Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl * (2024)

  1. Home
  2. Vegetable Recipes
  3. Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe

Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl * (1)

by: Gerhild Fulson / Cookbook Author, Blogger, German Oma!

This post may contain affiliate links, whichmeans I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extracost to you. Please readfull disclosurefor more information.

There’s nothing quite like delicious German red cabbage, aka Rotkohl, Blaukohl, or Blaukraut. It is the perfect side dish to just about any German meal.

This traditional German red cabbage recipe calls for apples, which gives it that wonderful sweet-and-sour flavor.

This dish will also add such a vibrant pop of color to your meal! Even people who say they aren’t a big cabbage fan find it’s almost like eating candy! They take second helpings, it's so good.

Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl * (4)

Plus, this recipe for red cabbage is an easy side dish to make and tastes even better the next day, so it’s a good idea to make it ahead of time if you can.

Red cabbage recipes are really a staple in German cuisine.

What is German red cabbage?

This traditional German side dish is shredded red cabbage (also known as purple cabbage) that is braised. That is to say, just like braised meats, the raw cabbage is lightly browned in a little fat, then liquid is added as the cabbage continues to cook until tender.

In Germany, this traditional recipe is known by different names, depending on the region. In Northern Germany, where I’m from, red cabbage is called Rotkohl. In Central and Western Germany it is called Rotkraut. And in Southern Germany it is called Blaukohl or Blaukraut, which translate to blue cabbage.

The difference between Rotkohl and Blaukohl lies in the method of preparation. One uses apples and vinegar to turn the purple cabbage red and the other uses baking soda and juniper berries which turns the cabbage blue.

Sweet and sour red cabbage is the usual way I love to make this side dish. In fact, it's the only way that I recall my Mutti ever serving red cabbage. It's German food at its best! :)

However, there are other ways that some Germans make this. Some will insist on cooking the cabbage until it turns to total mush. Others, like to keep a bit of a bite and will not cook it as long.

Some will insist that juniper berries, bay leaves, whole cloves, cinnamon, and/or apple juice need to be added.

My suggestion? First, try it the way I've posted it below (which in my humble opinion is the best red cabbage recipe!) and then go ahead and experiment with the various other ingredients to find the right recipe that suits you best.


You'll need a nice big knife to cut through the cabbage, as well as some disposable gloves.

Why the gloves?

If you don't use gloves, your hands will be stained a lovely pink and purple color from cutting the red cabbage! A stain that is hard to remove.

Lemon juice will help to remove it. Oh, and do wear an apron.

Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl * (5)

This is a really easy recipe to make vegan. In fact, it's my favorite one to use when I'm serving it to a mixed gathering, with vegans and non-vegans. Both really enjoy this.

To make it a vegan recipe for red cabbage:

  • Make sure you use oil instead of the butter or lard

Yep, it's that easy to convert. If you have vegan butter, you can use that, but it's not necessary.

Lydia Remembers...

I have so many wunderbar memories in the kitchen with my Oma, and have had MANY of her most popular and traditional recipes, like this red cabbage.

This recipe for red cabbage has become one of my very, very favorites. Every family get-together we have where there is red cabbage sitting on the table, I can about imagine the priceless look on my face. Of course, I'll have more than a couple servings of it. How can I resist Oma's famous cabbage!

I tend to cheat a little bit and buy the red cabbage in a jar, instead of making it totally from scratch like Oma does for the family. Though sometimes, I know Oma likes to keep it simple and use thejarred red cabbage one, too!

When I make red cabbage, I love to serve it alongside Oma's recipe for slow cooker roast beef (tastes like rouladen), and gravy made from the meat juice.

Go to recipe >

When Oma makes her red cabbage from scratch...I'm telling you, it is SO lecker! Especially with the apple chunks in it. That really is the cherry on-top of the finished product.

Learn a little bit about me,Lydia, and my kitchen adventures with Oma!

Need that “all’s good with the world” feeling? Comfort food will do that. Get your copy of Oma's German favorites in herComfort Foods e-Cookbook.

Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl * (7)

Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!

Oma says,

Our kids repeatedly ask for this. Because this is such a family favorite, I always make a big batch of this Rotkohl recipe by getting the largest red cabbage I can find.

Also, you can use any kind of apple for this recipe.

From sweet apples, like a Fuji, to sweet and tart apples, like a Honey Crisp, to just plain tart apples like a green apple (aka Granny Smith); whatever you happen to have in your crisper will work.

What to serve with sweet and sour German red cabbage

Authentic German red cabbage goes particularly well with hearty meats such as:

  • beef recipes like Sauerbratenor German Goulash
  • pork recipes like breaded pork chopsand pork roast
  • poultry recipes like roast duck(served with potato dumplings, this a very traditional meal for the holidays!)

German red cabbage is also one of the TOP 10 traditional side dishes to serve with rouladen!

