Blaukraut (German Red Cabbage)

A few years ago I spent a winter in Bavaria, the Southeastern state in Germany. One of my favorite dishes there was Blaukraut, a simple simmered red cabbage. The dish has three different names in Germany – Blaukraut (“blue cabbage”) in the South, Rotkraut (“red cabbage”) in Central Germany, and Rotkohl (also “red cabbage” – kohl is a Northern word for kraut).

It’s believed that the different names stemmed from the fact that the cabbage can take on different colors depending on the acidity of the soil it was grown in and its method of preparation. Some contend that the variation comes from the fact that there wasn’t a German word for the color purple until after the cabbage had been introduced. Since red cabbage has a tendency to turn a blueish color when cooked, adding acid (in this case, apple cider vinegar) helps retain its redness.

Serves four

2 tbsp butter or coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 green apple, cored and coarsely chopped
1 medium-sized head red cabbage, shredded
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp each apple cider vinegar and water
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp each)

Shredding a whole head of cabbage may seem daunting at first, but it’s easy: place the cabbage core-side-down and slice it in thin strips along one side. Once you reach the core, cut it out, then continue to slice the cabbage until finished.

In a pot, warm the butter or oil on medium heat for a minute, then add the garlic. Sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds, then add the diced onion. Sauté the onion until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the apple and sauté for another minute.

Add the shredded cabbage, cloves, apple cider vinegar, and water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the cabbage is soft, about 30-40 minutes. If your pot isn’t big enough to hold all of the cabbage at once, fill it up as much as possible then cover and simmer; after 5 minutes, the cabbage will have cooked down and you can add more.

About halfway through cooking, toss the cabbage with some tongs to evenly distribute everything.

Once the cabbage is soft, add salt and pepper to taste. It can be served immediately, but for best results, put it in the fridge overnight and serve it warm the next day.

This dish goes well with potatoes and pork, as you can see in this recipe.

44 thoughts on “Blaukraut (German Red Cabbage)

  1. lovely dish…so pretty and wholesome!

    I love the color of this vegetable and esp like what it lends to a green salad. Cabbage is king in my book of nutrition…!

    thank you! :)


  2. Thanks for reminding me about one of my favorite cabbage preparations. I haven’t made this in a while and it really is a delicious way to eat cabbage. Great post and awesome photos!


  3. This is one of my winter favorites here in Germany. It’s also great cold the next day (if there is any left, which is hardly ever the case). I always shred mine the day ahead and toss is with salt and sugar, leaving it to “break down” the leaf structure and intensify the flavors over night.


  4. Sounds delicious and I think I will make some up tomorrow so I can refrig overnight for T Day. I make a Borsk that I absolutely love, I am sure I will love this too!


  5. In the Netherlands, most people (used to) eat this in winter, esp. Christmas. I love it! Also nice when you spike an onion with whole cloves and put that in to simmer along.


  6. Hello,

    I just tried one of your other recipes and was looking through your page when I found this recipe. I was sooooo happy to see this! I am German and love Rotkraut. The way I always make it is a little bit different though and I thought I’d share.
    I don’t use garlic at all. I use one peeled whole onion and put in about 10 cloves so it almost looks like a hedgehog. I cut the apple in quarters, stem and seeds removed. This is cooked with the cabbage, but taken out afterwards. Cloves can make it bitter if left in. All that is left from the apple is the peel, which you take out. Instead of apple cider and water I use red wine. You probably need about 1 to 1 1/2 cups. I also add 2 tsp brown sugar. Let everything cook until the apple is dissolved, about 1 hour on medium heat.
    I always make a lot and freeze it. That works great, just the cloves need to be out, otherwise it might get bitter when warmed up :-)




          1. Hi–it’s over 3 years since this was posted, so I don’t know if you still work at your site. My husband is half-German (Schwaebischer), and half Swede, so Blaukraut is something I process in little purple canning jars. (His only, everybody else-hands off.) But his Oma used chopped speck, which is sort of like bacon. So I get one of the 3-lb packages of bacon ends and pieces, (this lasts MONTHS!) and chop up about 1/4 cup. I also do 3 heads of cabbage and half cider vinegar and half apple cider preheated with mulling spices in it. He loves to eat this hot, with butter on thick, sliced hard black bread. Comfort food….


  7. Dear Domestic Man ~ I’m of German decent. My grandmother moved in with us after grandpa died and I had the great privilege of growing up eating wonderful German dishes. I’m so sad I gave grandma such a hard time about some of the things she made and would love to sit down with her now and “chew the fat.” This is one dish she made and I snubbed. I was such a brat! Well, now I have the opportunity to share my heritage with my non-European hubby, while living a LCHF/Ketogenic lifestyle. We had this instead of a carb for dinner tonight (only i used green cabbage and I put bacon bits in it). Everyone raved about it’s deliciousness and the meal was a huge hit! I just wanted to comment and tell you that I absolutely love your German dishes and the fact that I can fit everything into a keto lifestyle; However, I really love all your other recipes too! I read about your illness and am so happy for you that things have worked out pretty positively for the most part. What a frightening scenario for you and your family. I pray continued health for you! I do have a request tho – That you would include more German recipes on your site! After visiting Germany a few times in the last year and a half, I’ve really grown to love the food more and more! Thanks again! This dish was delish!


  8. My late mother used to make a red cabbage that I love. I jotted down the ingredients and put it in my Joy of Cooking book, but can’t find the book now. Her recipe was similar to the above but with the addition of sausage meat and some juice from sweet pickles, and instead of apple cider vinegar she used red wine vinegar. I’m going to try it from memory and hope I haven’t forgotten any indredient.


    1. I commented before reading other’s comments. Reading Marina’s mention of bay leaves, I think my mother used them too. And Lady Arwen’s mention of herring with sour cream with potatoes is making my mouth water.


  9. I made this last night and it is fantastic. I have it “resting” in the fridge and will be making pork chops and potatoes to go with it for dinner tonight.


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