Oma’s German Red Cabbage Recipe- Skip the Jar, Make it Yourself!
My daughter just came out of her room and says “the house smells like Christmas, how long have I been studying?” It’s true, even though red cabbage doesn’t take much time to make, and fits with a lot of different meats… in our house, I usually make it for the holidays. My German red cabbage recipe is actually my mother’s red cabbage recipe. Only, this year I realized it was time to measure things and write them down (well, mostly… how much wine goes into the red cabbage versus how much goes in to the chef is entirely your choice). Then of course, I forgot to take photos (Christmas time is crazy enough without me trying to photograph every meal…). So today, a random Wednesday, we are having red cabbage with dinner! And the house smells like Christmas.
Rotkohl or Blaukraut
Just like Potato Salad, there are approximately 954,507 ways to make German Red Cabbage. Some people make it with bacon, or added pork fats, and I’ve seen recipes that add cornstarch to thicken it. Some are cooked long, some short. Red Cabbage even comes with different names depending on where you are in Germany. At Christmas in OUR house it was Rotkohl (red cabbage), on alternate Christmas’s in my Bavarian god-mother’s house, it was Blau Kraut (blue cabbage).
This recipe that I grew up with isn’t cooked down as far, and since there is no meat, it works as a nice vegetarian side dish (leave out the butter, and it’s vegan). Sweetness comes from sugar, tartness from Apples and Apple Cider vinegar. And red wine mellows the flavor (and the cook).
Note- The Red Wine is optional, so I leave it to you. Just know that the alcohol from the Red Wine will burn off, so you don’t have to worry about serving to kids.
Make Red Cabbage Ahead of Time!
You can shred the cabbage in NO TIME AT ALL if you use a Food Processor. Even with the bigger one, you might have to empty the bowl twice. I use the Cuisinart… because it has easy to clean off press-buttons, and the parts go into the dishwasher.
Once the cabbage is cooking, you don’t have to stand over it. Just let it cook and break down the onions and apples (I swear, they VANISH… which is nice, because the kids can’t possibly pick the onions out. Instead, they fuss about the cloves). Stir occasionally. Taste towards the end and add any extra vinegar or sugar that might be missing. Letting it sit for a while in the pot after it’s done cooking will let the flavors mellow. To me it’s better the next day (maybe that’s because my mother always cooked the red cabbage the day before Christmas to free a spot on the stove ON Christmas).
It also freezes very well. Just put it in containers… LABEL IT (no, you won’t remember what’s in the package)… and when you are ready to eat thaw and heat.
This red cabbage recipe makes around 7 cups of cooked cabbage.
German Red Cabbage Recipe
Serve with Roasts, Rouladen, Christmas Goose, or Duck.
Looking for MORE German Recipes?
My Easy German Cookbook is loaded with 80 traditional German recipes you remember from Oma made simple for the American kitchen.
Cooking German Red Cabbage
Honestly, it’s not difficult, just put all the ingredients into the pot… and let it cook
After 30 minutes, it will look like this
Cook, and adjust for flavor… you want it to be sweet and tangy.
Cook longer if you like it softer.