
I don’t notice a large difficult difference between these two methods, and I prefer using a knife since knives are easier to clean and maintain than most graters.
How To Shred Cabbage With a Knife (5 Steps)
- Wash the Cabbage
- Peel Off The Outer Leaves
- Take Off the Root
- Chop the Cabbage In Half
- Shred Your Cabbage
Step 1: Wash the Cabbage
The first thing you need to do is wash the cabbage. Try to wash the whole vegetable, and make sure at least a little of the water is getting through the outer leaves of the cabbage. The internal leaves are much most closely packed, and you probably won’t be able to fully wash them.
Washing carefully is an important step for cabbage because dirt and grit can get between the outer leaves and change the taste and texture of your meal.
Plain water works just fine for cabbage. Avoid using vinegar rinses like with some other vegetables because red cabbage will turn blue when exposed to too much acid, and it can change the taste of the cabbage before you eat it.
Step 2: Peel Off The Outer Leaves
This step can be done before or after you wash the cabbage. Almost every cabbage from the grocery store will have a couple of looser, or softer leaves on the outside.
Those leaves are edible, and can be great as steam basket liners for dumplings, potstickers, and lots of other steamed foods. However, the leaves tend to be a little bitter, and the texture isn’t the same as the thicker juicer leaves in the middle.
Peeling off the outer leaves helps ensure you get a consistent texture and flavor from the cabbage. It also removes a lot of the dirt and grit from the plant.
Step 3: Take Off the Root
There aren’t many actual roots on the bottom of most store bought cabbages, but the round root base is still there. It’s flavor and texture are both very different, so you probably don’t want to include the root base in your food.
Just use your chef’s knife to chop off the bottom of the root, you don’t need to cut very far up the cabbage head.
Step 4: Chop the Cabbage In Half
I generally start at the top of the cabbage to use the flattened bottom (where I cut off the root in Step 3) as a stable base to prevent the cabbage from rolling. Make sure there is a grip or a damp towel under your cutting board before you start cutting, to make sure the board doesn’t move.
This can take a fair amount of pressure, depending on how large a cabbage you purchase. Don’t worry if it takes a couple slices to completely chop through the cabbage.
This step is important because you need to have a stable flat cutting surface to make shredding easier and more controlled.
You can also quarter the cabbage lengthwise. Quartering lets you cut out the last little bit of root at the center, but that little section of root isn’t always very noticeable. It’s up to you if you want to remove it or not.
This quick video also shows a different way to remove the root stem from inside the cabbage, without quartering the cabbage. This takes a little more confidence with a knife, but isn’t difficult.
Step 5: Shred Your Cabbage
Place one half of the cabbage cut side down on your cutting board. Use the same technique if you quartered the cabbage. Starting near the top of the cabbage, slice it thinly with smooth slicing motions.
You have a lot of flexibility here. If you want to cut half inch chunks of cabbage and separate out the different leaves, you can. If you want to cut a couple millimeter thin sections and truly shred the cabbage, you can. Choose the size by your taste and texture preference. Thinner sections work better for fresh raw meals, and larger chunks are better for cooked and roasted meals.
After you’ve shredded as much of the cabbage as you need, some people will cut the opposite direction on the cabbage to reduce the length of individual pieces of cabbage. This depends on your preferences, but I find that 2 inch long pieces work pretty well for me.
My Final Thoughts on Shredding Cabbage With A Knife
Shredding your own cabbage can be a great way to save some money, and add more fresh vegetables to your diet. It also gives you a lot more control, and means that you can experiment with how different preparations of cabbage change the taste and texture of your favorite meals.
Plus, you can impress family and friends by telling them you even shredded the cabbage yourself!
This is also a vegetable that you can start shredding even if you have very little experience with a knife, and one that will help you gain more skills very quickly as you experiment with different widths of cabbage.