This recipe for slow-cooked red cabbage is super easy and requires only minimal prep at the start. Braised slow-cooked red cabbage is a comforting side dish and the perfect companion to a roast dinner. Make it ahead and freeze it for later – it’s great for the holiday season and for special occasions throughout the year.
Why To Try This Slow-Cooked Red Cabbage
This is my mum’s recipe, trusted and tested for many years. I only adjusted the timings for a slow cooker. The lovely colour and the fragrance of this cabbage dish brings back memories of sitting around our family table celebrating birthdays and holidays.
I believe you will enjoy it too, and if that’s not enough proof, here are more reasons why you should give this recipe a go:
- It is very easy and contains essential pantry ingredients.
- You will only need to do a little bit of chopping at the start, place everything in the slow cooker, give it some time, and pronto, this amazing side will be ready!
- Red cabbage adds this intriguing purple colour to your meal and is good for a healthy diet.
- Cooked red cabbage goes well with grilled or roast meats, from chicken to duck, geese, turkey, pork, or ham (gammon), and dumplings. Which makes it the perfect addition to a festive table spread during Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.
This delicious 5-ingredient recipe for braised red cabbage consists of basic kitchen staples and spices. You will need:
- Red (purple or blue) cabbage is a super humble ingredient and a superfood at the same time. It is rich in nutrients and low in calories, which makes it a great side dish. Red cabbage is a source of fiber, vitamins (A, B6, C, K) and minerals. It contains antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties, helps support heart, bone, and gut health. Raw red cabbage is best for this recipe.
- Onion is added for its sweet taste when caramelised. Add either a red or brown onion – both will work, I just like to add even more red color to the cooked cabbage.
- Unsalted butter is essential for this recipe. It will give the red cabbage a wonderfully rich and buttery taste. Use butter with no added salt, to have control over the taste. If using salted butter, then taste the cabbage first before adding any extra salt.
- Red wine vinegar is added to help keep the beautiful deep purple color, and to bring a little bit of a sour taste.
- Apples give the red cabbage a sweet taste. Use sweet variety if you can. Tatse the apples beforehand and add more sugar if needed.
This slow-braised red cabbage will taste and smell fantastic if you add to it:
- a few bay leaves – fresh or dried,
- black peppercorns, and allspice - for a spicy bite and deep flavours, use whole spices if you can, but ground spices can be used too.
- sugar (either white or brown sugar will do), and salt will help balance the flavours.
Substitutes & Variations
If you are short on any of the above ingredients in this recipe, here are some ideas on what can be replaced:
- Lard will work instead of butter. I find that cooked red cabbage tastes better when combined with animal fat. However, if you are vegan, you can use sunflower oil, or rapeseed oil.
- Add cider vinegar, malt vinegar or malt vinegar to replace red wine vinegar. You can also use lemon juice (fresh or concentrated).
- Swap apples for raisins or sultanas which are also sweet and fruity. Alternatively, add diced carrot or cranberries.
- Add caraway seeds or nutmeg instead of allspice.
How To Make Slow-Cooked Red Cabbage
This comforting red cabbage can be prepared in these few easy steps:
- Clean the cabbage bulb, remove the hard stem, and slice it.
- Chop an onion and place it at the bottom of the slow cooker (crock pot). Add sliced cabbage, cover with diced apple, add butter.
- Add red wine vinegar, season with allspice, black pepper, salt, and sugar.
- Add water, cover and cook on low heat for 5-6 hours or until soft (3-4 hours on high heat).
For exact measurements and details, see the recipe card at the very end of this article.
How to avoid mistakes when making this recipe? Here is a handful of tips:
- Keep an eye on the water level, to prevent the cabbage from getting burned from the bottom of the slow cooker.
- If you are unsure about how much sugar or salt to add, taste the cabbage first, and then add a small amount of each until you get a desired flavour.
Storage & Reheating
Cooked red cabbage will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days. Once cooked, leave it to cool down to a room temperature (uncovered), place in an airtight container and store in the fridge. Reheat before serving.
You can also freeze this braised cabbage. It will keep in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost it slowly overnight (6-8hrs) in the fridge before reheating.
How To Reheat Reb Cabbage?
The best way to braised or slow cooked red cabbage is on the hob. Transfer the cabbage into a saucepan, set on medium heat and bring to boil. Keep an eye on the amount of liquid at the bottom of the pan and stir occasionally. Leave to boil for at least 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Alternatively, you can reheat red cabbage in a microwave, either as an individual portion or two. Place it in a microwave-safe dish, and reheat for 3-6 minutes per serving depending on the power of your microwave. Stir halfway through. Check the cabbage is piping hot, add a minute or two more if needed.
Braised or slow-cooked red (purple) cabbage will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days, and for up to 6 months in the freezer.
The key is to add some vinegar or lemon juice to help stop the cabbage losing its vibrant colour.
Yes, you can freeze both raw and cooked cabbage, which is a great way of reducing food waste. Frozen raw cabbage can be used in soups and casseroles, and frozen cooked cabbage can be reheated and enjoyed with dumplings or potatoes and roast meat.
More Slow Cooker Recipes
📖 The Recipe
Slow-cooked Red Cabbage
- 1 kg red (purple) cabbage
- 1 red onion peeled
- 2 sweet apples cored and diced
- 50 g unsalted butter diced
- 75 ml red wine vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon whole allspice
- ½ teaspoon salt to taste
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 200 ml cold water
- Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut off any dead or brown parts. Cut the cabbage in half, remove the hard stem at the bottom. Cut into quarters and thinly slice the cabbage.
- Chop the onion and place it at the bottom of the slow cooker (crock pot). Add sliced cabbage, cover with diced apple, and bits of butter.
- Add red wine vinegar, bay leaves, season with allspice, black pepper, a pinch of salt, and sugar.
- Add water, cover with a lid and cook on low heat for 5-6 hours or until soft (3-4 hours on high heat). Stir, taste, adjust seasoning if needed, and serve hot.
- lard, sunflower oil, or rapeseed oil (1:1 ratio),
- cider vinegar, malt vinegar, or malt vinegar (1:1 ratio),
- Swap apples for raisins, sultanas, cranberries, or diced carrots (handful).
- Add caraway seeds or nutmeg (1:1 ratio).
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