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Classic Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Apples

This colorful sweet and sour red cabbage with apple recipe has an impressive list of health benefits and is an excellent side dish with pork tenderloin, pork chops, or ribs.

December 29, 2022

Sweet and sour red cabbage with apples in a serving bowl

Colorful Side Dish with Impressive Health Benefits

Like the discarded bottle of “purple stuff” in the back of the refrigerator in the SunnyD commercial, I sometimes find a partial head of red cabbage hidden in the produce drawer. Because of its gorgeous color, I add red cabbage to slaw and stir-fries, but I often forget to make straight-up cabbage. That is unfortunate because red cabbage has an impressive list of health benefits.

Cut red cabbage on a cutting board.

Health Benefits of Red Cabbage

1. Increases fiber in the diet.

2. Reduces caloric intake – one cup of cooked cabbage has 29 calories.

3. High in nutrients – Vitamin C, K, and B6 and potassium, folate, manganese, calcium, and magnesium

4. Boosts the immune system from powerful antioxidants in the vegetable

5. Fights disease through anthocyanins, the plant compound that gives red cabbage its color. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid, and studies show that they may play an essential role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cognitive decline, and cancer.

6. Slows down carbohydrate digestion from anthocyanins

7. Contains anti-inflammatory properties


Sweet and sour red cabbage ingredients on a cutting board

Budget Friendly

This hardy vegetable is good for your budget because is inexpensive and has a long shelf life. It keeps 3+ weeks in the refrigerator. Read more about  Cabbage Use and Storing from – Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center. One cabbage head can be used in several recipes throughout the week. A small head of cabbage yields 8 cups sliced. Add color and nutrition to a stir fry, coleslaw, or salad if you have leftover cabbage. 

How to CUt Red Cabbage

Small red cabbage on a cutting board

Use one small cabbage or 1/2 large cabbage.

Red cabbage with top leaves and stem removed on a cutting board

Remove and discard outer layer and trim stem.

Red cabbage quartered and core removed on a cutting board

Quarter cabbage & remove the core.

Thinly sliced cabbage pieces

Cut thin slices on the short side of the cabbage pieces.

Thinly sliced red cabbage pieces

Continue to slice all pieces.

eight cups of red cabbage in a measuring bowl

Measure and use any leftovers in slaw or salads

Classic Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Apples

Take advantage of the nourishing attributes of cabbage by making this recipe. You not only receive the benefits of cabbage listed above but also sugar-free because it is sweetened with apples and raw honey. This makes the dish friendly with paleo, keto, and Specific Carbohydrate (SCD) diets. Red cabbage is NOT just for winter container gardens or to be used sparingly with other vegetables to add color. It is a tremendous stand-alone veggie that is both delicious and nutritious. For more information on the wholesome advantages of red cabbage and anthocyanins, check out this post on the verywellhealth website.

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Sweet and sour red cabbage with apples

Classic Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Apples

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Karen
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 45
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Vegetable
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This colorful sweet and sour red cabbage with apple recipe has an impressive list of health benefits and is an excellent side dish with pork tenderloin, pork chops, or ribs.


Units Scale
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small head of cabbage or half of a large head (8 cups of red cabbage, thinly sliced)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 granny smith apples, cored and sliced, and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup water*
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar glaze, optional


1. Cut Cabbage – Remove the outside leaves of the cabbage. Trim the end of the cabbage (see illustrations in the post). Cut the cabbage in half and then quarters. Remove the core by cutting at an angle—cut cabbage into thin strips on the short end of the quartered pieces with a knife. Discard or compost outer leaves and core. **

2. Cook Cabbage: Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in cabbage, onion, and salt and saute until cabbage starts to wilt for about 5 minutes. Stir in apple and water, salt, and pepper—cover and simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes or when the apples and cabbage are soft.

3. Mix sweet-sour sauce: Pour vinegar and honey into a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add sauce to the cabbage and stir to combine. Cook another 5 to 6 minutes. Place cabbage mixture into a serving bowl and drizzle with balsamic glaze, if desired.


*May need to add more water

**Alternatively, you can slice quartered cabbage pieces on a mandolin or use a food processor fitted with a slicing blade on medium width. The knife is effective and fast since the cabbage layers make slicing effortless.

Note: One small head (slightly larger than a softball)  yields 8 cups of sliced cabbage.

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Let me know your thoughts on this post!

9 responses to “Classic Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Apples”

  1. My family and I loved the red cabbage with apples!! Easy to make – I just chop rather than grate the cabbage. It is delicious – I will definitely make again !

    • Monica, Thank you for taking the time to write your endorsement. I hope it becomes a regular dish for your family.

  2. I have made this several times and it has always been well-liked by family and friends. Thank you.

  3. I am about to make this and curious … is the onion a preference or is there a specific onion you suggest? I am leaning towards white figuring it is the least likely to get lost in the other flavors.

  4. This sweet and sour cabbage recipe is delicious and easy to make. I served it with my Impossible Burger for dinner and then ate the leftovers for lunch. This is a winner!! Mmmmmmm. I have never understood why they call it red cabbage when in fact it is purple.

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Karen the Supper Sanity Home Chef

Welcome to Supper Sanity

Hello, I’m Karen, a very passionate meal planner. As a mother of three, I have been planning family menus for years. When I was diagnosed with a digestive condition, I found it necessary to follow an eating regime that eliminated many ingredients. That made meal planning a health necessity. I’ve learned a lot and want to share my resources to simplify meal planning, shop efficiently and cook affordable homemade meals. If you wish to try new recipes, plan healthier meals, and enjoy a great dinner with your friends and family, Supper Sanity can help.

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