A classic winter recipe for anyone with even a tiny bit of European heritage.  Shredded red cabbage with a big of sugar and a bit of vinegar.

Classic red cabbage recipe

It takes a certain kind of someone to want to grow the world’s largest anything.  Potato, Leek, Carrot, Zucchini …   Just last year the 90 year old record for the World’s Largest Red Cabbage was broken by David Thomas who grew a 51.1 pound red cabbage. It beat out the long standing record of a comparably pathetic 42 pound cabbage, also grown by a man. As it turns out, most of the people who want to grow absurdly large vegetables are men.  I think we all know why.

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If you search the Internet you’ll find a photo of David, a resident of Cornwall, England,  proudly lounging languidly behind his cabbage, his face and left shoulder the only parts of his body that are visible.  I’m sure this saucy little image is considered quite sexy within the big vegetable crowd.  Need more incentive to spend 4 months growing a big potato?  It’s common knowledge that the only profession searched more often than lawyer on is Competitive Vegetable Grower.

My own father used to search out the biggest of everything in the grocery store.  Instead of coming home with a bag of beets he’d come home with one beet accompanied by its own sun and moon.

Today’s recipe for classic sweet & tart Red Cabbage came from my very own homegrown red cabbage.  My own very small, non award winning, Guinness Book of World Record losing, red cabbage.

Classic red cabbage recipe

I think anyone with any sort of European background has had a scoop of red cabbage brighten up their dinner plate during the holidays, but a few years ago I started bringing this holiday favourite out of the “only for special occasions” repertoire.


Because I like it. And because it’s stupid fast and easy to make.

Classic red cabbage recipe

All it takes is one or two perfectly normal sized cabbages, some vinegar and sugar and about 1 hour.  I use a knife to shred the cabbage. Honestly? It’s easier than dragging out and cleaning a food processor.

red cabbage and apples

You can add apples too.  I like apples.

red cabbage recipe

Shred the cabbage with a knife, slice the apples, chop an onion and you’re almost done.  The ingredients are simmered for about 40 minutes and that’s all there is to it.

The best part of this is that this red cabbage recipe freezes PERFECTLY.  I make a batch every fall, put it in individual sized containers and stack them in the freezer (because my freezer is now actually perfectly organized and yours can be too.)  Red cabbage goes well with pretty much everything but I especially like it with roast chicken, turkey or anything pork.  Not a giant pork.  Just you know, regular sized pork.

red cabbage recipe

Classic Red Cabbage Recipe

Classic Red Cabbage

Classic Sweet & Tart Red Cabbage recipe. Sugar to taste.
3.17 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Canning/Preserves
Author: The Art of Doing Stuff


  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 apples
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 regular sized red cabbage shredded (enough to make 8 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons white sugar less if you want it less sweet
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bay leaf


  • Prep your ingredients so they're ready to go.
  • In a large saucepan over medium, melt the butter.
  • Add in the sliced apples and onion, cooking until soft.
  • Add remaining ingredients and heat to boiling.
  • Cover and simmer 40 minutes.
  • Discard bay leaf and transfer to serving bowl or individual containers for freezing.

I don’t think I’ll be growing a giant, fair worthy vegetable anytime soon, but I do think that if I were to ever join,  before I lied about my height, weight, age or education, I’d lie about being a wildly successful competitive vegetable grower.


  1. ROMA PATE says:

    On your Red Sweet n Sour cabbage dish I noticed you did not add any flour to thicken…I have slways used at least a tablespoon to make it a not so liquid

    • Karen says:

      Hi Roma! Nope I don’t find the need to, but if that’s something you grew up with then by all means go ahead and do it. Just always make sure to cook the flour thoroughly after adding it so you don’t have raw flour taste. (which I’m sure you know) ~ karen!

  2. Pam'a says:

    I’m wondering if this recipe would take to a long, lazy afternoon in a crock pot. I don’t see why not. Also, I have a dim memory of another cabbage delicacy I made long ago– I believe it was sauteed somehow, but then finished with sour cream. Heavenly! I could be coerced into digging out the actual recipe, but I’m sure it’s floating out in the ether, too.

  3. NinaMargo says:

    Karen, sorry I’m a day late. Did you use a specific type of apple? Granny Smith maybe? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      I just used whatever I had in my fridge. :) I believe it was a Macintosh, but yes Granny Smith would be great. ~ karen!

  4. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Sounds good to me but I can head my son complaining about the smell now! lol

  5. Cooked cabbage is a go-to at my house when I’ve been in the dirt all day and can’t stand the thought of cooking a meal for five people. Add potatoes, smoked sausage, some yummy mustard, rye bread with butter if I’m lucky, and dinner is served.

  6. Phyllis says:

    Oooh, sweet and sour red cabbage is a favourite fall dish of ours, especially when served with some local German sausage. But thanks for the tip about freezing it. Who knew?

    Now how about showing some love for the humble but oh-so-nutritious beet? Sweet and sour beets are a de rigeur offering at our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and lots of other times
    as well. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

  7. Jody says:

    My cabbages are little too. But, oh so cute. I love slicing into a cabbage and seeing the insides. I am constantly amazed at the patterns in Nature.

  8. Marilyn says:

    Yeah..we know why…I love red cabbage.

