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This sweet and tangy shaved Fennel Salad with apples and cabbage is tossed in a creamy apple cider dressing for the most flavorful, tasty side dish! Serve the crisp, cool slaw with roasted pork, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, roast chicken and a side of cornbread. The easy salad is especially good in the fall and winter when fennel is at its best!

Side shot of a bowl of fennel salad

Shaved Fennel Salad with Apple

A cool, crisp, sweet and slightly acidic shaved fennel salad is the perfect contrast to hearty, meat-based entrees and cozy, comfort food dishes. I consider this easy recipe a cool-weather version of my favorite coleslaw, since it’s full of some of the season’s best produce. You’ll love the complex flavors and the variety of textures in this fennel slaw, which includes tart Granny Smith apple, shredded green cabbage, sliced green onion and shaved fennel in a creamy apple cider dressing.

What does fennel taste like?

Fennel is a hardy perennial herb with a bulb-like base, stalks that resemble celery, and feathery leaves. The plant is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, and is therefore a very popular vegetable in Italian cuisine. These days, fennel is widely available in the United States, too. Most of the fennel that you find in American grocery stores comes from California and is a variety called Florence fennel (or “fresh anise”). It has a crisp texture and a mild licorice taste (but not too strong or over-powering). In fact, when prepared in this salad, I don’t think you notice the licorice flavor at all. Instead, it reminds me more of cabbage or lettuce with its great cool, crunchy texture and slightly sweet taste.

How to Cut Fennel for Salad

While every part of the plant is edible, the raw fennel bulb is best for salad. Reserve the feathery, lacy fronds, though — they’re a great garnish for this dish! When shopping for fennel, choose bulbs that feel heavy for their size and have tightly packed layers. The stalks should be firm (not soft or rubbery).

To cut the fennel for salad, start by slicing off the stalks and fronds. Cut the bulb in half, and then use a mandoline or a sharp knife to thinly slice (or shave) the fennel crosswise. That’s it — so quick and easy!

Overhead shot of shaved fennel slaw with apples and a creamy homemade dressing

Ingredients for Fennel Apple Salad

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need to make this shaved fennel and apple salad with a creamy homemade dressing. As always, the specific measurements and the complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Granny Smith apple: peeled and grated, the tart apple adds a slightly-sweet flavor to the salad. You can substitute with other crisp apple varieties if you prefer, such as Honey Crisp or Pink Lady.
  • Cider vinegar: provides a tangy bite to the slaw and helps prevent the apple from browning.
  • Fennel: I like to shave the bulb on a mandoline for this recipe, but you can also just thinly-slice it with a knife.
  • Green cabbage: thinly-sliced, shaved cabbage adds even more crunch to the slaw.
  • Green onions: also called scallions, these add a nice mild, onion flavor to the salad.
  • Apple cider, mayonnaise and sour cream: whisk them together with salt and pepper to make the sweet-and-creamy dressing.
Process shot showing how to make cabbage fennel salad

How to Make Cabbage Fennel Salad

This delicious winter slaw was inspired by our recent trip to Colonial Williamsburg, where I saw a recipe for Fennel and Apple Slaw in a holiday cookbook. Always a sucker for coleslaw, I knew that this particular side dish would be a great alternative to the same old frozen veggies and simple green salads that we otherwise resort to at this time of year. Fennel is at its peak from late fall until early spring, so it’s an ideal vegetable to combine with cabbage and apples during the cooler months. Best of all, the crisp, flavorful salad is easy to prepare and it keeps well in the fridge — making it a perfect option for any night of the week!

