Are Red Cabbage and Green Cabbage Interchangeable?

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Most cabbage recipes involve the use of green cabbage. However, while red cabbage is uncommon, they are highly recommended by experts because of their added nutritional value. So you may be wondering, can red cabbage be substituted for green cabbage? Here is what I found out.

Are red and green cabbage interchangeable? Despite having different colors, red and green cabbage have the same flavor and hence can be a substitute to one another in a recipe. Though more nutritious, red cabbage has a disadvantage of discoloring other foods when combined in a salad or cooked.

Can you substitute red cabbage for green cabbage or vice versa? 3 things to watch out for and how to deal with them

Swapping out green cabbage to red cabbage or the other way around can be done without any major problem since they both taste the same.

However, there are certain things you need to keep in mind to avoid any disastrous outcome when doing so.

Here are the things you need to watch out for when you want to use red cabbage instead of green cabbage in your cooking.

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1. The color of red cabbage may seep out and discolor the foods around them.

With striking red to deep purple leaves, red cabbage is a popular choice by many to add colors in salads or cooked dishes.

However, one major problem of red cabbage is that their color tends to bleed or leach out when used in salads or cooking.

Here are some tips on how to stop red cabbage from bleeding (as advised by a cookbook author, Ann Willan)

When used in salads: Rinse the red cabbage leaves using boiling water and vinegar. Or if shredded, use around two (2) to three (3)  tablespoons of vinegar after shredding.

When used in cooking: Toss in acidic ingredients such as the apple, lemon juice, or vinegar.

In other words, cooking red cabbages with a touch of acid is highly recommended to lock in their pretty purple color, otherwise, you may be shocked as you witness the miraculous event of your cabbage turning blue!

Red cabbage can also be boiled. To preserve the crunch, cook in salted boiling water with a teaspoon of vinegar for 5 minutes unless a softer consistency is desired in which case cook for a little longer. Alternatively, red cabbage is very good cooked sous vide as the cabbage will become tender without losing its shape or texture.

2. Red cabbage changes color when added with acid or base

When adding acidic ingredients into the red cabbage, the color will become paler and look like pink.

Acidic ingredients include apple, wine, lime or lemon juice, and vinegar.

On the other hand, red cabbage will become green when you mix them with a base such as baking soda.

Though these color changes make the dish looks weird, they do not affect the overall taste of the dish. So if you don’t mind with the color changing, you can go ahead and use these ingredients in your cabbage recipe.

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3. Red cabbage is slightly tougher than green cabbage

Red cabbage is slightly tougher than the green cabbage in terms of texture.

So it is best to cut them into small parts or finely.

Preparing red cabbage is fairly easy and here’s how it is done.

After removing the thick fibrous outer leaves of the red cabbage, wash them thoroughly under running water.

Next, all you need to do is to cut them into half then quarters and remove the core, which is the hard part in the center of the cabbage.

Lastly, chop them finely or shred them.

Make sure you are using a sharp chef’s knife like this one when trying to core the red cabbage for easy removal of the core.

Another thing to keep in mind is that red cabbage requires a little more cooking time to bring out its flavor.

Purple cabbage vs green cabbage nutritional benefits

Green, red, or purple. Regardless of which color of cabbage you choose, you can still get many health benefits from them.

Generally, red cabbage is more nutritious than green cabbage with higher amounts of potassium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Red cabbage is also rich in anthocyanins that can be seen from their vibrant red color, the high amount of anthocyanins make them good antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agent.

However, this does not make green cabbage a “loser” in terms of nutrition.

Green cabbage does have one advantage over red cabbage and that is vitamin K.

Green cabbage contains 57% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K as compared to red cabbage that only covers about 28% of the recommended vitamin K daily intake.

Despite the differences, both types of cabbage shared fairly the same amount of low calories and high fibers and nutrients.

Just from the fact that both of them are cabbages make them one of the healthiest food that experts recommend to eat on a regular basis.

Here’s a more detailed look at the nutritional value of each cabbage (taken from the USDA’s Nutritional Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release).

Red Cabbage*

Green Cabbage*


28 kcal

22 kcal


1.9 g

2.2 g


216 mg

151 mg

Vitamin A

993 IU

87 IU

Vitamin C

50.7 mg

32.6 mg

Vitamin K

34.0 µg

67.6 µg

* 1 cup, raw, chopped, 89g

Other types of cabbages and their substitutes

The cabbage family has literally hundreds of varieties worldwide, over 400 to be exact.

You can easily find more than 3 types of varieties of cabbage just by visiting the supermarkets.

Aside from green and red cabbages, the following are some of the more popular cabbages that you may encounter including their substitutes.

Brussel sprouts

Brussel sprouts look like a mini cabbage that is usually served as a side dish.

They have a delicate flavor and are often times boiled or steamed.

If you wish to replace Brussel sprouts in a recipe, you may go for broccoli flowerettes.

Bok Choy or Chinese white cabbage

Bok Choy goes with different names around the world including Chinese white cabbage, white mustard cabbage, and white celery mustard.

They look more like celery with spinach look-a-like crinkled leaves.

Bok choy is a common Asian dish that is usually cooked stir-fried. But they can also be sauteed or steamed and served as a side dish.

You may substitute Bok Choy with Chinese broccoli, regular broccoli, napa cabbage, collard greens or celery.

Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage is also known as Chinese cabbage or Chinese celery cabbage.

Napa cabbage has an oblong yellow-green head with frilly leaves.

Similar to Bok Choy, stir-fried napa cabbage is a common dish for Asians.

Known for its mild flavor and comparably sweeter and softer taste, napa cabbage makes a good substitute for green cabbage if you wish to get a more delicate cabbage taste.

You can substitute napa cabbage with Bok Choy or Savoy cabbage.

Savoy Cabbage

Visually, Savoy cabbage does not look any different from the regular cabbage.

Nevertheless, Savoy is a pretty popular cabbage in Northern Europe with its delicate flavor (though not as mild as napa cabbage) and crispy texture.

Because Savoy cabbage looks much like the ordinary green cabbage, you can use them as a substitute for green cabbage.

You can substitute Savoy cabbage with green cabbage or napa cabbage.

What cabbage is the healthiest? Ranked as the 5th healthiest vegetable on earth, Brussel sprouts are the healthiest member of the cabbage family. They help enhance the removal of toxic substances from the body, rich in vitamins and minerals, and contain antioxidants that can help prevent chronic disease.

Can you eat raw cabbage every day? Because cabbages offer a lot of health benefits, experts recommend adding them in our diet and eat them on a regular basis. You can have them raw, boiled, steamed, sauteed, or roasted. The optimal intake is around half to one cup daily or a minimum of five cups per week.

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