A quintessential and popular German side dish, this braised German Red Cabbage is the perfect accompaniment to your Sunday roast, beef rouladen, brats and more! This thoroughly authentic German Red Cabbage recipe (Rotkohl) is easy to prepare, can be made in advance, and can even be frozen.
What is German Red Cabbage?
Known as Rotkohl, Blaukohl or Blaukraut in Germany, depending on the region, this braised red cabbage is a staple side dish that is served throughout Germany. It has a distinct sweet and sour flavor profile achieved by braising the red cabbage with apples, vinegar, and spices. A traditional accompaniment for beef dishes in particular, I grew up in Germany enjoying Rotkohl on a regular basis served with our Sunday roasts, Sauerbraten, and Rouladen.
This sweet and sour red cabbage has been around for, well, seemingly forever. And that’s how it usually works, doesn’t it? Great dishes stand the test of time. And Rotkohl takes the humble red cabbage and transforms it into something wonderful. If you’ve traveled to Germany or have sampled traditional German food, you’re likely familiar with Rotkohl. And this authentic German red cabbage recipe will transport you back to your favorite German dinner tables with memories of your favorite German meals.
Is Red Cabbage Healthy?
You bet it is! Red cabbage is packed with a ton of health benefits. It’s low in fat and high in fiber (ie, a “smart carb”), it’s full of vitamin K which has been shown to help prevent nerve damage leading to Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as help with mental functioning (ie, brain food), it’s high in antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, as well as sulfur which improve the health of your skin (ie, natural beautifiers), it’s high in vitamin C which helps remove toxins in the body (ie, great for detox), it’s been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, helps regulate blood sugar, and because it’s high in potassium it can also help regulate blood pressure. In short, it’s quite the superfood! And among all red cabbage recipes, this German red cabbage is my favorite way to enjoy this healthy vegetable!
Butter, apples, vinegar, red currant jam, bay leaves, cloves and juniper berries are some of the ingredients that mingle together to create this delicious braised sweet and sour red cabbage. Just be sure to make time for the slow cooking process. It’s that long simmering process that’s key to the final outcome. The other key is to be sure to include all of the ingredients called for, including the spices, in order to achieve that authentic German Rotkohl flavor.
This traditional Rotkohl recipe is simple to prepare and can slowly cook with minimal attention while you’re preparing the other dishes or going about your daily business. It’s a great make-ahead dish because the flavor is even better the next day. Feel free to double or triple the batch because this sweet and sour cabbage also freezes well. Simply let it thaw and gently reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave.
German Red Cabbage Recipe
Let’s get started!
Finely chop the red cabbage. Achieving exact uniformity isn’t necessary so you can do this either by hand or with a mandolin or food processor.
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter and cook the onions until lightly caramelized, 7-10 minutes.
Add the red cabbage and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the diced apple along with the broth, bay leaf, whole cloves, juniper berries, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more broth if needed. Mix a tablespoon of flour with 2 tablespoons of water until dissolved and stir it into the cabbage. Add salt, sugar and vinegar to taste.
For more traditional German dishes be sure to try our:
- German Bread (Vollkornbrot)
- Swabian Potato Salad
German Red Cabbage (Rotkohl)
- 1 1/2 pounds red cabbage ,very thinly sliced
- 1 large yellow onion ,finely diced
- 1 large Granny Smith or other semi-tart apple ,peeled, cored and diced
- 1/4 cup butter (paleo: use grass fed or oil, vegans: use oil)
- 2 tablespoons red currant jam or jelly , this is traditional but can substitute cherry jam
- 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 whole cloves
- 3 juniper berries
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour (gluten free and paleo: omit)
- 2 tablespoons water
- Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook the onions until just beginning to brown, 7-10 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes. Add the apple, broth, bay leaf, cloves, juniper berries, red currant jam, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more broth if needed. Combine the flour and water until dissolved and stir into the Rotkohl. Simmer for another minute. Add more salt, sugar and vinegar to taste.
Originally published on The Daring Gourmet July 23, 2014