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Slow cooker Christmas: braised red cabbage

December 13, 2014

Slow cooker braised red cabbageThe final count is in; there will be sixteen of us round the table on Christmas day… and I’m doing the cooking. There are a few butterflies but mainly I’m excited to spend a day eating drinking and making merry with my family and some friends who go back for eons.  It does mean it’s important to keep ahead on the preparations and I try to tick off something every day. A combined feast means that there are dishes that absolutely have to be on the table for someone. Brussels sprouts and parsnips are non-negotiable for my lot; bread sauce, sage and onion stuffing and bacon wrapped chipolatas for another family; and one friend always asks “we will be having that red cabbage you make, won’t we?”. We will.

I thought this would be perfect for making in the slow cooker and it is. There’s no real difference in effort between making like this or in a cast iron casserole in the oven, but it’s much more economical as it just needs to braise away for a few hours – and the slow cooker uses the same energy as a light bulb.

As all my Christmas food, I think that less in more when opening the spice cupboard and advise you once again to leave that cinnamon stick and cloves alone. A crisp, fresh red cabbage plucked from the ground near Dubai, bought at the farmers’ market and chopped within hours of getting home, needs very little added to it – although one of those things is red wine. Quelle surprise.

Braised red cabbage - slow cooker

  • Servings: 4 (or 16 as part of the Christmas feast)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 small red cabbage (about 1 kg)
  • 100g butter plus a drizzle of olive oil or 100g ghee
  • 1 small red onion, chopped to medium dice
  • 1 dessert apple, peeled, cored and chopped coarsely
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 60ml red wine
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parsley (see note below)


1. Remove any limp or discoloured leaves from the outside of the cabbage and cut into quarters. Cut out the thick white core from each quarter and then cut into fine shreds (you could do this in the food processor). Rinse well and drain.

2. Heat the butter and oil, or the ghee (clarified butter) in a very large frying pan. Add half the cabbage and cook for about a minute until it starts to wilt. Remove to the slow cooker pot with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remaining cabbage. Add the onion and apple and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring often. Add the red wine vinegar and the red wine and season. Pour the whole lot into the slow cooker.

3. Cook in the slow cooker on the auto setting until tender to the bite but not too mushy. Start checking after 2 and half  hours – you can leave it slightly firmer if you are freezing and reheating. Taste before serving and add seasoning and a dash more red wine vinegar if required.

Note: As this is for the Christmas table I have garnished it with flat-leaved parsley – and jolly festive it looks too. This is in spite of my usual strict adherence to Prue Leith’s advice not to garnish with anything that has not been used in the dish. Dill would work really well here too.

Linking up to Ren Behan’s wonderful Simple and in Season round up event.

What absolutely, categorically, HAS to be on your Christmas or celebration table?

  1. December 13, 2014 10:09 pm

    For me it would be a glazed ham. If it is a New Zealand Christmas, then also a bounty if seafood and pavlova for dessert.

    • December 14, 2014 8:03 am

      I love a ham too – especially for turkey and ham pie the next day. Pavolva would be a good Dubai Christmas dessert – great idea.

  2. daver001 permalink
    December 13, 2014 10:18 pm

    Not sure why cabbage has dropped so dramatically off most people’s radar – maybe it’s all those semi-toxic coleslaws that you buy pre made. Hopefully, as kale has been the comeback kid of 2014, cabbage (red or white) will do the same in 2015. Let’s make next year the year of brassicas! I don’t do a traditional Christmas meal but lightly boiled sprouts always make me think of the season, as well as bread sauce which really doesn’t need the turkey to be delicious! And my grandmother always made a version of brandy butter called guard’s sauce, which was much stiffer and had a good glug of brandy in, the thought of which takes me right back to family Christmases. This year, as I have for the past few, I’ll be in Paris for Christmas, not cooking but enjoying plates of oysters and champagne, sole meuniere and garlicky snails, killer cheeses and lies flottantes… Bliss!

    • December 14, 2014 8:06 am

      Googling guard’s sauce now – sounds terrific. I’m with you on the cabbage family – if kale is fashionable why not cabbage (my Polish heritage insists!)? Have a fantastic time in Paris and thanks for your informed and thought provoking comments throughout 2014. Really appreciated.

      • daver001 permalink
        December 14, 2014 8:36 am

        Not seeing a recipe for Guard’s sauce on the Net that sounds anything like the one we used to have, which I suspect came out of Mrs Beeton. Best way to describe it is a mixture of well whipped butter, brandy and the hard icing from a wedding cake. It is firm with a slight granular taste to it, not smooth like Brandy butter.

  3. December 13, 2014 10:22 pm

    Red cabbage is delicious and this way of braising sounds ideal. And the green parsley definitely adds a nice touch of extra colour.

    • December 14, 2014 8:06 am

      Thinking that dill would be really pretty too 🙂

  4. December 13, 2014 11:46 pm

    I just adore cabbage. I made this once but with hind sight, I think you’re right; it was overspiced, particularly the cinnamon and cloves. Maybe I’ll try it again with just black pepper…

    • December 14, 2014 8:08 am

      Don’t get me wrong, I adore spices and use lavishly when I cook – I’m just not a fan of the Christmas (dare I say Delia) school of thought that if it’s Christmas we must add cinnamon and cloves to EVERYTHING!!