  9. Catherine says:

    Karen: this sounds great! I’ll try it if for nothing other than the entertainment value for my family. I love cabbage and it does not return the favor. Also, just a heads up for your web-guru, the text for “Print” on the recipe print button looks like it is set to be white on white or grey on white and or possibly grey. It works out to being a mystery button until you mouse over or press it. They can get all java on it and fix it in nothing flat, I’m sure.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Catherine! Hmm. It’s a plugin and I rooted around a bit in the editor for it and in the 17,000 files couldn’t find the script for the print background colour. I’ll look into it a bit more tonight. :/ Thanks for letting me know! ~ karen!

  10. ronda says:

    Our family recipe comes by way of my Oma. Red cabbage, sugar, vinegar, water, pepper. And garlic, my addition. Add some thickening, and schmekt gut!

  11. linda in illinois says:

    When I helped care for children many moons ago, the kitchen ladies used to make the children cabbage soup, I was appalled by the thought and smell on those days. Then one day tried the soup and by golly gee it was terrific. Now I really like cabbage in most forms, cooked, raw, pickled, etc. Thanks for the recipe Karen, will definitely consider trying.

  12. Teddee Grace says:

    You are too funny. And I needed a laugh this morning. Actually Mr. Thomas is not a bad looking guy, but I really think you could do a further riff on this very manly art of growing….or apparently shopping for…the very large vegetable. When I googled David Thomas and the Very Large Cabbage, which I thought might bring up a children’s book, I noticed lots of violent, manly references to smashing records and the length and size of things. He now seems to have grown a 124.08 pound cabbage. Also, Mr. Thomas, who seems, over the years of competition, to be gathering girth, although it could just be muscle, along with his cabbages, commented, at some length, in response to the male announcer about his very long trip in from Cornwall and told anyone, most likely any man, interested in this competitive sport to just keep trying and enjoy themselves. Not bad advice at all.

  13. Jenny says:

    We’ll have to try this recipe to go with fried pork cutlets and warm German potato salad! I never knew that I liked cabbage like this until my husband brought home a jar of pickled red cabbage last year. Delicious. :)

  14. danni says:

    I’ve never had this, only ever seen it in the movie A Christmas Story…. I need to try it, I love cabbage.
    Best best BEST way to cook is to fry down shredded cabbage in bacon fat tho… mmmmmMMMmmmmm
    And TOTALLY off subject, I was whining that at the beginning of September my louffa vines, although beautiful, insect free, and at least 30 feet long, still hadn’t produced one gourd… BOOM! Bid fat dingle dangles hanging off the trellis! Like they exploded overnight!

  15. Mary W says:

    LOVE this great purple cabbage plant and how easy it would be to pick the small purple bowling balls from a tomato plant’s tiny stems! You have a magical garden, indeed! It surely is your happy place!

  16. Sabina says:

    Oh now I know what I’m making Sunday! I was going to die country ribs and sauerkraut because I love it. But I love sweet and sour cabbage even more! A friend was visiting from out west and making it for her mom who was in hospice care. She asked me for raisins to add but all I had was dried cranberries. It. Was. Fabulous. Try it. You’ll like it 😎

  17. Thandi says:

    So of course the first thing I did was Google “David Thomas world’s largest cabbage”. I was not disappointed.

  18. Marna says:

    Will have to try your recipe. I bet your red cabbage taste better than that man’s, probably old tasting. ;)

  19. Gabriele Butte-Colonna says:

    Instead of sugar I use red Marmelade or jelly, almost better with homemade Orange Marmelade

  20. Constanze says:

    Aside from the apples, my mom also puts in raisins or dried apricots (cut up), and, of course, a bay leaf =D

  21. Dorothy says:

    Braised red cabbage is my favorite winter vegetable dish. It was and is always on the holiday table.

  22. Hazel says:

    I sometimes add a splash of gin. Or juniper berries if I don’t want to waste gin.

  23. MrsChrisSA says:

    Cabbage – even if it is pink and has glitter – no thank you!

    Boarding school cured me of that – they used to cook it until it was grey and the whole hostel reeked of stinky sock cabbage smell.

  24. Ev Wilcox says:

    Your attention to size is interesting (disturbing?)! Copied this recipe but will prob never make it. Cannot think of one person in this family that would eat it but me. Sigh….
    Thanks anyway. As usual the photos are great. (Copied them too)!

  25. Brenda says:

    I like little vegetables but like the sounds of this especially the part about freezing well (and the bit about adding sugar – I just did some other bedtime reading – a Julia Child Mastering recipe for carrots where you add sugar to the water you boil them in and later butter and whipping cream and I closed the book with a smile on my face) … then I read this – BIG SMILE … veggies and sugar! WhoOt

  26. Kathleen Aberley says:

    You freeze cabbage? Really? I really like cabbage, although I am not sold (yet) on freezing it. This I shall have to try.

  27. MaryJo says:

    I think giant vegetables are stupid! But I love all kinds of vegetables, and your cabbage recipe is great!

  28. Lisa says:

    Well you’ve already converted me to Kale (the garlic/oil/lemon recipe) – which I now love (only prepared one way of course); shall have to try your red cabbage recipe. :-)
    PS: You shall never convert me to coriander.

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