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Braised German Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) with Blueberries & Cloves

This German red cabbage recipe, known as ‘Rotkohl’ (red cabbage) in Northern Germany, or ‘Blaukraut’ (blue cabbage) in Southern Germany, pairs well with many day-to-day meals such as pork chops and roasts, Beef Rouladen, or Pork Schnitzel, and is a popular German side dish. 

While braised red cabbage is a traditional side dish that is often served year round, it is especially popular during the holiday season. Its sweet and sour flavor makes it the perfect side dish to serve alongside most roasted meats, and poultry such as roast duck, turkey, and chicken!

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braised German red cabbage served on a fancy gold rimmed glass plate alongside sausages and boiled potato.

This German red cabbage recipe is an easy “set it and forget it” recipe that can be prepared with minimal effort. The recipe can easily be altered to pair more easily with specific meats or appeal to your own personal tastes.

Where I use cloves, bay leaves, and blueberries to give the dish a slightly sweet and spiced holiday flavor, other spices and ingredients can just as easily be used.

Switch things up by adding chopped bacon, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar, or try adding chopped apple, caraway seeds, and lemon juice to the recipe!

Authentic German Red Cabbage With Blueberry & Cloves

Did you know red cabbage is full of essential vitamins and nutrients? Chock-full of potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and boasting ten times the amount of Vitamin A than green cabbage, it’s also naturally low in fat, and high in fiber. It is an all-around great vegetable to incorporate into any healthy diet and meal plan!

a head of red cabbage cut in half with the cut side facing the camera

The braising process helps break down the raw cabbage, making it easier to digest, and ensuring all the nutrients are more readily absorbed by the body.

Ingredients

To make this traditional German red cabbage recipe at home, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 head large 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 or 2 whole cloves can be used, but need to be picked out afterwards)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Start by chopping the red cabbage into thin slices. The easiest way to achieve this is by peeling off one or two of the tough outer leaves to expose the clean and tightly formed vegetable underneath. Cut the cabbage into quarters with a sharp knife, and cut out the core as shown in the picture below. While the core is technically edible, it is tough with little flavor.

A side by side collage, showing how to cut the core out of a red cabbage and then slicing it in preparation for braising.

Once the red cabbage has been cored, continue by chopping the cabbage into small strips. After chopping the red cabbage, place it in a large bowl and give it a quick rinse. This removes any dirt or insects which may have been caught in the cabbage as it formed. Set the washed cabbage aside.

2. Next chop the onion into a medium or small dice size. Using a large pot, lightly saute the onion over medium-high heat in some oil or butter to soften it. Clarified butter is great for this as it has a high smoking point and won’t caramelize the onion as quickly. You only want to cook the onion until it softens and turns translucent.

Add the chopped cabbage to the pot and cook for four or five minutes over medium heat.

Overhead shot of raw sliced red cabbage in a steel pot with a wooden spoon.

3. De-glaze the pot with the red wine, then add the water or stock to the cabbage. Add the blueberry jam, clove, bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium low heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Let the red cabbage braise, (essentially simmer), for one to two hours. 

Chopped red cabbage cooking in a steel pot with blueberry jam and spices being added to the 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. 

4. Towards the end of the cooking time, the liquid should have reduced and slightly thickened. If the juice in the pot is still very thin after braising for 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 out 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 cabbage.
  • Alternatively, you could make a slurry with flour or corn 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!
overhead shot of red cabbage braising in a steel pot with a wooden spoon in the pot about to stir it.

Once cooked and the cabbage is soft and tender, you can either serve the braised red cabbage immediately while hot, or cool it and then reheat at your leisure. The braised red cabbage is best stored in a non-re-active, airtight container.

Related:  German Glühwein - (German Mulled Red Wine)

My mother always says that Rotkohl simply tastes better the next day as it marinates in its juices. So feel free to make this side dish the day before you are having guests over for supper.

