Braised red cabbage is an absolute classic side dish here in Germany. During the Christmas season, it just can’t miss. It’s served alongside roasts and potatoes and is an essential part of the Christmas vibe for many Germans and Brits. A mix of spices, vinegar, marmalade and apples give the dish its beautiful deep flavour. If you haven’t had it before, braised red cabbage is a delicious side I can recommend to try!
Ingredients for braised red cabbage with apples:
- Red Cabbage
- Red wine
- Red wine vinegar
- Vegan butter
- Plum marmalade
- Cane sugar
- Laurel leaves
- Juniper berries
- Cinnamon stick
- Salt & black pepper
How to Cut Red Cabbage:
To make our delicious red cabbage, we first want to prepare our ingredients. But before you start cutting the red cabbage, you may want to protect your hands. Red cabbage gives off a very aggressive colour, which sticks to the skin. It leaves your fingers and nails in a deep purplish-black colour. So, you may want to wear protective gloves for cutting the red cabbage. Otherwise, coating your fingers with a bit of olive oil can help, but you want to be extra careful when using your knife afterwards. You may want to wear an apron or black clothes for this recipe as well, just to avoid any mean stains.
Firstly, you want to remove the first 1-2 layers of leaves and discard them. Next, quarter the red cabbage. You will now see how far the stem goes into the head of the cabbage. Cut out the tough stem by slicing the cabbage at an angle.
Next, we want to cut the red cabbage into thin stripes. You can either use a knife or a mandoline for this. I used a mandoline to get extra thin strips, but it took much longer than using a knife. A knife will get you perfect braised red cabbage too, so it’s usually my method of choice.
Braised Red Cabbage Recipe:
With our red cabbage nicely sliced, we can prepare our other ingredients. Finely dice your onion, and cut the apples into chunks. It’s nice when they give some texture to the dish, and they will shrink in size while cooking.
Next, I like to get the spices sorted already as well. As spices such as cloves, laurel, and juniper berries shouldn’t stay in the dish when serving, I like to make a little spice bag to contain them. You can use cloth or tea bags, and some natural fibre string works well for this purpose. I added the cloves and juniper to the bag. I put the cinnamon and laurel in on their own, as they are easy to retrieve in the end. You can also use clove, juniper and cinnamon powder for convenience, but I like to use whole spices. If you use powders, you may want to use less than what I recommended in the “ingredients” section.
Now we can get cooking! Heat a deep stove pot or dutch oven, and add your plant-based butter. Allow the vegan butter to melt on medium heat. Here in Germany, we have a vegan fat called “Zwiebelschmalz”, which translates to onion lard. It is just a mixture of plant-based fats and fried onions, giving it a deeper flavour. As traditional German braised red cabbage is often made with lard, this makes a good replacement. It is by no means essential though, and other plant-based butter works just fine. Also, you want to bring some water to a boil, which we will need to add during the next step.
Once the fat is nicely melted, add your onions, and sauté until turning translucent. Add your apples, and sauté for a few more minutes.
Next, add your red cabbage, as well as the red wine vinegar, red wine, and hot water. Mix well to combine the red cabbage with the acidic liquids.
Add the spices, sugar, and season with some salt and pepper. Add the plum marmalade and combine everything. Cover the pot, and let the red cabbage gently simmer for half an hour.
Once that time has passed, check the consistency and seasoning. You might want to add more salt, plum marmalade for sweetness, and red wine vinegar for acidity. I like it on the sweeter and more acidic side, so I did just that.
Let everything simmer without lid until the red cabbage has turned nice and soft. Depending on the thickness of your slices, this might take another half an hour. Give the braised red cabbage a last check for seasoning, and enjoy it warm.
Pro Tips for making Braised Red Cabbage:
- Preparing the red cabbage a day in advance works amazingly. Letting the red cabbage rest after cooking improves the consistency and adds to the flavour. Therefore, it’s a fantastic dish to cook for big gatherings as well, as you can prepare it well in advance!
- I can just repeat my recommendation of using gloves and wearing an apron and black clothes. There is nothing like cooking this dish for a big family dinner and ending up with fingers and nails that look like you dug out the cabbage from the garden minutes before the guest arrived.
- Have it as a side dish to some high-quality potatoes and a vegan roast! I will share some recipes for that in the future!
More Recipe Inspirations?
- Quite amazing how different the same ingredient can taste: Crunchy pickled red cabbage is an absolute game-changer for dishes such as these vegan fusion tacos!
- Let’s stick with the winter spirit: Vegan Schmalzgebäck is a German must-have during the Christmas season! It’s one of my favourite snacks.
- These German-baked apples are a quick, healthy and satisfying dessert.
- Vegan Shepherd’s pie is comfort food at its finest!
- Maple-glazed carrots make such a delicious side dish as well!
Braised Red CabbageCourse: SidesCuisine: GermanDifficulty: Medium
1 head red cabbage (approx. 1.5kg)
3 tbsp plum marmelade
1 tbsp cane sugar
100ml red wine
70ml red wine vinegar
3 laurel leaves
4 juniper berries
1 cinnamon stick
60g vegan butter
2 sour apples (for example braeburn or booskop)
250ml hot water
2 tsp of cracked black pepper
Salt to season
- Remove the first 1-2 layers of leaves from the cabbage and discard them. Next, quarter the red cabbage. Cut out the tough stem by slicing the cabbage at an angle.
- Finely dice your onion, and cut the apples into chunks.
- Add your cloves and juniper leaves to a cloth or tea bag to make it easier to retrieve them after cooking. If you are using spice powders instead of whole spices, skip this step. You may want to use less of the spices than outlined in the “ingredients” section in this case.
- Heat a deep stove pot or dutch oven, and add your plant-based butter. Allow the vegan butter to melt on medium heat. Once the fat is melted, add your onions, and saué until turning translucent. Add your apples, and sauté for a few more minutes.
- Add your red cabbage, as well as the red wine vinegar, red wine, and hot water. Mix well to combine the red cabbage with the acidic liquids.
- Add the spices, sugar, and season with some salt and pepper. Add the plum marmalade and combine everything. Cover the pot, and let the red cabbage gently simmer for half an hour.
- Check the consistency and seasoning. You might want to add more salt, plum marmalade for sweetness, and red wine vinegar for acidity.
- Let the cabbage simmer without a lid until the cabbage is soft. Depending on the thickness of your slices, this might take another half an hour. Give the braised red cabbage a last check for seasoning, and enjoy it warm.