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. 

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. 
Course Side Dish
Cuisine German
Keyword German Cabbage
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 89 kcal
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


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

Nutrition Facts
German Cabbage
Amount Per Serving
Calories 89 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 8mg3%
Sodium 321mg14%
Potassium 285mg8%
Carbohydrates 16g5%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 1270IU25%
Vitamin C 61mg74%
Calcium 49mg5%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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    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!

  1. 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!!