12 Crunchy Substitutes for Red Cabbage with an Amazing Taste

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Looking for a substitute for red cabbage that is easy to procure? Check out this post to learn about 12 such options.

I personally use red cabbage in most of my signature recipes because of its taste, nutrition, and crunchy texture. Over time, I have realized it is not easy to procure. While I stock it up in advance, I sometimes find myself running out of it. That prompted me to compile this list of 12 substitutes for red cabbage, so I always have those similar flavors at my disposal.

12 Crunchy Substitutes for Red Cabbage with an Amazing Taste 1
12 Crunchy Substitutes for Red Cabbage with an Amazing Taste

What does red cabbage taste like?

In raw form, red cabbage has a peppery taste. After cooking, it becomes slightly sweeter. It is equally important to note its color when looking for a substitute. It is dark red or purple. 

Benefits of Red Cabbage

Rich in vitamins C and K

Red cabbage is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, which are essential for overall health. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. It also helps the body absorb iron and promotes healthy skin, teeth, and bones. Vitamin K plays a critical role in blood clotting and bone health.

High in fiber

Red cabbage is also high in fiber, which is important for digestive health. Fiber helps promote regular bowel movements, prevent constipation, and reduce the risk of digestive disorders such as diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disease. It also helps control blood sugar levels and may lower cholesterol levels.

Contains antioxidants

Red cabbage contains a range of antioxidants, including anthocyanins, which give it its distinctive purple color. These antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative stress, which can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Has anti-inflammatory properties

Red cabbage contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, including anthocyanins, vitamin C, and quercetin. These compounds can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is linked to a range of chronic diseases such as arthritis, asthma, and diabetes.

May boost the immune system

Red cabbage is rich in vitamin C, which is essential for immune function. Vitamin C helps stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting infections and diseases. It also helps protect against oxidative stress, which can weaken the immune system.

May improve digestion

The high fiber content in red cabbage can help promote healthy digestion by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This can help prevent digestive disorders such as constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.

May lower the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease

The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in red cabbage may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Studies have shown that diets rich in cruciferous vegetables like red cabbage are associated with a lower risk of these diseases. Additionally, the high fiber content in red cabbage may help lower cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

12 Substitutes for Red Cabbage

The list below covers ingredients that offer similar color and taste and those that offer only similar taste.

SubstituteVitamins and MineralsOther Nutrients
KaleVitamins A, K, C, and folate
CeleryVitamins A, C, and K, and potassiumAnti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties
Bok ChoyVitamins C, A, and Calcium
Savoy cabbageProtein, fiber, and Vitamin KMild sweet taste and mild peppery flavor
KohlrabiFolic acid, protein, Vitamin C, and numerous other nutrientsTaste between turnip and water chestnut
CauliflowerAntioxidants, Vitamins C and K, and fiberSlightly sweet and mild nutty taste
Brussels sproutsVitamins C and K, fiber, and proteinMild bitter taste
Napa cabbageVitamin C and folateMild and slightly sweet taste
Choy sumVitamins A, B, E, and K, amino acids, and other nutrientsJuicy and bitter-sweet flavor
BroccoliVitamins C and fiber, among other nutrientsSlightly sweet and bitter flavor
CucumberPotassium, Vitamins K and C, and numerous phytochemicalsMildly sweet and refreshing flavor
ZucchiniProtein, folic acid, Vitamin C, and many other nutrientsSlightly bitter and slightly sweet taste

1. Kale

Did you know kale comes in red color as well?

Not only red but also yellow-green, white, and purple. Apart from the similar color, its earthy and nutty taste gives it similar taste notes to cabbage. This study shows kale is rich in vitamins like A, K, C, and folate. While substituting red cabbage with kale, you get a similar taste and a healthier alternative.

2. Celery

Very few consumers know that apart from the yellow-green color, celery is also available in the red color. It offers salty and bitter (aftertaste) taste notes. Couple this with celery’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and you have a healthier substitute with the same crunchy texture.

3. Bok Choy

How about an alternative that can substitute both red cabbage and bell pepper?

I am talking about bok choy. Its sweet taste with crunchy flavor helps it match the taste of both these ingredients. For bitterness, you can also use the leaves of bok choy in the recipe. A similar calorific profile like red cabbage ensures there won’t be much change in the recipe on substituting one with another. As for the nutrients, bok choy offers Vitamin C, A, and Calcium.

4. Savoy cabbage

Need something more subtle than red cabbage?

If yes, savoy cabbage is perfect with a mild sweet taste. The peppery flavor is also mild. Many might not know that savoy cabbage is available in green and red colors. Therefore, the red variant comes in handy if you prefer the red color of cabbage.

The nutrient profile of savoy cabbage is similar to the red one, with nutrients like protein, fiber, and Vitamin K. Add the leaves to your delicacy, and you get the crunch. You can add it to soup, saute it or even roast it.

5. Kohlrabi

Imagine a vegetable whose taste is between Turnip and water chestnut. That’s kohlrabi for you. Apart from its mild and sweet flavor after cooking, its purple variation matches the color of red cabbage somewhat. The purple variant of kohlrabi isn’t readily available, but you can find it online.

Since it can be steamed, pureed, or roasted, adding it to any recipe isn’t a problem. Simply trim the base and bulb top, and it’s ready to use.

6. Cauliflower

How about a purple cauliflower?

The versatility of cauliflower is such that it can be sliced, chopped, steamed, pureed, and even eaten raw. Similar to other variants of cauliflower, it is high in antioxidants, as stated in this report. Apart from the matching red color, it also offers a similar sweet and mild nutty taste.

