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This German-inspired Braised Red Cabbage is an easy side dish that pairs perfectly with almost any entree. The combination of apple cider vinegar, bacon and apples yields a sweet-and-sour red cabbage recipe that has been a favorite for generations.

Overhead image of wooden spoon in a braising dish with red cabbage in cider vinegar

Braised Red Cabbage

You just can’t beat a classic, and this Braised Red Cabbage is no exception. Why mess with a good thing? The easy red cabbage recipe is traditionally served alongside German dishes, and has been especially popular in the United States since the Great Depression. It comes together with just a few simple, affordable ingredients and only 15 minutes of prep!

The cabbage cooks down slowly over low heat in a combination of cider vinegar, sugar, bacon grease and water. While cabbage can be crunchy and tough when served raw, the braising method yields a sweet, tender vegetable that is hard to resist. Throw in some apples and onions for added flavor and texture, and the easy side dish will soon be devoured.

How to Cook Red Cabbage:

Purple cabbage can be served raw and thinly sliced or chopped in slaws or other cold salads. Sautéed red cabbage is another favorite, where the vegetable is quickly cooked in oil or bacon grease at a higher temperature.

Finally, the braising method is one of the best ways to cook red cabbage. Braising uses both wet and dry heats: typically, the food is first sautéed or seared at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature while sitting in some amount of liquid. In this classic Braised Red Cabbage recipe, you’ll sauté the sliced cabbage, apples and onion in bacon fat first. Once the cabbage starts to become tender, you will lower the heat, cover the pot, and braise the vegetables in a liquid combination of apple cider vinegar and water. The cider vinegar helps to maintain the cabbage’s bright purple color, adds a delicious sour note to the dish, and marinates the cabbage, apples and onions together.

Close overhead shot of braised red cabbage in a blue and white bowl with a striped dish towel nearby

How to Braise Red Cabbage with Cider Vinegar:

The only prep work necessary is chopping up some fruits and veggies. I told you this was easy! Let’s get started…

Ingredients:

  • Red cabbage
  • Onion
  • Granny Smith apples
  • Bacon grease (or sub with butter)
  • Cider vinegar
  • Water
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt and pepper
Ingredients for braised red cabbage

Step 1: Saute the Cabbage, Apple and Onion

First, sauté the cabbage, apple and onion in bacon grease until soft (about 15-20 minutes).

Sauteed red cabbage in a braising dish

Step 2: Braise

Next, turn the heat down to low, stir in the cider vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and braise for about 15-20 more minutes.

Lid on top of a braising dish

You’ll know it’s done when the cabbage is soft.

Side shot of braised red cabbage in a cast iron dish with fresh parsley on top

What to serve with Braised Red Cabbage:

This versatile side dish goes well with a variety of meals. Here are a few easy options:

Preparation and Storage Tips:

  • Serve this dish warm or at room temperature. It’s a great make-ahead option! You can even serve it cold, straight from the fridge — kind of a like a slaw.
  • To reheat the cabbage, place in a large skillet or Dutch oven over low heat and cook, stirring, just until warmed through.
  • The leftover cabbage will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • You can even freeze the leftover red cabbage! Stored in an airtight container, it will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. The dish will have more liquid when thawed, so strain off the excess juices and reheat as instructed above.
German braised red cabbage in a blue and white bowl on a wooden table

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations:

  • If you like your braised red cabbage even more tender, you can keep the dish covered and continue braising over low heat for up to 90 minutes. It’s purely a matter of preference, so keep an eye on it, taste it, and pull it off of the stove when it reaches your desired consistency.
  • Granny Smith apples work best here, thanks to their sweet-tart flavor and sturdy texture that holds up well in the cooking process. You can substitute with Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, or other similar firm apples, too.
  • I like the texture from the apple peel, so I leave them on. If you prefer, you can peel your apples before adding them to the dish.
  • If you don’t have bacon grease, you can substitute with butter. I just love the rich, smoky flavor that you get from the bacon, though.
Overhead shot of a wooden spoon stirring braised red cabbage in a skillet

More cabbage recipes that you might enjoy:

Overhead image of wooden spoon in a braising dish with red cabbage in cider vinegar

Braised Red Cabbage

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 142.8 kcal
This German Braised Red Cabbage is an easy side dish that pairs well with almost any entree!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, sliced (peel on)
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease (or sub with butter)
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Saute the cabbage, onion and apple in the bacon grease until soft, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients; cover and braise until very soft (about 15-20 more minutes). Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  • If you like your braised red cabbage even more tender, you can keep the dish covered and continue braising over low heat for up to 90 minutes. It’s purely a matter of preference, so keep an eye on it, taste it, and pull it off of the stove when it reaches your desired consistency.
  • Granny Smith apples work best here, thanks to their sweet-tart flavor and sturdy texture that holds up well in the cooking process. You can substitute with Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, or other similar firm apples, too.
  • I like the texture from the apple peel, so I leave them on. If you prefer, you can peel your apples before adding them to the dish.
  • If you don’t have bacon grease, you can substitute with butter. I just love the rich, smoky flavor that you get from the bacon fat, though.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 142.8kcalCarbohydrates: 27.7gProtein: 2.4gFat: 4.2gSaturated Fat: 2.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1.1gCholesterol: 10.3mgSodium: 466.4mgPotassium: 454.7mgFiber: 4.7gSugar: 18.8g
Keyword: braised red cabbage, german red cabbage, red cabbage recipe
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, European
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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