Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (2024)

Published: · About 3 minutes to read this article. · By Kim Nielsen

The traditional danish red cabbage also known as Rødkål. This cabbage is traditionally eaten at Christmas time and especially together with Danish Roast Pork with Crackling (Flæskesteg). It is easy to make.

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Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (1)

This recipe for Danish Red cabbage is a traditional and very popular side dish for many different dishes. Red cabbage is served all year around, however, it's very popular at Christmas where it's served together with the traditional Christmas eve dinner the 24th of December. In Danish we call this side dish Rødkål which translated simple means Red cabbage. We have used this recipe several times and its way better than the red cabbage you can buy at the super market. It's really simple to make and you only need five different ingredients, red cabbage, vinegar, currant juice, sugar and salt. You can easily change this recipe into a more personal dish by adding different spices according to your taste.

Normally we would use currant juice in this red cabbage, however, we have sometimes used elderberry juice instead which is just as good. Besides currant and elderberry juice I have also hear from one of my readers that you can use cranberry juice with good results. However, I have not had the time to try this myself yet. You can make this Danish red cabbage in due time you just have to store it in jars which have been cleaned using boiling water. This will kill all the different bacteria and extend the shelf life. If you have some extra fat from the traditional roasted Christmas duck you can add some of it to the red cabbage, this gives a delicious taste and makes the cabbage shine.

Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (3)

Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål)

The traditional danish red cabbage also known as Rødkål. This cabbage is traditionally eaten at Christmas time and especially together with Danish Roast Pork with Crackling (Flæskesteg). It is easy to make.

Print Recipe Rate Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour hour

Total Time: 1 hour hour 20 minutes minutes

Course: Side Dish

Cuisine: Danish

Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 kg red cabbage (2.2 lb)
  • 2 dl vinegar (3/4 cup)
  • 1.5 dl currant juice or elderberry juice (2/3 cup)
  • 150 g sugar (5 oz)
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Step 1: Finely shred the red cabbage and make sure that the pieces are not too long. Put the shredded red cabbage in a large sauce pan.

  • Step 2: Pour the vinegar in the sauce pan, turn on the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir in the cabbage regularly so that it doesn't burn to the bottom of the sauce pan.

  • Step 3: Add the juice, sugar and salt to the sauce pan and let it simmer for another 30 minutes or until it has the right consistency. The consistency is basically up to you - the longer you cook it the softer you will get the red cabbage.

  • Step 4: Clean some glass jars using boiling water. This will kill all bacteria so that the red cabbage will last longer. Pour the red cabbage onto the jars and seal them right away. Keep the jars refrigerated.


Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (4)

Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (5)

Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (6)

Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (7)

Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (8)

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Sandra Hofer

    Hello Kim and Louise My daughter recently moved to Holte. I just returned from my first trip to your beautiful country. The people are so wonderful and we have fallen in love with your cuisine. I found your website in my search to try and recreate some of the dishes here in Switzerland. My problem is that you do not specify what kind of vinegar you are using. We have cider vinegar and a type of herb infused vinegar. The only white vinegar available is the one from our Asian markets. Would you please tell me what kind of vinegar is the best to use not only for this recipe but for the pickled onions and cucumbers. I love your website and look forward to following you on Facebook. Thank you.

    Reply

    • Louise Dam

      Hi Sandra,
      For these recipes we use a cheap vinegar. In Denmark it is called 'lager eddike'. I'm not sure what it is called in Switzerland. But just use a cheap vinegar, that is fine.

      Reply

      • Myrtie

        red vinegar

        Reply

      • Steven Holman

        The translation would be pickeling vinegar but a white vinegar is just as good

        Reply

      • Kurt F

        In Switzerland "Lager Eddike" is called Tafelessig/Vinaigre de table/Aceto da tavola. (As we have 3 +1 official languages here).

        Reply

    • Mark

      You just want a cheap and basic pickling vinegar (what they call 'lagereddgike', literally 'storing vinegar', in Denmark).

      Reply

      • Monica Ahrens

        Here's a variation. My mother has always used a jar of blackcurrant jam (best seedless), a grated tart apple and dry red wine. I find that it is really important to shred the cabbage uniformly so that the cooked texture is uniform. Add sugar and vinegar to taste. I prefer a deep flavour
        ...a nice balance between sweet and tart.

