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Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage Recipe

This recipe for tangy Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage is delicious served with German wursts, buttered noodles and sauerkraut.

My grandfather was a tall man who loved airplanes and motorcycles (though an accident in his youth left his leg permanently injured). He owned a small plane for years and flew whenever he could. And he was dedicated to work and family.

And he was someone proud of his heritage.

He grew up on New York in an immigrant family with strong ties to an area of Europe near the French-German border.

That’s probably why we ate so much German food when I was growing up. It was a favorite of his and it became a favorite of mine too.

If he were alive today, I think my grandfather would love this Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage recipe — it’s modeled after the cabbage we’d have when we dined at German restaurants.

He’d also probably love that my kids, Will and Paige, have also grown up with a hearty appreciation for good bratwurst, well-made sauerkraut and other German foods.

Making this begins with thinly sliced red cabbage. You need about four cups of it, which is a small head’s worth. Of course, if you absolutely love this, you could easily double the recipe.

The cabbage is sauteed in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then a mixture of balsamic vinegar, apple cider and sugar are added. It cooks until the liquid is mostly gone and the cabbage is wonderfully tender.

It’s easy. And Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage makes a meal like this extra special for me — because it reminds me of dinners from my childhood.

My grandfather didn’t always like to speak of his family, but sometimes he’d tell me stories about his childhood, his family and where they came from. He would sit on our slate blue couch with the scratchy woven fabric that I can best liken to burlap. There, with me sitting in the armchair across from him, I could listen for hours.

That’s where I would learn about our past. Our family history.

I wish I spent more time in that seat when I got older . . .

It makes me sad to think that there were all these stories that he shared, but I cannot remember them well enough to pass along to my own children. I never knew any of his family — they were mostly gone long before I came. But I still pass along what I can.

It’s all I can do.

If you make Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage, do it justice and service it with a hearty meal of the wurst of your choice and some tasty sauerkraut. Buttered noodles too. That makes for a delightful meal.

Yield: 4 servings

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

This recipe for tangy German Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage is delicious served with German wursts, buttered noodles and sauerkraut.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 4 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar


  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Cook the cabbage for 3-5 minutes, stirring, until it softens slightly.
  2. Stir in the apple cider, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Lower the heat to low and cover the pot.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until most of the liquid is evaporated and the cabbage is tender.
  4. Serve immediately or chill for later. This can be enjoyed warm or cool.

Barbara W. Delnero

Monday 6th of November 2023

Very similar to my Austrian G-Parents' recipe, only change is we use brown sugar and apple cider vinegar to taste and let the mixture just carmelize. Is it a side dish ir dessert??!! It is sooo easy and delicious.

Sarah Walker Caron

Wednesday 8th of November 2023

It's a side dish to me (and a snack! and a condiment!). I will have to try it with your changes!

kyra C. Bowman

Wednesday 4th of November 2020

This is very similar to the cabbage my Russian mother made. She also added chopped apples or pears and a few raisins. Apple cider vinegar rather than balsamic. The rest is the same. It is delicious!

Sarah Walker Caron

Wednesday 4th of November 2020

That sounds great! I will have to try it that way sometime!

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Wednesday 18th of August 2010

[...] I sliced thin so that we could stretch the portions so that it would feed seven. Then there was Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage, rice pilaf and this vegetable platter with Basil White Bean [...]

Daryl Callahan

Tuesday 17th of August 2010

I love sweet & sour cabbage. I am ashamed to say I usually buy it in the jar but I am definitely going to try this recipe!Looks fantastic

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