This Cabbage Apple Salad is such an easy side dish that you can make in just 15-20 minutes using simple ingredients. And though the combination of cabbage and apples is nothing groundbreaking, the addition of other flavors like onion, fennel seed, mustard, and sweet agave makes this recipe quite special. It's a delicious slaw that just screams fall.
Though you can easily make this cabbage apple salad all year long, it's especially great during the fall months when apples are at their peak.
My favorite way to eat it is as a side dish to pork chops or pork loin. But it is also so delicious as a side for crispy chicken cutlets, roasted butternut squash, and a simply grilled steak. Or even as a topping on an autumn turkey club.
It's also really similar to another awesome recipe on my site, Tricolor Bell Pepper Salad.
How to Make it
This is an easy no-cook recipe (well, you have to toast the fennel seeds) that just requires a lot of chopping, so you can make it in just 15-20 minutes if you're a good chopper. And a good, sharp chef's knife will certainly help streamline the process tremendously.
This Cabbage Apple Salad contains just 10 delicious ingredients, plus salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Green cabbage, or purple if you prefer
- An apple, any kind you like but I prefer to use a sweet apple like a gala over something tart like a granny smith apple
- A jalapeño pepper
- Red onion
- White Vinegar
- Olive oil
- Country dijon mustard
- Fennel seeds
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Freshly chopped parsley or another herb such as mint or cilantro
The basic process of making an apple cabbage slaw is to first chop up all the vegetables into thin strips, then make the dressing, then toss it all together.
Step 1: Get slicing! Slice up the cabbage, apple, red onion, and jalapeño as thinly as you can, but don't worry if your knife skills need a little practice. All of these ingredients will wilt slightly in the end, so thinness isn't the biggest deal! Place them in a very large mixing bowl and set it aside.
Step 2: Make the delicious dressing. Finely chop the walnuts and parsley and place them in a medium bowl with the olive oil. Then toast the fennel seeds over low heat in a small pan, for just 1 minute, taking care not to let them burn. Once they're fragrant and toasty, use a mortar and pestle or even a drink muddler to crush and grind them as finely as possible. Add them to the bowl with the parsley, walnuts, and olive oil. Wait 1 minute before adding the vinegar, dijon, agave, salt, and pepper. This gives the it time to flavor the oil.
Step 3: Add the delicious dressing to the the apple cabbage salad mixture and toss it all up until well combined.
Step 4: Taste for seasoning. If you think it needs more salt, add it! More vinegar? Add it.
- Make sure to toast the fennel seeds. They'll taste more warm and toasty, rather than bitter. This ingredient adds such a nice depth of flavor to salad dressings.
- Chop the walnuts nice and finely. Walnuts act as an excellent binding agent that helps the dressing stick to the shredded cabbage salad. Without a binding agent, teh dressing is more apt to running to the bottom of the bowl.
- The dressing will taste very salty on its own! But that's because it needs to be salty enough to season the whole bowl of the cabbage apple salad. If it throws you off to make such a salty dressing, add the salt directly to the salad instead.
- Types of cabbage: If you already have a head of Napa or purple cabbage lying around, you can absolutely use those instead. You can also use a combination of cabbages.
- Type of sweetener: This recipe calls for agave, but this ingredient can easily be swapped out with maple syrup or honey.
- Different Seed: If you already have celery seed or caraway seeds you can use either of these in place of fennel seeds. They all have slightly different but similar flavors that pair really well with a sweet, mustardy vinaigrette like this one.
- Nut-free: if you're allergic to walnuts, you can substitute with any nut or even sunflower or pumpkin seeds. If you're allergic to both nuts and seeds, substitute with grated pecorino or parmesan cheese so you still get a nutty flavor and a binding ingredient.
- More spicy: The recipe already calls for a jalapeño for a little kick, but it's not overly spicy when added to all the other ingredients. For more spice, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to the salad dressing
- Less spicy: Leave out the jalapeño or remove its seeds. 1 jalapeño is not enough to make this salad very spicy.
- Make it creamy: Add a tablespoon of full fat sour cream or full fat greek yogurt to the dressing for a creamy take on this recipe.
- Extra apple-y: Use apple cider vinegar in place of the white wine vinegar in the recipe, or use 2 kinds of apples instead of 1, such as red and green apples. If using 2 apples, add an extra tablespoon of each oil and vinegar.
Cabbage Apple Salad FAQ
How long will this apple slaw recipe last in the refrigerator?
In an airtight container, you can store this cabbage apple salad in the refrigerator for up to 1 week for max freshness. Though there's already vinegar in the recipe, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice can help it last even longer if you want it to.
What type of apple should I use?
Any crisp apples work for this recipe. But since there's already some tartness in the vinaigrette, I prefer to use sweet apples such as gala, fuji, or honey crisp over tart apples like granny smith.
Do I have to toast the fennel seeds?
Yes. if you don't toast the fennel seeds, the dressing won't taste as robustly flavorful. Raw spices are too strong and even a little but harsh-tasting.
In a recent youtube video, food science enthusiast Ethan Chlebowski did a taste test in which he used toasted vs non-toasted spices in his recipes. The blind-tasting showed that the recipe with the toasted spices was much more enjoyable.
Can I make it in advance?
Yes, absolutely. But my advice is that you should complete all the steps as written EXCEPT FOR ADDING THE SALT. Add the salt for right before you want to serve the salad. This is because salt draws out moisture, so the dressing may taste diluted by the time you're ready to enjoy it.
Cabbage Apple Salad RecipePrint
- ½ of a head of green cabbage, sliced
- 1 apple, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ of a red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup of walnuts, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup of White Vinegar
- ⅓ cup of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of country dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons of agave
- 1.5 teaspoons of fennel seeds, toasted and ground up
- 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons of fresh black pepper
- ½ cup of fresh parsley, chopped
- Slice the cabbage, apple, red onion, and jalapeno as thinly as you can. Place the sliced ingredients in a very large mixing bowl and set it aside.
- Make the dressing. Finely chop the walnuts and parsley and place them in a medium bowl with the olive oil.
- Toast the fennel seeds over low heat in a small pan, for just 1 minute, taking care not to let them burn. Once they're fragrant and toasty, use a mortar and pestle or even a drink muddler to crush and grind them as finely as possible. Add them to the bowl with the parsley, walnuts, and olive oil. Wait 1 minute to allow the fennel to flavor the oil Then add the vinegar, dijon, agave, salt, and pepper.
- Add the delicious dressing to the the apple cabbage salad mixture and toss it all up until well combined.
- Taste for seasoning, specifically for salt and vinegar.