This is the simple Braised Red Cabbage recipe that I’ve been searching for. With no apple, vinegar and no cinnamon or other spices, the flavour of the cabbage truly has chance to shine. This quick veggie side takes moments to prepare and is truly effortless!
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So why is this the recipe I’ve been searching for? That’s simple, it’s because I like the taste of cabbage. So when I have a side of red cabbage with my roast dinner, I want to be able to know what it is that I’m eating.
Just like with other sides like roast parsnips, roast potatoes and cranberry sauce, I like to keep the flavour simple. Often with so many different elements on the plate, too many strong competing flavours can become too much.
But almost every recipe I have looked at in the last 30 years seems to be packed to the brim with apples, star anise, cinnamon or mixed spice and occasionally alcohol like red wine or port. So I’ve very rarely made or ordered it. Until I decided enough was enough.
I’ve got through quite a number of red cabbages conducting various experiments. I tried adding a little garlic, a little orange juice and various other subtle flavours. But nothing sat quite right.
I tried adding cream at the end – I thought creamed red cabbage sounded like a good idea. I do love creamed savoy cabbage and sprouts after all. But nope, it was not good – don’t do this!
Then I tried different braising liquids. Plain water didn’t pack enough punch but a really flavoursome stock made the cabbage really zing. Bingo!
I more often than not have chicken stock on hand and that is truly delicious in this recipe. I try to make the majority of my side dishes as inclusive as possible. When feeling a crowd, the less dishes you need to adapt to cater for the inevitable vegetarian or two, the better.
So I also tried a good vegetable stock and actually it was good. But it wasn’t nearly as good as the chicken stock. I want to share the best versions of my recipes so that is how this is written – with the meat stock. It is easy to sub in veg stock if needed.
After everything I’ve said, please don’t think for a second that any plate of food I put together is bland! With delicious and moist roast chicken or beef, herb and butter packed stuffing all covered in the most delicious gravy, there is absolutely no chance of that.
How to Serve Easy Braised Cabbage
I quite often eat shredded red cabbage raw and cold in salads. Especially when I’m channelling a middle eastern inspired vibe with super smooth hummus and a tahini yoghurt sauce. But cold braised red cabbage is not good!
Please make sure to serve this red cabbage recipe hot or at least no cooler than warm. I quite often don’t stress about all my sides for a roast dinner being super hot. As long as the gravy is piping hot, we’re all good.
I am also a fan of serving meals with lots of elements family style – i.e. with everything in serving dishes so everyone can help themselves. This means that everyone can choose exactly how much of everything they want. No one feels awkward about being served something they’re not keen on and any food waste is minimised.
Make Braised Red Cabbage Without Apple into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
I’m pretty good at getting a decent amount of veg into my diet so I’ll often throw a side of cabbage onto weeknight dinners like my glorious Puff Pastry Sausage Plait or with a Corned Beef & Potato Bake.
But I admit that I only tend to do this when I’ve made a batch and frozen easy to defrost and reheat portions. With the best will in the world, by its very definition, any braised dish is not quick to cook. Easy but not quick.
So the time when it is most likely to make an appearance is with a roast dinner. And especially with Christmas Dinner. It is a classic here in the UK. For the most part, I start with a main meat element like How to Roast Turkey (Wet Brined) then mix and match the carbs and sides. Any of these recipes would be great in combo with this cabbage:
- Pigs in Blankets (Bacon Wrapped Sausages)
- The Best Roast Parsnips
- Roast Potatoes
- Homemade Bread Sauce
- Roast Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Rosemary Potato Cubes
- Vichy Carrots with Thyme
- Lemon & Garlic Green Beans
- Proper Yorkshire Puddings
- Get Ahead Gravy From Scratch
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Simple Braised Red Cabbage
Rather obvious but it is churlish not to list it here. I always think that red and white cabbages must be the most economical vegetable – here in the UK anyway. I can make one cabbage feed me in various ways for weeks. They keep very well in the fridge too.
One cabbage does make a large batch of this recipe. It serves at least 8 as a side, if not more. You can easily halve the recipe if you prefer but if I’m going to cook anything for two and a half hours, I like to make more of it.
You can actually use the same recipe with a white cabbage – but the cooking time will be around half.
You will never beat a good homemade chicken stock. I had some to hand when testing this recipe and it really was mind blowing. So if you have a good homemade stock – or can buy a good stock from a butcher, please do use it.
You can also buy ready made stock in the chilled section or even vac packed in many supermarkets. You can even buy it in a beer can now. In the US where it is more commonly called chicken broth or even chicken bone broth, it can be found in cartons like long life milk or orange juice. Which is handy. This would be my second preferred option to use.
If you can’t get hold of made-up stock/broth, you can use a stock cube, or slightly better, a stock pot. The stock pots just tend to have a little more flavour to them. Make up the stock as normal with boiling water then use as stated in the recipe.
It doesn’t matter if you use fresh lemon or lemon juice from a bottle. But do make sure to add a little. It not only adds a little pep to the final flavour but it helps to keep the colour of the red cabbage just that little bit more vibrant.
A little salted butter added at the end of cooking, adds a little extra flavour and shine. It also adds a little extra seasoning. So if you must insist on breaking my heart and using unsalted butter, please add a little sea salt at the same time.
