Braised German Red Cabbage (Rotkohl)

Bright purple shredded red cabbage in a black bowl.

Braised German Red Cabbage is a simple side dish made of red cabbage. This sweet and sour favourite is a great compliment for any German meal, serving to cut through the richness of grilled or roasted meats.

Cabbage is often under appreciated but this cruciferous vegetable can be so delicious and versatile when you have the right recipe! It’s wunderbar when fermented in traditional Sauerkraut or stuffed with ground meat and rice in Cabbage Rolls with Dill and Roasted Red Pepper.

Bright purple shredded red cabbage in a black bowl.

Braised German Red Cabbage

Rotkohl or Blaukraut (red cabbage) is a simple side that is near and dear to every German’s heart. If you aren’t a cabbage fan, allow me convert you with this recipe!

Lecker Schmecker!

-German for ‘yum yum!’

It’s so easy to make this dish ahead of time, in fact it is even MORE delicious the next day. German Red Cabbage is the perfect dish to feed a hungry crowd and best of all, it is very healthy and economical.

This is pure comfort food that is served alongside so many hearty and rich dishes. The acidic component of the cabbage really cuts the richness of these dishes, serving to cleanse the palate.

Bright purple shredded red cabbage in a black bowl.

Red Cabbage Health Benefits

While this dish is considered a ‘comfort food’ it’s relatively low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates.

Red cabbage is packed with great nutrients including Vitamins C and Potassium plus other benefits such as folate and special antioxidants (anthocyanins) that are only found in purple-coloured fruits and vegetables.

Cabbage and other cruciferous veggies are more nutritious after they have been cooked. The heat breaks down the plant fibres to release indole, a substance used for prevention of breast cancer, colon cancer, and other types of cancer.

Lastly, ever wonder why eating cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables causes bloating and gas? These veggies contain raffinose and sulforaphane, which become broken down into the sulfurous compounds during digestion.

It turns out that beyond the smells and gas they may cause, these compounds aren’t all that bad as they may play an important role in cancer prevention.

Bright purple shredded red cabbage with a scoop of red jelly.

How to Make German Red Cabbage

With very little preparation (except the slicing!) and a lot of cooking time, this stunning ruby coloured side dish is table ready.

To begin, remove the wilted outer layers and slice the cabbage in half. Remove the core from each half then cut each in half again. Shred each quarter using a sharp knife, food processor, or mandoline.

Heat the oil in large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot and sauté the onion on medium-high heat until it becomes translucent. Add the red cabbage, along with apple cider, wine, bay leaf, and grated apple.

Bright purple shredded red cabbage in a black bowl.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Next, stir in the jelly then cover and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is tender but not mushy.

Lastly, season with salt and pepper. If you prefer, you may thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry.

Set the cabbage to one side of the pan and stir one tsp cornstarch into 2 tsp of cold water. Add it to the sauce, and stir over medium heat until it begins to thicken. Stir the thickened sauce into the cooked cabbage and serve.

Bright purple shredded red cabbage in a black bowl.

Flavour Variations

I’ve made many variations of braised red cabbage, it’s just a little different every time I make it. However, this basic recipe is a great place to start creating your own version.

Change it up by adding chunks of apple instead of grated, and use any kind of red jelly you like. Apple cider vinegar adds another hint of sweetness, though you could also use red wine or white vinegar (or lemon juice) with a little sugar.

Bright purple shredded red cabbage in a black bowl.

Next, consider the spices according to your personal preference. Traditionally, the recipe contains whole cloves, a bay leaf, and juniper berries. Sometimes there’s also nutmeg. You can use all or none of these flavours.

Lastly, the red wine is entirely optional.

Bright purple shredded red cabbage in a black bowl.

When is the Cabbage Done Cooking?

Deciding when the cabbage is done is entirely up to you. Many traditional German cooks cook it until it is very soft and falling apart. Others like it to have a bit of a bite. My version of German Red Cabbage is somewhere in the middle.

If you love this dish as much as we do, it’s a good idea to double the recipe and keep the leftovers handy. The sweet and sour flavour develops as it sits in the fridge for up to a week. After that, you should discard any leftovers.

Bright purple shredded red cabbage in a black bowl.

Great Dish Ideas to Serve with German Red Cabbage

This dish is traditionally served with Spätzle (German noodles) or Kartoffelklöße (Potato Dumplings) alongside rich meats such as roast duck or goose, Rinderrouladen, Sauerbrauten (roast beef) or Jägerschnitzel. Lecker Schmecker!!

