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side view shot of German red cabbage in a large serving bowl
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4.57 from 16 votes

German Red Cabbage

This German Red Cabbage aka Rotkohl recipe turns regular run-of-the-mill cabbage into a tender, falvorful, comforting dish with the perfect balance of tang, sweet, and salty. It's the perfect accompaniment for braised meats or roasts, but so good you'll want to eat it with a spoon straight out of the pot.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 20 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: European, German
Keyword: german red cabbage, Rotkohl
Servings: 8
Calories: 227kcal


  • 1 large red cabbage shredded, about 8-10 cups
  • 8 slices bacon diced
  • ½ cup brown sugar packed
  • 4 teaspoon all-purpose flour all purpose
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper or to taste
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 apples diced small, I used Gala


  • Add all the cabbage to a large stock pot or dutch oven with the salt, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 cup vinegar. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, fry the bacon. Reserve 2 tsp of the bacon fat and discard the rest. Drain any liquid off the cabbage after it's done simmering, if needed.
  • In the frying pan with your reserved bacon fat over medium heat, stir in the brown sugar and flour. Add the remaining cup of water and 1/2 cup vinegar. Stir in the salt, pepper, and onion, then simmer for 5 minutes, until the onion softens.
  • Pour the prepared sauce into the pot with the cabbage. Add the bacon and apples, then stir to combine. Bring everything up to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer.
  • Simmer for 3-5 hours, checking frequently and stirring. Keep a mixture of 3/4 cup water and 1/4 white vinegar on hand. Add a splash of this mixture if your cabbage starts to dry out.


  1. Store leftover rotkohl in an airtight container in the fridge up to 5 days. You can reheat them in the microwave, or on the stovetop over medium heat. Leftovers taste good cold as well! No one will judge if you grab a few bites straight from the fridge.
  2. German red cabbage also freezes really well! It'll last 3 months. Let it cool down full before popping it in the freezer. Thaw either in the microwave or let it thaw fully in the fridge for a day before reheating on the stove.


Calories: 227kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 774mg | Potassium: 475mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 1615IU | Vitamin C: 84mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 1mg