Balsamic Braised Cabbage

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This braised red cabbage with apples is a bit of an old school recipe. To many it might seem a little untrendy, and not particularly inspiring. But let this recipe change your mind! Flavoured with tangy balsamic vinegar and sweetened with sugar, this recipe also infuses cinnamon for some added flavour. 

Where does braised cabbage come from?

Although I’m not entirely sure of where this recipe was first made, variations of braised cabbage are popular throughout Europe, particularly in the North. From Germany and Poland to Scandinavia, braised cabbage is a warming dish and a great accompaniment to meat dishes, making it ideal for the colder winter months. 

The beautiful purple colours are so photogenic. And the fact that cabbage is really pretty bland and will take on any flavours you add, seemed a great opportunity to experiment. 

Braised Balsamic Apple Cabbage

What is it?

Braising is basically the act of cooking something slowly in a little liquid over a low heat for a long period of time. Whatever you are cooking – meat or veg – it gives super soft and tender results that have fully infused with the flavours of the dish. The ingredients shouldn’t be covered in liquid – you’re braising not boiling. 

When you make this it may seem like it’s a little dry when you first add it to the pan. Once it starts to cook the juices from the cabbage are released into the vinegar, and as it’s covered, none of the juices leave the dish.

What does it go with?

This is a great dish to serve with a good roast dinner. Roast chicken goes particularly well, but it’s also great with beef, lamb or even some sausages. It’s flavoursome but not so overpowering that it’s tricky to pair. It’s also perfect at a festive dinner table with some roast turkey.

Can you freeze it?

This recipe freezes well for up to 3 months. Cool fully before freezing and place in a freezer safe container. Cover securely with a lid. Thaw fully before reheating in the microwave or on the hob. 

If you planning on eating in the next few days then you can leave it in the fridge for 2-3 days (4 at a push). Again, reheat in the microwave or on the hob. 


This recipes uses a few basic ingredients. 

  • Red cabbage – cut very finely. Ideally use a mandolin set to around 3mm (0.1 inch). 
  • Balsamic vinegar – a couple of spoons per portion is enough to add a huge amount of flavour
  • Apple – green apple to add a little crunch and tang
  • Red onion
  • Light brown sugar
  • Cinnamon


You can pretty much use any type of sugar you want for this recipe – although brown sugar is preferred as it has a deeper flavour. 

You can swap the cinnamon with other flavours including some dijon or wholegrain mustard, allspice or, if you are looking for something extra festive, some ground cloves. You can also leave it out altogether if you don’t want too many flavours and you are planning on serving this with you really want to steal the show.

For a lighter version, you can swap the sugar with powdered sweetener.

How to make it

This recipe is cooked slowly over a longish period of time so plan in advance. However, it really is a ‘set it and forget’ it kind of meal. If you are making it with a roast then get it on the go before you put the meat in thee in the oven and everything will be ready around the same time. As long as you keep the temperature low you don’t really need to worry about overcooking it either. 

To make, simply prepare all the ingredients and then add everything to a large pan and stir together. Place over a medium heat and stir frequently until it has a slight sizzle and a little steam coming off it. Cover and reduce the heat to low. 

Cook for 1.5 hours and then serve immediately. Alternatively you can keep it warm in the pan for a while until you are ready to serve or cool and refrigerate until you are ready to eat.

What are your thoughts on braised cabbage? Love it or hate it? Have you tried this recipe? I want to know – let me know in the comments! 

If you are looking for other great veg side dishes then try this roasted tenderstem broccoli with garlic or this grilled asparagus with balsamic red onion.

Products that work great for this recipe:

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Balsamic Braised Cabbage

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 52 minute
  • Yield: 1 1x


Braised red cabbage with apples – A tangy twist on this classic side dish that is sure to add a pop of colour and flavour to your dinner table! This side dish will complement many dishes – in particular a good roast chicken. 

The default recipe serves one (around 3/4 cup per portion)


  • 80g / 2.8oz red cabbage (around 1/4 of a small-sized head)
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced (35g / 1.2oz)
  • 1/2 green apple, deseeded and diced (60g / 1.8oz)
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar (10g / 0.3oz)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


  1. Cut out the core of the cabbage and remove the outer leaves. Slice thinly with a mandolin on around a 3mm / 0.1 inch setting. If you don’t have a mandolin then strip off the leaves, lay them flat and slice as thinly as you can. 
  2. Place the cabbage, onion, apple, sugar and balsamic in a large saucepan. Place over a medium heat until it starts to smoke a little and you can hear a bit of a sizzle. use a spoon to turn frequently for a couple of minutes then cover and reduce the heat to low. 
  3. Leave the cabbage to slowly sweat for around 1.5 hours. 
  4. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.


It might look like there is no liquid in the pan when you first place it over the heat – don’t worry, as it cooks it will reduce a little liquid to steam it and soften. 

Don’t be tempted to be healthy and skip the sugar as it will be very sour. You can replace the sugar with powdered sweetener however.

You can swap the mustard for a different flavour if you prefer – great options are cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice – especially if it’s going on a festive table!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1.5 hours
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Hob
  • Cuisine: British


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 115
  • Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 28g
  • Protein: 1g

Keywords: cabbage, vegetarian, side, balsamic, healthy,

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