Pennsylvania Dutch Pepper Cabbage

If publishing or referencing this recipe on another website, you may copy/paste the list of ingredients (the only part of a recipe not protected under copyright law.) Link back to this post for the directions (as in “Get The Directions Here”). On SOCIAL MEDIA share only the LINK to this page. Original content, including my recollections, original photographs, stories, and nostalgia are Copyright 2010 to Present, Lori Fogg, All Rights Reserved and may not be used without express written permission. For complete Copyright information, visit the Terms of Use and Copyright Notice page.

Shredded or grated cabbage in a side dish will often conjour up visions of Cole slaw for many people here in the Coal Region. I am hard pressed to think of how many times I went to a diner where it was not on the menu; it’s very popular. But, as much as I love a good Cole slaw, my favorite cold cabbage side dish is Pepper Cabbage.

A sweet and sour side dish, pepper cabbage (aka “pickled cabbage by some cooks”) features a German, Pennsylvania Dutch, and Coal Region favorite — the ever popular cabbage — but not in a creamy dressing as in many traditional slaws.

Pepper cabbage features a sweet/sour clear syrup and the grated cabbage salad is dotted with colorful cubes of sweet bell peppers. Some purists use only green bell pepper, I use a mix of red and green just because I like the look!  Some cooks add some chopped onion, celery, or even carrot to the mix. Sometimes I add a little grated carrot, it depends on what I have in the veggie drawer. 

Pepper cabbage lasts a long time in the refrigerator thanks to the vinegar content.  I love to serve it with many dishes including my Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie and Yum-a-setta.

It’s great to take to a potluck or picnic because it the dressing contains no mayonnaise. The cabbage should be grated; the coarse shredding holes on a box grater yields the correct texture for the cabbage. You can also use the shredding blade on a food processor; this is particularly handy when making a large quantity of pepper cabbage..

I do not care for the peppers grated so I finely chop them by hand. I never use the food processor for the peppers because it tends to produces a lot of liquid from the peppers and since I don’t care for them shredded, I don’t use the the box grater for them, either. My personal preference is to dice the peppers by hand resulting in an approximately 1/4 inch dice.

Pennsylvania Dutch Pepper Cabbage

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: Sides, SaladsCuisine: Pa. Dutch, Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy

A traditional sweet and sour cabbage salad dish of the Pennsylvania Dutch.


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pound head cabbage, quartered and core removed

  • 1 large sweet red bell pepper, seeded

  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded (OR use all green bell pepper)

  • OPTIONAL: grated carrot, finely diced onion/celery to your taste)

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 3/4 to 1 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon celery seed

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper or to taste


  • Cut the cabbage into 4 quarters, remove the core from each quarter. Grate by hand on the coarse holes of a hand grater OR cut the quarters in pieces that will fit the feed tube on your food processor. With a shredding blade, process the cabbage until completed.
  • Transfer cabbage to a large baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper and a few layers of paper towels and refrigerate for about an hour to drain OR press firmly with paper towels to remove water. Set aside
  • Dice the bell peppers into roughly 1/4 inch dice by hand. Place them on a layer of paper towel to drain while preparing the dressing.
  • In a bowl, stir together the vinegar, water, sugar, celery seed, salt and pepper. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Start with 3/4 cup water, mix then taste; add the remaining 1/4 water if it is too tangy for your preference.
  • Place the cabbage and peppers in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and peppers and stir thoroughly.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or, preferably, overnight. Stir occasionally.