Sweet and Sour German Red Cabbage

Traditional German and Austrian braised sweet sour red cabbage. Shredded red cabbage cooked with vinegar, sugar, and butter.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

A reader emailed the other day asking if I was Austrian on account of all the sauerkraut and cabbage recipes on Simply Recipes.

My father’s grandparents on both sides were from Austria and he grew up with many traditional German and Austrian dishes and a love for cooked cabbage in all forms.

This is one of our favorite ways to prepare red cabbage—sautéed with butter, sprinkled with sugar and balsamic vinegar and simmered until tender.

When the holidays come round, we take it up a notch, adding chopped apples, onions, and if we have them, roasted chestnuts. It’s wonderful served alongside pork chops or a pork roast!

Sweet and Sour German Red Cabbage Recipe

  • Prep time: 7 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4


  • One half a large red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Sauté sliced cabbage in butter: Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced red cabbage and toss to coat with the butter. Sauté until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.

2 Add sugar, balsamic vinegar, cover and simmer: Sprinkle sugar over the cabbage and toss to coat evenly. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until the cabbage is completely tender, stirring often, about 30 minutes total.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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German Red Cabbage

Showing 4 of 57 Comments

  • Sue

    A lovely dish. I added 2 peeled apples and some fresh grated nutmeg and a dash of cinnamon I also used the apple cider vinegar. This recipe is a good base, I love seeing all the changes people have made.

  • Pixie

    Just like grandma used to make ! Add a drop of mustard to give it an edge. yum !

  • Christel Picciano

    Add a pinch of allspice and simmer for ~2 hours. My German asked for this recipe.

  • Johann Stroehlein

    Our family, German and Bavarian, make a very similar recipe except instead of balsamic vinegar we use apple cider vinegar. When apples are used it really brings out their flavor.

  • Lora

    I paired this with a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin tonight. Here in Vienna, the vegetables are so beautiful and remind me of my grandmother’s garden. When I washed the cabbage, I had a beautiful cobalt blue sink by the time I was done. Then when I cooked it up (I added one apple with the thinly sliced with the peel on) I had the whole thing looking such a rich hue of purple. It was delicious and just like what they serve at Schmidt’s in Columbus, Oh (which is just the way I like it). I hate to measure things, so I’m sure it wasn’t just like this recipe, but it included all the ingredients. My Austrian husband was quite surprised to find out how much he liked it.

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German Red CabbageSweet and Sour German Red Cabbage