Quick Curtido (Salvadoran Cabbage Slaw) Recipe

Photograph: Lauren Rothman

Why It 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

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.

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.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 70 mins
Makes: 5 cups

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  • 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. 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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