Skip to main content

Marinated Chow Chow Slaw

This recipe is the result of me combining two of my favorite ways to enjoy cabbage: a great cole slaw and the mixed vegetable relish known as chow-chow. There are many types of slaw, and this one is dressed in a deeply flavorful marinade instead of bound with mayonnaise. The recipes yields a generous amount, but it keeps beautifully for days. Months, actually, since this slaw can be frozen. It will still be vibrant and crunchy when thawed. Old cookbooks referred to this type of slaw as “everlasting.”  

A handy take-away tip is the step of salting the cabbage mixture overnight before finishing the slaw. The salting deeply seasons the vegetables and draws out their excess moisture, eliminating the soupy dressing and soggy texture that plague most slaws that sit for more than a few minutes. It’s a game changer technique that I use for all slaws, not just this one.

This slaw makes a great side dish or condiment. The classic use of chow chow is to perk up plates of food that would benefit from its color, crunch, and bright flavor.

Makes about 2 1/2 quarts or 8 to 12 servings.


  • 1 small green cabbage (about 1 3/4 pounds), trimmed and cut into chunks
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored and cut into chunks
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 medium-size red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium-size green (unripe) tomato, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Coarsely chop the cabbage in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Do not fill the bowl more than halfway and use short pulses so that the blade chops the cabbage instead of grinding it into mush. (Alternatively, shred wedges of cabbage on the large holes of a box grater or run them through the feed tube of the processor fitted with a julienne disk.) There should be 6 to 8 cups of shredded cabbage.

Working in batches, chop the peppers, onions, and green tomato the same way. There should be 3 to 4 cups of chopped vegetables.

Toss together the cabbage, chopped vegetables, and salt in a large colander set inside a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Discard the accumulated liquid and dry the bowl. Transfer the drained vegetables into the bowl.

Bring the sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, coriander seed, dry mustard, celery seed, ginger, and turmeric to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil for 1 minute. Pour over the vegetables and mix well. 

Cover and refrigerate until deeply chilled before serving, at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Store refrigerated in a container with a tight-fitting lid for up to 2 weeks. For longer storage, pack the slaw into airtight containers and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and stir well before serving.

Marinated Chow-Chow Slaw | Kitchen Recipe

Zesty chow-chow slaw will keep them coming with all the flavors and magnificent crunch.

Recipe Courtesy of Sheri Castle

Sheri Castle, award-winning food writer and cooking teacher, is known for melding culinary expertise, storytelling and humor, so she can tell a tale while making a memorable meal. Her creative, well-crafted recipes and practical advice inspire people to cook with confidence and enthusiasm. She's written a tall stack of cookbooks and her work appears in dozens of magazines. In 2019, the Southern Foodways Alliance named Sheri among Twenty Living Legends of Southern Food, calling her The Storyteller.

Sheri says that she's fueled by great ingredients and the endless pursuit of intriguing stories, usually about the role that food plays in our lives, families, communities and culture.

When she steps away from the kitchen or a local farm, Sheri enjoys spending quiet time at her home near Chapel Hill. She hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.