This easy sweet and sour slow cooker red cabbage combines red cabbage, onion and apple for a simple, flavorful vegetable side dish that goes with everything.

close up view of red cabbage on a white plate with fresh green herbs on top

About This Recipe

The ease, simplicity, and flavor of this healthy slow cooker red cabbage makes it the perfect vegetable side dish for just about any meal!

I particularly love it alongside chicken, pork, or fish, or in a savory grain bowl (but honestly, it goes with so many different dishes), especially for the holidays and Thanksgiving!

One thing to keep in mind as you’re cooking this is that as the cabbage cooks down it loses its bright purple color, but it gains a silky texture.

If you’ve never had braised or slow cooked cabbage before and are wondering how this recipe tastes, it has a lovely sweet and sour flavor from the apple, vinegar, and brown sugar.

After cooking slowly in the crockpot for hours, the cabbage gets super tender and tastes like you’ve spent all day making it.

It’ll be our little secret that you only needed a few minutes of hands-on prep and a couple simple ingredients to make it happen!


This recipe couldn’t be easier to make and is my go-to side dish for gatherings & parties.

Simply add your chopped cabbage, onions, apples, vinegar, water, salt and sugar (if using) to your crockpot. 

To slice the cabbage, cut into quarters, then trim and discard the core.

Stack the leaves, lightly flatten with your hand, then cut each stack of leaves into thin strips for this recipe.

Then just let your slow cooker work it’s magic.

After it’s cooked, you can stir in the optional butter, adjust salt to taste & you’re ready to dig in!

Tip: Instructions for how to cook this on high for a shorter cook time are also included in the recipe card below, keeping your options open on busy weeks.

top down view of ingredients for slow cooker red cabbage in a black crockpot on white background

Why the Slow Cooker’s a Great Choice for Making Vegetable Side Dishes

I love using the slow cooker because it completely simplifies the process of adding veggie sides to any meal. 

And, because nearly all of my slow cooker vegetables are dump-and-go (meaning there is no pre-browning or sautéing required) the prep is fast and easy.

Just chop, stir and go! 

As a bonus, the slow cooker takes the load off the oven and stove top, making it a fantastic option for potlucks, parties, and holiday meals.

Process and Tips

This is a delicious way to turn this side dish into a satisfying, protein-packed meal.

Simply add 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages to the slow cooker along with the cabbage.

Make this slow cooker red cabbage with bacon

Another delicious spin on this side dish is to make it with bacon.

Just add 1 pound cooked and chopped bacon to the slow cooker along with the cabbage.

Make red cabbage with balsamic vinegar

This is a super easy variation!

Simply use balsamic vinegar in place of the red wine vinegar.

spoon full of slow cooker red cabbage in a black crockpot

Ingredients & Substitutions

Red cabbage: I love the punch of color that red cabbage brings to this side dish. But you could also use green cabbage in its place.

Onion: The onion adds so much savory flavor to this slow cooker red cabbage. It really helps to balance the sweet & sour flavors. But if you don’t like or can’t eat onions, feel free to skip them in this recipe.

Apples: I used Honeycrisp apples for this recipe but you could use any other sweet, crisp, tart apple you like. Granny smith apples would be another great choice.

Brown sugar: Feel free to skip the sugar to keep this recipe whole30 and sugar free, you’ll still retain some sweetness from the apple. You can also substitute coconut sugar in place of brown sugar for a paleo option.

Red wine vinegar: I love how red wine vinegar pairs with the other ingredients in this recipe. But you could also use balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar in its place.

Kosher salt: Look for kosher salt with the regular iodized salt at the grocery store (it has a subtler flavor). Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.

Butter: We love finishing this with butter (traditional or vegan), since the fat adds flavor and an extra silky texture to the finished dish. But you can skip it to lower the fat and calories of this recipe if desired. 

close up view of red cabbage on a white plate with fresh green herbs on top

What to Serve with Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

5-Ingredient Instant Pot “Rotisserie” Whole Chicken

Sheet Pan Chicken, Kale & Sweet Potatoes

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Garlic Balsamic Chicken

This sweet & sour side dish pairs well with almost anything – including chicken, pork or fish dishes.

Tip: You can also build a grain bowl with your favorite cooked grain – like brown rice, white rice or quinoa. Then add your slow cooker red cabbage along with fresh greens, protein of choice, fresh or cooked veggies, and your favorite healthy dressing or sauce.

This Recipe Is…

close up view of red cabbage on a white plate with fresh green herbs on top
5 stars (7 ratings)

Slow Cooker Red Cabbage

This easy sweet and sour slow cooker red cabbage combines red cabbage, onion and apple for a simple, flavorful vegetable side dish that goes with everything.


  • 1 medium head red cabbage, cored and sliced into thin shreds
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 sweet tart apples, cored and thinly sliced, such as Honeycrisp
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Optional (to add at the end)

  • 3 tablespoons butter, traditional or vegan butter for dairy-free and vegan


  • To a 6-quart slow cooker, add the cabbage, onion, apple, salt, water, vinegar, and brown sugar, stirring to combine.
  • Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours, or until the cabbage is very tender. Do not uncover during this time.
  • Uncover and stir in the butter, if using. Taste and add additional salt, vinegar, or sugar if desired.


For more ingredients & substitutions, see blog post above.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 (of 8), Calories: 112kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 11mg, Sodium: 360mg, Potassium: 332mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 1326IU, Vitamin C: 63mg, Calcium: 58mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition disclaimer
Did you make this recipe?If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

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