Braised Red Cabbage with Apples and Bacon


F&W editor Melanie Hansche really disliked sauerkraut growing up, but sweeter, milder "rotkohl" she could get on board with. This sweet-and-sour, traditional Bavarian braised red cabbage is always served with goose, duck, or pork. To make it, the cabbage is gently braised with tart apple, smoky bacon, orange zest, and spices. Remove any thick, white ribs when shredding the cabbage so the dish cooks evenly.

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples and Bacon
Photo: Photo by Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Prissy Lee
Total Time:
45 mins


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium-size red onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 4 ounces speck or bacon, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 small head red cabbage (about 2 pounds), quartered, cored, thick white ribs removed, and finely shredded (about 6 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and grated on large holes of a box grater (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) dry red wine or water

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons orange zest, finely grated

  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds

  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

  • 5 juniper berries

  • Fine sea salt, to taste

  • Black pepper, to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high. Add onion and speck, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and speck is rendered and starting to become crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  2. Add cabbage to onion mixture, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is slightly softened and wilted, about 3 minutes. Add brown sugar, and cook, stirring often, until mixture starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Add apples, wine, vinegar, orange zest, caraway seeds, cinnamon stick, and juniper berries; stir to combine. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Make Ahead

Cabbage can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator. Reheat in a saucepan over low just before serving.

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