This red cabbage salad is topped with crispy bacon, feta cheese, and walnuts for a delicious and easy dinner or side dish. Made in under 15 minutes with 6 simple ingredients, this is going to be your new go-to salad recipe.
Whether you need a salad for family dinner or a special event, this recipe is the perfect pop of color to any dinner table. The warm red cabbage is hearty enough to serve on its own but compliments any main course in smaller portions.
This recipe has been in my family for years and it never disappoints. It’s made in 15 minutes, packed with flavor, and gluten-free.
The red cabbage is cooked in bacon grease then tossed in balsamic vinegar for a savory yet tangy flavor. In addition, the texture of the walnuts and crispy bacon combined with feta on top of this salad compliment the cabbage perfectly.
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Do you need dressing for this salad?
There’s no need for salad dressing in this red cabbage salad recipe. All you need is balsamic vinegar and some toppings.
The balsamic vinegar works much better than apple cider vinegar or extra-virgin olive oil that’s commonly used because it provides a tangy flavor.
Why you’ll love this cabbage salad
- There’s no expert cooking skills or fancy equipment required for this easy recipe
- It’s easy to double or even triple the recipe depending on how much you’ll need
- Packed with protein, carbs, and fats this salad makes a balanced meal
- Goes great with pork chops or turkey for a complete and delicious dinner
- Red Cabbage – A head of fresh cabbage works best for this recipe. Sometimes, the pre-shredded cabbage cooks differently than fresh. Do not use green cabbage. You can save some to make creamy coleslaw without mayo too.
- Bacon – Thick cut Beelers brand is my favorite for this recipe but any thick cut bacon will work. This smoked pork belly works as well.
- Feta – You can use a block of feta cheese or crumbled feta.
- Walnuts – Whole or chopped walnuts work in this yummy salad.
- Salt and Pepper
- Aged Balsamic Vinegar – Aged balsamic is thick and delicious. You want one that has been aged longer and comes out like a syrup more than a vinegar. I like Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve aged balsamic.
How to make red cabbage salad:
Step 1: Cook Bacon
Cook the bacon until crisp then remove from pan to cool. Drain half, only half, of the bacon grease.
Step 2: Cook cabbage
Add cabbage to pan with half the bacon grease. Cook the cabbage until slightly tender but make sure it’s still a bright purple.
Step 3: Add toppings
In a large bowl balsamic vinegar, chopped bacon, and walnuts to red cabbage slaw then toss. After combined, add feta cheese, then salt and pepper to personal preference.
Pro tip: Make sure you cook the cabbage uncovered to prevent it from getting to soggy. Allowing the cabbage to cook uncovered allows moisture to escape, keeping it the yummy texture we’re looking for.
Storing and freezing
Storing: You can store this salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. After two days, the cabbage may become soggy. Do not add feta or walnuts until ready to serve.
Freezing: I would not recommend freezing this purple cabbage salad. It’s best made fresh and only takes about 20 minutes.
Expert tips and FAQs
Do you wash red cabbage?
Yes you should wash red cabbage even though the outer layer isn’t going to be eaten. Remove the outer layer, slice into pieces, then wash the pieces in a strainer. Make sure your cabbage is dried before cooking.
How do you know when red cabbage is cooked?
For this salad recipe, you’ll know when the cabbage is cooked because it’s slightly tender but still has it’s vibrant purple color. This should take 6-9 minutes cooked on medium high heat.
Can you reheat cooked red cabbage?
Yes you can reheat this red cabbage by warming up in the microwave or cooking on the skillet again. Cooking on the skillet will give it a fresh taste but the microwave is easier.
Ways to enjoy
Need an EASY and delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert?
Take a look at my Sheet Pan Meals and More!
Red Cabbage Salad with Bacon
- 1 16 oz. package of nitrate-free, gluten-free bacon (I like Beelers)
- 1 head purple cabbage chopped into thin strips
- 1/2 cup Feta cheese
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts chopped
- 3 tablespoons gluten-free balsamic vinegar
- Real Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pan cook bacon until crisp
- Transfer bacon to a plate to cool
- Remove HALF, only HALF of the bacon grease from the pan
- Add cabbage to the bacon grease and cook until slightly tender (It should still be a bright purple. If you overcook it you will lose the vibrant color and be left with a purple cabbage)
- Add balsamic vinegar, chopped bacon and as many walnuts as you prefer and toss lightly
- Transfer to a serving plate and top with Feta cheese and Real Salt to taste
This recipe was first posted on my old blog back in 2011. Since then we have added new photos, instructions and information but the recipe is the same. Here is a peek at the old photo…