        Reply

    • Vivien Kealley

      White wine vinegar... or the cheap white is fine just add a little sugar to it..
      For the cucumbers add water and sugar to the vinegar to taste..
      Soo yum.. I miss living in Denmark the people the food but not the weather! Now in qld Australia!!

      Reply

    • Jean Rehmeier

      Howdy from a small town in Wyoming....what is a good substitute for elderberry or current juice....hard to find here.

      Reply

      • Kim Nielsen

        Hello from Denmark. For the Danish red cabbage you can also use any other concentrated fruit juice as a substitute for currant juice. Of course currant juice is the most traditional but it can be substituted. You can also use currant gel if you can find that. Regards Kim (NordicFoodLiving.com)

        Reply

        • Teresa

          I use red currant jelly (don't need the extra sugar) and white or sometimes apple cider vinegar and I add lots of ground pepper to give it a bit of a bite. My mother was Danish and this is how she made it for all our family gatherings.

          Reply

          • Pearl Kjarside

            My father was from Denmark, and he also made red cabbage with red currant jelly. It's so good!

          • Catherine

            I use red currant jelly too, but only use half the sugar and I use apple cider vinegar

      • Greg

        I use Blueberry or Cranberry with a scoop of Black Current jam

        Reply

    • Catherine

      I typically use a cider vinegar.

      Reply

  2. Christine

    Am I able to safely waterbath can and preserve this so it can be kept on the shelf?

    Reply

    • Louise Dam

      Hi Christine
      You need to make sure that the glasses it will be stored in are completely clean. If you need to store the red cabbage for a long time I will also recommend that you add some kind of preservative.

      Reply

  3. Janine

    Thank you! This site is my oracle! having a Danish husband I often refer to here to surprise him with his home dishes on special occasions :)

    Reply

    • Louise Dam

      Hi Janine,
      Oh, I'm so happy to hear that. Hope your husband love the Danish food you're making him.

      Reply

    • Nancy Hoyer

      Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (9)
      Hi, My husband is also Danish and his father was a Chef. His recipe used white vinegar and strawberry jam instead of "juice". We always make it for Christmas and leftover goes into the freezer for another time we cook roast pork. Some people think it is too strong so if you want you can add some water. We don't. I also use white vinegar for cucumbers.

      Reply

  4. Kurt Hansen

    Hi Kim & Louise

    Small correction . . . 1 kg = 2.2 lbs

    As the star rødkål maker in a family of native-born Danes I have always had a critical audience to please. I have found that using red wine vinegar and red currant jelly are the bomb-proof keys to success. Also, I use butter instead of duck fat. The resulting rødkål freezes very well so I usually make double batches so that I can distribute it as necessary and retain some as an essential garnish for smørrebrød. When cooking I use a big Dutch oven and just let the cabbage simmer away, adding water as necessary and adjusting the ingredients according to taste. The ritual making of rødkål has become as much a part of Christmas preparations as trimming the tree.

    Reply

    • Louise Dam

      Thank you for the correction. It's great that you have found your favourite recipe for your family :-)

      Reply

    • Rick Rinaldo

      Just saw this message chain. I have been making this recipe for 50 years since my own Danish grandmother and great-grandmother taught it to me and to my younger brother. (They were the only Danes in an otherwise Italian family) We had it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our family recipe also uses red wine vinegar and red currant jelly, and uses butter initially to coat the cabbage. We then simmer it for hours in a large covered pot or dutch oven, which creates a very familiar smell throughout the kitchen. I usually end up using almost an entire jar of red currant jelly as I adjust for taste during the day, but I generally use a bit less sugar than this recipe (I use 2 tablespoons only), so it probably evens out. It is even better the next day after a night in the refrigerator, then re-heated. Nice to know others enjoy this as well.

      Reply

      • Kim Nielsen

        Hi Rick. Thanks for your nice comment. I'm familiar with other version of this recipe and the one you describes sounds very delicious. The recipe I have here on my blog is the typical recipe used in my family. :-) regards Kim

        Reply

    • Christy Kristiansen

      Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (10)
      My husband is a native born Dane and I have been making rødkål for him for decades. Twenty plus years ago I also started making it for my mother in law, then later for my sister in law as they loved it - and all these years, I’ve used Your Recipe 🤩🤩

      Reply

      • Kim Nielsen

        Thanks for your nice comment. I'm happy that you like my recipe. Regards Kim (NordicFoodLiving.com)

        Reply

  5. Jeena

    I grew up with a Danish grandmother who made so many delicious dishes, but never wrote down a recipe. She used to stuff our Christmas bird (turkey, goose, duck) with a combination of bread soaked in evaporated milk, prunes, apples, I believe some parsley-not sure). Do you know of this stuffing? I would love to duplicate it!

