Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut)

Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Enhancing a jar of ready-made German red cabbage to taste more like homemade is standard practice with my immediate family. It’s not to say that we don’t also have a recipe for making this braised German staple from scratch, but it’s just sometimes you don’t want the extra work of slicing up a whole cabbage head. This is going to be similar to my Bavarian style sauerkraut recipe, if you’re already familiar with it. If you’re not and you click on the link, you get to see how far my food photography has come!

This side dish is just referred to as Blaukraut (blue cabbage), Rotkraut or Rotkohl (both meaning red cabbage) in German, depending on your location. And yes, Germans have two words for”cabbage”. Until recently, I thought the difference in colour part of the moniker (blue versus red) had to do with purple vegetation sometimes being labeled as red or blue. Heck, we’re doing that in English with red cabbage because, come on, it’s clearly purple. I also thought it just had something to do with regional differences with German dialects. Turns out it’s the latter plus an added scientific reason behind the red or blue. It comes down to the PH in the soil. The more acidic the soil, the more red the cabbage will be and vice versa with more alkaline soils and it turning more blue in colour. Obviously, this means that Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland have more alkaline soil than Northern Germany because there we call it Blaukraut!

Oh, this also goes for cooking. If you’re cooking red cabbage from scratch, you need to add acid to keep it from turning too blue. I don’t mean purple blue. I mean blue blue. Hence why red cabbage leaves are wonderful for dying Easter eggs a beautiful shade of blue.


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Easy Braised Red Cabbage



  • 1 24 oz (680g) jar of ready-made Red Cabbage with Apple
  • 1/2 tart or semi tart Apple (like Granny Smith)
  • 3 tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Lingonberry or Red Currant Jam
  • 1 tablespoon of Bacon Fat 
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Juniper Berries (optional)

The only jar of ready-made red cabbage I can reliably find in my area is Hengstenberg’s Red Cabbage with Apple, so that is what I use. However, there are various brand out there. If your red cabbage jar is without apple, just add the whole apple instead of just a half.

You can substitute red wine for red wine vinegar if you want it to be sweeter in taste.

Any type of red jelly or jam works for this recipe. Lingonberry, which is the same as German Preiselbeeren, and red currants are the flavours most likely to be used in Germany. Black currant jelly would also work exceptionally well and may be easier to find if your local grocery store carries Hero Fruit Spreads

If you don’t want to use bacon fat, olive oil or vegetable shortening works as well. The bacon fat just adds a little extra flavour!


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Here’s a look at the items you might not already have in your pantry – Juniper Berries, a jar of Red Cabbage with Apple and Lingonberry Jam. While the juniper berries are part of the recipe, it also work without it. I don’t like to advocate buying a potentially expensive spice if you’re only going to use it once or twice, unless you really want to do so! 


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Slice up the apple really thin. This is the only slicing we’ll do!


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Add a spoonful of bacon fat to a large or medium large pot. It basically equates to a tablespoon. Melt the fat on medium heat. 


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Sauté the the sliced apples in the bacon fat until they’re soft and are lightly browned.


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Add the cabbage from the jar and stir together with the apple. Sauté for 5 mins. 

If you have problems opening the jar of red cabbage, you wouldn’t be the only one. I’ve had problems with every jar I’ve tried and have read online that other folks experience the same thing. I just gently whack the sides of the metal lid with the heavy end of the knife a few times and this easily breaks the lid’s death grip on the glass.


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Now we add the water. I fill the now empty jar of red cabbage a third of the way full, close the lid and swish it around to get all leftover bits of cabbage. Pour over the cabbage and give it all a good stir.

Next we add the extra flavours!


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Three tablespoons of red wine vinegar.


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

One tablespoon of lingonberry jam.


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

One bay leaf and three juniper berries.


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let it simmer for 30 minutes.


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

There we go! An easy and quick way to get some German red cabbage.


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

Braised red cabbage is most often served in Germany with roast pork, duck, goose or game, as well as Sauerbraten, which is a beef dish. Personally, we’re loving it with pan fried bratwurst and Bechtle’s Bavarian-style spaetzle because it’s far less work than roasting up a piece of meat when I want some red cabbage. It might not be traditional, it’s so good together! 


