Braised red cabbage is an excellent side dish for autumn, winter, and special occasions.
This red cabbage recipe has apple, onion, garlic, vinegar, and a touch of cinnamon to create a tender, sweet, slightly sour, and tangy, aromatic dish.
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Braising is a simple cooking method that works wonderfully to enhance the red cabbage flavor and texture.
With braising, the food is first browned at high heat to enhance its flavor, then slow-simmered with some liquid to break down its fibers and make it tender.
Red cabbage and other sturdy and fiber-rich veggies like fennel, leeks, potatoes, turnips, brussels sprouts, and carrots are great for braising because the heat, time, moisture, and aromatics improve their flavor and texture.
Braised red cabbage requires minimal effort and attention while it simmers for 40 to 50 minutes. Also, it's a perfect recipe to make ahead because the day after will be even tastier.
You can serve it as a delicious side dish to most meals, including family dinners and holiday meals. It's a cozy, tender, sweet, aromatic, nourishing recipe to feed your family.
With its bright purple color, red cabbage - sometimes called purple cabbage - is an antioxidant powerhouse.
Try to get a fresh one with firm outer leaves. It'll cook better and keep some bite even after it's braised.
You can use a mandoline slicer, a chef's knife, or a food processor to thinly slice the red cabbage before braising it.
You can substitute regular white cabbage for red cabbage.
Apple and cabbage are great together, and in this recipe, we rely on one large apple to infuse the cabbage with some natural sweetness and a cozy flavor that make this recipe much more interesting. There is no need to peel the apple.
We tried with and without apples, and the one with apples was so much tastier. You can use any apples for this recipe. We recommend Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Gala apples.
If you want a more tart and sour flavor, then go for Granny Smith, Winesap, and Cortland.
We use extra virgin olive oil to brown the onion and the cabbage and boost the flavor of this dish. EVOO is preferable to butter here as it is more stable at high temperatures, and it won't burn.
We sauté and brown the red onion with a touch of olive oil to create a solid flavor base that will enrich the braised cabbage. You can substitute white or yellow onion for the red onion.
Garlic is also a great flavor match with cabbage. In this braised cabbage recipe, we add a couple of crushed cloves (not minced, not grated) to infuse the dish with a mild garlic flavor.
We add balsamic vinegar at the end to add a touch of acidity, which boosts the cabbage flavor.
We like balsamic vinegar here because it is not too sharp. However, you can substitute apple cider vinegar, white, and red wine vinegar for balsamic.
Sugar is optional in braised red cabbage; however, for the holidays, we like to add a tablespoon of white or brown sugar to glaze the cabbage and make its flavor pop.
The apple already adds sweetness, so if you are unsure about adding sugar, you can always taste the braised cabbage and add sugar at the end if you think it needs it.
Cinnamon makes this recipe cozy, wintery, and Christmassy.
Salt and pepper
We use sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
In a large pot or dutch oven, gently brown a finely sliced onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
Cut the cabbage in half, then each half into four pieces.
Thinly slice one piece at a time; you can do so with a large sharp knife, mandoline slicer, or food processor with a slicing disk attachment.
Transfer the sliced red cabbage to the pot, season with salt, black pepper, and crushed garlic, and cook for 5 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring often.
Chop the apple into small pieces, and add it to the pot. Add in the water and cinnamon. There's no need to peel the apple.
Stir, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and slow simmer covered for 30 to 60 minutes or until you reach your desired texture. Stir occasionally and add more water if the pan gets dry.
When the cabbage is almost ready, add sugar and vinegar, and glaze on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust before serving.
Tip: cooking time depends on how tender you like your braised red cabbage. If you like it very tender, then increase the cooking time.
Braised red cabbage is a perfect holiday and winter side dish, and it pairs well with other colorful side dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas:
Refrigerator: let the braised cabbage cool down at room temperature, then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
On the second and third days, the cabbage tastes even better. It's an excellent recipe to make ahead. Reheat in a saucepan with a touch of water or in the microwave.
Freezer: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.
More winter side dishes
If you're looking for more side dishes for special occasions, get inspiration from these wholesome servings of greens:
- Pear salad with orange, nuts, and ricotta
- Roasted sweet potatoes: wedges, chips, or cubes - here's how to cook sweet potato
- Garlic and lemon baked broccoli
- Roasted cauliflower florets in just 25 minutes
- Grated carrot salad with raisins and apples
- Sweet potato and lentil salad with cumin dressing and slivered almonds
More cabbage recipes
- Shaved brussels sprout salad with dried cranberries and creamy mustard dressing
- Red cabbage salad with orange wedges and nutty pinto beans
- Tuscan soup with kale, cabbage, and cannellini beans
- Rustic lentil soup with leafy greens and authentic Italian flavor
For many more side dish ideas, check out our sides category page.
Braised red cabbage
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 pounds red cabbage that's about ½ red cabbage
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 2 twists black pepper
- 1 large apple
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Cut the cabbage in half, then each half into four pieces.Thinly slice one piece at a time; you can do so with a large sharp knife, mandoline slicer, or food processor with a slicing disk attachment.Slice the onion finely.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the onion with oil for 5 minutes.
- Add the sliced cabbage, salt, black pepper, crushed garlic, and cook for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Stir often.
- Chop the apple (skin on) into small pieces, and add it to the pot. Add water and cinnamon.
- Slow simmer covered for 30 to 60 minutes, or until you reach your desired texture. Stir occasionally. Add more water if the pan gets dry.
- When the cabbage is almost ready, add sugar and vinegar, and stir to glaze on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust before serving.Tip: cooking time depends on how you like the cabbage. If you like it very tender, then increase the cooking time.
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