Reinvent Classic Coleslaw By Cooking Your Cabbage First

Coleslaw is an undeniable comfort classic that typically combines raw, shredded cabbage and a creamy sauce such as mayonnaise. It has a refreshing tanginess that pairs perfectly with all sorts of foods, particularly rich and savory Southern staples. It's also quick and easy, and you can whip it up without turning a single knob on your stovetop. But, although it's already delicious as is, we've only scratched the surface of coleslaw's crave-worthy potential. Cooking your cabbage first could be the reinvention your everyday coleslaw's been missing. 

It may seem counterintuitive for a dish that's typically served cold, but cooking your cabbage before adding it to your coleslaw is a game-changer when it comes to unlocking new flavors. It only adds a little bit of time to your prep work, and when done correctly, it will still have that satisfying crunch. After biting into your new and improved coleslaw, a few additional minutes in the kitchen is the last thing you'll think about. Here's how cooking your cabbage can elevate classic coleslaw.

How to cook cabbage for your coleslaw

The cooking method you use depends on the taste and texture you want. If you like crave-worthy caramelization, sautéing, roasting, or grilling is definitely the way to go. Caramelizing cabbage gives it a smoked nuttiness that takes the experience to a whole new level, especially when paired with other flavoring agents. Sautéing is perfect for pre-cooking raw cabbage with seasoning, oils, or sauces. Shred it before you begin to allow flavor and heat to distribute evenly. 

Cabbage will keep a crunchy consistency unless additional water is introduced, so you don't have to worry about it over-softening. If you prefer a little juiciness, you can cook it a bit longer, or briefly cover it with a lid. Roasting is a slightly lengthier and arguably tastier method that offers even more caramelized deliciousness. Take out a baking pan or cast iron skillet and make sure to spread your shredded cabbage around until it's even and clump-free. You can fire up the grill and give cabbage a crunchy char, too. 

To cook it directly on the grill, though, you'll first need to slice it into wedges or steaks. Shredded cabbage can also work as long you use a grill-safe pan or skillet. For an extra crispy and crunchy coleslaw texture, try frying it. We recommend only frying small batches of shredded cabbage or sliced wedges. Crunch is key, so, as long as you don't overcook it, you're in good hands. As you can see, there are endless ways to boost the flavor of your coleslaw

Pairings that can further elevate your coleslaw

Now that we've coaxed you out of your coleslaw shell, let's explore some of the delicious ways to amp up this everyday dish with cooked cabbage. Coleslaw has limitless potential in the flavor department, especially when the ingredients are cooked together. You'll have seasoned cabbage and coleslaw ingredients working in tasty tandem in the heat. And whether you prefer savory to sweet or spicy to smoked, cabbage pairs well with most ingredients. 

If a rich, full-bodied experience is more your style, try pairing nutty-flavored roasted cabbage with this toasted pecan-infused coleslaw. You'll fall under a savory spell after biting into this bacon-sprinkled slaw — it's a mouthwatering topping for hot dogs that goes great with grilled cabbage. We definitely suggest serving it at your next barbecue. If you like heat with your sweet, satisfy your cravings with fiery hot honey coleslaw. You can elevate it with any style of cooked cabbage that we've covered. 

Nothing is off limits — even fruit complements coleslaw. This crispy, crunchy apple slaw with blue cheese paired with fried cabbage is heavenly for those who are into texture. Looking to cut down on dairy? Say less. Pair sautéed cabbage with this Asian-inspired coleslaw for a delicious dairy-free excursion. If that doesn't convince you to cook your cabbage, this seasonal cranberry-pecan Thanksgiving slaw with roasted cabbage just might. The bottom line is, coleslaw lets you experiment with all sorts of tasty ingredients — and cooking your cabbage first makes it even better.