    Reply

    • Kim Nielsen

      Hi Jeena. Unfortunately, I don't exactly know this kind of stuffing. It's pretty normal that people come up with their own combination of ingredients they prefer. However, I would say that apples and prunes are pretty traditional stuffing for a Christmas duck. I'm sorry that I can help you getting any closer to your grandmothers Christmas duck.

      Reply

    • Sanne

      My mom always stuffed our Christmas duck or goose with prunes and apples. The juice from the bird plumped the fruit as it baked. I don’t remember her using any bread or milk, just the two kinds of fruit.

      Reply

      • Kim Nielsen

        Yes that is a traditional danish thing to stuff the Christmas duct with apples and prunes. I have the recipe for Danish Christmas duct here on my site Nordicfoodlving.com (LINK). Regards Kim (NordicFoodLiving.com)

        Reply

  6. Shioka

    Nice recipe! I would love to make it for Christmas.
    How long does it can be stored without preservatives?

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Kim Nielsen

      Hi Shioka. Thanks for your question. If you remember to clean the glas jar nicely then this Red Cabbage can be stored for long time in the fridge. It's hard for me to give an exact time - I normally eat it before it turns bad.

      Reply

  7. Scott Andeson

    Can I use cranberry juice instead of currant or elderberry juice in the Danish Red Cabbage?

    Reply

    • Kim Nielsen

      Hi Scott. Yes I actually think you can use cranberry juice. However, I have never tried it myself. Of course it won't be according to the original recipe but I personally always like to try new stuff in the kitchen - I would love to hear how it turns out if you try. Regards Kim

      Reply

      • Scott Andeson

        Hi Kim, the cranberry juice in the Danish Red Cabbage worked great. I have made it twice already. What a great recipe! I'm so glad to have found your site. I'm looking forward to trying many of your recipes to help me explore my Scandinavian heritage. Thanks so much. Scott

        Reply

        • Kim Nielsen

          Hi Scott. Thanks for letting me know about the results - that was nice of you. I have added this tip to the text of the recipe so that other can benefit from it. I will also differently try this the next time I make it. Regards Kim

          Reply

  8. Adina

    My grandma makes this with apple juice and butter. No recipes, she just throws things in from memory and taste. Thanks for this. I can never get enough of Grandma's red cabbage at Christmas and am happy I will be able to make some for myself!

    Reply

    • Kim Nielsen

      Hi Adina. I'm happy that you like the recipe. I also just make things from memory but sometimes it is just nice to have a recipe to follow and touch pass on to people :)

      Reply

  9. Dorothy

    I cook my red cabbage recipe in a crock pot on my patio all day because the vinegar smells up the house..
    It comes out perfect.

    Reply

  10. Dorothy

    I forgot to mention that I chop up a couple of apples and add it to the cabbage.

    Reply

  11. Darlene Madsen-Close

    My parents immigrated to Canada from Denmark in 1952 and we have had rødkål every year since. I make mine with peeled thinnly sliced and diced apples instead of the juice. We all love it. I hope my children keep up the tradition when they take over the hosting. I also make aeblekage for desert each Christmas.

    Reply

  12. Anne

    Tak so maeke. Just really wanted the taste of this for the holidays. Warm wishes.

    Reply

  13. Julie

    I have just made this dish for our family for our Christmas Eve celebration. My husband is English and loves all Danish food (both my parents were Danish). It turned out delicious with cranberry juice. FYI, my mother always made plenty ahead of time and froze batches of it in the freezer in Tupperware containers.

    Reply

  14. Kris

    Just finished making my Danish (Horsens) grandmother's red cabbage. Nice to see that it is basically the same recipe, only she used grape jelly instead of currant juice. I make my own jelly from grapes grown on my husband's family's farm, so I feel like we are combining two families' heritages in one dish.