Easy Braised Red Cabbage (Blaukraut) | The Kitchen Maus

I’m so glad that I married an American that adores any style of kraut. It makes things much easier for me. He’s so happy that we’ve been eating red cabbage for most of the week. 


As always,



und Alles Liebe,

I did a little name dropping in this post but I feel like I should tell you that there’s no compensation for that. I’m just telling you what I use and where to get it!

Easy Braised Red Cabbage

This easy red cabbage with apple recipe takes a ready-made product and makes it taste more like homemade with just a little extra work.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Author The Kitchen Maus


  • 1 jar of ready-made Red Cabbage with Apple
  • 1/2 tart or semi tart Apple like Granny Smith
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Lingonberry or Red Currant Jelly
  • 1 tablespoon of Bacon Fat


  1. Thinly slice half of an apple. Melt bacon fat in a large pot over medium heat and saute the apple slices until soft and lightly browned. Add jar of red cabbage and saute for 5 minutes. Fill empty red cabbage jar 1/3 full with water and pour over cooking cabbage. Add red wine vinegar, lingonberry jam, bay leaf and juniper berries. Stir well. Cover the the pot and cook for 30 minutes on low. Enjoy warm!
  2. Traditionally served with roast pork, duck, goose or sauerbraten. Also pairs well with bratwurst.

Recipe Notes

If your jar of ready-made red cabbage doesn't have apple in it, just add the whole apple instead of just half.
You can substitute red wine for red wine vinegar if you want it to be a little less tart.
Any type of red jelly or jam works for this recipe. Black currant jelly as well.
Olive oil or vegetable shortening can be subbed for the bacon fat.

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  1. It is so easy to make your Red Cabbage from scratch. The Hengstenberg one is very souer and would not need extra vinegar. Also the red current jam is Johannisbeeren Marmelade and not Preiselbeeren, The black currents are Schwarze Johannisbeeren. The jams you can get in any grocery store,which has any items from Germany. I buy mine in an import store and it comes from Poland and it is very inexpensive.

    • I’m so glad you find it easy to make red cabbage from scratch but sometimes folks have time constraints. This is why I wanted to share an alternative we use in my family.

      Hengstenberg is what I use because it’s the only brand of ready-made red cabbage I can find here and I live in big city. Though, we don’t find it too sour. Other folks might find different brands available to them. Since the jams I mentioned in my post aren’t found at my local grocery stores, I’m guessing other folks might experience the same lack. Having lived in many areas in the US, I know from experience that import stores aren’t always easily found. Or, if you do, they can be quite expensive. Sounds like you have a well priced one in your area, which is great!

      The main motivation for my blog is to help folks without access to a lot of German made goods, or folks unfamiliar with them, make German food. 🙂

    • Preiselbeeren, Johannisbeeren u. Lingonberry sind alle “currants,” genau wie deine Kartoffel konnte mein Erdäpfel sein.

  2. This is an odd question, but how do you store your bacon fat? I’d love to keep and reuse mine, but I haven’t found a good and convenient way to store it!

    Also a note to Renate: Preiselbeeren ist schon der Begriff auf Detusch für Lignonberry, genau wie Diony das geschrieben hat.

    • Not an odd question at all! I probably should have addressed this in my post. I have an old jam jar (has a distinct lid) that I just keep refilling with bacon fat. It’s kept in the back of my fridge, where it’s the coldest. I can’t speak to the food safety of this method but I’ve never had it go rancid on me and I smell it before every use.

    • That is a good idea, to use the Hengstenberg Red Cabbage and I applaud your forum Kitchen Maus, to find ways to make great dishes,when you are short on time.

      • Danke, Renate. I sincerely appreciate the compliment and the comments. It’s also good to hear that keeping bacon fat in a jar in the fridge is pretty standard!

  3. Re: opening jars. I found a tool, the JarKey by Brix (available online) which lets you pry the lid up to break the vacuum. Looks like a churchkey bottleopener. Jar till closes tightly afterwards.

    Plain Hengstenberg Red Cabbage is what is available at my local supermarket.


    • That looks like a great option. Thank you! We’ll have to look into getting one because that’s better than using a knife handle.