red cabbage fennel slaw
red cabbage fennel slaw

Crunchy Cabbage Fennel Salad

This is a refreshing and vibrant winter salad with fennel and cabbage slaw with a white balsamic dressing.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

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Recipe Rundown

cabbage and fennel salad mixed in a bowl

When you approach chopping vegetables with a can-do attitude, your salad world really expands into some fresh and colorful territory. This crisp winter slaw is stunning in its simplicity with seasonal favorites like tart green apple, paper thin fennel, purple cabbage, and peppery arugula.

It’s a pile-in-a-bowl dish where the white balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette just gets added right on top and worked in by hand. Zero fuss and a chance to hone those knife skills? Sounds like a proper frayed apron kind of recipe.

How do you use fennel (fronds too)

Even if you’ve never worked with fennel or cabbage before, it’s only intimidating until you do it (oh please try). I’ll show you how to easily remove the core so you can have many refreshing salads in your future.

To start, cut off the stalks that look kind of like celery. Those pretty green stringy things, those are the fronds. Rip them off by the handful and use them as a garnish in salad or over fish.

How to Cut the Cabbage and Fennel for the Slaw – Step by Step

Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut straight through the center of the cabbage and fennel to expose the thick white core. Create a triangle with the tip of your knife; then pull it out. Now you can break it down and slice thinly for the slaw (photos 1 & 2).

chopped and core removed from cabbage and fennel and how to toss the slaw

Place all the ingredients for the salad and dressing into a large bowl and massage by hand. When you’re all set to serve, add the arugula and adjust the salt and pepper to really heighten the flavors.

Serving Suggestions

I served this salad along with cauliflower leek potage as an appetizer for Thanksgiving, and it got rave reviews. Even days after the party, people were texting me about how good the leftovers were. Whether serving as an appetizer or side dish, be sure to toss in the arugula or other mixed greens just before serving.

This sweet, sour, bitter and crunchy salad would round out pizza night (so would this burrata pizza with pancetta) or make it a meal with something easy like juicy, crispy chicken thighs.

purple cabbage, fennel fronds, arugula and balsamic dressing

When Working with Fennel and Salad Greens, Timing is Key

  • Once you cut into the fennel, toss it with dressing within 5 minutes or less so it doesn’t turn brown (oxidize).
  • Fennel and Cabbage get massaged because they need time to soften a bit. Whereas, delicate greens wilt quickly – so are added at the last moment.
  • You can store the slaw separate from the greens and mix them together when serving.
  • It’s a good idea to limit the amount of salt the salad ultimately needs until serving time because salt draws out moisture and causes greens to wilt.
  • You can use green or red cabbage – or any mixed greens interchangeably in this winter themed salad.

Crunchy Cabbage Fennel Salad

This is a refreshing and vibrant winter salad with fennel and cabbage slaw with a white balsamic dressing.
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cabbage, fennel, gluten free, paleo, salad, slaw, vegan
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 122kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini


Salad Ingredients

  • 1 small head red cabbage core removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 whole fennel core removed, sliced paper thin, fronds reserved
  • 8 oz mixed greens such as arugula or baby kale

Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup raisins preferably white/golden
  • 2 tbsp fennel fronds chopped
  • 1 green apple grated or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt plus more for serving
  • 1 small shallot (or half a large shallot) minced (about 3 tablespoons)


  • Combine the cabbage and fennel in a large bowl. Keep the greens separate until you are ready to serve to avoid wilting.
  • Add the dressing ingredients directly to the cabbage and fennel. Toss and squeeze to distribute the flavor of the dressing. At the last minute, add the greens and taste. Add more vinegar if you like or salt.


Golden raisins are often sold with baking goods and are my preferred choice because of their tart flavor. However, regular raisins work well too. You could also use dehydrated apple or apricots (chopped) in place of the raisins.


Calories: 122kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 336mg | Potassium: 396mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1152IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg

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