Polish Sweet-Sour Red Cabbage (Czerwona Kapusta Zasmażana)

Polish braised red cabbage

 The Spruce

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
110 Calories
4g Fat
18g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 110
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 396mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 47mg 235%
Calcium 70mg 5%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 395mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Polish sweet-and-sour braised red cabbage, known as czerwona kapusta zasmażana (cherr-VOH-nah kah-POOSS-tah zahs-mah-ZHAH-nah), is a side dish that comes together in a snap, especially if you use a food processor to shred the cabbage and onion. 

Red cabbage is sweeter than green or white cabbage and retains its brilliant color even after it's cooked. It's available year-round and usually is an inexpensive buy. It goes great with just about any dish but is a favorite with ham, pork, and sausage. 

Braising is a great way to cook cabbage. This technique is a moist-heat cooking method that involves browning meats or vegetables in fat and then cooking them in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pot over low heat on the stovetop or in the oven for a long time. Low and slow are the watchwords.

Braising adds flavor and breaks down tough fibers, so it's the perfect way to cook tough cuts of meat (with a lot of connective tissue) and fibrous vegetables like cabbage, celery, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, Belgian endive, and others.

In this case, the cabbage is meant to retain some of its crispness, so it breaks the rule of a long, slow cook and requires 15 minutes of cooking.


  • 1 (3-pound) head red cabbage, washed, dried, cored, and shredded

  • 1 medium onion, shredded

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or canola oil

  • 1 cup water

  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Polish braised red cabbage
     The Spruce 
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook cabbage and onion in butter or oil on medium heat until it collapses, about 5 minutes.

    Cabbage in pot
     The Spruce 
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together water, vinegar, brown sugar, pepper, and salt until sugar is dissolved.

  4. Add to cabbage mixture, combining well.

    Add cabbage mixture
     The Spruce
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover tightly.

    Bring to a boil
     The Spruce 
  6. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender but still a little al dente, about 15 minutes.

    Cook until cabbage is tender
     The Spruce 
  7. Refrigerate overnight to improve flavor.


  • This dish freezes well for up to six months

Recipe Variations

  • For German flair, replace the butter or oil with chopped bacon, replace some of the sugar with apple juice and a sliced apple, use dry red wine in place of red-wine vinegar, and add some cloves.
  • For zing, add 1 teaspoon of freshly crushed mustard seeds, or 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (crushed or left whole) and, to set it and forget it, use a slow cooker.
  • Use green cabbage in place of red cabbage and apricot jam in place of the brown sugar.
  • As long as you're braising some vegetables and the oven is on (if you choose to go that route), why not braise a pot roast, lamb or veal shanks, bone-in chicken parts, beef short ribs, oxtails, or pork shoulder in a separate Dutch oven. Any one of these would be delicious with braised red cabbage.