German Red Cabbage Recipes

red cabbage

German red cabbage recipes ("Rotkohl") are among those best vegetable recipes that Germans love!

They go so well with dishes like rouladen (or flatladen in my family) and meat loaf. 

It's THE traditional German side dish that fits so well to almost anything.


It really is so delicious. Our children always ask for more when I make it. As well, the leftovers are great.

My solution to this. I always choose the largest red cabbage I can find. 

Then, I'll double or triple the recipe.

Near the bottom of this page, you'll find hints on how to cut cabbage.

This is important if you want to keep from getting your fingers RED!

Below you'll find two recipes.

First, mine, which I also use when I'm entertaining vegans. Second is Roswitha's which is just that interestingly different. Below the recipes you'll find hints on how to cut cabbage

Check out both red cabbage recipes:

1.  Gerhild's German Red Cabbage


  • 1 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 2-3 tbsp butter, oil, or lard (Oil, if making this vegan)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • salt, pepper, sugar
  • ground cloves, vinegar, cornstarch
  • In large pot, heat butter, oil, lard or combination. Lightly saute onion.
  • Add red cabbage. Continue to saute for several minutes, stirring . When some of the cabbage has browned, add about 1 cup of water.
  • Add about 1 tsp salt, some freshly ground pepper, about 1/4 tsp cloves, and 2 tsp sugar. Stir.
  • Bring to simmer, cover. Simmer for about 1 hour or until cabbage is tender. Add water as necessary and stir occasionally during simmering.
  • Add about 2 tbsp vinegar. Taste and season with more salt, cloves, pepper, sugar, and vinegar as needed.
  • Mix about 2 tbsp cornstarch with cold water and slowly stir in just enough to thicken red cabbage liquid. Serve.
  • The traditional "red cabbage" is cooked till almost the "mush" stage. If you prefer, you can slice the cabbage instead of shredding and cook it only about 1/2 hour instead if you prefer a more "textured" cabbage dish. Delicious as well.
  • For an extra quick red cabbage recipe, use canned or jarred red cabbage and season with extra ground cloves and vinegar as needed. Thicken with corn starch as above.
  • If you only have whole cloves, you can cut your onion in half and stud the cut side with 4 - 6 whole cloves. Omit the sauteing part for the onion. Remove the onion (with the cloves) before serving.
  • This goes really well with almost any German meat recipe, especially traditional with rouladen or schnitzel.

2.  Roswitha's Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage


  • 2 lb. red cabbage
  • salt
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp allspice
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup butter


  • Set out a heavy 3 quart saucepan.
  • Remove and discard wilted outer leaves of red cabbage. Rinse, cut into quarters, and coarsely shred. Should have about 2 quarts (8 cups).
  • Put shredded cabbage into saucepan and add boiling salted water to cover. (1 tsp salt per quart of water.) Add brown sugar, allspice and cloves.
  • Cover loosely and boil at medium heat for about 8 - 12 minutes or until cabbage is just tender.
  • Remove from heat and drain. 
  • Add cider vinegar and butter to cabbage and toss together lightly to mix well.
  • Makes 6 servings.

Roswitha sent in the above recipe. She says that she used to make this a lot when her boys were little for special occasions with her in-laws. I love how there are so many different red cabbage recipes that all taste so wonderful!

Make this Vegan:

Since we've got newly converted vegans in our family, I'm working hard at trying to make German foods that we can all love and enjoy together. Red cabbage is a family favorite. And now, it still is by making just a small adjustment.

If you're interested in seeing what all the fuss is about with vegan foods, click here to visit Alison Andrew's page. She's a friend of mine and knows all about it.
raw kickstart

Make  sure you add the vinegar at the end of the cooking time.

At first, when you look at the cooked red cabbage, it'll look really 'mucky' in color. Add the vinegar and POOF! Beautiful!

How to cut cabbage ...

The first thing to realize when cooking with any red cabbage recipes is that you'll end up with red fingers if you're not careful. Red cabbage can be used to dye yarn and Easter eggs! So, unless you want purplish-red fingers, wear some disposable gloves while shredding/cutting the cabbage.

I normally just cut the cabbage into quarters, and then with a good sharp knife, I slice it fairly thinly. I don't bother to use a "kitchen gadget" for this, because it goes quickly enough this way.

Be careful though, if you're working on a "plastic-type" cutting board. It, too, will stain red. On a wooden board, the red color normally washes off easily, but if you are concerned you may ruin a good butcher-block type board, just use a cheapie plastic one.

Want nutritional information for a recipe? Copy and paste the ingredient list and the number of servings into Calorie Count. It will give you an approximate calculation.

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