Red Cabbage Salad with Dill and Fennel

I’ve never really like coleslaw all that much, since it mostly just tastes of mayonnaise-based dressing, but it’s something that people like to serve at BBQs and other ‘bring-a-plate’ type of get togethers. When I was at the farmers market a couple of weeks ago, they had some really good looking red cabbage quarters for sale and I thought that it was time I worked out how to make a ‘coleslaw’ that was actually fresh and light and not drowned in dressing. As a bonus, cabbage is actually really cheap, which makes this Red Cabbage Salad with Dill and Fennel a great budget recipe.

The trick to a cabbage salad (or coleslaw) is to slice the cabbage thinly. I used my food processor to do this and was surprised by just how much salad I got out of it. I bought one quarter of a cabbage, although I only used half of that quarter, yet it still made enough salad to serve about 8 people. Then by adding some other budget ingredients, including carrot for sweetness, and a very thinly sliced small red onion for a little bit of bite, this simple salad just needed a dressing. I chose to use some fennel seeds, which are a classic combination with cabbage, and a touch of fresh dill, along with a simple mustard vinaigrette. The result was a light and fresh salad that adds heaps of colour and nutrition to your plate.

Why is this a healthier option?

  • Each serve provides 1.5 servings of vegetables.
  • This salad is an excellent source of fibre, vitamin A and vitamin C, due to the cabbage and the carrots.
  • While this recipe does contain oil in the dressing, it’s much lighter than a traditional coleslaw or cabbage salad, and I have only used just enough dressing to coat the salad.

Red Cabbage Salad with Dill and Fennel

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Red Cabbage Salad with Dill and Fennel


  • 500g red/purple cabbage (about one-eighth of a large cabbage)
  • 1 small red onion (100g) or red salad shallot
  • 2 large carrots (300g)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard


  1. Use a food processor to thinly slice the cabbage and then transfer to a very large bowl. Then slice the onion on the thinnest setting on your food processor. Finally, grate the carrot using the coarse shredding disc. Add the carrot and onion to the bowl with the cabbage, and also add the chopped dill.
  2. To make the dressing, grind the fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle until they are almost a powder. Tip into a small bowl and add the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard. Mix the dressing well until completely combined and then tip into the bowl with the cabbage mixture. Use your hands to mix the dressing into the cabbage salad and ensure that the ingredients are well combined.
  3. Serve as a side salad with meat, fish or protein of your choice.


This salad is easiest to make using a food processor, but can be done with a sharp knife and box grater if needed. The flavour of the salad will mature over time and the dill and fennel will be more pronounced if you make it a few hours ahead of time – they are very mild when the salad is first made. The salad will keep for a few days in the fridge and makes good leftovers.

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  1. I like the recipe Glenda. I’m not a huge fan of fresh fennel, so the seeds should provide a more subtile flavour.

    Like you I don’t like coleslaw dressing. I make my own with natural or greek yoghurt, seeded or dijon mustard and lemon juice. I may also add a little light sour cream if running out of yoghurt or if I want to use up the sour cream.

    I also have a new kitchen gadget – mandoline slicer, so the food processor may get a rest when making this recipe!

    Have a great day

    • Fresh fennel is a bit of an acquired taste Simara, but after I acquired that taste, it is now one of my favourite veggies. The fennel seeds in this recipe though do give a much subtler flavour.
      Funnily enough I’ve never owned a mandoline slicer – I used to just use a sharp knife and a lot of patience, but I really am finally learning to appreciate what my food processor can do.

      • I was thinking when using the mandolins slicer that my knife skills might suffer !

        Food processors are a great time saving device.

        • Oops to my name… Auto correct on the iPad.. Lol

          • Haha! Gotta love the autocorrect.

        • If you used a mandolin slicer or food processor for all your chopping then it’s possible your knife skills might suffer. But the fact is my knife skills were never good enough to slice as thin as what they can do anyway.

  2. I also love how a small amount of cabbage goes such a long way. Although I do like a mayonnaise based salad, your recipe with a fennel seed and dill vinaigrette sounds equally as good. Plus using a red cabbage makes it so beautiful. I have a mandolin, but never use it. It seems to be just as quick to slice it with a sharp knife when you consider cleaning the mandolin. I’ll have to try using my food processor and see if it’s just as easy.
    Sylvia recently posted…Beef and Black Bean Enchilada CasseroleMy Profile

    • Hi Sylvia. In the food processor, this was so quick and easy to make. Just a little bit of chopping with the knife to get the cabbage in chunks for the feeder, but then it was done so fast. The speed of a food processor always astonishes me :)

    • Thanks Whitney. I don’t actually use coconut oil so I can’t really comment on how it will affect the flavour, but most oils would probably work pretty well.

    • I’ve been doing a vinaigrette-style potato salad for a while, so that’s why I thought to try it here (and glad that I did).



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