This is a really simple recipe with minimal ingredients and extra flavours. So that’s great if you are wanting a plain red cabbage dish like I was. But it also means that it is a brilliant base for if you do want to add more flavours or additions.
For a little more body, lightly brown some onion in butter before adding the shredded cabbage is my most common addition. Of course you can add the more traditional apple. I’d recommend grating it in.
And then you can add spices. If I’m going to then chilli is my favourite. Cinnamon, mixed spice or even Chinese 5 spice are quite common additions. Just stir the spices in when you add the stock.
Slow Cooker Braised Red Cabbage
I’ve written this recipe to bake slowly in the oven. You can also cook it in a slow cooker if you prefer.
Reduce the amount of stock by roughly 1/4. Use a medium setting and cook for the same time as the oven recipe. Leave the lid off for that final 10 minutes of cooking.
Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot Braised Red Cabbage
You can also use a pressure cooker. Reduce the amount of liquid by half, cook for 10 minutes and allow to natural release.
Add the butter and allow to cook with the lid off using the sauté function for the final 10 minutes with the added butter.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
This recipe is suitable for neither vegetarians or vegans as written. But it is very easily adapted.
To make vegetarian braised red cabbage, you simply need to replace the chicken stock with a good vegetable stock. To make vegan red cabbage, you will also need to use a dairy free butter substitute. Or simply add a little olive oil instead.
Make it Allergy Friendly
This recipe is free from egg, gluten (see note) and nuts.
Gluten Free: I just wanted to point out that if you are using a stock cube or stock pot, it is worth checking that they don’t contain gluten. GF ones are easily available but it isn’t a good idea to assume.
Dairy Free: Butter is the only dairy ingredient in this recipe. So use a dairy free version and you are good to go.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Braised Red Cabbage
For preparing the cabbage you will need a chopping board and a large sharp knife. I do quite often err on the side of smaller knives but you really do need something with a bit of heft to cut all the way through a red cabbage. Please make sure it is good and sharp too.
The baking dish is the next major item. But this is really flexible. The cabbage does need to be covered as it cooks but a simple piece of foil does the job just as well as a lid would. So feel free to use anything from a ceramic baking dish to a Dutch casserole to a large pie dish.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
I want you to get ahead with the recipe. In fact I beg you to. With the exception of my roast turkey on Christmas day, I don’t want to be cooking anything for two plus hours just before it needs to be served.
So 90% of the time, I’ll make the red cabbage the day before I’m serving it. Half or so will get portioned up in the freezer and the rest will get reheated just before serving. Talking of Christmas, I actually do this for most of my dishes.
You can of course get further ahead. The cabbage will store in the fridge for 4 or 5 days. Make sure to use a good airtight container. Or you can make it waaay in advance and freeze it.
I always defrost before reheating. And I mostly reheat in the microwave which keeps it nice and moist. You can also heat it in a saucepan on the hob. I do prefer this to putting it back in the oven as it can get too dry.
Leftover Braised Red Cabbage
You can follow all my tips above for freezing and later reheating any leftovers.
I am absolutely not adverse to sprinkling a little red cabbage as a topping on my Leftover Roast Dinner Pizza. Please try it!
I will also happily serve some with my Leftover Turkey Fried Rice either. I would usually give it a little stir fry with some garlic salt, light soy sauce and a dash of mirin and serve it on the side. Adding it to the fried rice is likely to turn the whole shebang purple,
You can also use it in more traditional leftover recipes like these bubble and squeak patties from Curly’s Cooking.
Simple Braised Red Cabbage Tips
Please do try to shred the cabbage quite thinly, You are looking for 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch size slices. Bigger and they will need a longer cooking time.
Talking of cooking times, they can differ by a small amount each time. I’ve made this recipe numerous times now and it really can vary a bit. So towards the end of the cooking time be prepared to pull it out a little early. Or leave it in for a little longer.
When cooked the cabbage should be soft all the way through with only the tiniest hint of resistance. Any remote crunch and it isn’t done yet.
The last 10 minutes of cooking allows the butter to meld in to the cabbage and make a but more of a sauce with any remaining liquid in the dish. If there seems to be a huge amount of liquid left, drain a little out before this stage.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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Braised Red Cabbage – No Apple or Spices
- 1 Red Cabbage - around 1.5kg/3lb
- 600 ml Chicken Stock - fresh or made up with stock pot or cube
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Salted Butter - plus extra to serve
- Preheat the oven to 160c fan | 180c | 350f.
- Prepare 1 Red Cabbage by removing any outer leaves that aren’t in good condition. Use a large sharp knife to cut the cabbage into quarters right through the core.
- Use the same sharp knife to cut the core out of each quarter.
- Slice each quarter of the cabbage until the whole cabbage is shredded.
- Put the cabbage in a casserole dish and add 600ml Chicken Stock and 1 tbsp Lemon Juice. Give everything a little stir together.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 2 hours and 15 minutes. You can give everything a stir every 45 minutes or so but it isn’t essential.
- Remove the foil, stir the cabbage and dot with 1 tbsp Salted Butter. Return to the oven for 10 minutes.
- Serve with more butter if desired.