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Rotkohl in a white bowl.
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4.96 from 21 votes

German Red Cabbage (Rotkohl)

German Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) is a popular German side dish that is very easy to make from scratch! It tastes so aromatic with a distinctive sweet and sour flavor and makes a perfect side for a roast dinner together with spaetzle or potato dumplings. This recipe for braised red cabbage with apples is a family favorite!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: German
Servings: 6
Calories: 156kcal


  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter or lard
  • 2 medium apples peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 2 pounds red cabbage one medium head, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 Tbsp lingonberry jam optional
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 juniper berries if you can find them
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper


  • In a large Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed pot melt butter over medium-high heat and saute diced apples and onions for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the red cabbage and vinegar, stir until combined. Then add the apple cider, cloves, bay leaf, and juniper berries. Season with sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Reduce temperature to medium, cover the pot, and let simmer for 50-60 minutes until the cabbage is soft but not mushy. Stir occasionally. Add a little bit more apple cider if needed.
  • Adjust seasoning and serve hot.


  • Slice the cabbage very thinly. A mandoline works best! If you cut the cabbage not as thinly as in the photos it will take longer to cook.
  • Make sure to use a large enough Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot.
  • This recipe works with every kind of semi-tart apple! German recipes often don't specify which apple variety works best in a recipe so I always use what I have on hand. Granny Smith apples are not traditionally used but work well.
  • Some traditional recipes use jelly or jam as a sweetener besides sugar. So feel free to add 1-2 Tbsp red currant jam, lingonberry jam, or cranberry sauce to the cabbage while it's cooking.
  • For an authentic flavor use the spices listed in the ingredients. These are traditional German spices that give the Blaukraut its distinctive aromatic flavor.
  • Don't add garlic! Garlic is not used in traditional German recipes.
  • You can cook the red cabbage one day in advance and reheat it before serving. It tastes even better the next day because the flavors have time to blend together!
  • Red Cabbage tastes great with roasts, roast goose or duck, and turkey. Serve it together with dumplings or German Spätzle.


Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 272mg | Potassium: 498mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 1840IU | Vitamin C: 91mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 1.4mg