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Authentic German Red Cabbage – Rotkohl

red cabbage

A typical German main dish has the components: Meat, potatoes (carbs), and a vegetable side. Red Cabbage is a frequent side for a Sunday roast but if you think of it as a sour, crunchy thing from a store-bought jar, then you’ve never had authentic German red cabbage, made from scratch!

red cabbage recipe

There are mostly two versions of RED CABBAGE that we cook in Germany … with countless personal variations of course! On version is more on the hearty side with more spices and with onions, while the other version is more on the sweet and fruity side with wine and sugar.

Here in this blog post, I will provide both versions so you can decide which one suits your dish or taste better.

My family and I like both versions but really love the sweeter version. I’ll definitely teach my kids how to cook it since they love it so much.

Version 1

Version 2

When to eat Red Cabbage

The best pairing is with a roast like sour beef or poultry like a goose or duck. I am sure it will go very well with a turkey, too, thinking of Thanksgiving! You can have it with potatoes but it tastes best if you have dumplings or even croquettes with it!
Since it takes some time to cook, it is a good idea to cook a large batch of it on a rainy weekend. Then you just freeze it and let it appear magically on a lucky day with a delicious (feast) meal.

My TiP: When freezing red cabbage I put it in Ziploc bags and make them really flat, so it can thaw in almost no time.


braised red cabbage sweet sour
red cabbage

Authentic German Red Cabbage Version 1, hearty

This is the version with onions and more spices
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Side Dish, Sides
Servings 6 portions


  • 1 kg Red Cabbage
  • 2 Apples tart
  • 1 Onion large
  • 5 tbsp Oil i.e. Avocado Oil, or some lard
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Cloves
  • 3 Juniper Berries
  • 5 Allspice Berries
  • some Sugar
  • some Salt
  • some Pepper
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 tbsp Black Currant Jelly or jam
  • 125 ml Water


  • Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut the cabbage into quarters, then remove the stem and chop the cabbage thinly.
    1 kg Red Cabbage
  • Peel and dice the apples and the onion.
    2 Apples, 1 Onion
  • In a large pot, heat the oil, then first braise the onions for a few minutes, then add the cabbage and apples.
    1 kg Red Cabbage, 1 Onion, 5 tbsp Oil, 2 Apples
  • Stir and add all remaining ingredients but be shy with the sugar.
    1 Bay Leaf, 3 Cloves, 3 Juniper Berries, 5 Allspice Berries, some Salt, some Pepper, 2 Cinnamon Sticks, 2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar, 3 tbsp Black Currant Jelly, 125 ml Water, some Sugar
  • Let cook on low heat for 45 minutes, while checking in between if there is still enough liquid on the bottom to avoid burning.
  • After the cooking time, add salt, sugar, and pepper as needed to get the desired taste.
  • Remove the berries, leaf, and cinnamon sticks, then serve or freeze for a later meal.
Keyword Christmas, glutenfree, Oktoberfest, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
German red cabbage Rotkohl
German braised red cabbage Rotkohl

Authentic German Red Cabbage – Rotkohl

This side dish has a slightly sweet taste.
4.60 from 5 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Sides
Cuisine German
Servings 4 sides


  • 1 Red Cabbage, fresh
  • 1 large Apple (sour and juicy)
  • 2 Tbsp. lard or cooking oil
  • 250 ml Red Wine (i.e. Intermingle from Aldi)
  • 3-5 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Black Currant Jam
  • some Apple Sauce optional
  • some Salt, black Pepper
  • some Sugar brown or white
  • 1 Tbsp. Corn Starch (if needed)


  • Start with removing the stem from the cabbage and cut it in quarters. Remove all the hard parts from the cabbage.
    1 Red Cabbage, fresh
  • Now, cut each quarter Cabbage into thin slices.
  • Prepare the Apple: Peel it, cut it into small cubes.
    1 large Apple
  • Heat a pot and add the lard.
    2 Tbsp. lard
  • Add the Red Cabbage and fry it 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Now add the Wine and stir well.
    250 ml Red Wine
  • Add about 3 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar, 2 Tbsp. Sugar and 1 tsp. Salt – stir.
    3-5 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar, some Sugar, some Salt, black Pepper
  • Next, add the Bay Leaf and the Cinnamon stick, stir.
    1 stick Cinnamon
  • Cover with lid and let cook for 30 minutes. Take a peek occationally to check the fluid and stir.
  • After 30 minutes, open the lid and add the Apple.
    1 large Apple
  • Add the Black Currant jam, bay leaf, apple sauce (optional), and stir.
    1 Bay Leaf, 3-4 Tbsp. Black Currant Jam, some Apple Sauce
  • Cover with lid again and cook for another 30 minutes – check liquid and stir every now and then.
  • Now open the lid, if there is a lot of liquid, you can mix the Corn Starch with some cold water and add it to the cabbage, for thickening.
    1 Tbsp. Corn Starch
  • Check the taste, add sugar, salt and black pepper if needed.
    some Salt, black Pepper, some Sugar
  • Enjoy – Guten Appetit!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About The Author

8 thoughts on “Authentic German Red Cabbage – Rotkohl”

  1. Derek Blacklock

    Liebe Barbara,
    I made your sweet red cabbage a few days ago and my wife and I enjoyed it so much I made some more today ready to pop in the freezer. I am going to try next your creamy leak soup and after that your sauerkraut recipe which, I am sure, will be on our menu a lot.
    I am so glad that I have found your site and look forward to receiving your newsletter.
    Thank you,

  2. I’ve been making red cabbage for years, my mother’s recipe. Although good, I always felt it was missing “something “. I tried more sugar, more salt, more apple, more or less white vinegar, but nothing I tried was that missing “so I”……until now. I followed your recipe and modified it slightly with some of my mother’s ingredients (bacon, onion and raisins….your family’s favorite! ?)….and wow, this was the best red cabbage ever! Thanks for sharing this recipe….delicious!

    1. Just wondering what alternative jam i could use as I’m not finding it easy to get Bkack currant jam in Western Canada


      1. Try to use a can of cranberry instead and add a little brown sugar to it. That’s what I am sometimes doing.

  3. I am in London UK. Many years ago I met a German woman who taught me to prepare the red cabbage with onions and juniper berries. Your addition of the jam is interesting.
    Will try your recipe and compare.

    1. Yes, that would be “the other” red cabbage recipe we do in Germany. It is more savory than the one I posted here but this one is my favorite since I have a sweet tooth ;-)

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5 from 7 votes (7 ratings without comment)
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