Curtido is a Salvadoran cabbage slaw or relish made with finely shredded cabbage, red onion, carrot, oregano, and vinegar.  This is a must-try, authentic Salvadorian recipe.

In Central America, curtido is often served with pupusas (corn cakes) and salsa roja.  You could also serve curtido with cheese enchiladas, fish tacos, tamales, or any other food you might serve with coleslaw!

A large glass bowl with curtido and a wooden spoon.

Curtido

Are you familiar with sauerkraut (a German staple) or kimchi (a Korean topping made with fermented cabbage)?  I like to think of this Curtido recipe as the South American version of those popular recipes.

What is curtido?

Curtido is a Salvadoran cabbage slaw or relish that is made with cabbage, red onion, carrot, oregano, and vinegar (you can make spicy curtido by adding jalapeno).  It’s supposed to be a lightly fermented dish, meaning the longer you allow it to sit the more the flavors will compound and the more exciting it will taste.  That being said, it tastes great as fresh slaw the day you make it as well.

You will commonly find Curtido served with a popular Salvadoran dish called, pupusas.

Ingredients in curtido:
  • cabbage
  • red onion
  • carrot
  • jalapeno
  • oregano
  • salt
  • vinegar

Wood cutting board with ingredients for curtido, including cabbage, carrots, red onion, oregano, vinegar and knife.

How to make Curtido:
  • Rinse cabbage.  Place cabbage in a fine mesh strainer. Very slowly pour boiling water over the cabbage. Rinse with cold water. Drain well, pressing out as much water as possible.
  • Combine remaining ingredients. Add cabbage to a large bowl. Add carrot, onion, jalapeno, oregano, and vinegar and toss well to combine.
  • Marinate. Curtido tastes best after it has marinated for several hours or days, but you can enjoy it fresh if you’d like. Store curtido in a covered container or mason jar for up to 1 week in the fridge.

A large glass bowl with finely shredded cabbage, carrot, onion, jalapeno and oregano.

 

What to eat with curtido:

Curtido can be eaten with anything that you might put cabbage on including pupusas, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, bratwurst, soups, sandwiches, and more!  Consider things you might eat with sauerkraut or coleslaw and chances are, curtido would be a delicious substitution.

Pupusas on a plate with curtido and salsa on the side.

Can curtido be made ahead of time?

Yes, in fact it’s meant to be made serval days ahead of time and eaten slightly fermented.  You can make curtido 1 week ahead of time. It should be stored in the refrigerator after 5 days (or from the day you make it if you prefer).

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Recipe

A large glass bowl with curtido and a wooden spoon.
Prep 15 mins
Total 15 mins
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Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 head cabbage , finely shredded
  • 1/2 red onion , very thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots , finely shredded
  • 1 fresh jalapeño pepper , sliced (optional)
  • hot boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • salt , to taste
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

Instructions
 

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. 
  • Place cabbage in a fine mesh strainer. Very slowly pour boiling water over the cabbage. Rinse with cold water. Drain well, pressing out as much water as possible.
  • Add cabbage to large bowl. Add carrot, onion, jalapeno, oregano, and vinegar and toss well to combine. I like to put it all in a bowl with a lid and shake it.
  • Curtido tastes best after it has marinated for several hours or days, but you can enjoy it fresh if you’d like. 
  • Store curtido in a covered container or mason jar for up to 1 week in the fridge.

Nutrition

Calories: 27kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 21mgPotassium: 155mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 2620IUVitamin C: 24.3mgCalcium: 31mgIron: 0.4mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    I make the Bavarian cabbage salad that was referred and I also make this particular type of slaw for pupusa which I have had homemade by many different traditional cooks. I was taught by one of those cooks to make the Curtido by making a homemade pineapple vinegar in advance and using dried arbol chilies and spicy Mexican oregano in the final product. These tweaks make all the difference in the world. For the vinegar simply take some washed pineapple rinds and some mashed flesh, cover with cheese cloth in a glass container and allow it to sit in the sun for two days. Add water, pineapple juice and cover for one more day. Strain out all of the solids, cover and leave it out on the kitchen counter for one day. Refrigerate the vinegar for two weeks before making the salad. You can speed up the process by adding some raw cider vinegar after you strain out the solids allowing that to sit out on the counter for a day before making your salad.

  2. 5 stars
    Does the vinegar need to cover the mix completely? 1/2 A cup of vinegar only covers half the mix :/

    1. The cabbage draws water and covers the mix after some time. My daughter made this recipe for her end of year Spanish class… A big hit! Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this with your pupusa recipe. Both were very good and easy to make. I will be bookmarking these for future use.

  4. I made it using white wine vinegar. It is delicious! I eat it with lots of different dishes, to add variety. Goes great with pupusas of course, but also with rice and beans, chicken, pork, or whatever you’re eating to add flavor.

  5. 5 stars
    I love trying new recipes and Salvadorian food is one cuisine I’m not as familiar with. I made your Salvadorian pupusas with Curtido and Salsa Roja and they are a new favorite. Thanks for the EASY and yummy recipe. We will definitely be making these again.

  6. This recipe sounds great, however I just wanted to point out that it has nothing to do with Sauerkraut or Kimchi, as those two are actually soured entirely by the fermentation process and don’t contain vinegar. The lactic acid is formed when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage leaves, which takes a few weeks. However your recipe is very similar to German cabbage salad (yes traditional German homecooking often uses cabbages), only instead of Jalapenos and oregano they use caraway seeds. They also aid digestion. Cabbage is very healthy.

    1. She wrote, “I like to think of it as…” Probably edit your post to add additional information on the subject. She never said they were the same thing. KIA is never a good look…

    2. 5 stars
      I had never made anything like this before. After it sat for 3 days, it tasted very similar to the Salvadoran restaurant version. Thank you. I am extremely pleased.