Braised Red Cabbage with Chestnuts

Sweet and sour red cabbage, cooked with bacon, apples, onions, and roasted chestnuts. Great holiday side!

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 8


  • 2 strips thick-cut bacon (about 3 ounces) cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red cabbage head, about 2 pounds, quartered, tough core removed, quarters sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 large green tart apple
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces canned or jarred roasted chestnuts (NOT water chestnuts), roughly chopped


1 Cook the bacon: Cook the bacon batons slowly in a large sauté pan (with cover) on medium low heat until most of the fat has rendered out, and the bacon is lightly browned, not crisp.

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2 Add onions: Add the sliced onions, increase the heat of the pan to medium high and cook, stirring often, until the onions have softened and lightly browned.

3 Add cabbage, apples, vinegars, sugar: While the onions are cooking, peel the apple and cut it into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Once the onions are ready, add the sliced cabbage, chopped apple, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Carefully toss to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan, lower the heat, and simmer until the cabbage is cooked through and soft, about 40 minutes.

red-cabbage-chestnuts-method-3 red-cabbage-chestnuts-method-4

4 Add chestnuts: Uncover the pan. Add the chopped roasted chestnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat to boil off excess moisture for a few minutes.

Serve hot.

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  • Barbara Shea

    We love red cabbage, so, tried this recipe, but for the life of us couldn’t imagine why you added roasted chestnuts. We’ve never tasted them before, so, was surprised at the lack of taste & the strange consistency of them. Also, the price of a small jar is really expensive. Next time we’ll leave out the chestnuts.

  • mady

    In the intro you say this is your regular sweet and sour red cabbage recipe with apples, onions, and chestnuts added. You really should mention that it also adds bacon. A pretty important addition since it would very much change the flavor of the dish and also incidentally makes the dish non-vegetarian.

    • Elise

      Hi Mady, good point! Thanks for directing me to the omission. I’ve made the clarification to the headnotes.

  • The Healthy Apple

    Love this recipe; fabulous and delicious…and I love the photo. Happy Holidays! Always loving your recipes and posts!

  • Amlis

    Thank you! This was delicious. We had it for Christmas dinner with roast goose. It was superb the next day also. Beautiful!


  • Delishhh

    This is a must (except the chestnuts) for the Swedish julbord. Nice version of it. Always best the day after. Happy Holidays!

  • Marilyn

    I cooked this dish on Christmas Eve using an organic red cabbage, and organic fresh chestnuts I received by accident in the weekly box of organic food I have delivered (a lucky accident!). If you have access to local, fresh chestnuts I highly recommend roasting and using them – so sweet and moist – what a difference they make! The dish was perfect – not too sweet, not too sour. Lovely!

  • Debbie

    I made this for Christmas Eve dinner and it was wonderful. Easy to put together and nice that it is a stovetop dish. Will definitely make again.

  • kokoro

    I want to cook this curry. But red cabbage doesn’t have in my country.Now i am cooking with
    green cabbage . Is ok?

    Yes, it will be delightful as well with green cabbage. ~Elise

  • April

    I make a form of red cabbage I learned from my godmother – which she learned from her Danish grandmother. Very similar, only no chestnuts in the original recipe, and I think they can only make it better (along with the bacon – bacon makes everything better, no?). Grandmother Kirk’s recipe is red cabbage, apple cider vinegar, some water, apples, butter, and yes, wait for it, grape jelly. How much of everything depends on the size of the red cabbage. Simmer all of the above for a couple of hours and you have heaven in a pot. We have it every Christmas along with apple saka (sp?) I’m adding chestnuts this year.

  • Chris

    Do you leave the rendered bacon fat in the pan? or do you drain it out?

    You leave it in the pan. ~Elise

  • Lea Ann

    I have a recipe for Rode Kool that I love dearly. Sweet/sour braised red cabbage with apples and pears. I’m really liking the addition of chestnuts. I’ve also never used balsamic vinegar in my cabbage. I’m loving this version.. What a festive dish.