If you'd like to check out more popular German side dishes, click herefor a list of the top 24 best German side dishes.

Ready to make this recipe for red cabbage?

Is the recipe below locked?Here'swhy.

Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl * (9)

Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl

There’s nothing quite like this delicious recipe for red cabbage. German red cabbage is the perfect side dish to just about any German meal. The apples in this recipe give it that wonderful sweet-and-sour flavor.

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

60 minutes

Total Time

70 minutes


Makes 6 - 8 servings


  • 1 medium head red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons bacon fat, butter, or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 apples, peeled and cored, shredded or diced
  • ½ cup red wine (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons white or brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch


  1. In a large pot or large dutch oven, heat bacon fat over medium heat and lightly sauté the onion.
  2. Add shredded cabbage and apples. Continue to sauté for several minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup water, red wine (if using), cider vinegar, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper. Stir.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cover. Simmer for about 30 to 60 minutes or until the cabbage is tender, adding more water if needed.
  5. Add lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt, cloves, pepper, sugar, and vinegar as needed.
  6. Mix about 2 tablespoons cornstarch with cold water and slowly stir in just enough to thicken red cabbage liquid.


  • For an extra quick red cabbage recipe, use canned or jarred red cabbage. Add shredded or grated apples. Simmer until apples are cooked, about 10 minutes. Season and thicken with corn starch as above.
  • Want another version for red cabbage without the apples? Then check out my other German Red Cabbage recipe. There are easy instructions there how to cook cabbage as well as prepare it.
  • The traditional recipe for red cabbage calls for cooking the cabbage until it's almost mush. If you prefer, you can slice the cabbage instead of shredding and cook it only about ½ hour instead if you prefer a more textured cabbage dish. Delicious as well.
  • Feel free to experiment with a different mix of spices and herbs (as mentioned above), as well as other vinegars, such as: white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and white or red wine vinegar.
  • Leftovers taste even better the next day. Leftover red cabbage will last a few days in an airtight container in your fridge. Extras also freeze well.

* * * * *

Unless otherwise noted recipe, images and content © Just like Oma |

04.27.2022 revision update

You might like these

  • 4 Favorite Kale Recipes – Oma's liebste Grünkohlrezepte *

    These kale recipes are extra quick, from soups to casseroles to side dishes. Check out 100's of other quick German recipes here.

  • Best German Braised Cabbage Recipe – Oma’s Bavarian Weisskraut *

    Make the BEST Bavarian braised cabbage recipe that’s perfect for Oktoberfest or anytime you’re wanting a traditional German side dish. It’s Weisskraut, just like Oma makes it.

  • German Kohlrabi Casserole with Ham – Oma's Kohlrabi mit Schinken

    This kohlrabi recipe is a great way to use up leftover ham and create a delicious, traditional German meal.

Follow Oma on Social Media:

Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl * (13)

Leave a comment about this recipe or ask a question?

Pop right over to my private Facebook group, the Kaffeeklatschers. You'll find thousands of German foodies, all eager to help and to talk about all things German, especially these yummy foods.

Meet with us around Oma's table, pull up a chair, grab a coffee and a piece of Apfelstrudel, and enjoy the visit.

Newest Recipes

Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl * (14)

  1. The Best Jagerschnitzel Sauce: Oma's Mushroom Gravy for Jägerschnitzel

    Jagerschnitzel: Rich creamy bacon & mushroom gravy over crispy breaded pork schnitzel (cutlets). HEAVENLY! A traditional German meal that's PERFECT anytime.

    Go to Recipe

  2. How to Make German Schnitzel Recipe: Oma's Classic Schweineschnitzel

    Discover the ultimate German schnitzel recipe with Oma's quick and easy method - perfect for any occasion! Taste the authentic flavors of Germany today.

    Go to Recipe

  3. Oma's Favorite Finds offer a range of Oma’s favorite German-inspired must-have items that make cooking and entertaining more enjoyable, yummy, and efficient.

    Go to Recipe

* * * * *

PIN to SAVE this recipe to your Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest!

Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl * (21)

Words for the Wise

"The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips."

Proverbs 18:7 (NLT)

Top of Recipe for Red Cabbage

Authentic German Red Cabbage Recipe with Apples – Oma's Rotkohl * (2024)


What is the difference between Rotkohl and Blaukraut? ›

In Northern Germany, where I'm from, red cabbage is called Rotkohl. In Central and Western Germany it is called Rotkraut. And in Southern Germany it is called Blaukohl or Blaukraut, which translate to blue cabbage.

How long does Rotkohl last? ›

Store in pantry up to one year. Opened jars need to be refrigerated. Tips: If product is too tart for your taste, add a bit of sugar when heating to eat.

Should red cabbage be served hot or cold? ›

Simmer for 1 hour until cabbage is soft but not mushy. Serve warm or cold.

