Cabbage is a nutritious, dense-leafed vegetable that is versatile and inexpensive.
Its crunchy texture is great for salads, soups, stir frys, or vegetable roasts.
Cabbage was an integral part of prep at every restaurant I worked at, which is a testament to its taste and utility.
After 15 years of working in professional kitchens, I will share techniques that prep cooks use every day.
In This Article
The Easiest Way to Prepare Cabbage
First, Peel The Outer Layers
First, peel the outer layers. This is usually only a few broad leaves. Discard these, because they are not ideal for cutting or shredding.
These outer layers are rubbery and coarse. They can be prone to scratches or blemishes that can occur during packing and transit.
Cut Off The Bottom And Create A Base
Place the cabbage head on its side and firmly put a hand on top of it to prevent it from rolling. Find the stem at the less rounded end.
About an inch in from the end with the stem, cut crosswise to remove the stem and to create a base. Creating a flat base is essential for stability in the following steps.
Cut Into Quarters
Place the cabbage on the board on the flat base you just created. Cut the cabbage in half.
With each half of cabbage, place them on their flat sides on the cutting board. Cut these in half lengthwise.
Cut Out The Core
You now have four segments of cabbage. Place one vertically so that the rounded part is pointing up and the part where you cut the stem off is against the cutting board.
You will notice a thick, white part at the bottom that goes about one third of the way up. This is the core.
Angle your knife about 45° so that you diagonally cut the piece of core. Cut toward the bottom.
This doesn’t need to be terribly precise, and is more about keeping usable cabbage leaves that are not attached to the hard core.
This can take some practice and it’s okay if there are some leaves attached to the core. Some of this is avoidable, but with more practice, you will get better at removing just the core.
Repeat this for each segment.
4 Ways To Cut Cabbage
Cut Into Wedges
To cut into wedges, take each segment, and cut them in half lengthwise. If you need bigger wedges, you do not need to cut each segment in half.
This is my preferred cut for grilling or roasting cabbage. This can be great for corned beef and cabbage. The large leaves will absorb a lot of juice and flavor.
Cut Into Squares
With each segment, make one or two cuts lengthwise, depending on how big you want your squares to be. Holding the cut pieces together, rotate the segment 90° so that you can make perpendicular cuts.
Depending on how big you want the squares, start making cuts crosswise from one end to the other. I like to do about an inch between cuts.
This type of cut can be great for salads or stir frys.
Cut Into Strips
With each segment, place them in front of you lengthwise, parallel to your knife.
Make thin slices with long knife strokes, varying the width depending on how thin you want your strips to be.
Pro-tip: This works great when you need a bed of cabbage, perhaps as a healthy substitute for pasta!
Cut Into Shreds
Shreds are ideal for salads and for making sauerkraut. Here are a few ways to get shreds for whatever you need.
With A Knife
Turn a segment of cabbage lengthwise left-to-right. With your chef knife oriented perpendicular to the segment, make very thin slices from one end to the other.
Pro-tip: Go slow if you haven’t finely shredded cabbage with a knife before. The speed will come, but always put safety first.
With A Mandoline Slicer
With a mandoline slicer, you can get very fine, consistent shreds from a cabbage. It takes practice, but it can be a very fast way to make shredded cabbage.
A mandoline slicer is a device that has a flat surface and a fitted blade.
I like to hold my segment of cabbage vertically against the mandoline. This is mostly to make it easier to hold, as the segment functions as a “handle”.
Most mandoline slicers also come with a guard that you can put whatever you’re slicing underneath.
In a smooth and swift motion, push the cabbage segment against the blade, and then back.
Repeat this process until the whole segment is shredded. If you aren’t using a guard, leave a little bit of the cabbage segment intact to help avoid cutting your fingers.
With A Peeler
This may get some sideways looks, but a peeler is a fine tool for shredding cabbage.
I like to usepeelers with a horizontal blade for this, but any kind of peeler will do.
Place a segment of cabbage on your cutting board with a flat side down, and start shaving from the top of an end down toward the cutting board.
Storage And Scraps
A cabbage head in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer will hold for about a month.
Whole cabbage heads can be frozen as well, but take a long time to thaw out.
Cabbage wedges, squares, strips, and shreds can be frozen as well. Sealed in a plastic bag, cut cabbage will last three to five days in the refrigerator.
Mind any discoloration or strong odors if you’ve stored cut cabbage for more than a few days.
Pro-tip: Don’t cut cabbage until you absolutely have to because of how well a whole cabbage holds in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to peel cabbage?
Yes. The outer layer is rubbery and can be coarse.
How long will cut cabbage last in the fridge?
Properly contained and sealed, cabbage can last up to a month in the fridge.
Should you clean cabbage before cutting?
Always wash vegetables before cutting. Running under cold water and removing any dirt or debris will suffice.