German Red Cabbage Coleslaw Recipe - Rotkohlsalat

Red cabbage
Dorling Kindersley
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings

If you like coleslaw, try this German red cabbage salad recipe, or rotkohlsalat, for a refreshing treat. Marinating the cabbage in vinegar for 2 to 3 hours breaks down the tough cabbage, making it more easily digested and giving it some zip. So take this into consideration when preparing the dish. 

Rotkohlsalat goes with burgers, ​frikadellen (German meat patties), roasts, and more. Best of all, there's less of a chance of a foodborne illness (within reason) because there is no mayonnaise or sour cream in the recipe, simply vinegar and oil. So bring it on for picnics, barbecues, and potlucks!.

This salad recipe makes 4 (1/2-cup) servings.

What You'll Need

  • Small red cabbage to make 2 cups shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar or white-wine vinegar
  • 1 small peeled or unpeeled apple, cored and shredded
  • 1 tablespoon oil, such as walnut (Omega-3) or olive oil (monounsaturated)
  • 1 pinch sugar (optional)
  • Additional salt (optional)

How to Make It

  1. Shred the cored cabbage in your food processor, on a mandoline, or cut the whole cabbage into quarters, remove the core, and slice thinly with a knife from the cut side.
  2. Place shredded cabbage into a non-metallic bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon vinegar of choice and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  3. Fluff the cabbage with a fork, add the shredded apple (unpeeled or peeled) and 1 tablespoon oil of choice. Mix well to completely coat the salad.
  1. Season to taste with sugar and/or salt. Marinate in the refrigerator for another hour. Serve cold.

Tip: If you buy a small red cabbage, use about half of it for this salad. Use the other half to make cooked red cabbage. Alternatively, double the recipe and eat it over 2 days, since it gets better with time.

Note: Red cabbage is most often found cooked as rotkohl, a highly-prized side dish most often served at holiday time with roast goose or sausages and mashed potatoes. Rotkohl is often called blaukraut, blaukohl, or blaukappes in Germany and blaukabis or rotkabis in Switzerland.

It is redder in an acidic environment, so the addition of vinegar, citrus or apples when cooking enhances the red color. Sugar and baking soda will make it look blue (alkali). Common spices used when cooking rotkohl are cloves, nutmeg, and bay leaves.