Rotkohl [Traditional German Red Cabbage]

With a ridiculously simple preparation and only eight ingredients this flavourful side dish is a German winter favourite. Naturally vegan, gluten-free and paleo Rotkohl comes packed with vitamins and minerals for a healthy low-calorie dish to accompany any main.

Having talked about this classic German winter dish for many times before I figured it was high time to share the recipe. And I had every intention of doing so on Monday, right in time with the meteorological start of winter. But …


What to avoid when you’re a blogger and intend on posting during Christmas week:

Not get sick.

Plan ahead [all those posts saying you need an editorial calendar have a purpose …].


Any guesses as to my situation up until today? Right. Teary-eyed sick with a recipe made but yet to be photographed and no post written. Luckily, I’m feeling slightly better today. Okay, now that we finished the long-winded intro/blogger no-do’s/why I should write blog posts way in advance [like every other blogger?!]  let’s talk traditions.

Mother’s Day? Just another Sunday for my family.

Easter? Not a single [chocolate or candy] egg to be found in our house.

Christmas? No tree for the second time, hardly any decorations up and we’re not sending Christmas cards [but do gift homemade cookies to friends].


It’s safe to say my family errs on the untraditional side when it comes to the holidays. The food part of Christmas dinner, though? That’s where we have our traditions.

A little story time: Unlike traditional American Thanksgiving where pretty much the whole country agrees what has to appear on the table – turkey/Tofurkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing – hardly two German families in a neighbourhood will eat the same Christmas dinner. For some families “Weihnachtsgans” [Christmas duck], others need their fish and then again there are people considering – believe it or not – potato salad and sausages THE dish. Usually, my family is in the Christmas duck camp [aside from me and any other vegetarians in the family obviously]. Not this year but it will be an unusual one to begin with. The sides? Up for discussion. Aside from the one can’t-miss dish that’s the secret star on the menu: Rotkohl.


No matter what’s your main – meat, vegetarian or vegan roasts – this easy cabbage dish makes a great side for everything. Serve it with your main of choice, mashed potatoes and optional gravy and have yourself a merry little Christmas. Or just a wonderful winter day because there’s still the whole season to enjoy this.


For the nutrition nuts among us or those skeptically eyeing the ¼ cup of sugar in this recipe: it’s still healthy to boost. One cup of chopped red cabbage packs in 85% of the daily value of vitamin C, 20 % of the vitamin A recommendation and it’s also high in potassium. And I don’t need to tell you that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?! See: healthy.

German Rotkohl/Red Cabbage

  • 1 medium head red cabbage, sliced [ours weighed about 2.9 lbs/1.3 kg pre-cleaning]
  • 2 medium tart apples [I used Boskoop; about 330 g, peeled and chopped roughly
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 100 ml/ [about ½ cup minus 1 tbsp] white vinegar
  • 100 ml unsweetened apple juice
  • ¼ cup of sugar [paleo: use a sweetener you find with your diet]
  • ¾ tsp ground caraway seed
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 scant tsp salt
  1. Chop the red cabbage finely or shred it in a food processor.
  2. Alternating cabbage, onions and apples, layer in a pressure cooker.
  3. Mix vinegar, apple juice, sugar and spices and poor on top. Using your hands, mix all ingredients. No need to be super
  4. Cook according to your pressure cooker’s manual. Once maximum pressure is reached, turn off the heat, don’t open the lid and let the cooker sit until



  1. This freezes very well which is great seeing as it makes a large batch [unless you’re a hungry German family …].
  2. While I prepared my Rotkohl in  a pressure cooker you can also use a Dutch oven or regular pot. You’ll need to let it simmer for longer but will get the same delicious result.
  3. One of my grandma’s ‘secrets’ for making this already delicious dish over-the-top amazing is adding some of her homemade currant jelly. Store-bought should work just fine as well.
  4. Just like there are many different Christmas traditions, there are dozens if not hundreds of different recipes for Rotkohl, also called Blaukraut in certain regions of the country. In fact, I think every family might have their own which is – obviously – the best and only.

I’m sharing this recipe with Gluten-Free Tuesdays, Strange but good,  Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Recipe of the Week, Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Tasty Tuesdays.

While I talk a lot about Christmas here  this dish isn’t just for the holidays  a perfect fit for the whole season. So if you’re looking for a new way to eat your vegetables and vitamins this winter – give it a try!


Happiness-inducing today: My sister and her husband arriving at our house. They’ll leave on 25th again already but any time spent with family is better than none.


Have you ever had Rotkohl?

Does you family follow through with traditions or make up their own?

What’s on your menu for Christmas this year?