Rotkohl, Sweet and Sour
Red Cabbage

Rotkohl (Red cabbage) has a stronger radish flavor compared to green cabbage. A favored side dish in Germany is Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage. My husband first tasted this dish on a visit to Switzerland.

At first he thought it was beets, not a vegetable he likes. Not wanting to offend the host he took a bite. Surprised by the sweet and sour taste of this dish he was happy to find it was cabbage and not beets.

We now eat this side dish regularly and have introduced it to our extended family. Rotkohl is included in our Thanksgiving celebration. It goes well with turkey as well as bratwursts.

The cabbage for this recipe needs to be shredded; this can be done by hand or with a food processor. The thickness can be controlled if done by hand and only takes a few minutes. Shredding can be done ahead of time and kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Cut cabbage in half and then in quarters. Slice the core out from each quarter piece. Lay cabbage quarter on a cutting board and slice into thin pieces.

I found this recipe in Cooks Illustrated; they do a great job of testing their recipes so here it is.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

    1 head of red cabbage about 2 pounds
    4 slices of bacon chopped
    ½ onion chopped (optional)
    ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
    ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
    1 ½ cups of apple cider
    ½ teaspoon dried thyme
    3 bay leaves
    3 tablespoons brown sugar
    3 tablespoons cider vinegar
    Salt and pepper

1. In a large Dutch oven or cast iron pan, fry bacon until soft about 2 minutes. Add onion, cinnamon, caraway seeds and allspice. Cook until onion is lightly browned about 10 minutes.

2. Add red cabbage, cider, bay leaf, thyme, 1 tablespoon of sugar and about ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook until red cabbage is wilted and tender 30 to 40 minutes.

3. Remove the bay leaf and add cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Salt and pepper to taste.


This dish increases in flavor if made the day ahead. You can keep this in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. Reheat in a fry pan or the microwave. If you don’t want to make Rotkohl from scratch, try this quick recipe using bottle red cabbage. I usually find bottled red cabbage in the vegetable isle of the grocery store.


Quick and Easy Rotkohl

    1 to 2 bottles of Red Cabbage
    1-2 slices of bacon chopped
    1 cooking apple, peeled and sliced
    Salt and pepper to taste


1. Using a medium size cast iron skillet, fry bacon until crisp tender. Remove bacon and sit aside

2. Add the bottle or bottles of red cabbage including liquid and chopped apples

3. Simmer on med heat until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 to 30 minutes


This is a great side dish and a little goes along way. We serve this with sausages or poultry. The red color really brightens up your plate.


› Rotkohl