    Reply

  15. Marge

    Just made Rødkål for the first time. Being 3rd generation from Denmark, this was not part of my traditional Christmas Eve dinner. I made this recipe and it came out absolutly delicious. I made Frikadeller the traditional way with tablespoons. Gravy, mashed potatoes and all were delicious..

    Reply

    • Jim

      Here in Chicago we have a retirement home that was established by Danes more than 100 years ago - the Danish Old People's Home - and it has become the center of Danish culture in the area. Every November they have a fall festival celebration where they serve plates of frikadeller, rodkal, agurkesalat, potatoes, and brown gravy. It was this past weekend, was delicious as always, and prompted me to find your site as I now have some medisterpolse in the refrigerator to cook this weekend. Skal!

      Reply

  16. Claudia Lapin

    Hej everybody! I wish I had a Danish grandmother but it didn't happen. I'm about to embark on this but I'm slightly confused about the butter or duck fat. When is it introduced? I probably have to re-read. And why does this cook all day? Doesn't the cabbage just give up after awhile? mange tak
    Claudia

    Reply

    • K reece

      Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (11)
      Like many of the best foods, it takes time to develop the flavors. My danish grandmother would cook it, place it on the back porch(cold winters in Iowa) , reheat and repeat for three days before serving. I do mine the same way but utilize the fridge as I live in the south.

      Reply

  17. Jamie

    I used a quart of fermented red cabbage (>3 months fermentation time)--steamed it to soften, and then cooled added currants and currant syrup and a touch of clove.
    In a later recipe, I added chopped apple and walnut--and this is my new favorite.

    Reply

  18. Chara

    Hello Kim and Louise,
    Happy Christmas, and thank you for your recipes! I've been cooking up a storm this week with many of your Christmas dishes.
    I just made a batch of your rødkål, but it seems to have a lot of liquid – a little over half the level of the cabbage in the pot. Did I do something wrong?
    The adjustments I made to your recipe was using butter and lingonberry jam (I didn't have any other red berry juice/jam) to replace the duck fat and juice, as suggested in the Comments, Oh, and I also put the lid on while simmering, since I'm an expert at inadvertently burning food.
    I'm nowhere near Danish (I'm Asian) and I've never eaten this dish, so any suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

    Reply

  19. Ed Mikkelsen

    As a first generation US Dane, I learned this recipe from my mother. As I took over holiday cooking chores I made red cabbage with every holiday meal. I found that if I use apple cider vinegar and current jelly, my red cabbage has a distinct aroma and slight flavor of apples which really contributes a special dish.

    Reply

  20. GrammasGirl

    Thank you for this recipe. I was researching traditional red cabbage recipes as I have my grandmothers recipe and was curious as to how authentic it was. She was born in Denmark in 1898 and came to Canada in the mid 1920’s. Her recipe is almost identical to this one, but it calls for grape juice rather than currant or elderberry. I’m thinking that currant or elderberry juice was nor readily available in Canada back then. But my grandmas recipe is a traditional Christmas dish for our family and I only make it once a year. I now have a grandson and can’t wait to see him continue with this recipe and the Christmas tradition.

    Reply

    • Kim Nielsen

      Thanks for your nice comment. It's always nice to hear a good family story and how good traditions can just stay on forever. I think that you almost get the same result using grape juice :-) Regards Kim (Nordicfoodliving.com)

      Reply

  21. Mark

    Worth pointing out that ribesaft (currant juice), is the juice of the ribes genus of plants (ie blackcurrant, redcurrant and white currant) not the type of currants (ie shrivelled black grapes) which often find their way into fruit cakes. Blackcurrant juice would be the most common juice to use.

    Reply

  22. Anne Sorensen

    My husband is Danish and has his own ideas about making red cabbage. My taste buds are different and I have a more subdued recipe to suit an English girl.

    My recipe comprises:
    1 red cabbage finely sliced
    2 green apples (Granny Smiths) finely chopped
    2 red onions finely chopped
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1-1/2 tablespoons butter (Lurpak of course!)
    1 tablespoon ground Fennel
    3 tablespoons black treacle
    2 tablespoons malt or cider vinegar
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Reply

  23. Jayna

    Hej med dig! I was an exchange student in Denmark in 1990-1991. One of my favorite dishes was when we would shred red cabbage and apples together, which left it sweet and crunchy, not soft and tangy. I thought that was all that we put in it, but when I try it now it’s not the same. Do you have suggestions on other ingredients I may be missing?

