German Cabbage

8 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes

German Cabbage is an easy traditional side dish that’s sweet and slightly sour made with red cabbage, butter, apples, vinegar, sugar, and ground cloves. 

This is an easy and delicious Side Dish that adds a lot of unique flavor to any dinner. It has classic German flavors just like our recipe for German Potato Salad, and is great to make with roasts and other comforting dinner dishes. 

German Cabbage on plate with Sauerbraten


German Cabbage, or Rotkohl, is a traditional German dish that you can find in pretty much any German restaurant. It takes simple red cabbages and transforms it into a tender, buttery, and slightly sweet dish. Although cabbage is somewhat bitter, it easily takes on the flavors of the ingredients it’s cooked with. Because of this, German Cabbage comes out with a mixture of sweet and sour taste from the green apples, vinegar, butter, and sugar it’s cooked with. 

On top of absolutely bursting with taste, German Cabbage is also full of nutrients. It’s low in fat, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins. Cabbage also helps prevent heart disease and reduces inflammation. Cooking this incredibly healthy veggie slowly with other delicious ingredients makes it a great way to sneak some health food into your meals. 

German Cabbage in pot


German Cabbage is such a simple side dish to serve with any dinner recipe. Although it takes quite a while for the cabbage to cook and become tender, most of that time you don’t even have to be in the kitchen.

As long as you’re coming back to stir it occasionally, the cabbage will come out great with minimal effort. Just toss the simple ingredients together, bring to a boil, then cover and cook. That’s all it takes to make Sweet and Sour Cabbage that will bring a lot of dynamic to any dinner.

Traditionally German Cabbage is served with beef roasts like a traditional German Sauerbraten or Slow Cooker Roast Beef. However, you could serve it with any number of your favorite dinner dishes like Smothered Pork Chops, Roasted Turkey Breast, or Baked Rosemary Chicken. Essentially any savory meat dish will pair beautifully with German Cabbage.



  • Discard any outer layer from the red cabbage that seems tough or isn’t fresh. 
  • Use a chef’s knife to cut the root from the end of the cabbage.
  • Cut the cabbage in half, going through the stem so you can see the layers in circles. 
  • Then cut it into quarters.
  • If any of the root remains in the cabbage slice it out. 
  • Thinly slice the cabbage into small easy to eat pieces. 

German Cabbage ingredients in pot


  • Onion: Try chopping up 2 yellow onions into thin pieces and adding them to the pot and stir them in with the cabbage. 
  • Lemon: For a little extra refreshing and sour flavor try adding in a few dashes of lemon juice into the cooking liquid. 
  • Cabbage: You can make a tender, and flavorful side dish with green cabbage instead of red cabbage, and keeping the rest of the ingredients the same. 
  • Dairy-free: If you’re on a vegan diet or just prefer not to use dairy products you can find vegan butters at most grocery stores and use that in place of the regular butter. 
  • Sweetener: You can replace the sugar in the recipe with brown sugar or honey. 
  • Seasonings: For some extra flavoring try mixing in paprika, garlic, basil, cilantro, basil, or oregano with the German Cabbage mixture. 



  • Serve: In order to keep leftover cabbage, you shouldn’t leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours. 
  • Store: You can keep the cabbage in the fridge for up to 5 days. Once the cabbage mixture has cooled, seal it in a ziplock bag or other airtight container. You can reheat it in the microwave before eating it. 
  • Freeze: Unfortunately, German Cabbage doesn’t freeze well. If you haven’t eaten it in the 5 days it’s better to throw it out and make a new dish. 

German Cabbage in white bowl

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German Cabbage

German Cabbage is an easy traditional side dish that's sweet and slightly sour made with red cabbage, butter, apples, vinegar, sugar, and ground cloves. 
Yield 8 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine German
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 head red cabbage , thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
  • 1 granny smith apple , cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  • Add the butter, red cabbage, apple, apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper, and cloves to a large pot on medium-high heat.
  • Stir well, bring liquid in the pot to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.
  • Cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally until cabbage is soft and tender.


Calories: 89kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 321mg | Potassium: 285mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1270IU | Vitamin C: 61mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 1mg

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. Works equally well if cider vinegar is replaced with balsamic. It also works if cooked in an instant pot or pressure cooker for 15 minutes with quick release.

  2. First time I’ve seen this referred to as “German Cabbage”. We, a German-American family, always just call it Red Cabbage. Red is the ‘Rot’ in Rotkohl. (Do people call a challah “Jewish bread”? Do we say “Mexican burritos”? No… Just burritos. Etc.) Simple. Tasty. Red cabbage is usually braised, or otherwise in a salad or slaw. Most other uses of this veggie are rare.
    Always the side dish of choice for our cookie-less, marinated-for-a-week Sourbraten, along with potato dumplings. This is pretty much the only way I’ll eat cabbage.
    Darn… Now I have to make all this…

  3. What a delicious new side dish! I was thinking it was going to be tarter but the recipe turned out to have the perfect blend of sweet and sour. Thank you!

  4. I always put apple in my cole slaw – it tastes so good; it makes sense that it would taste delicious in this cooked cabbage side dish as well! Delicious! Perfect side to German sausages and fried chicken! I’ll have to make this again with a side dish of mashed potatoes – I’m sure they’ll be perfect together!

  5. The German do not use sugar on the rothkohl, they use red currant jelly.
    Sugar made it to sweet some people do not like ?

    1. I used a Granny Smith apple for this recipe and this can easily be made in a slow cooker. I’d suggest on low for 4-5 hours. Enjoy!

  6. Hi Sabrina,
    Hope you’re feeling better, I always loved Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage but I never made it and I asked around for a recipe, so You Know I’m going to try yours as soon as I can get to a store, When, I don’t know because of this virus! I have an Auto Immunity and I stay away from all people, if possible and I never let anybody in my house.
    I was looking through all your recipes to see what you have, you have absolutely everything and when I start cooking again I’m going to try some of them. I’ve been getting deliveries from Schwan’s and I also order from Omaha their Single Dinners that I can just heat it and eat it.
    Usually the winter I’m shut in because of the snow so now I’ve been in since Oct 2019 to present and now it looks like I’m going to be shut in again as soon as it snows.
    I’m going to try this dish as soon as I’m able and I’ll write to you about it.
    I’m looking for a new place down in Florida, my niece will look at them for me and then I’ll go by what she tells me about them. She’s my eyes for me, now that I’m shut up here in NY.
    So you be careful outside!!