Real Red Cabbage – a bloody version of sauerkraut

Just an imitation of red cabbage

Red cabbage is one of the key sides of the traditional Danish Christmas dinner. Danes around the world go to great lengths to obtain Danish made red cabbage. It is as essential to the Danish kitchen as sweet ‘n sour for the Chinese, Tabasco for the Mexican, frog-legs for the French, Sauerkraut for the Germans, and ketchup for the Americans.

You can buy red cabbage in most supermarkets, but it, for some reason, never tastes the same as the version you get in Denmark.

I’ve spent the last few decades outside Denmark, which includes the majority of Christmas festivities. I must maintain the Danish Christmas traditions, and I have managed to find red cabbage on glass in the local supermarkets.

Red cabbage is a fairly common ingredient for the Germans, so finding it in the US is pretty easy. That said, the taste is not quite the same.

Despite my childhood memories, strongly believing that my mother always made red cabbage herself, this illusion was left in tatters when some years ago she confessed to me that she had bought it from the stores – just like have been doing for the past few decades.

This year, the devil’s year of 2020, I decided to outdo my mother and actually make red cabbage from scratch. Little did I know how easy it actually is and how great it actually tastes.

I have attempted the share my recipe here. I want to share my cooking adventures with fellow Danish people living outside Denmark, trying to recreate an authentic Danish Christmas dinner with red cabbage. Hopefully, this will challenge them to make their own, instead of buying the store-bought version.

Condiment – served separately used to add flavor to food.

The below ingredients will provide plenty of red cabbage for the family, and you will have enough for left-overs the following day too. The ingredients are straightforward to find in most supermarkets.


  • Half a large red cabbage head, roughly 1.5 lbs
  • 3.5 oz of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 8 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 cup of water
  • 5 tablespoons of whole cranberry sauce (canned)
    • it looks like jelly

Ready to impress?

  1. Cut the red cabbage in half – you need a big blade to make it easier
    1. Pretend you are an evil Voorhees
  2. Remove the outer leaves. The outer leaves have been through many hands, and you do not want all those extra ingredients in your cabbage dish
  3. Wash the cabbage head well – get all the dirt out of the red wonder
  4. Slice the cabbage into thin 1 inch slices, as thin as you can
    1. It would be best if you had a nice sharp kitchen knife, with a stiff blade
  5. Dig out a large pot and melt the butter. Don’t brown it!
  6. Throw in all the cabbage and gently fry the shit out of it until it is soft
    1. It takes roughly 7-8 minutes.
  7. Add the rest of the ingredients.
    1. Apple cider vinegar
    2. Sugar
    3. Ground cloves
    4. Water
    5. Cranberry sauce jelly
  8. Stir it well, and turn down the heat slightly.
  9. Simmer the red cabbage for about an hour, and stir it regularly

Done! You have officially made your first batch of homemade red cabbage. This shit is amazing and adds a new dimension to your homecoming. It elevates your Christmas dish and any other meal that you serve with red cabbage.

This goes well with most pork dishes, grilled meats, burgers, and hotdogs.

Although my mother never made red cabbage, I’m pretty darn sure she would be proud of me. Heck, I’m super proud of the outcome, and the family ate all the red cabbage over two days. That in itself is an achievement.

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