Radicchio vs Red Cabbage: 5 Key Differences

© iStock.com/A_Lein

Written by August Croft

Published: August 11, 2022

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While they may look strikingly similar side by side, there are a number of differences between radicchio vs red cabbage. Both of these crops are popular and a variety of cuisines and dishes, but what separates them from one another, and what brings them together? If you are interested in cooking with radicchio or red cabbage, you’re in the right place! 

In this article, we will compare and contrast radicchio with red cabbage so that you can fully understand what separates them from one another. We will go over what they look like and all of the different ways in which they are used around the world. Finally, we will go over the nutritional value of both of these vegetables in case you’re interested in incorporating them into your diet. Let’s get started now! 

Comparing Radicchio vs Red Cabbage

Radicchio vs Red Cabbage
Radicchio and red cabbage belong to different plant families from one another.
RadicchioRed Cabbage
ClassificationCichorium intybus var. foliosumBrassica oleracea var. capitata f. rubra
DescriptionRound, purplish red vegetable with loosely compacted leaves. Covered in white veins, the leaves are waxy and firm. Tastes bitter and strong when raw, mellowing in flavor when cooked.Round, purplish red vegetable made up of compact leaves. Dense and heavy with white inner leaves when chopped or cut. Peppery and floral taste that gets sweeter when roasted or sauteed.
UsesPopular in a number of Italian dishes, including risotto. Can be grilled, sauteed, eaten raw, and the roots can also be consumed as a substitute for coffeeEaten raw, sauteed, stir fried, roasted, pickled, and more. Needs to be cooked carefully, as the red color in the leaves can bleed into other foods or water
Nutrition InfoFull of Vitamin K, Vitamin E, and antioxidantsFull of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and iron
Special FeaturesUsed to help insomniacs sleep, according to Pliny the Elder!Red cabbage pigment is being used to dye certain things, including pharmaceuticals!

Key Differences Between Radicchio vs Red Cabbage

Radicchio vs Red Cabbage

Radicchio leaves are much more bitter and crunchy compared to the peppery leaves of the red cabbage.

©iStock.com/A_Lein

There are a number of key differences between radicchio and red cabbage. For example, radicchio and red cabbage belong to different plant families from one another. In addition, the leaves found on the radicchio plant are covered in white veins, while red cabbage leaves are more uniform overall. Finally, radicchio roots can be used as a substitute for coffee, while red cabbage roots cannot. 

Let’s go over all of these differences in more detail now. 

Radicchio vs Red Cabbage: Classification

Despite their similar appearances, red cabbage and radicchio belong to different plant families from one another. For example, radicchio belongs to the Asteraceae family, while red cabbage belongs to the Brassicaceae family. In detail, radicchio is further classified as Cichorium intybus var. foliosum, while red cabbage is classified as Brassica oleracea var. capitata f. rubra, making them distinct varieties in their specific plant families. 

Radicchio vs Red Cabbage: Description

Radicchio vs Red Cabbage

Radicchio is popularly used in Italian cuisine, while red cabbage is used around the world.

©iStock.com/MamaMiaPL

Given the fact that red cabbage and radicchio both have distinctive red leaves, it can be difficult to tell them apart when they are side by side. However, radicchio leaves have white veins throughout, while red cabbage leaves do not. In addition, the texture of radicchio leaves are more waxy compared to the smooth leaves found on red cabbage. 

When consumed raw, radicchio leaves are much more bitter and crunchy compared to the peppery leaves of the red cabbage. However, both of these vegetables mellow and get sweeter in their overall flavor when they are cooked, a popular culinary choice for both radicchio and red cabbage! 

Radicchio vs Red Cabbage: Uses

Radicchio vs Red Cabbage

The roots of the radicchio plants can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute given its relation to the chicory plant, while red cabbage is not used for this purpose. 

©iStock.com/sirichai_asawalapsakul

Speaking of their culinary uses, both radicchio and red cabbage have a variety of ways in which they are popularly prepared. For example, radicchio is popularly used in Italian cuisine, while red cabbage is used around the world. Red cabbage is popular in coleslaw and steamed, while radicchio is popular in risottos and sauteed. 

Something that is interesting to note about red cabbage and radicchio is the fact that their beautiful red colors can bleed onto other things you’re cooking with. This is important to keep in mind so that you can properly prepare them. Finally, the roots of the radicchio plants can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute given its relation to the chicory plant, while red cabbage is not used for this purpose. 

Radicchio vs Red Cabbage: Nutrition Information

Both radicchio and red cabbage have a number of vitamins and minerals that they can offer you as part of a healthy and well-balanced diet. For example, radicchio is full of vitamin K and vitamin E, while red cabbage is full of vitamin A and vitamin C. Both options have plenty of fiber and are low in carbohydrates, and radicchio and red cabbage have plenty of antioxidants, given their beautiful red color. 

Radicchio vs Red Cabbage: Special Features

Radicchio vs Red Cabbage

Radicchio is full of vitamin K and vitamin E, while red cabbage is full of vitamin A and vitamin C.

©iStock.com/supamas lhakjit

Speaking of their beautiful red colors, radicchio and red cabbage are used in a variety of special ways because of this. For example, red cabbage is used to dye certain items in a natural way, given its bright red pigment. Centuries ago, radicchio was valued as a sedative and a natural medicine to combat insomnia. In fact, Pliny the Elder viewed radicchio as a valuable plant for this reason. 

No matter the case, radicchio and red cabbage both have a number of things to offer the average home chef, including a variety of vitamins and minerals. Whether or not they help you sleep is up for debate, but both radicchio and red cabbage are beautiful vegetables to incorporate into your daily meals!


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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