Close up shot of a white porcelain bowl filled with braised German red cabbage,  and garnished with a sprig of fresh parsley

Dishes To Serve With This German Red Cabbage

Looking for some ideas of what to serve with this easy side dish? Try any one of the suggestions below:

Tried this German braised red cabbage? Take a picture and tag me on Facebook & Instagram: @earthfoodandfire . For more from scratch recipes follow me on Instagram & Pinterest

A white porcelan bowl filled with german braised red cabbage,( also called rotkohl) and garnished with fresh parsley

German Braised Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) with Blueberries & Cloves

Chef Markus Mueller
A popular year-round side dish, this German red cabbage recipe or 'rotkohl' makes a delicious side to roasted meats, and holiday dinners.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine German
Servings 4 portions
Calories 787 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • ½ head large red cabbage cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 cup blueberry jam or preserve I used homemade jam
  • ½ cup Red wine or red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water or chicken stock
  • ½ tsp ground cloves 1 or 2 whole cloves can be used, but shouldnbe picked out afterwards
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Start by chopping the red cabbage into thin slices. The easiest way to achieve this is by peeling off one or two of the tough outer leaves to expose the clean and tightly formed vegetable underneath. Cut the cabbage into quarters with a sharp knife, and cut out the core as shown in the picture below. While the core is technically edible, it is tough with little flavor.
    a side by side collage of pictures showing how to cut the core out of red cabbage and then slice it
  • Once the red cabbage has been cored, continue by chopping the cabbage into small strips. After chopping the red cabbage, place it in a large bowl and give it a quick rinse. This removes any dirt or insects which may have been caught in the cabbage as it formed. Set the washed cabbage aside.
  • Next chop the onion into a medium or small dice size. Using a large pot, lightly saute the onion over medium-high heat in some oil or butter to soften it. Clarified butter is great for this as it has a high smoking point and won't caramelize the onion as quickly. You only want to cook the onion until it softens and turns translucent. Add the chopped cabbage to the pot and cook for four or five minutes over medium heat.
    overhead shot of raw chopped red cabbage in a steel pot
  • De-glaze the pot with the red wine, then add the water or stock to the cabbage. Add the blueberry jam, clove, bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium low heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Let the red cabbage braise, (essentially simmer), for one to two hours.
    raw red cabbage being cooked in a pot with blueberries, spices, and sugar
  • 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. Towards the end of the cooking time, the liquid should have reduced and slightly thickened. See Notes for suggestions if liquid is thin.
    red cabbage in a steel pot after braising for two hours
  • Once cooked and the cabbage is soft and tender, you can either serve the braised red cabbage immediately while hot, or cool it and then reheat at your leisure. The braised red cabbage is best stored in a non-re-active, airtight container.
    A white porcelan bowl filled with german braised red cabbage,( also called rotkohl) and garnished with fresh parsley

Notes

If after cooking for 2 hours the liquid inthe pot is still to thin and has not thickened you have two options:
  • You could simply keep cooking the red cabbage for five to ten minutes without the lid to cook out 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 cabbage.
  • You could also make a slurry with flour or corn starch and use that to thicken the liquid. Be careful not to use too much thickener, the liquid should be just thick enough to barely coat a spoon!

Nutrition

Calories: 787kcal
Keyword German braised red cabbaged, how do you make braised red cabbage, what is the best way to cook red cabbage
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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23 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    What a great cabbage recipe. Braised cabbage is great with so many dishes. I love the addition of blueberries!

  2. 5 stars
    Growing up in a German family, I sure have had plenty of delicious rotkohl in my life. My Mom also served it with Thanksgiving dinner! I love the addition of blueberries here – it pairs so beautifully!

  3. 5 stars
    This looks scrumptious, Markus! I could think of so many uses of this, from piled high on sandwiches to a big helping with turkey dinner. I think I could just eat this alone and be quite satisfied 😉

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

  5. 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!

  6. 5 stars
    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.

  7. 5 stars
    Markus–This looks very appetizing, and I love the color.

  8. 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!

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

  10. 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!

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

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

  13. 5 stars
    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!

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