How do you cook red cabbage without losing color? ›

When cooked in an alkaline liquid like water, red cabbage turns blue. Adding vinegar, lemon juice, or another acid helps the cabbage to retain its red-purple color. Vinegar is also a bright flavor complement to the bold, earthy taste of the cabbage.

What's the difference between sauerkraut and Rotkraut? ›

Strictly speaking Rotkohl refers to the whole cabbage while Rotkraut refers to the prepared dish. Is there any difference between raw sauerkraut and sauerkraut where the cabbage has been cooked? Sauerkraut is always raw. Shredded cabbage+salt+natural fermentation=sauerkraut.

Why is red cabbage called red cabbage when it is purple? ›

Red cabbages are called "red" due to their outer leaves, which often have a reddish or purplish hue. While the inner leaves can be more purple, the name "red cabbage" is based on the color of the outer layers. The color can vary, but it's the common term used for this type of cabbage.

How can you tell if red cabbage has gone bad? ›

You may also notice a strange or off smell if red cabbage is spoiling. Red cabbage should feel firm and robust, but if it starts to feel slimy or overly soft, it's likely past its prime. In any of these cases, it's best to discard the cabbage. Always store red cabbage in the fridge.

Is red cabbage in a jar healthy? ›

Naturally fermented sauerkraut is really healthy. It's rich in probiotics (beneficial live bacteria) as a result of fermentation. Red cabbage also contains a good amount of vitamin C, fibre, and minerals like iron and copper.

How long is jarred red cabbage good for after expiration date? ›

Canned and jarred foods are good for 1+ years after the date.

What is the healthiest way to eat red cabbage? ›

You can add this versatile vegetable to soups, stews, salads, and coleslaw. It's delicious raw, steamed, sautéed, or fermented. It retains the most nutrients when it's eaten raw but is still highly nutritious when cooked. The flavor becomes a little milder when you cook it.

What pairs with red cabbage? ›

What goes well with red cabbage?
  • Meat: Red cabbage goes well with meats such as pork, bacon, ham, and sausage. ...
  • Apples: Red cabbage and apples are a classic pairing. ...
  • Onions: Red cabbage and onions are a great combination, the onion adds a nice sweetness and a little bit of sharpness to the cabbage.
Feb 1, 2023

What meat goes well with red cabbage? ›

Sweet and sour red cabbage is a perfect side dish for sausages, pork chops, schnitzel or German pork burgers. This braised cabbage also pairs well with roast chicken, duck, and roast beef.

What does baking soda do to red cabbage? ›

The cabbage juice is called an indicator because it can tell you the pH of a solution based on the color that it changes. The vinegar will turn the cabbage juice red because it is an acid (acetic acid). The baking soda will turn the cabbage juice greenish-yellow because it is a base (sodium bicarbonate).

Why do you soak red cabbage in water? ›

Crisp it up: Shredded cabbage stays perky if it's soaked in cold water. This also helps cut the pungent edge. Drain well before combining with other ingredients.

Can I just boil red cabbage? ›

Red cabbage can also be boiled. To preserve the crunch, cook in salted boiling water with a teaspoon of vinegar for 5 minutes unless a softer consistency is desired in which case cook for a little longer.

Is there a difference in taste between red and white cabbage? ›

So, while red cabbage may taste sweeter due to the presence of anthocyanins, white or green cabbage has a stronger bitter taste due to higher levels of glucosinolates. The taste difference between these types of cabbage can also be influenced by factors such as growing conditions, variety, and cooking methods.

What is the meaning of Blaukraut? ›

red cabbage. Synonym. Rotkohl. (Translation of Blaukraut from the GLOBAL German–English Dictionary © 2018 K Dictionaries Ltd)

What is the difference between Chinese cabbage and European cabbage? ›

The thick white ribs and crinkly yellow-green leaves of napa cabbage are tender crisp, and have a sweet flavor that's more mellow than that of its pungent European cabbage cousins. Napa cabbage can be eaten raw or cooked.

Is there a difference in taste between red and green cabbage? ›

Aside from the noticeable difference in color, red cabbage has an earthier taste and bulbs are smaller and denser. Green cabbage tends to turn sweeter when it cooks and a little bigger in size than the red. The leaves of the green are wide fan-like while of red are small fan-like. They both have crunchy texture.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Van Hayes

Last Updated:

Views: 6007

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Van Hayes

Birthday: 1994-06-07

Address: 2004 Kling Rapid, New Destiny, MT 64658-2367

Phone: +512425013758

Job: National Farming Director

Hobby: Reading, Polo, Genealogy, amateur radio, Scouting, Stand-up comedy, Cryptography

Introduction: My name is Van Hayes, I am a thankful, friendly, smiling, calm, powerful, fine, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.