Kitchen Table

Christmas Red Cabbage Recipe

Thanksgiving was only one month ago. Somehow, you ended up with all the leftovers and you’ve had stuffing for days. You’re so tired of turkey and mashed potatoes, you cannot bear the thought of another turkey dinner. You’ve go to try something different, so try this.

This Christmas Red Cabbage dish, or Rotkraut, is a delicious German tradition around the holidays. In the past, I’ve paired it nicely with bratwurst or a beef roast and gravy.

German Red Cabbage (Rotkraut) & Bratwurst

I had the opportunity to do a foreign exchange to Germany when I was in college and I chose to stay with a host family instead of in the dorms with the other exchange students. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and the experience was priceless. I learned so much more while living with them than I could have otherwise. One of the many things I learned while living with them was how to cook German food.

Learning to cook German food from my host mother was its own adventure. It stretched my German vocabulary to start with. Although my host mother spoke English, there were many ingredients she didn’t know how to translate into English, and I didn’t know the word in German either. I made endless references to my German-English dictionary, which made cooking slow-going.

Furthermore, they measure their ingredients in weight (grams), and milliliters in Germany. You can’t always find the same ingredients here in the states as you can in Germany. Plus, my host mother doesn’t often rely on recipes with exact measurements. Many of her recipes, she measures by feel and experience.

Between translations, conversions, and learning how to work with what you have available, my German recipes have gone through a little bit of tweaking to be able to share them with you today.

First, gather your ingredients: 1/2 head red cabbage, 1 cooking apple, 2 small onions, 1 lemon, salt to taste, beef bouillon, sugar, ground cloves, and water.
Dice onions.
Brown onions in butter in a large pot.
Chop half a head of red cabbage.
Add to pot with onions.
Add water, bouillon, sugar, salt, cloves, and freshly squeezed lemon juice to pot. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop apple.
Add chopped apple to the pot and cook another 5 minutes or until desired tenderness.
Optional: Add currant jelly to taste.
Pairs well with a beef roast and gravy.
Also pairs well with bratwurst. Serve and enjoy. Guten Appetit!

Serves: 6 – 8 people

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes


1/2 head red cabbage

1 cooking apple

2 small onions

1 teaspoon beef bouillon

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (to taste)

salt to taste

fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup water


  1. Dice onions. Melt butter in a large pot; add onions to pot and brown on medium heat.
  2. Chop half a head of red cabbage and add to the pot.
  3. Add water, beef bouillon, sugar, ground cloves, salt to taste, and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cut apples into small pieces. Add to the pot and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until the apples are at desired tenderness.
  5. Serve and enjoy. Guten Appetit!

*Optional: Add currant jelly to taste as final step. 

*A note about the apples: The apples can be added before or after the cabbage. I prefer my apples a bit crisper, so I choose good cooking apples like Jonagolds, Jonathans, or McIntosh, and add them very last. 

2 thoughts on “Christmas Red Cabbage Recipe

  1. I made this on Christmas and it was delicious! I tweeked it a little for myself since I’m on the autoimmune protocol diet and some things I cannot have. And I’m supposed to eat a nutrient dense diet which means lots of vegetables. For the bullion, I used 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp thyme and 1.5 tsp parsley. For the sugar, I substituted maple syrup.

    And then a couple personal preference items: I love cloves, so increased that to 1 tsp and since I don’t get to eat many sweet things, I increased the maple syrup to 1/4 cup. The apples really add a lot to the dish. I will definitely make it again.

    The cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, which detoxifies our bodies, reduces free radicals and may reduce the risk of cancer. It’s a win-win recipe!

    1. I love this! I’m so happy you got to enjoy this recipe and that it worked out for you. I like your substitutes you made too! 💕💕💕

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