    Reply

    • Kim Nielsen

      Hej med dig :-) Maybe you are looking for a simple Danish Red Cabbage with oranges or a red cabbage with oranges and apples ? Regadsr Kim (NordicFoodLiving.com)

      Reply

  24. Helle

    Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (12)
    I made this yesterday but adapted to slow cooker. It turned out perfect.

    Reply

  25. Colleen

    Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (13)
    I made mine with cranberry juice and for kicks and giggles added in a good handful of fresh cranberries. It delicious!! Thank you for a new recipe to add to our holidays.

    Reply

    • Kim Nielsen

      You are welcome. I am happy that you liked the recipe for Danish red cabbage. Regards Kim (NordicFoodLiving.com)

      Reply

  26. Inga

    Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (14)
    Very useful, as it has to be authentic and up to my Grandmother's, Mother's and Aunt's Christmas fare in Denmark. Now they are no longer with us, it's up to me!!
    A useful addition is Ribena, which is blackcurrant juice - not too much as it is rather sweet.

    Reply

    • Donna Robertson

      Hi my father was Danish. We ate many different Danish dishes. My mother was born in Canada with English heritage. She was the cook and she loved to cook. Her recipe for red cabbage was 1 med red cabbage shredded on a mandolin. 1 apple skin on, grated. 1 med cooking onion grated. Breath through your mouth to not have teary eyes. 1 cup grape jelly. 1/4 cup white vinegar. Red wine vinegar would be nice. 1/2 cup white sugar. No added liquid.
      Cook in pressure cooker. Love it, love it.

      Reply

  27. Angela

    This recipe looks perfect! I will try to make.
    My Danish Grandmother used to make New Years soup that had dumplings and some small meatballs. I don’t believe she ever worked from a recipe, but any thoughts on if it is a traditional soup that has a recipe?
    Thanks

    Reply

  28. Kir

    I’m wondering if you can make this in the crockpot? Any suggestions ? Kir

    Reply

    • Kim Nielsen

      Yes I think you can make the Danish Red Cabbage in a crockpot. Regards Kim

      Reply

  29. David Johnston

    Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (15)
    Awesome!

    Reply

  30. Kim Aaboe

    We are an international family in Nova Scotia, mainly Danish. We used go get our Red Cabbage from a chef who cooked on shrimp trawlers with Norwegian captains. He always gave us several bottles of beautiful Red Cabbage (and lots of Greenland shrimp), the colour was beautiful and it stayed red, not that rather tired, purplish 'old red cabbage' look. How to accomplish that? I seem to remember he told me to add lemon juice. Any thoughts?

    Reply

  31. Nick

    Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (16)
    My grandmother was Danish and I have a family recipe for this - handed down over many generations 😀 x

    Reply

  32. Kir

    I think this is a very authentic recipe, again you can use elderberry jelly or whatever you have. My mom used currant, it’s a little harder to find depending on where you live in the US. I grew up in Denmark and did not come to the US before the 70’s, this is a great place to find danish recipes. I actually make my red cabbage in the slow cooker , started one year when there just wasn’t enough room on the stove. Works great. Thank you or all your recipes.

    Reply

    • Kim Nielsen

      Thanks for you message. I am happy that you like my site and my Nordic recipes :-) Regards Kim (NordicFoodLiving.com)

      Reply

  33. Kirstine

    Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (17)
    My father would add raisins to his. Also once or twice he added some sliced almonds. It was pretty good!

    Reply

  34. Janet Warren

    Love all

    Reply

  35. Maren

    My grandma, who grew up in Silkeborg and moved to the US in her 40s, made this for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She used grape juice or jelly instead of current juice. Otherwise, the rest of the ingredients are the same. It has been one of my favorite parts of holiday meals.

    Reply

    • Kim Nielsen

      No one is a thief. I used to have a collaboration with Louise some years ago but not anymore.

      Reply

      • Dale Westergaard

        Danish Red Cabbage (Rødkål) - The Best and Traditional Recipe! (18)
        Hello, I cook the red cabbage in a pressure cooker with appx 3/4 C of water and the vinegar for about 15 minutes of steaming. Then depressure and remove the lid. Finish by adding red currant jelly, pepper, some butter and simmer down the liquid to a good consistency. My grandmother Valborg Westergaard always served this at Christmas.

        Reply

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