Process shot showing how to cut fennel for salad
  1. Peel, core and grate the apple.
  2. Toss the apple with cider vinegar right away to prevent browning.
  3. Slice the fennel bulb, then add it to the bowl with the apple.
  4. Add the shaved cabbage and the sliced green onion to the bowl.
  5. Whisk together the apple cider, mayonnaise, sour cream, salt and pepper to make the dressing.
  6. Gradually add the dressing to the salad, stirring to combine. You probably won’t need all of the dressing, but it’s really just a matter of personal preference.
  7. Serve immediately or cover and chill. Garnish with some of the reserved fronds.
Square overhead image of a bowl of shaved fennel salad

What to Serve with Fennel Salad

This crisp and cool winter salad is a lovely contrast to hearty, meat-based entrees. The creamy, tangy slaw pairs really well with rich comfort-food dishes, so try it alongside any of these delicious options:

And don’t forget the cornbread, corn muffins, pumpkin bread, applesauce pumpkin muffins, or biscuits on the side!

Side shot of fennel salad with apple in a blue bowl

Make Ahead

You can enjoy this salad immediately or cover the dish and refrigerate it until you’re ready to eat. It’s best enjoyed on the same day that it’s prepared, so if you’d like to make the dish ahead, I recommend doing so within 4-6 hours of serving.

Storage

Leftover salad will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days; however, the vegetables tend to get soggy and release liquid as they sit. Strain off the excess dressing before enjoying the leftovers. Do not freeze the salad.

Tips for the Best Fennel Salad Recipe

  • Add the dressing gradually, because you might not need all of it. I typically prefer about half – ¾ of the dressing since I don’t want my slaw too “wet.” It’s really a matter of personal preference, though, so just adjust as you stir.
  • Shave the fennel with a mandoline, if possible. This yields very thin slices that are even in width. If you don’t have a mandoline, a sharp knife will also work.
  • You can substitute with a prepared coleslaw mix in lieu of shredding or slicing your own green cabbage.
  • Tart Granny Smith apples work best in this recipe; however, you can also substitute with other crisp varieties like Honey Crisp or Pink Lady.
  • Use full-fat sour cream and full-fat mayonnaise (I like Duke’s brand best) for a smooth, creamy dressing.
  • Add thinly-sliced radish to the salad for a zesty bite and pretty red color.
Overhead shot of fennel slaw in a blue bowl

More Winter Salad Recipes to Try

Side shot of a bowl of fennel salad

Fennel Salad with Apples and Creamy Apple Cider Dressing

Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 122 kcal
This cool, crisp winter slaw is the perfect contrast to hearty meat-based entrees like roasted pork, BBQ pulled pork, or crispy roast chicken. Add cornbread on the side for a delicious meal!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 bulb fresh fennel
  • 1 ½ cups shredded green cabbage
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • ¼ cup apple cider
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Peel, core and coarsely grate the apple on a cheese grater. Place in a large bowl and immediately toss with cider vinegar to prevent browning.
  • Remove stalks and fronds from the fennel bulb. Reserve some of the nicer feathery fronds for a garnish; discard the rest. Cut the fennel bulb in half and thinly slice on a mandoline (if you have one) or with a sharp knife. Place in the large bowl with the apple.
  • Add the cabbage and green onion to the bowl; toss to combine.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider, mayonnaise, sour cream, salt and pepper. Gradually pour over the salad and mix well (you probably won’t need all of the dressing). I typically use about half to ¾ of the dressing, and then save the rest in the fridge for another salad later. Serve immediately or cover and chill. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds.

Notes

  • Add the dressing gradually, because you might not need all of it. I typically prefer about half – ¾ of the dressing since I don’t want my slaw too “wet.” It’s really a matter of personal preference, though, so just adjust as you stir.
  • Shave the fennel with a mandoline, if possible. This yields very thin slices that are even in width. If you don’t have a mandoline, a sharp knife will also work.
  • You can substitute with a prepared coleslaw mix in lieu of shredding or slicing your own green cabbage.
  • Tart Granny Smith apples work best in this recipe; however, you can also substitute with other crisp varieties like Honey Crisp or Pink Lady.
  • Use full-fat sour cream and full-fat mayonnaise (I like Duke’s brand best) for a smooth, creamy dressing.
  • Add thinly-sliced radish to the salad for a zesty bite and pretty red color.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 122kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 1gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 480mgPotassium: 269mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 211IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: fennel apple salad, fennel salad, fennel slaw, shaved fennel salad
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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