A delicious and healthy side dish to serve alongside meats, this braised red cabbage recipe is the perfect addition to your next meal.

Braised Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) with Blueberries & Cloves

This recipe was created as one of the 24 “spiced up” recipes for the 2017 Spice It Up Advent Calendar. This braised red cabbage recipe is similar to one my mother grew up eating every year at Christmas served with duck and mashed potatoes.

Braised red cabbage or rotkohl as it is called in Germany, is a traditional dish served throughout the year where it’s quite popular in restaurants and pubs as a side dish to meats. During the Christmas season, this sweet and slightly sour dish is fantastic with roasted meats and poultey such as duck, goose, and venison. Rotkohl pairs equally well with much simpler and heartier day to day dishes such as Pork Sausages, Beef Rouladen, or Schintzel, and is a staple dish in many German homes.

Cabbage is consumed in a variety of ways in Germany. It’s eaten raw in coleslaw, pickled in condiments such as German Sauerkraut, and as in this braised red cabbage recipe, cooked and served hot with a good home cooked meal. It’s even sold as a convenience food in most grocery stores! That doesn’t mean cooking cabbage at home is difficult though. Just the opposite. This classic German side dish is an easy “set and forget” recipe that can be prepared with very minimal supervision. The recipe is also easily altered. Where I use cloves, bay leaf, and blueberries to give the dish a sweet and spiced holiday flavor, other spices and ingredients can easily be used to make the dish more savory. Try making braised red cabbage with bacon and apples, or braising the cabbage with some beer and diced sausage!

a cut red cabbage

Blueberry and Clove Braised Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is full of healthy goodies. Chalk full of potassium, vitamin C , K and ten times the amount of Vitamin A then green cabbage, it is a great vegetable to incorporate into any healthy diet and meal plan. Since everyone seems to binge on sweets during the holidays, this is an easy way to incorporate something healthy into your festive meal!

To make this rotkohl recipe at home, youll need:

  • 1/2 head red cabbage
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup blueberry jam or preserve ( I used homemade!)
  • 1/2 cup Red wine or red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Start by chopping your red cabbage. The easiest way to achieve this is by peeling off one or two outer leaves if they are damaged to expose the clean and tightly formed vegetable beneath. Cut the cabbage in half with a sharp chefs knife, and cut out the core as shown in the picture below.

The core is technically edible, but it is tough with little flavor. Not ideal in this recipe! Quarter the cored cabbage, and then proceed to chop the  cabbage into small strips. After chopping the re cabbage, place it in a large bowl and wash it with some fresh water. This removes any dirt or insects which may have been caught in the cabbage as it formed. Set the chopped and washed cabbage aside.

Chop the onion into a medium or small dice size, (depending on how refined you want to go!) And lightly saute the onion in some oil or butter to soften it. Clarified butter is ideal for this as it has a high smoking point and won’t caramelize the onion as easily. You only want to cook the onion until it softens, not brown it. Add the chopped cabbage to the pot and cook for four or five minutes over a medium high heat.

De-glaze the pot with the red wine, and then add the water or stock to the cabbage. It’s not necessary to fully submerge the cabbage with liquid as we will cover the pot as it braises, but if you feel you don’t have quite enough liquid, add a splash or two of water or stock. In this batch of rotkohl, the liquid came about halfway up the cabbage in the pot. Add the blueberry jam, clove, bay leaf and salt to the pot, then reduce the heat to medium-low cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, and let the red cabbage braise, (essentially simmer), for one to two hours.

Related:  French Onion Soup (Made Easier In The Instant Pot)

Periodically, have a look in the pot and stir the braising red cabbage to make sure it is not sticking or burning to the bottom of the pot. If there is enough liquid, this should not happen though. Towards the end of the cooking time, the liquid will have reduced some and as long as the cabbage is soft and tender, you can either serve the braised red cabbage immediately, or cool it and then re-heat at your leisure. My mother always said, the rotkohl gets better as it sit’s and gets to marinade in the spices. So feel free to make this side dish the day before you are having guests over for supper!

If the juice in the pot is still very thin after braising for almost two hours, you have a few options to try and thicken it up. You could simply keep cooking the red cabbage for five to ten minutes without the lid to cook off some of the liquid. The sugar in the jam, (and if you used real chicken stock, the gelatin) will help naturally thicken and glaze the vegetable. Alternatively you could make a slurry with flour or corn/potato starch and use that to thicken the liquid. Be careful not to use to much thickener, the liquid should be just thick enough to barely coat a spoon!

Tried the recipe? Take a picture and tag me on Facebook & Instagram: @earthfoodandfire . For more from scratch recipes follow me on Instagram & Pinterest

A year round popular side dish in Germany, braised red cabbage or rotkohl makes a delicious and healthy addition to meats and fancy holiday dinners. #braised #redcabbage #rotkohl #christmas #sidedish #holidays
5 from 3 votes

Braised Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) with Blueberries & Cloves

A year round popular side dish in Germany, braised red cabbage or rotkohl makes a delicious and healthy addition to meats and fancy holiday dinners. #braised #redcabbage #rotkohl #christmas #sidedish #holidays
Course Side Dish
Cuisine German
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 4 portions
Calories 787 kcal
Author Markus Mueller | Earth, Food, and Fire


  • 1/2 head red cabbage
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup blueberry jam or preserve I used homemade!
  • 1/2 cup Red wine or red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Clean and wash the red cabbage. Then remove the core, and cut the cabbage into bite sized pieces.
  2. Chop the onion, and saute it in some butter or oil over medium heat until it softens, taking care not to brown or caramelize it.
  3. Add the washed and cut cabbage to the pot, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, making sure the onion and cabbage are well mixed.
  4. De-glaze the pot with the red wine, and then add the blueberries, ground clove, bay leaf, and salt to the pot.
  5. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to medium low.
  6. Braise the red cabbage for one and a half to two hours.
  7. The braised red cabbage is finished when it is soft, tender, and the liquid has reduced enough to lightly glaze the vegetable.

© 2017 – 2018, Markus Mueller | Earth, Food, and Fire. All rights reserved. Please contact Earth, Food, and Fire, if you wish to use any media or other content contained on this site.

Related Posts

Please note : We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


  1. That sounds so delicious Markus. We have a German restaurant here in Paraguay and we really enjoy going there and having all those delicious sausages. I´m glad your recipe calls for blueberry jam and not fresh blueberries, as we don´t have the fresh ones. I´m going to give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! Now I feel like I need to make a super German Christmas dish 😉

  3. Cabbage is one of my favourite foods, oddly enough! This recipe looks fantastic, I would have never thought to add blueberries!

  4. We’re having red cabbage tonight! We love it, and although we were going to have it with apples as we usually do (no bacon because I’m vegetarian), tonight we might try your wonderful recipe with blueberries and clove! Love it!

  5. This looks amazing! I will certainly be trying this out soon!

  6. I make a similar red cabbage with apples and caraway (from a German friend’s recipe). But this one with blueberries and clove sounds so tasty and intriguing. A definite must try, thanks for sharing!

  7. Markus–This looks very appetizing, and I love the color.

  8. Thanks Markus. I’ve already made your recipe and it’s very very nice. Reminds me of my late Aunty Lorna’s cooking. Super good!
    I’ve also made it with my Anise Myrtle Cherry Jam it’s great. Thanks and Merry Christmas.

  9. This sounds amazing! I just ate some braised cabbage recently that had fennel and balsamic vinegar in it. I didn’t realize how much I actually liked red cabbage!

  10. This sounds and looks delicious! Perfect for a Christmas dinner!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.