One of my favorite childhood memories is waking up to the smell of this Holiday red cabbage recipe simmering on the stove. Its sweet aroma broadcasts that the Holiday meal preparation is in full swing.
You may not feel excited by the sound of cabbage as a side dish for the Holiday meal, but let me tell you, this is no ordinary cabbage dish. It is a sweet, tangy side dish that adds just the right flavor. In my home, it is as necessary as cranberry sauce, and who can have a Holiday meal without that?
My mom loves this side dish. She fondly remembers it simmering on the stovetop as she grew up. It spells Holiday to her.
If you visit a Scandinavian or a European specialty food store, you are sure to find red cabbage precooked and ready to heat for the Holidays. But let me tell you, this homemade version is so much better.
Why you’ll love this easy red cabbage recipe
- Vibrant color: The red cabbage’s rich, deep red color is visually striking and instantly adds a pop of color to your holiday table. It’s not just delicious; it’s also a feast for the eyes.
- Simplicity: This recipe is incredibly easy to make, making it accessible to cooks of all skill levels. You can whip it up without the stress of complex techniques or hard-to-find ingredients.
- Balanced flavor: The combination of sweet from the natural cane sugar, tangy from the lemon juice, and savory from the Better-Than-Bouillon or chicken-style seasoning creates a harmonious blend of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds.
- Versatile: Whether you’re serving it for a holiday meal, a family dinner, or a potluck, this red cabbage dish complements a wide range of main courses.
- Healthy nutrients: Red cabbage is a nutritious vegetable packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. It’s a tasty way to incorporate more healthful ingredients into your holiday menu.
- Make-ahead option: You can make this dish in advance, allowing you to focus on other holiday preparations. It reheats well, preserving its flavors and texture.
- Delightful aroma: While cooking, your kitchen will be filled with a wonderful scent that will get everyone in the holiday spirit.
Holiday Red Cabbage Ingredients and substitution notes
- Red cabbage: Choose a fresh and firm head of red cabbage. You’ll want to shred or finely chop it to the desired consistency for your recipe.
- Vegan margarine (Earth Balance): Vegan margarine adds a rich, buttery flavor to this holiday red cabbage dish without using animal products. Earth Balance is a popular vegan brand known for its quality.
- Lemon juice: I recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice rather than bottled lemon.
- Natural cane sugar: Natural cane sugar is a less refined sugar option that can add sweetness to the holiday red cabbage dish. Adjust the amount to your taste, as sweetness levels can vary depending on personal preference.
- Frozen grape juice concentrate: The frozen grape juice concentrate brings a unique and fruity sweetness to the recipe. It’s essential to use a 100% pure grape juice concentrate, such as Welch’s, for the best results.
- Better-Than-Bouillon: These seasonings add depth and savory notes to the dish. Better-Than-Bouillon or chicken-style seasoning are excellent vegan alternatives for enhancing flavor. I recommend choosing the vegan or vegetarian version to keep the recipe plant-based.
- Choose fresh red cabbage: Select a fresh, firm, vibrant red cabbage. Avoid any that show signs of wilting, discoloration, or soft spots.
- Proper storage: Store the red cabbage in the refrigerator until ready to use it. Keeping it cold will help maintain its crispness and flavor.
- Wash and core: Remove damaged or tough outer leaves before shredding or chopping the cabbage. Cut out the core to make it easier to work with.
- Uniform slicing: To ensure even cooking, slice the red cabbage into uniform, thin strips. A sharp knife or a mandoline slicer can help you achieve consistent cuts.
- Add ingredients gradually: When adding ingredients like sugar, lemon juice, or spices, do so slowly and taste as you go. This allows you to adjust the flavors.
- Balanced sweetness: Be mindful of the sweetness level. The natural cane sugar and grape juice concentrate will provide sweetness, but it’s essential to strike a balance with the tanginess of the lemon juice.
- Use vegan margarine: If you’re following a vegan diet or prefer plant-based options, use vegan margarine like Earth Balance to add a buttery flavor.
- Cook covered: While cooking, consider covering the pan at times to help the cabbage steam and become tender. Just be sure to uncover and stir occasionally.
Make ahead of instructions and storage
Prepare the red cabbage according to your recipe, following all the steps until it’s almost fully cooked. You want it to be tender but still retaining a slight crunch.
Allow the partially cooked red cabbage to cool to room temperature. This helps prevent condensation inside the storage container and maintains the texture.
Transfer the partially cooked red cabbage to an airtight container. Ensure the cabbage is well-sealed to keep it fresh and prevent any odors from contaminating the dish. Refrigerate for up to 2-3 days.
Cooked red cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Use airtight containers to maintain freshness and prevent cross-flavoring with other foods.
When you’re ready to serve, reheat the red cabbage gently in a saucepan. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth if it has become too dry during storage.
Before serving, taste the reheated dish and adjust the seasonings, such as lemon juice or sugar to suit your preference. Flavors can mellow or intensify during storage.
My top recommendation is to serve this holiday cabbage recipe as a side to vegan roast turkey!Print
Amazing Holiday Red Cabbage with Mama
1 small red cabbage, finely shredded
2 tablespoons vegan margarine (Earth Balance)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons natural cane sugar
3 tablespoons frozen grape juice concentrate (Welch’s 100% Grape Juice)
2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon or chicken style seasoning
Remove outer leaves and core from cabbage. Shred cabbage very fine.
Melt butter in a medium pot. Add all ingredients.
Cover and gently, GENTLY, on low heat, bring to a simmer. (This step is crucial to the flavor of the cabbage). Let slowly, SLOWLY, simmer for about 1 hour until the cabbage is tender and flavorful.