Rödkål till Jul | Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage

Sweet-and-sour Braised Red Cabbage

Colorful, flavorful, and at its best if made ahead of time ... this traditional Swedish side dish deserves to pretty up your Thanksgiving plate as well as your Christmas menu. Red cabbage plays well with hearty winter food and keeps things simple for busy cooks. No surprise if you know me: I've pulled this recipe from The Nordic Cookbook (Phaidon 2015) by Magnus Nilsson.

Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage.png


"This is an indispensable part of Christmas dinner for many Nordic people. Some people braise it with blackcurrant cordial, others with red wine. I think vinegar and brown sugar are enough. It is best to prepare this dish a day or two in advance and let sit to be reheated the day of serving.

"Some people (myself included) like to add diced apple to this dish. If you do, use a good firm cooking apple. There is no need to peel it but do remove the core."

 "Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour
"Serves: 4 as a side dish, but many as
part of a spread"


  • 1 red cabbage
  • 100 g/3.5 oz (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 100 ml/3.5 fl oz (1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon) red wine vinegar
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece of cassia cinnamon [a.k.a. one cinnamon stick]
  • 2 cooking apples, cored but not peeled, cut into 1 cm/half-inch dice (optional)
  • salt and black pepper to taste

How to:

  1. Shred the cabbage finely.
  2. Place all the ingredients, except for the apple, in a large pot.
  3. Cook over a medium heat, stirring from time to time. You may need to add a bit of water if it goes too dry during the cooking process. There should be a little liquid on the bottom of the pan at all times, but it should not be too wet. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender and sweet.
  4. Add the diced apple, if using, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Increase the heat a little and reduce the liquid until it thickens to a glaze that coats all the cabbage nicely.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning just before serving.

Recipe and notes are from The Nordic Cookbook (Phaidon 2015) by Magnus Nilsson; used by permission. Photos and all other text are copyright 2017 Amanda Hansen, all rights reserved.