Spicy Cabbage Slaw Recipe

This spicy cabbage slaw, somewhere between what you'd get at a Mexican taqueria and a Haitian-style pikliz, is flavored with habanero chili and a hint of allspice. It's essentially a quick-pickle recipe that comes together in minutes, but goes a long way to adding crunch, freshness, and heat to sandwiches, tacos, or burgers.

Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

A spicy cabbage slaw somewhere in between what you'd get at a Mexican taqueria and a Haitian-style pikliz, with flavors of habanero (or Scotch Bonnet) and allspice. Great for sandwiches, tacos, topping burgers, etc.

Note: For a spicier version, use a habanero pepper. For a milder version, use the jalapeño, or no chili at all.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 60 mins
Makes: 2 quarts

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  • 2 quarts finely shredded white or savoy cabbage (about 1 small head)
  • 1 cup finely grated carrot (about 1 medium)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion (about 1 small)
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 1 habanero (or Scotch bonnet) pepper or jalapeño pepper, split in half (see note)


  1. Combine cabbage, carrot, red onion, and 2 tablespoons kosher salt in a large bowl. Massage salt into vegetables. Set aside. Combine vinegar, sugar, allspice, pepper, and 1 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour boiling liquid over cabbage mixture, then place a paper towel directly on top of surface, pressing down until it is saturated to keep the cabbage submerged. Let rest at room temperature until cool. Transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use. Slaw will keep for about 2 weeks.

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