Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

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 roasted chestnuts. It’s wonderful served alongside pork chops or a pork roast.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage Recipe

  • Prep time: 7 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8


  • One 2-pound red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Cut the cabbage in half, cutting through the core as you do this. Cut the cabbage halves in half again, again through the core. Cut out the core from the quartered cabbage and discard. Thinly slice the cabbage.

2 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.

3 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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Sweet Sour Red Cabbage

Showing 4 of 50 Comments

  • Abby

    I just made this for supper. It takes me back to my Oma and Opa’s house.
    Oddly enough, my husband made sesame chicken (a Chinese dish) and they seemed to go very well together in the same dinner.

  • John Turner

    My partner’s grandmother passed this recipe to me when she knew I liked cooking. She was 83 in 1977 and was given the recipe by her mother. She added a Bramley cooking apple to your ingredients. Very delicious. Serve with game or roast lamb. Quince jelly also complements the cabbage and meat.

  • babibi

    Hey, I’ve been making this dish for many years now as a holiday tradition for thanksgiving dinner. It goes perfectly with turkey. The only difference is that the original recipe that I use also calls for a clove of garlic, shallots, and a dash of salt and pepper. It puts it slightly more on the savory side i guess.

    I didn’t know it was Austrian as I got it from the Philadelphia magazine where it claimed that it was a traditional dish eaten by our nation’s forefathers.

  • aussie

    I learned how to make this dish from my grandpa, also from Austria. In our opinion, an absolutely KEY ingredient for this is bacon. Sautee the bacon until crisp, break into small pieces, and pour it (still hot, with all the melted grease) over the fresh cabbage in a large pot, then add the vinegar and sugar (we usually don’t measure, but do it to taste because some cabbage may be sweeter than others). Skip the butter. Yum!

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