Curtido Recipe (Salvadoran Slaw)

homemade curtido in a small white bowl close up
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Curtido is a spicy Salvadoran pickled cabbage slaw made with cabbage, red onion, carrots, and spices. It’s a must-try recipe!

In Central America, curtido is served with Pupusas or Spicy Shredded Beef. You might serve it as a side dish with tacos, enchiladas, or empanadas.

This recipe is a great alternative to my Jalapeño Sauerkraut.

homemade curtido in a small white bowl

What You’ll Love About This Recipe

  • This recipe is lacto-fermented, so you get all the gut health benefits of a traditionally fermented sauerkraut with a spicy and super flavorful punch.
  • The fermentation time is a short three days. You can stretch it out longer for a tangier slaw and even more gut-healthy goodness.
  • In a hurry? You can also make this recipe with vinegar for a quick and easy spicy slaw recipe.

Fermented Crudito vs. pickled Crudito

Most curtido recipes you’ll find are pickled. Which means they are made with vinegar. While this is delicious and also quick to make, I think you’ll find that the tangy zing of the lightly fermented curtido recipe is not only has better flavor but it also has the health benefits of sauerkraut.

What You’ll Need

Ingredients for making fermented curtido are simple. Just make sure to wash all of the veggies before using them.

  • Cabbage: You’ll need one large head of green cabbage.
  • Carrots: One large carrot or two medium ones.
  • Onion: White of red onion are both good in this recipe.
  • Oregano: Dried or fresh, if available.
  • Cumin: Dried cumin is optional, but I love the flavor it adds.
  • Jalapeño peppers: Use one to three peppers. Or more if you like it spicier.
  • Salt: You want to use fine sea salt, NOT iodized salt. [note 1]

👩🏼‍🍳 Optional Ingredients: I’ve also added fresh garlic and a pinch of cumin to this recipe.

Kitchen Tools To make The Job Easier

  • Sharp chef’s knife: An essential tool for every home cook.
  • Mandoline Slicer OR Food Processor: Either will make slicing and shredding quick and easy.
  • Large non-metallic bowl: A large glass mixing bowl is perfect.
  • Mason jars: This recipe will fit into two one-quart jars. You could maybe fit it into one if you pack it super tight.
  • Pickle packer: A heavy wooden tool used to pack down sauerkrauts.
  • Fermentation lids: These vapor lock lids are the best. They make fermentation so easy and straightforward.
  • Fermentation weights: These glass weights keep all the vegetables under the brine for perfect fermentation.

Note: If you are making this recipe and want to pickle it instead. You’ll need some apple cider or white vinegar.

How To Make Curtido

Step 1—Prepare the ingredients

Slice the vegetables into thin slices—approximately 1/8th of an inch. Shred the carrots.

Toss with salt: Combine the cabbage, onions, and carrots with the salt in a large bowl. Toss the vegetables with the salt using your hands or tongs. Allow the cabbage mixture to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. The vegetables will release water as they sit in the bowl.

Add the jalapeños, oregano, and cumin. Toss to combine

Step 2—Pack your vessel

Fill the jars with the cabbage mixture. Add the liquid to the jars, ensuring the vegetables are completely covered. [note 2]

Weight down: Add the weights to the jars and top them with the airlock lids.

Step 3—Wait

Now, let the jars sit in a cool place for three days.

curtido and red saurkraut waiting

Step 4—Taste

After three days, taste the curtido. You can let the fermentation continue, but call it done if you like the flavor.

Step 5—Pack it up

Remove the air lock lids and the weights. Cap the jars and place them in the fridge.

curtido served in a cute crystal pineapple bowl

Common Questions About Curtido

What is curtido made of?

Traditional curtido is made with cabbage, onions, carrots, jalapeños, and oregano. It can be pickled with vinegar or fermented by adding salt and waiting three or more days.

Is curtido the same as sauerkraut?

Traditional Salvadoran curtido is cultured or lightly fermented and is very similar to sauerkraut because they are both fermented cabbage recipes. They differ in the spices used.

German sauerkraut flavors include juniper berries, caraway, and dill.

Salvadoran curtido is seasoned with onion, jalapeño, and dried oregano.

Is curtido good for your gut?

Curtido, made with lacto-fermentation, contains healthy probiotics and is very good for your gut.

Can you eat curtido by itself?

Curtido is delicious any way you serve it. You can eat a small serving by itself. It is best when paired with spicy meats, pupusas, or empanadas.

Does curtido go bad?

Curtido will last for several months in the refrigerator. It doesn’t really go bad, but the vegetables will get softer over time.

How to sterilize jars?

Jars can be sterilized by boiling them in water. Or by placing them in the oven.

To sterilize jars in the oven place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and place freshly washed jars and lids on the baking sheet. Heat the oven to 275℉/140℃ and heat them for 20 minutes. Allow them to cool before using.

Note: Do not use antibacterial soap for fermentation, it will kill the good bacteria that you need to start the fermentation process.

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What To Serve With Curdito

Hungry for More Lacto-Fermented Recipes

Fermented foods are a healthy addition to your diet. Here are just a few of my favorite ferments and pickles.

homemade curtido in a small white bowl close up

Curtido Recipe

Curtidos is a spicy Salvadoran cabbage slaw made with lightly fermented cabbage, red onion, carrots, and spices. This delicious condiment is served in Central American with pupusas, salsa roja, and other regions dishes.
Prep Time 1 hour
Fermentation Time 3 days
Total Time 3 days 1 hour
Course Condiment
Cuisine Salvadoran
Servings 24
Calories 9 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 6 cups cabbage, sliced thinly, approximately 1 head
  • 1 large carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup onion, red or white
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 to 1½ tablespoons sea salt, redmonds real salt

Optional Ingredients (I've added these with good results)

  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the ingredients: Slice the vegetables into thin sliced—approximately 1/8th of an inch. Shred the carrots.
    6 cups cabbage, 1 cup onion, 1 large carrots
  • Toss with salt: Combine the cabbage, onions, and carrots with the salt in a large bowl. Toss the vegetables with the salt using your hands or tongs. Allow the cabbage mixture to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. The vegetables will release water as they sit in the bowl.
    1 to 1½ tablespoons sea salt
  • Add the jalapeños and oregano: Toss to combine.
    1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 to 2 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Pack your vessel: Press the cabbage mixture into the jars. Use a pickle packer to pack the vegetables into the jar. Add the liquid to the jars, ensuring the vegetables are completely covered. [note 2]
  • Weight down: Add the weights to the jars and top them with the airlock lids. Wait: Now, let the jars sit in a cool place for three days.
  • Taste: After days, taste the curdito. You can let the fermentation go on longer, but if you like the flavor, call it done.
  • Pack it up: Remove the air lock lids and the weights. Cap the jars and place them in the fridge.

Laura’s Tips + Notes

  1. Salt: Always use fine sea salt, kosher salt, or Himalayan salt for fermenting. NEVER use iodized table salt when fermenting. 
  2. Jars: I like to use wide-mouth mason jars to ferment. They come in a variety of sizes and you can find many accessories that make your fermentation projects super easy like: fermentation weights (affiliate link) and airlock lids (affiliate link)

YOUR OWN NOTES

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Nutrition

Serving: 0.25 cupCalories: 9kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 0.4gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 442mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gCalcium: 14mgIron: 0.2mg
Keyword curdito, curdito recipe, fermentation
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