Jump to Recipe ⬇


Rotkohl is a German wonder-dish that transforms the mundane red cabbage into a sweet and tangy delicacy that is a perfect accompaniment to roasted or grilled meat, poultry, or fish.

Rotkohl (pronounced rote-coal), is the quintessential German red cabbage dish that is served in every restaurant and home across Germany. A German friend once told me that Rotkohl is not just a food, it is a source of national pride. Traditionally, it is served with pork, sausage, or beef rouladen. It has a characteristic sweet and sour taste which also makes it a perfect accompaniment to dishes like Pork Knuckle, Schnitzel, and grilled meat. If you are not a cabbage fan, you must give this a try. Your opinion would most likely change!


Bright and beautiful vegetables are known to be nutrition powerhouses. Red cabbage is a great source of Vitamin C, making it an antioxidant-rich, immune booster. It contains 10 times more vitamins compared to its green counterpart. It also contains cancer-fighting flavonoids, and a high amount of antioxidants which improve eye, teeth, bone, & immune health. Flavonoids are known to release hormones that can metabolize fat and may suppress appetite, hence they are great for weight loss. Red cabbage also fights inflammation and arthritis. It is also high in Vitamin K which helps in maintaining bone health. Fermented red cabbage (also known as kimchi) is great for gut health. It is also believed to aid in cholesterol reduction, maintaining brain health, boosting immunity, and improving skin health.


As with any traditional dish, this dish too goes back generations with each family having their unique recipe. Rotkohl is a wonder-dish that transforms the boring red cabbage into a flavorful comfort dish that has the perfect harmony of sweet and tangy. As the name suggests, the hero of the dish is red cabbage. The basic recipe comprises red cabbage, apple, onion, red wine vinegar, and few spices. Some versions may include bacon, juniper berries, red wine, broth, berry jams, or flour. The key to making a winning rotkohl is patience because this dish is slow-cooked. The slow simmering process makes the rotkohl so tasty.


You will need a heavy bottomed pan or a dutch oven to make Rotkohl. The slow-cooking process is time consuming, so if you are in a hurry you can also put all the ingredients in a slow-cooker and set the cooking time appropriately. For finely shredding the cabbage you may need a mandoline slicer, you may also use a sharp Chef's knife.


Making rotkohl is the simplest thing ever. Here is the step by step process of making this German wonder-food:

  1. Finely shred the red cabbage and apple, chop the onion and put a dutch oven to heat.
  2. Melt a little butter and put the chopped veggies and apple into it.
  3. Add a bay leaf, few cloves, whole peppercorns, salt, sugar, and red wine vinegar.
  4. Let the whole thing simmer on low heat for at least an hour, stirring in between until the cabbage is tender. Add water only if required.
  5. Serve warm or cold.


As mentioned earlier, every family has their own version of Rotkohl. There are many interesting variations where people add bacon, pears, caraway seeds etc. You can substitute the red wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar. You can substitute powdered sugar with brown sugar or honey. You can also add some broth or red wine and allow the ingredients to simmer in it for a richer flavor. The possibilites are endless, it is your own dish, make it like you like!


Are rotkohl, rotkraut, and balukraut the same?

In northern Germany, the dish is called Rotkohl. Central and western Germany refers to it as  Rotkraut and in southern Germany, it is known as Blaukraut. Essentially they are all the same. Kohl is the northern word for cabbage, while kraut is the word used in central and southern Germany. Rot is red and Blau is blue. The different names simply stem from the difference in color of the cabbages. It is the difference in pH levels of the soil in which the cabbages are grown that results in difference in colors. Also the pigment that comes from the nutritionally valuable anthocyanins they contain are responsible for the colors.

How should I slice the cabbage?

You can shred the cabbage using a mandoline slicer or a sharp chef’s knife. The more finely shredded it is, the better is the texture of the final dish.

What kind of apple should I use in rotkohl?

You can use any type of apple, red or green. Green apple will result in a tarty taste if that is what you prefer. I have used Gala apples.

Is rotkohl served hot or cold?

Rotkohl tastes better the day after. Therefore, you can serve it either way. You can serve it warm, right after preparing or cold the day after. If it is too cold for you, heat it in the microwave for a couple minutes before serving.

Can I freeze rotkohl?

Arguably, rotkohl can be frozen for later use for up to 3 months. But, I would recommend freezing it in an airtight container for up to a month. Thaw for a couple of hours before you plan to serve.


Tonight, I served the rotkohl alongside Fish Schnitzel. The sweet and tangy flavor of the rotkohl beautifully balanced the flavor-infused crusty fish. You can serve it with any of the following:

  1. Roasted or grilled meat
  2. Schnitzels
  3. Beef Rouladen
  4. Pork Chops
  5. Mashed potatoes
  6. Stir-fried veggies
  7. Sausages
  8. Bratwurst


You can easily store leftover rotkohl in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it in an airtight container for up to a month.



Yield: 4
Author: The GradChef
Prep time: 5 MCook time: 70 MTotal time: 75 M
A German wonder-dish that transforms the mundane red cabbage into a sweet and tangy delicacy that is a perfect accompaniment to roasted or grilled meat, poultry, or fish.


  • 1 small head red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 apple, peeled, deseeded, and shredded
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 5-6 whole peppercorns
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp salted butter


  1. Melt butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. 
  2. Add the onion and apples and saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and allow the mixture to come to a boil over medium heat.
  4. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer. Stir every 15 minutes to make sure it does not stick to the bottom. Add water if required. Cook until the cabbage is tender for at least an hour.
  5. Serve hot or cold.


  • You can add a spoon of berry jam to make the end result sweeter.
  • You can add broth instead of water.
  • You can add chopped bacon if you prefer.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
german, salad, side dish, cabbage, traditional, authentic, comfort food
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thegradchef on instagram and hashtag it #thegradchef
Created using The Recipes Generator


Popular Posts