German Red Cabbage – Rotkohl

You are currently viewing German Red Cabbage – Rotkohl

A Taste of Home: German Red Cabbage Recipe

Hello, foodies and friends!

As many of you know, I have a deep love for German cuisine. Growing up in a German household meant that traditional dishes were a staple at our dinner table. Today, I want to share a heartwarming recipe that transports me back to my childhood: German Red Cabbage, or Rotkohl, as we call it.

Rotkohl is a sweet and tangy side dish that pairs perfectly with many of your favorite meat dishes. The combination of tender red cabbage, tart apples, and aromatic spices creates a symphony of flavors that is sure to impress even the pickiest of eaters.

How to make the Best Red Cabbage

Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the perfect German red cabbage:

  1. Choose the right cabbage: Select a fresh, firm red cabbage with tightly packed leaves. A medium-sized cabbage will usually be enough for 4-6 servings.
  2. Shred finely: Remove the outer leaves and cut the cabbage into quarters. Remove the core and then thinly shred the cabbage using a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer. Finely shredded cabbage will cook evenly and have a better texture.
  3. Add acid: Adding an acid, like apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, not only adds flavor but also helps to retain the red color of the cabbage. Lemon juice can be used as well.
  4. Balance sweetness: German red cabbage typically has a hint of sweetness. Use sugar, honey, currant jelly or even apple juice to add the desired level of sweetness. Adjust the amount to your taste.
  5. Include apples: Adding peeled and diced apples to the cabbage gives the dish a touch of fruity flavor and balances the tanginess of the vinegar. Traditional recipes often use tart apples like Granny Smith, but you can experiment with other varieties.
  6. Add spices: A combination of spices like bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, juniper berries, and allspice can enhance the flavor of the dish. Be careful not to overdo it, as the spices should complement rather than overpower the cabbage.
  7. Cook low and slow: German red cabbage needs time for the flavors to meld and the cabbage to become tender. Cook it slowly over low heat for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.
  8. Make it ahead: The flavor of red cabbage improves when left to sit for a day or two in the refrigerator. Make it ahead of time and reheat before serving for a richer, more complex taste.
  9. Adjust seasoning: Before serving, taste the cabbage and adjust the seasoning as needed. You might need to add more vinegar, sugar, or salt to achieve the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and savory.
  10. Optional additions: For a variation, consider adding sautéed onions, bacon, or even raisins to the dish. Each ingredient can add a unique twist to the traditional recipe.

I hope this recipe brings a touch of warmth and tradition to your table. I’d love to hear about your experience trying this German Red Cabbage recipe, so please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Till next time, guten Appetit!

German Red Cabbage
Print Recipe
No ratings yet

Red Cabbage

Savory German Red Cabbage: A Flavorful and Colorful Side Dish
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Bavarian, German
Keyword: Cabbage, Red cabbage, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 184kcal


  • 1 medium Red Cabbage thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1 large Apple cored and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Salt
  • 1 medium Onion thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • ¼ cup Water or Vegetable Broth
  • 1 tbsp Sugar or Honey
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Bay Leave
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 6 Cloves
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 4 Juniper Berries
  • 4 Allspice Berries


  • Prepare the ingredients: Rinse the red cabbage, remove the outer leaves, cut it into quarters, and remove the core. Thinly slice or shred the cabbage using a knife or food processor. Core and thinly slice the apple.
  • Transfer the cabbage with the apple, vinegar, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix together for 5 minutes by hands. Use gloves to avoid stains. This helps to break down the cell structure of the cabbage and better combine the different flavours.
    1 medium Red Cabbage, 1 large Apple, ¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar, 1 tbsp. Sugar, 2 tbsp. Salt
  • Let the cabbage chill in the fridge overnight covered with a kitchen towel or use it right away.
  • Heat a large pot or deep skillet over medium heat, and add the butter.
    2 tbsp. Butter
  • Add the sliced onions to the pot and cook until they are softened and slightly golden, about 10 minutes.
    1 medium Onion
  • Add the cabbage and apple mix to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes, until they start to soften.
  • Pour in the vegetable broth, and add the remaining sugar or honey if you prefer a sweeter taste. You can also add the cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaves, cloves, juniper and allspice berries for extra flavor. Tip: add the spices to a disposable tea bag for loose tea leaves to remove them easier at the end
    ¼ cup Water or Vegetable Broth, 1 tbsp Sugar or Honey, 2 Bay Leave, 1 Cinnamon stick, 6 Cloves, 1 Star Anise, 4 Juniper Berries, 4 Allspice Berries
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a lid and let the cabbage cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the cabbage begins to dry out during cooking, add a little more water or broth as needed.
  • Season the cooked red cabbage with salt and pepper to taste and remove the tea bag.
    Salt and Pepper
  • Serve the red cabbage as a side dish with your favorite proteins, like roasted chicken or pork, or enjoy it as a vegetarian main course.
  • Peel and thinly slice the onion


Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 166mg | Potassium: 621mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 2587IU | Vitamin C: 124mg | Calcium: 107mg | Iron: 2mg

Leave a Reply