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Christmas cabbage

Simple Mulled Spiced Red Cabbage

Bowl of shredded purple cabbage with decorations around

Top view of a bowl of thin red cabbage surrounded by fir cones, baubles, and a wreath

Our simple mulled spiced red cabbage recipe is a family favourite at Christmas. With gentle warming spices, this vegetable side dish evokes the nostalgia of the festive season. Plus, it’s one of the tastiest ways to enjoy cabbage.

Of course, like many of our recipes, this dish can be enjoyed at any time of year. A simple braised red cabbage with spices is a tasty accompaniment to all kinds of roast dinners.

What is braised red cabbage?

Braising, as a cooking technique, is essentially frying following by stewing in liquid. For cooking braised red cabbage we fry the onions down until they are caramelised, add the spices, and cabbage followed by a touch of liquid then we cook it on low until the cabbage is tender.

The result is cabbage that is soft but not soggy. The cabbage has form and texture still and has infused all that delicious flavour.

Spiced Red Cabbage in a bowl

Is red cabbage the same as purple cabbage?

Yes. Purple or red, it’s all the same cabbage.

What spices to use with red cabbage

In this recipe, we use warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and star anise. They aren’t spicy, instead, they add depth of flavour and sweetness to the cabbage. They are similar spices to that which is used in mulled wine.

We also use port in this recipe to add depth and that lovely cosy winter feeling. Plus, the addition of red wine vinegar helps to break down the toughness of the red cabbage to make it lovely and tender.

Christmas cabbage

How to serve braised red cabbage

You can serve braised red cabbage with all kinds of roast meats such as roast chicken, pork, ham, lamb, beef, or game. It can be a strong flavour so maybe avoid serving with fish.

We also like to make a large batch of this spiced red cabbage to save for leftovers which we then reheat along with a Shepherd’s Pie, Chicken or a  Mushroom Pie.

Cabbage tends to be available in the supermarket all year round and it is relatively cheap so it’s a great option for bulking out a meal on a budget.

Can I freeze red cabbage?

This recipe for spiced red cabbage actually tastes better when made ahead of time. So this is a great dish to prepare in advance of a meal or entertaining. It can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months. Simply reheat when you’re ready to serve.

Braised red cabbage


Can you substitute any of the ingredients?

As mentioned above, there are a couple of alcoholic ingredients. The port and the red wine vinegar (although the alcohol content of the latter is minuscule).

You can replace the red wine vinegar with simple malt vinegar or lemon juice, just reduce the quantity by half to start with, then adjust to taste.

Likewise, the port can be substituted with sherry if you have that available or even red wine. For a non-alcoholic substitution, you can use apple juice.

In terms of spices, you could add bay leaf, cardamom, nutmeg, and allspice if you like. Play around with the spices you have in the cupboard according to your tastes.

Is this recipe vegetarian or vegan?

If you like you can substitute the ingredients to suit a vegetarian or vegan diet and follow the recipe principles for an equally delicious dish.

Small bowl of mulled cabbage

Red cabbage

Spiced Red Cabbage



  • 1 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Red Onions, finely sliced
  • 1 Red Cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Star Anise
  • 4-6 Whole Cloves
  • 50g Light Soft Brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 150ml Port
  • 150ml Chicken Stock
  • Sea Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tsp Cranberry Sauce


  1. In a large pan with a lid, heat together the butter and oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions then reduce the heat to low. Allow the onions to soften, stirring often to stop them sticking, until they are starting to turn light golden brown. Add a splash of water now and then to stop it sticking.
  2. Add the spices, sugar, and red wine vinegar. Stir for 30 seconds then add the shredded cabbage. Give it all a good stir before pouring in the port and chicken stock. Mix together, pop on the lid and allow it to cook for about 30 minutes, or until the cabbage has softened.
  3. Stir in the cranberry sauce and cook for a few minutes. Taste the cabbage and add another teaspoon of sugar if it is too tart/sour.
  4. Pick out the cloves and star anise if you can find them. Serve.

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mulled red cabbage

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