How to Cook Red Cabbage

If you are looking for a healthy, colourful and delicious side vegetable may we suggest red cabbage. With its wonderful deep purple (no not the rock band …) it adds more than just flavour to so many great winter lunches and dinners. The wonderful thing about cooking with red cabbage is that it brings in not only seasonal flavours, but with its intense hues adds colour to what can be a very grey time of year!

From a healthy eating perspective, there is plenty to cheer about. This colourful brassica genus is full of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. An interesting bit of trivia for you, the rich purple colour is from anthocyanin a rich flavonoid.

Shopping for Red Cabbage

So, when you are next in your local market, take the opportunity to buy this splendid colourful veggie. Our tip is to select a nice looking cabbage with fresh outer leaves. The great thing about this vegetable is that if it looks good, it will taste good too! Appearances, in this case, are not deceptive! They also keep well for a few weeks in the fridge or in a cool dark place.

Preparing Red Cabbage

It is delightfully simple to prepare a red cabbage. First, peel off the outer layers of the large leaves that are mother nature's perfect packaging! Then give the whole cabbage a rinse in water and pat dry. The easiest cutting method is quartering the cabbage and then cutting off any unnecessary core parts.

How you chop the cabbage really depends on what you your aims are, if you are going to make a salad, then finely chopping is the obvious tip. For most cooked dishes, however, if you try to make consistently sized pieces, this will help cook everything evenly and simultaneously.

Cooking Methods

Whether you aim to boil or try braising the red cabbage, it is always a joy to prepare, as unless you forget all about it and overcook it for half a day, the results will usually be great!

Braised Red Cabbage:


  • 1 medium red cabbage
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 1 red onion
  • A tablespoon of cider vinegar
  • 100ml red wine
  • A knob of butter
  • 1 stick of cinnamon

For this method, it is best to chop the cabbage finely. First of all, melt a generous knob of butter in a decent cooking pot and then add the cabbage and other ingredients. Just bring it to a simmer and then cover and reduce the heat. This can cook slowly, allowing all the flavours to come together over an hour or so. All you need to do is stir occasionally.

This will accompany most meats but particularly suits duck, pork and venison.

Chinese Braised Cabbage

For a nice variation why not add some chilli, spring onions, star anise and soy sauce for the Chinese interpretation of braised cabbage. Allow 25 to 30 minutes and then at about half way through add some spring onions and some sesame seeds for some added richness. Serve with something crispy for that really great Chinese taste sensation!

Boiling Red Cabbage

Naturally, you can boil red cabbage. All you need to do is add a little salt and vinegar to the water which will help preserve its beautiful strong purple colour. Boil for 5 minutes and taste, remember like most things it is nice if it retains a little crunch and good texture. So 'just cook' is the best way to avoid soggy cabbage!

Health Benefits

It is not surprising that red cabbage is packed full of the right things. According to recent data, red cabbage provides us with potassium, folate and vitamin C. Also, if the cabbage is lightly braised then this releases those all important 'carotenoids' that benefit our health. Another benefit is that red cabbage also contains 'isothiocyanates' that encourage gut bacteria greatly benefiting our general health.

Don't forget besides braising and boiling red cabbage it's also really great raw as a salad. Look out for red cabbage 'slaw' recipes, which makes a great change from the somewhat overused white cabbage and carrot coleslaws!