7. Brussels sprouts

Peel the outer layers of Brussels sprouts, and it looks similar to peeled cabbage cut in smaller proportions. These come in handy when substituting red cabbage in stew or soup. Best of all, you can eat the smaller ones raw.

You might think, what about the slightly bitter or peppery taste?

The bigger ones have that mild bitter taste, especially when raw or steamed. The best way to use them is to slice them thin and use them in any recipe. You certainly won’t miss the crunch of red cabbage.

Pro tip:

Try grilling them, and you will be surprised at how good they taste.

8. Napa cabbage

Traditionally napa cabbage is known as Chinese cabbage, but its mild and slightly sweet taste in cooking has made it famous globally. The tender texture makes it similar to red cabbage.

9. Choy sum

Mislabeling choy sum as napa cabbage is a common mistake many small grocery stores make. Since napa cabbage is similar to red cabbage, it means that choy sum is as well. If you were to describe only its appearance, it is like a delicate variant of broccoli. As for the taste, it is juicy and has a bitter-sweet flavor which matches red cabbage perfectly. Not to speak of the crunchy texture that it provides.

As per this report, it offers VItamins A, B, E, and K, amino acids, and other nutrients. Another advantage of choy sum is that it can be used to make sauces that go very well with almost any delicacy, and you can stir-fry it.

10. Broccoli

Hardly any ingredient is as versatile on the list as broccoli. Saute it, eat it raw, convert it into a puree, and add it to your soup; the options are plenty. According to this study, broccoli has ample Vitamin C and fiber, among other nutrients. Additionally, it is quick to cook, which saves a lot of time.

The slightly sweet and bitter flavor of raw broccoli resembles red cabbage closely. As you cook it, the sweeter flavor becomes more pronounced. Cook it right, and it won’t lose its crunch, making it easier to use as a substitute.

11. Cucumber

Cucumber offers crunch, high water content, and nutrients like potassium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and numerous phytochemicals. It has a crunchy texture in the raw form, whereas when cooked, it softens quickly.

With a mildly sweet and refreshing flavor, some might argue that it is even better than red cabbage in terms of taste.

Want that little bitter flavor?

Use cucumber skin for that earthy flavor, making it the perfect substitute.

12. Zucchini

The taste of Zucchini is slightly bitter and slightly sweet. Sweetness overpowers the bitter flavor once cooked, making it fit for consumption. You can also soften its crunchy texture by cooking it even for a few minutes. A report states that Zucchini offers protein, folic acid, Vitamin C, and many other nutrients.

You can easily make salads, pasta, soups, noodles, and even bread with zucchini.

Additional ingredients to get that red color

12 Crunchy Substitutes for Red Cabbage with an Amazing Taste 2
Additional ingredients to get that red color

You might have noticed not many substitutes above offer the red color. For those that don’t, the ingredients below can be used in conjunction to get that crimson-red color.

1. Saffron

The reddish brown color of saffron makes it the perfect spice to get similar colors in your dish as red cabbage. The slightly bitter taste will also help you substitute red cabbage’s taste. Add to that the numerous benefits that saffron offers, like reduction in depression symptoms and better nerve health, and it becomes a spice you cannot miss.

2. Turmeric

Reddish yellow color turmeric powder is easily available globally. Add it to your recipe along with any substitutes above to get distinct colors and numerous curcuminoids that enhance metabolic activity.

3. Paprika

Paprika powder has a sweet and peppery taste. The deep blood-red color allows you to use it with any red cabbage substitute to get a similar color.

4. Beet juice

The reddish-purple color of beetroot juice helps get the same color as red cabbage. Its deep color allows you to infuse such color in soups, salads, curries, and much more. As for taste, it offers a little sweet flavor with an earthy tone.


Does red cabbage taste the same as green?

Red cabbage has a more pronounced peppery flavor as compared to green. 

Why is red cabbage expensive?

Increased demand for red cabbage and changing weather patterns have made red cabbage costly.

Which is better, red or white cabbage?

Red cabbage is better because of the higher amount of Vitamin C and Vitamin A present in red cabbage.

Is red cabbage A Superfood?

Red cabbage offers more than 45% of Recommended Daily Value (RDV) of Vitamin C. It also offers Vitamin A, potassium, and numerous other minerals. Such nutrition certainly qualifies it as a superfood.

Can I use white cabbage instead of red cabbage in recipes?

Yes, you can. White cabbage has a milder taste and a crunchier texture than red cabbage, but it can work well as a substitute in recipes that call for red cabbage.

Can I use purple carrots instead of red cabbage?

Purple carrots can add a similar pop of color to dishes, but they have a sweeter taste than red cabbage. They can be used as a substitute in salads and slaws.

Can I use canned red cabbage instead of fresh?

Canned red cabbage can be a convenient option, but it may have a different texture and taste than fresh red cabbage. It’s best to use fresh red cabbage whenever possible.

Can I substitute red cabbage with other types of leafy greens?

Leafy greens such as spinach or arugula can be used in salads and slaws, but they may not provide the same texture and flavor as red cabbage.

Can I freeze red cabbage?

Yes, you can freeze red cabbage for up to 8 months. However, it may become softer and lose its crisp texture after thawing. It’s best to use frozen red cabbage in cooked dishes rather than raw salads or slaws.


Do not worry if you don’t have red cabbage in your pantry. Use any of these red cabbage substitutes to get the same taste and textures in your recipes. The guide above even highlights how to get a similar color.

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