Quick Curtido (Mexican Cabbage Slaw)

This sweet-and-sour cabbage slaw adds a pleasant, fresh vinegary tang to rich, spicy dishes. [Photograph: Lauren Rothman]

What sauerkraut is to a hotdog and kimchi is to a Korean pancake, curtido is to a variety of Latin American dishes. This funky, vinegary cabbage, onion, and carrot slaw brings crunch and a hit of acid to a host of rich, long-cooked dishes that call out for brightness and texture. Traditional curtido is prepared days in advance, allowing it to develop a fermented tang, but this shortcut version—ready in only an hour—is a nice fallback when you don't have time to think ahead. Try it spooned atop braises such as beef barbocoa or sandwiched into Mexican gorditas.

Why this recipe works:

  • A hot vinegar brine lends acidity to cabbage, onions, and carrots, but quickly cooling it in the refrigerator with the vegetables retains their crisp texture and bright, fresh color.
  • Lightning-quick to prepare, the curtido will only get better with age in the fridge

Note: Curtido is ready within one hour, but improves with time. It can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Quick Curtido (Mexican Cabbage Slaw)

About This Recipe

Yield:Makes about 5 cups
Active time:10 minutes
Total time:1 hour 10 minutes
This recipe appears in: How to Make Gorditas With Masa


  • 1/2 small (2-pound) green cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 medium white onion, peeled and very thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, minced (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. 1

    In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, onion, carrot, and jalapeño, if using. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, salt, and sugar a cook over medium heat, stirring, until salt and sugar are just dissolved. Pour brine over vegetables and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for one hour before serving.


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