  5. December 14, 2014 12:02 am

    I quite like the Spidey version, but this also sounds extra good as the slow cooking will bring out the rich cabbage flavour.

    • crasterkipper permalink
      December 14, 2014 12:03 am

      That should say ‘spicey’ of course!

      • December 14, 2014 8:08 am

        I like Spidey – isn’t that what they called Spiderman in those old cartoons?

  6. December 14, 2014 12:03 am

    Thank you!
    Great recipe for Christmas! 🙂

  7. December 14, 2014 12:30 am

    I love red cabbage – the slow cooker seems such a great idea!

  8. December 14, 2014 5:32 am

    One of my fave winter dishes! I love cabbage.



  9. December 14, 2014 7:00 am

    Regarding Brussels sprouts, I just went to a restaurant that served blanched, chilled leaves in a dressing of fish sauce, lime juice, and mint. It was a very refreshing and unique preparation. It seems hard to find them not deep-fried or covered in bacon. (Not that I have anything against the fryer or pork…) And last year I made a shockingly good vegan parsnip pie that wasn’t too sweet and made a wonderful breakfast the next day. Merry Christmas!

    • December 14, 2014 8:11 am

      Intrigued by the parsnip pie – and the fact you ate it for breakfast. Wine match? 🙂 I think there would be mutiny if I served sprouts like that but they sound amazing. Maybe I should sneak some in. Thanks for commenting Jameson.

  10. therealgeordiearmani permalink
    December 14, 2014 7:57 am

    Prue Leith 🙂 I made a vegetable soup in the slow cooker last week, so easy and as you mention energy efficient to use. Merry Christmas to you and all your guests.

    • December 14, 2014 8:13 am

      Haven’t made a soup in the slow cooker yet – KP’s fave is egg and lemon which would keep warm really well in the slow cooker as it mustn’t boil (or the egg scrambles). So many things to discover… I love my slow cooker 🙂 Have a wonderful Christmas GA

      • therealgeordiearmani permalink
        December 14, 2014 8:17 am

        ooh I would like to see the recipe for that 🙂 when you clean out the vegetable rack, stick it all in the slow cooker and hope for the best!!

  11. December 14, 2014 10:32 am

    LOVE red cabbage – nice recipe!

  12. December 14, 2014 11:32 am

    love braised red cabbage, such an overlooked dish i feel. I have also made it with a more middle eastern touch on the blog

  13. December 14, 2014 12:31 pm

    Always good to use the slow cooker more, especially in run up to a big feast!

  14. glamorous glutton permalink
    December 14, 2014 12:45 pm

    It’s carrot and swede mash for us, with a dollop of butter and creme fraiche. We vary the bird and this year we’re having a wonderful four rib of beef. Love the red cabbage recipe. GG

  15. December 14, 2014 11:38 pm

    I adore slow cooked red cabbage, I often do mine with pomegranate juice (a la Nigella). Pomegranate juice is now forever linked to Christmas in my taste buds. I think a pile of perfect roast potatoes is non negotiable for Christmas day! As well as cranberry sauce.. Bread sauce… Fabulous gravy… Sprouts.. Oops, the list goes on.

  16. ramblingtart permalink
    December 15, 2014 8:23 am

    Red cabbage is a vital part of our Christmas feast as well. We make it Danish-style with red currant jelly and brown sugar. Yours sounds delicious. 🙂

  17. December 15, 2014 12:01 pm

    We have a long tradition in Belgium of eating red cabbage with sausages.
    Our recipe is quite sweet rather than savoury/
    Here it is basically: red cabbage, cooking apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, a tiny tiny bit of pepper, honey or sugar and then stewing with a dash of water when needed.
    Do try it with the spices, and with the sausage, it really is divine with some silky mash potato 🙂

  18. December 15, 2014 4:53 pm

    This looks perfect. I love red cabbage at Christmas and it just adds something a little special to the roast dinner.

  19. daver001 permalink
    December 15, 2014 7:39 pm

    My christmas essential? Already in place, with three packets squirelled away and maybe time for one more forage before I fly to France, are Heston Blumenthal’s mine pies, available at Waitrose. As is his caramel ice cream, though that’s just pleasant rather than exciting. Of course, I won’t have these on the 25th but when I return to Dubai the next week as a great start to 2015!

  20. December 16, 2014 1:05 am

    Excellent! Braised red cabbage is one of my favourites!

  21. andreamynard permalink
    December 16, 2014 1:59 am

    Braised red cabbage has to be included in my Christmas lunch too – along with Brussels, parsnips & little sausages wrapped in bacon. I love the red cabbage cold with leftovers the next day too. Your version looks fab.

  22. December 16, 2014 12:52 pm

    Thanks for the recipe!

  23. December 16, 2014 11:28 pm

    Red cabbage is one of the integral Christmas sides in Germany. For the first time I am hosting the Christmas Day meal – and hoping to get the red cabbage part right. My mum-in-law makes a killer braised red cabbage and I hope to get it as good as hers. Wish I had that slow cooker already !


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