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Can German Red Cabbage Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze this dish to enjoy at a later date. I recommend allowing it to cool to room temperature then placing it in a freezer bag. Remove as much air from the bag as you can, then store it in the freezer for up to a year.

To reheat, thaw the cabbage in the fridge overnight then warm it up in a sauté pan or use a microwave.

Pinterest image of bright purple shredded red cabbage in a black bowl.
Yield: 6 servings

Braised German Red Cabbage

Bright purple shredded red cabbage in a black bowl.

This Braised German Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) is an easy side dish made of red cabbage. This sweet, tart favourite makes a great side for any German meal, grilled or roasted meats, or fish.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion; small diced
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium head red cabbage: shredded
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup wine (optional)
  • 1 apple; grated 
  • 4 tbsp red jelly (strawberry, cherry, red currant, apple, etc.)
  • bay leaf 
  • 3 cloves (optional)
  • 3 juniper berries (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place onion and olive oil in a large high sided frying pan. Sauté over medium-high heat until onion becomes translucent.
  2. Add shredded red cabbage, apple cider, wine, bay leaf*, and grated apple. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Cover and continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in jelly, cover and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is entirely softened.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.

Notes

*If you enjoy a traditional German flavour also add 3 whole cloves and 3 juniper berries with the bay leaf.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 131Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 4gSugar: 15gProtein: 1g

Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

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24 comments

  1. Gloria

    The Ukrainian in me loves the sound of this recipe. What a pretty side dish. It would be great any night of the week….and on the brunch menu too.

    Reply

  2. JustineCelina

    Looks delicious as always, Bernie! Such an informative post as well. Beautiful work!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thank you Justine…it’s such a delicious dish. That cabbage really shines!

      Reply

  3. Sharon

    This is a wonderful recipe for a classic side dish. Can’t wait to pair with some brats and potato salad.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Sounds like the perfect meal to me Sharon!

      Reply

  4. Colleen

    Bernice, this dish is so nostalgic for me. My BFF, who was of German origin, gave me this recipe years ago before she passed from cancer, and I make it every Octoberfest in her honour. It’s so delicious! I love your version because I’ve always used the slow cooker.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      What a great way to honour your friend, Colleen. This would be the perfect recipe for the slow cooker. I’ve seen in done in the instant pot but I feel like this is a dish that is meant to be slow cooked!

      Reply

  5. Shailaja DESAI

    This looks wonderful! I have some red cabbage and would love to try something with it! You have given me some inspiration. Thanks

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I hope you do get to try this recipe Shailaja!

      Reply

  6. Ramona

    This braised red cabbage looks so delicious! I actually have some red cabbage that I wanted to use for something, but I wasn’t sure what. Now I know exactly what to make! I’m inspired to make this today, thank you for sharing this recipe.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Now that is a perfect coincidence. Enjoy!

      Reply

  7. Denise

    I do enjoy cabbage, and I haven’t tried it this way. Thanks for sharing this recipe, it looks delicious!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Cabbage is so underrated but shines in a great recipe!

      Reply

  8. Marisa F. Stewart

    What a gorgeous color! This vegetable side would compliment any protein perfectly. It certainly would add color to the plate but also all of that nutrition. Instead of the regular cabbage I’m picking up a red one. And how easy it is to add a flavored sweetness with the jelly. Great idea.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I hope you enjoy this side Marisa!

      Reply

  9. Tammy

    I’ve never had cabbage like this but it sounds delicious and a perfect side for lots of fall dishes. Love the sweetness of the jams…great idea!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Yes, it’s the perfect fall side IMHO!

      Reply

  10. Moop Brown

    This recipe seems super healthy and easy to make as well. I can see this dish going well with a variety of other different recipes as well.

    Reply

  11. Moop Brown

    This recipe seems super healthy and easy to make as well. I think the addition of the jelly is super unique also!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thank you! It’s a great way to sweeten and broaden the flavour of the red cabbage.

      Reply

  12. Elaine

    This cabbage is amazing! I love eating it with dumplings or potatoes. In fact, it is great in sandwiches, too! Delicious!

    Reply

  13. Terri

    You definitely don’t have to convert me – I love cabbage! However, I have never tried it this way. Will be giving this a try!

    Reply

  14. Jo

    I’m constantly looking for new ways to cook my veggies. Braised cabbage is something I’m yet to try and I will be trying it pretty soon. It looks so delicious. Easy recipes like these are a keeper!

    Reply

  15. Sam

    Wow this cabbage looks delicious! Look at that colour! I’ve never tried making it this way so I am excited to try it. I love how easy it is to make.

    Reply

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