red cabbage
Side Dishes

How To Make German Red Cabbage For The Holidays


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Red cabbage was a staple at holiday meals when I was a girl. My parents immigrated to the United States from Denmark and Iceland in 1950. They brought their traditions with them, and red cabbage was an important one.

red cabbage

Red cabbage isn’t just a German dish. Whether the main course is duck, goose, or a succulent pork roast, this sweet and sour combination is loved all over Scandinavia and northern Europe.

Serve Red Cabbage When you Want A Colorful And Surprising Side Dish

Let’s face it. A plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing may be delicious, but it can look pretty boring. The pop of color red cabbage adds to the plate is pretty spectacular.

This dish is a little sweet and a little tangy. The flavors pair exceptionally well with a typical holiday menu. And, it’s good for you! This dish is extremely nutritious, high in fiber, and low in calories. Winner, winner, turkey dinner!

It’s So Easy To Make In One Pot

Chop a medium onion and saute it in a heavy pot. Use bacon drippings if you have some because it adds so much great flavor. If you don’t, use real butter. When the onions are soft, transparent, and fragrant, add a whole unpeeled apple you have cored and chopped.

apples and onions

Let that mixture get nice and soft, then add a small head of red cabbage you have shredded. Put 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, and a teaspoon or so of coarse salt in the cabbage-apple-onion mixture. Turn heat down to medium-low and let the cabbage braise slowly.

add red cabbage

Stir it occasionally. It will form more juice as it cooks down. The cabbage will be tender but not mushy after about an hour or an hour and a half. Now, you can refrigerate it and simply warm up it up when needed.

This is a dish that tastes even better reheated so it’s a good one to make a day or two ahead of the feast. You may want to add a little more sugar, vinegar or salt until it tastes just right to you.

This is exceptionally good with sausage or pork roast, too! My dad loved adding some cold red cabbage to his turkey or pork sandwich when it was time to enjoy the leftovers!!

And speaking of leftovers, it’s great with our favorite Thanksgiving dressing too!

cabbage and stuffing

Holiday Traditions And A Heart Full Of Memories

Our daddy has been gone for many years, but every time I make this dish, I think about him and growing up with all the old country traditions.

Our mom is in assisted living and this year, she won’t be able to spend Thanksgiving with us because of the pandemic. Today, I filled a little casserole dish for her. I put our favorite dressing on one side and red cabbage on the other.

I warmed it up, snapped the lid on it, and slipped it into an insulated bag along with a fork. It’s only a five minute trip to the facility where she lives. I zipped over there where a kind staff member hustled her little care package to her apartment.

As soon as I got home, I called her to see how she liked it. She was still eating it when I called and said it was wonderful. “It’s just not a holiday without red cabbage.” That what I thought, momma, that’s what I thought.

Yield: 10 servings

German Red Cabbage Recipe

red cabbage

Traditional German-style sweet and sour red cabbage. Great with turkey, goose, duck, or pork roast. Easy to make ahead.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes


  • 3 Tbsp bacon drippings or butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tart apple, unpeeled, cored, and chopped.
  • 1 small head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt


  1. Saute onion in bacon drippings or butter until soft, transparent, and fragrant.
  2. Add chopped apple and continue to saute until apple is soft.
  3. Add shredded cabbage, vinegar, sugar, and salt to the pot.
  4. Turn heat to low and braise slowly, stirring occasionally for 60 to 90 minutes.
  5. Can be made two or three days ahead and refrigerated. Tastes better reheated.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 108Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 297mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 2gSugar: 13gProtein: 2g

I would just love to hear about your family traditions and holiday dishes! What is the one dish that brings back warm memories of holiday dinners when you were growing up?

If you enjoyed this recipe today, please share it on your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I’d sure be tickled and ever so grateful, thank you! 

Love, GB (Betty Streff)

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