Braised German Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) is as traditional as it gets and never absent at German festivals or restaurants. It’s sweet and sour flavor comes from brown sugar, vinegar and apple. Whole cloves add to its unique flavor and aroma.

For a complete meal make German Red Cabbage with Rouladen and Spaetzle. It’s also great served with bratwurst and boiled yellow potatoes or our traditional potato salad .

Cooked Rotkohl German red cabbage, served in a bowl.

I always have to give a shout out to my wonderful parents for a great introduction to international foods as a teenager. My dad lived in Germany as a young adult and knowing his love for German food, our long time German friends used to bring delicious homemade food by the house. Soon enough, my mom mastered several basic German dishes and it’s with her help, that I get to present them to you on TBFS.

What we love about German Red Cabbage is that it’s easy, cheap, healthy and only gets better every time you warm it up! It’s great for a quick lunch to heat up at work along with the starch and meat you have selected.

It’s satisfying to know as you munch that cabbage is extra healthy, full of fiber and antioxidants and also high in vitamin K.

Ingredients for German Red Cabbage:

  • Red cabbage (also called purple cabbage). You need one whole head of cabbage, thinly sliced.
  • Apple: any kind will do, but Granny Smith, McIntosh or other tart apple are especially delicious.
  • Apple cider vinegar: or white vinegar will substitute. The vinegar and apple help the cabbage to retain its vibrant color.
  • Brown sugar: or granulated white sugar will work too.
  • Whole cloves.
The ingredients needed to make German Red Cabbage.

How to make German Red Cabbage:

  • Shred the cabbage.
  • Put half the cabbage into a pot. (Medium sized and heavy: Dutch oven works great!)
  • Grate half an apple on top of the cabbage.
  • Spick the other half apple with cloves and add to pot.
Shredded red cabbage and apple, and a half of an apple with whole cloves in it, in a large pot.
  • Add remaining cabbage to pot. 
  • In a small bowl, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper and pour over cabbage. Add 2 Tablespoons butter and cover the pot with a lid.
A white dutch oven pot with shredded purple cabbage, grated apple and butter on top, ready to cook.
  • Bring to boil, then simmer for 1 ½ hours.
  • Remove clove-spicked apple and discard.
Cooked German red cabbage, in a pot, with cooked apple.
  • Stir and serve!

Make Ahead Instructions:

To Make Ahead: You can make German Red Cabbage up to a week ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator. It keeps and warms up really well.

Have you tried these recipes?

Check back soon for more German offerings. In the meanwhile, check out these other European categories: French, Greek and Mediterranean, Italian.

Recipe

Cooked Rotkohl German red cabbage, served in a bowl.
Prep 10 mins
Cook 2 hrs
Total 2 hrs 10 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Video

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 large head Red cabbage , about 5-6 cups
  • 1 apple , cut in half
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4-5 whole cloves or ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons butter

Instructions
 

  • Cut the cabbage, shredding into thin, 1/8"-1/4” thick slices. Put half the shredded cabbage into a medium sized heavy pot.
  • Grate one-half of the apple on top of the cabbage in the pot. Poke the whole cloves into the other half of the apple and add to the pot.
    Shredded red cabbage and apple, and a half of an apple with whole cloves in it, in a large pot.
  • Add the remaining shredded cabbage on top. In a small bowl add vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Pour over cabbage.
  • Add 2 Tablespoons butter and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook 1 ½ – 2 hours.
    A white dutch oven pot with shredded purple cabbage, grated apple and butter on top, ready to cook.
  • Remove apple with cloves and discard. Stir mixture and serve.
    Cooked German red cabbage, in a pot, with cooked apple.

Notes

Make Ahead Instructions: You can make German Red Cabbage up to a week ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator. It keeps and warms up really well.
Serve with: Rouladen and Spaetzle
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 117kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 838mgPotassium: 288mgFiber: 3gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 1188IUVitamin C: 55mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 1mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. 5 stars
    Loved it! It was the perfect side dish – easy to make, I could prep-ahead, and it serves a lot. Thanks!