This braised red cabbage recipe with apple is a delicious and classic roast dinner side and makes the most amazing Christmas trimmings!
Bring a symphony of flavour and colour to the dinner plate with this vibrant purple cabbage! Sweet apple, zingy vinegar, fragrant allspice and earthy cabbage combine for a truly unique taste. A timeless side dish that will be sure to wow your guests.
If this red cabbage Christmas recipe is what you need in your life. Use the links below to go to the step-by-step recipe card or continue reading for more information.
Not only is it incredibly easy to make, but this dish makes for the perfect accompaniment to the traditional Christmas Dinner, Steak Pie or other roast dinners, like our slow-cooked leg of lamb or silverside beef joint.
Braised Red Cabbage Video
Check out the video below to see how easy it is to make this braised red cabbage recipe.
Look too sweet for you? You could cook red cabbage without the apple, the same way as our braised green cabbage recipe instead.
Cabbage was first eaten by Nordic and Celtic wanderers, who would have used wild cabbage as part of their diet.
It’s thought that Red Cabbage was spread all around Europe by the Romans due to its easy growth, ability to withstand cold climates and high nutrients, it quickly became a favourite food for poor families.
Red Cabbage remained a staple part of their diet until the 18th century, when high-class families used it too, drawn by its incredible colour to create fancy recipes!
For the full ingredients list including measurements jump straight to the full recipe card, or continue reading below for more information about each item and suitable substitutions/ additional extras.Jump to Recipe Card Now
Here's how to choose the best and freshest cabbage for this spiced red cabbage recipe.
Although its called a red cabbage it is bright purple and should have lovely shiny leaves, with a slightly waxy feel. The whole cabbage should also feel slightly heavy for its size. It should be firm and not spongy… softness can indicate that it is rotten inside!
The outer leaves may have some damaged or dried edges, which is ok they can be removed before cooking.
Butter is a key ingredient in this braised red cabbage recipe, to add richness and flavour. However, you can also use good quality vegetable oil to keep it dairy-free.
Unsalted butter gives you control over the flavours of the food; you can season it with salt as suits your needs.
If using salted butter, just remember you may not need to add as much salt when seasoning.
Onions add a savoury flavour which goes well with the tender cabbage.
Shallots also work well as a direct replacement for onion in this recipe. They have a sweet and delicate flavour.
For the best taste in this apple and red cabbage dish we used cooking apples, but your apples don't have to be the cooking variety; use whichever apple are in season or you have to hand.
Granny Smith has a tart, bright flavour and firm texture, a fuji apple is a sweet and juicy variety, but pink lady apple is one of my favourites.
Our cooking apple was enormous. If using smaller apples, you will need 2!
This braised red cabbage and apple recipe uses a lot of vinegar; we like to use a mix of red wine vinegar for its colour and sharp, tangy note, plus white vinegar for a more subtle acidity for the best overall result.
You can use only white wine vinegar instead for a more subtle taste in this recipe or see below for other options.
Red Wine Vinegar
You can use sherry vinegar for a sweeter flavour or balsamic vinegar for a richer, more intense flavour. Or you could use a splash of red wine instead.
White Wine Vinegar
Substitutes include apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, though you’ll need to double the amount added when using lemon juice.
Light brown sugar is an important ingredient in braised red cabbage, bringing a delicious depth of caramelised flavour to the dish.
The sweetness helps to balance out the tartness of the vinegar and adds a subtle richness that rounds out the overall taste. Brown sugar also helps to intensify the colour of the cabbage, turning it from a bright purple to a deep, rich red.
If you are looking for a refined sugar-free alternative, try substituting maple syrup or honey instead.
Both will bring a gentle sweetness to the dish, but be aware that they may have a slight effect on the overall colour. You could skip the sugar altogether. Just make sure to use a lovely sweet apple variety.
If there's one spice that screams Christmas Red Cabbage it's Allspice! This fragrant spice is the secret ingredient in this spiced cabbage. It adds a hint of warmth and a gorgeous scent, which brings the whole dish to life.
Allspice, also known as Jamaica pepper or pimento, is a dried, unripened berry of the myrtle pepper tree.
You can make your own blend of aromatic spices, try to include ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper instead for a similar effect.
If you're looking for a unique twist on this classic red cabbage side dish, why not try experimenting with different spices and seasonings?
If you're looking for a meaty extra to pair with braised red cabbage and apple, try adding cooked bacon lardons. They add a delicious smoky, salty flavour that pairs perfectly with this dish.
Stepping away from the traditional recipe, this polish sausage adds a delicious smoky flavour to the sweetness of the red cabbage and apple.
Kabanos is a long thin pork sausage found with cured meats in all the supermarkets. A great US substitute is Kielbasa.
