This easy Braised Red Cabbage with Apples recipe is the perfect simple vegan side dish that’s healthy, delicious, and a great way to add color to many hearty meals. It’s a traditional favorite family recipe that should not be missing from the Thanksgiving or Christmas menu!
Want to try a cabbage recipe that’s as popular as coleslaw or sourkraut? If so, you will surely love this braised red cabbage recipe! It does not only taste delicious but also looks very appetizing. The apple’s sweetness adds an amazing flavor to the red cabbage which makes this a great side dish to serve for your Sunday family lunch or dinner!
What is Braised Red Cabbage?
When you think of red cabbage or cabbage in general, what recipes come to your mind? Cabbage soup? Kimchi? Chinese spring rolls? Cabbage stir-fry? If these are your go-to cabbage dishes and you want to try another recipe, you should not miss this one!
Classic braised red cabbage is made of thinly sliced or shredded red cabbage that’s simmered with sautéed onions and a couple of seasonings in red wine and fruit juice until soft and tender. For this recipe, I decided to elevate the flavor more by adding chopped apples, which creates a sweeter taste but you could also leave them out if you prefer.
Traditionally, braised red cabbage is preferably served on cold days in fall and winter, as it is a perfect accompaniment to warming comfort food dishes. You will find some serving suggestions further down in this blog post.
What is braising?
Braising is a great way to maximize the flavors of the red cabbage while maintaining its nutritional benefits. Essentially, it’s the process of simmering in a small amount of liquid in a covered pot to concentrate and enhance the liquid’s flavor and tenderizes ingredients to get that perfectly melt-in-your-mouth perfection.
How to Make Braised Red Cabbage With Apples
Ready to make the best braised red cabbage to serve your family? Here’s an easy to follow step-by-step guide which will help you to make it in no time!
As always I recommend checking out this step-by-step guide first, then you’ll find the full recipe with exact measurements in the recipe card below.
Step 1: Prep the red cabbage.
Start by thinly slice or shred the cabbage into a bowl. This step not only speeds up the cooking process but also helps the cabbage to absorb the flavors during cooking. You can slice it by using a sharp knife, however, I recommend using a grater or Mandoline as they make work a lot easier. Next, sprinkle with ¾ tsp of salt and knead with your hands for a few minutes. This will help the cabbage to soften. Then set aside for a couple of minutes.
Step 2: Sauté and braise.
While you wait for your cabbage to get softer, heat the vegan butter in a large heavy-bottom saucepan. Then add the diced onion and apples, sauté for about 5 minutes. After that, add the red cabbage and pour in some red wine. Let it boil down briefly.
Next, add the apple cider vinegar, apple juice, bay leaves as well as black pepper, agave syrup, and pimento to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding some more liquid if necessary.
Step 3: Season to taste.
Finally, taste and adjust with salt, pepper, and agave syrup. If you want your red cabbage to thicken up, you can add a bit of cornstarch. Simply stir a teaspoon of cornstarch into about 3-4 tbsp of water. Then, stir the mixture into the red cabbage in the pot and briefly let it simmer until it thickens.
Remove the bay leaves before serving and enjoy!
Tips for Making the Best Braised Red Cabbage With Apples
Here are some tips which can be helpful to make your new favorite side dish:
- Which apples can I use? I prefer using apples that have a sweeter taste and hold up pretty well while cooking like Boskop, Braeburn, or Elstar, but any kind of apple will do!
- Want to make your red cabbage more tender? Continue braising it for a few more minutes; just make sure to keep an eye on it to achieve your desired tenderness.
- Can I skip the alcohol? Red wine adds more flavor to your braised red cabbage, but if you don’t like alcohol in your recipe, you can substitute it with grape or apple juice.
- Can I make this ahead? This side dish is perfect to make ahead and tastes even better the next days after the red cabbage is soaked in its juices and flavors.
How to store braised red cabbage?
Since braised red cabbage tastes even better the next day when reheated, I recommend preparing it one day ahead. Leftovers will keep at least 2 days, covered, in the fridge.
If you want to freeze leftover braised red cabbage, simply put it into a freezer bag, making sure to get as much air out as you can, then freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to serve, thaw in the microwave or overnight in the fridge. Then reheat in a saucepan or microwave.
You could also preserve this braised red cabbage for longer storage. Simply rinse preserving jars with boiling water to make sure they’re completely clean. Then use a skimmer to add the hot braised red cabbage into the jars (but do not make the jars completely full). Now pour in the cooking liquid until the red cabbage is fully covered. Finally, seal the jars tightly with a screw top and set aside upside down for 10-15 minutes. Store in your pantry for up to 2-3 years.
This easy side dish recipe is:
- Slightly sweet
- Rich in nutrients
- The perfect side dish for your favorite hearty lunch or dinner!
What to serve with red cabbage?
Since this side dish is very versatile, so you can pair it with many hearty meals. Here are some of my favorite vegan comfort food recipes:
- Mushroom Wellington
- Mushroom Stroganoff
- Homemade Vegan Gnocchi
- German Spaetzle
- Vegan Potato Bake
- German Potato Noodles (Schupfnudeln)
- No-Meat Balls with Vegan Gravy and Mashed Potatoes
- Vegan Swedish Meatballs
- Lentil Meatloaf
- Easy Vegan Gravy
If you try this braised cabbage with apples, please leave a comment and rating on how you liked this recipe! And if you take a photo of your flavorful side dish and share it on Instagram, please tag make sure to tag me @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka because I love to see your remakes! Enjoy!
Braised Red Cabbage with ApplesAuthor:
- 26.5 oz red cabbage shredded
- ¾ tsp salt or more to taste
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 2 onions diced
- 1 very large apple e.g. Boskop, diced
- ⅔ cup red wine or grape juice
- 3-4 tbsp apple vinegar or sub white vinegar
- ¾ cup apple juice
- 2 bay leaves
- ¾ tsp black pepper or more to taste
- 2-3 tbsp agave syrup or sugar to taste
- 1 pinch of pimento optional
- Add the shredded red cabbage to a bowl. Sprinkle with ¾ tsp of salt and massage it with your hands for a few minutes. Then set aside while it becomes a little softer.
- In the meantime, heat the vegan butter in a large heavy-bottom saucepan. Add the diced onion and apples and sauté for about 5 minutes. Then add the red cabbage and red wine and let it cook down briefly. Add the apple vinegar, apple juice, bay leaves as well as black pepper, agave syrup, and pimento to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and braise for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally (add more liquid if necessary). Finally, taste and adjust with salt, pepper, and agave syrup.
- Optional step: If you prefer it thicker, stir 1 tsp of cornstarch into 3-4 tbsp of water in a cup. Then stir the mixture into the red cabbage, and let it cook for a short while until it thickens.
- Remove the bay leaves before serving. Enjoy!
- The red cabbage tastes even better the next day when warmed up. Therefore I recommend cooking it one day ahead.
- Please read my blog post for detailed storing, preserving, and freezing instructions + more tips and information on this recipe.
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