This spicy red cabbage with apple and spices is one of my favourite side dishes in the cooler months.
The sweetness of the apple combined with the warmth of cinnamon and cloves, make it perfect with pork, lamb, beef, venison and game. Even better, it's absolutely wicked with sausages and a creamy, cheesy mash!
And the best bit? This is so easy. Just throw it all in a casserole and let it slowly braise. That's it.
This vegetable is so underused and normally just ends up as a sprinkling in salads and coleslaw. Crunchy and slightly sour when it's eaten raw, it becomes sweet and tender once braised, and to me it tastes nothing like a green cabbage.
Red cabbage is also rich in antioxidants and is full of vitamins and minerals, so it's a great one to add to your five a day.
The apples and onions add to the sweetness and the spices bring a warmth to the dish, which is deliciously comforting.
This recipe is so easy too. There is just a bit of chopping, then it all goes in the oven to cook. No skills required.
❤️ Why you will love this dish
- Easy one pot dish.
- Delicious with rich game and duck dishes.
- Freezes well.
- Simple chopping preparation.
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- Cabbage - a whole red cabbage, also known as purple cabbage. They normally weigh around 1kg, but it doesn't matter if it's slightly lighter or heavier.
- Apples - I've opted for a tart apple such as Granny Smith.
- Cinnamon - ground cinnamon.
- Nutmeg - ground nutmeg.
- Onions - white or yellow onions.
- Garlic - garlic cloves rather than powderor granules.
- Sugar - soft dark brown sugar for a rich taste.
- Cloves - ground cloves.
- Salt - flaked sea salt.
- Pepper - freshly ground black pepper.
- Vinegar - apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar.
- Butter - salted or unsalted. If you normally have salted butter, adjust the salt accordingly to taste.
The printable recipe card with full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found at the bottom of the article.
- sharp knife
- chopping board
- 4 litre lidded casserole dish
Start by removing any tough outer leaves from the cabbage and then cut it in half through the root core. Cut out most of the white core and discard.
Now cut the halves again, then slice the cabbage. It's really tightly packed, a bit like an onion, so you will need to use your hands to separate the pieces. I find that it's easy to do this and place into a bowl as you go, because you quickly run out of space on the chopping board with even just one quarter of the cabbage.
Peel and chop the onions finely, then peel the apples and cut into chunks. You don't need to worry about the apple going brown as it will completely cook down in the oven.
Now it's just a question of layering in the ingredients. I've used a cast iron, 4 litre, lidded casserole dish.
Start with a layer of about a third of the cabbage and follow with a third of the apples, onions and garlic.
Mix the sugar together with the spices, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over a third of the mix onto the vegetables.
Repeat the layering process twice more. Now, pour the vinegar over the top and dot the butter over the surface.
⏲️ Cooking time
Put the lid on top and cook in the oven at 150 C / 300 F / 130 FAN / Gas 2 for about 2 hours.
I like to give it a stir half way through cooking.
When it's ready there will be hardly any liquid left, just tender, tangy cabbage with a hint of spice.
- Red cabbage is like beetroot and the juice will stain everything. If you are slicing the cabbage by hand you might like to use gloves and a plastic chopping board that you can clean with bleach.
- To save time, slice the cabbage in a food processor, if you prefer, by using the wide slicing attachment.
🥗 Side Dishes
This spicy red cabbage is delicious with roast meats, particularly, venison, game and beef dishes.
- Slow Cooker Venison Shanks
- Venison Stew
- Roast Venison Haunch
- Pheasant Pie
- Spatchcock Duck
- Roast Pigeon
- Pheasant Breast with Wild Mushroom Sauce
- Duck Confit
- Duck with Orange Sauce
- Roast Partridge
- Ground cloves - pinch the rounded top part of a whole clove and crumble with your fingers, disgarding the stem.
- Onions - use any onlion you prefer, such as red onions or shallots.
- Spices -You can add different spices to the cabbage, such as juniper berries, caraway seeds, cumin or star anise.
- Bacon - It's also really delicious to fry some smoked bacon pieces and stir through the cabbage just before serving.
- Refrigerator - once the cabbage has cooled it can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezer - as this makes enough for 10 people, I tend to always freeze some in containers for up to 6 months.
- To reheat - the best way to reheat is in the oven at 150 C / 300 F / 130 FAN / Gas 2, covered with foil or in the microwave with a loose lid on full power.
🍱 Prepare in Advance
- Make up to 3 days in advance and store in the fridge in the casserole dish. Reheat as above.
More vegetable side dishes
Spicy Red Cabbage with Apples and Spices
- sharp knife
- chopping board
- 4 litre lidded casserole dish
- 1 kg red cabbage 1 red cabbage
- 400 g onions 2 large
- 350 g apples 3 medium
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 3 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg grated
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon ground
- ½ teaspoon cloves ground
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage and cut into quarters. Cut out the core and slice thinly.
- Peel and chop the onions finely, then peel the apples and cut into chunks.
- Place the vegetables in the dish. Start with a layer of about a third of the cabbage and follow with a third of the apples, onions and garlic.
- Mix the sugar together with the spices, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over a third of the mix onto the vegetables.
- Repeat the layering process twice more. Now, pour the vinegar over the top and dot the butter over the surface.
- Put the lid on top and cook in the oven at 150C/300F/Gas2 got about 2 hours, stirring half-way through.
- Red cabbage is like beetroot and juice will stain everything. If you are slicing the cabbage by hand you might like to use cloves and a plastic chopping board that you can clean with bleach.
- Slice the cabbage in a food processor, if you prefer, by using the wide slicing attachment.
- If you don't have ground cloves just pinch the tops off whole cloves and discard the stalk. The tops just disintegrate to a powder that you can use for ground cloves.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article.
We sometimes take for a granted that we have years (or decades) of cooking experience, that the average visitor may not. Add to, or remove from, the list below with health and safety tips.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
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