If you love a sweet and tangy flavour in your braised cabbage, try adding some raisins for the perfect fall treat.
Caraway seeds add a subtle heat and earthy flavour that work especially well.
Whatever you decide to add to your spiced cabbage dish, just remember to have fun and experiment with different ingredients to find the perfect combination for you.
Now you have the perfect excuse to make this recipe over and over and test what you enjoy the most.
You will need a large pan with a lid to cook the cabbage in and a spoon to stir.
You also have the option of using a slow cooker to make this recipe even easier! It takes a while, but you won’t have to watch it, and your whole house will have a delicious spiced red cabbage Christmas scent.
This has to be one of the easiest red cabbage recipes of all time… are you ready?!
Prepare all the ingredients, before you start. Except for the apple, keep this whole. Peel and grate it when you need it to prevent it from turning brown!
How to cut red cabbage
Cutting red cabbage is a simple process but an important step for making spiced red cabbage. Begin by quartering the head of red cabbage and removing the core.
Next, finely slice each of the quarters into thin strips, using a sharp knife, food processor or a mandoline slicer.
In a large nonstick pan, heat the butter and brown the sliced and peeled onions over medium heat.
Add the red cabbage, vinegar, sugar, allspice, plus any other optional extra ingredients you want.
Make sure to give it a good stir and the sugar has dissolved before you cover it with a lid.
With the lid on you want to cook covered at the lowest hob setting for 1 hour. Whilst cooking spiced red cabbage, it is important to ensure that the cabbage does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
To avoid this, stir periodically and ensure you do not exceed the recommended cooking time.
After 1 hour, check to see if the red cabbage is tender. This comes down to personal preference; if you like your cabbage very soft, add 50ml of boiling water and cook for an extra 30 minutes.
Slow Cooker Method
For a hands-off approach with no stirring involved, once all ingredients have been added to the pan. Transfer to the slow cooker pot and leave to cook for 4-5 hours on low setting. No need to stir at any point on such a gentle heat.
When your spiced red cabbage is cooked to perfection, serve warm. Seen here with our favourite side dishes, roasted baby potatoes, cauliflower cheese, roasted vegetables, yorkshire puddings, sage and onion stuffing and slow cooker beef.
Mains to serve with Braised Red Cabbage
Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley before serving.
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Braised Red Cabbage Recipe with Apple
- 25 grams Unsalted Butter
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- 1 Red Cabbage Finely sliced
- 4 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
- 4 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
- 4 tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon Allspice
- 1 large Cooking Apples do not grate until needed (2 eating apples)
- 50 ml Water
- 200 grams Kabonas Sausage/ Cooked Bacon Lardons/ Kielbasa chopped into small chunks
- Gather all the ingredients you will need for this recipe. Prepare the red cabbage by quartering the head of red cabbage and chopping away the thick core. ( Do not peel or grate the apple until needed)
- Finely slice each of the quarters into thin strips, using a sharp knife, food processor or a mandoline slicer. Peel and slice the onion into thin half-moons.1 Red Cabbage, 1 Onion
- In a large nonstick pan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook the onions until they soften and brown.25 grams Unsalted Butter, 1 Onion
- Add the red cabbage and stir through.1 Red Cabbage
- Add all the vinegar, sugar and allspice. Stir well to ensure the sugar has completely dissolved, and the cabbage is coated in all the delicious spices.4 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar, 4 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar, 4 tablespoon Light Brown Sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon Allspice
- Grate in the peeled apple and stir well. Add any other additional ingredients you want to make it your own.1 large Cooking Apples
- Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour or until the cabbage is tender. Stirring a few times to ensure it does not stick.
- Taste test after 1 hour. If you prefer your cabbage softer, add 50 ml of boiling water (if needed) stir and cook for an additional 30 minutes (still covered).50 ml Water
- Serve your delicious spiced red cabbage. Eat with your favourite roast dinner.
Slow cooker method
- Prepare as above until step 6 then transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-5 hours. No need to stir or check on it at any point, making it an effortless and hands-off cooking method.
This braised red cabbage recipe was orinally published on 20/10/2019 and has been updated on 16/12/2022 with an improved recipe making kabonas an optional extra.
The recipe card has been changed to include new step by step pictures, video and improved instructions.
You can make braised red cabbage with apple ahead of time. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze for one month.
Perfect for making Christmas red cabbage in advance so you will have one less thing to make on the day!
To reheat, simply heat in the microwave or on the stovetop until the cabbage is piping hot.
Other Christmas Day Recipes
Here are some more fantastic Christmas recipes to go with braised red cabbage. Don't forget to check out our slow-cooker turkey recipe.
If you liked our red cabbage with apple recipe. Keep an eye on our recipes as we will have more Christmas posts coming up soon.