Instant Pot Braised Red Cabbage

Instant Pot Braised Red Cabbage

My family is half Polish and half Irish/German, so to say we always had a pot of braised red cabbage on the stove (when sauerkraut wasn’t being served) is not a stretch. The Polish side cooked red cabbage sweet-and-sour-style, with brown sugar and vinegar, plus a generous amount of caraway. The Irish side preferred red cabbage braised with bacon and apple. 

Any way you flavor it, braised red cabbage is a favorite in most of northern Europe for a reason: it’s inexpensive, simple to make, and it goes with nearly everything from soused herring (Norway) to breaded pork chops (Germany). 

How to Make Braised Cabbage in the Instant Pot

The Instant Pot makes short work of the braising process, rendering burly red cabbage into tender sweetness in just 5 minutes under pressure. Sauteeing red onion with caraway seeds builds a savory base for this braise, so don’t skip it. Cabbage releases a lot of moisture while cooking so the only liquid you need here is 3 tablespoons of vinegar to make a dish that’s full of flavor without being watery. I add a little brown sugar, salt, and pepper to arrive at a side dish that’s full of sweet, cabbagey flavor with an earthy back note of caraway. 

What to Serve with Braised Red Cabbage

This is an ideal side dish for anything you throw at it, from mustard-roasted chicken thighs to sauteed pork chops, leg of lamb, or roast goose. But this recipe is also adaptable. Make it a meal by adding cooked sausages such as kielbasa, smoked bratwurst, or chicken basil sausages to the top of the pot. They’ll cook in the time it takes for the cabbage to become tender. Just add mustard and you’ve got an inexpensive meal that’s as cozy as they come.

“The red cabbage was delicious and perfectly cooked. You’ll find it an easy, effortless side dish you can enjoy any night of the week. The tangy flavors go particularly well with pork, sausages, ham, and beef, especially corned beef.” —Diana Rattray

Instant Pot Braised Red Cabbage/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 large red cabbage, about 2 1/2 pounds

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced through the root end

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make Instant Pot braised red cabbage

    The Spruce Eats / Preethi Venkatram

  2. Cut the cabbage into quarters through the root end. Cut out the hard, white core at the base of each quarter and discard. Thinly slice the cabbage. Set aside.

    Thinly sliced red cabbage on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Preethi Venkatram

  3. Put the oil in the pot, select SAUTÉ and adjust to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and caraway seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender, about 4 minutes.

    Onions and caraway seeds cooking in an Instant Pot on SAUTE

    The Spruce Eats / Preethi Venkatram

  4. Press CANCEL. Add the cabbage, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. The pot will look very full, but the cabbage will wilt substantially as it cooks.

    Cabbage, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper added to the onion mixture in an Instant Pot

    The Spruce Eats / Preethi Venkatram

  5. Lock on the lid, select the PRESSURE COOK function, and adjust to high pressure for 5 minutes. Make sure the steam valve is in the SEALING position. When the cooking time is up, quick-release the pressure. Serve immediately.

    Cooked red cabbage in an Instant Pot

    The Spruce Eats / Preethi Venkatram

Recipe Tip

This recipe creates a lot of steam, so it’s wise to place the Instant Pot on a baking sheet set under the stove ventilation set to high (make sure all the burners are off). The ventilation will suck up the steam when quick-releasing the pressure and keep your cabinets from being blasted with hot, cabbagey steam. If you don’t have a stove fan, loosely cover the steam vent with a kitchen towel to disperse the steam away from your kitchen wall or cabinets.

Make Ahead

The braised cabbage can be made up to 5 days ahead and reheated in a saute pan or microwave.

Recipe Variations

  • To make this recipe a one-pot meal, place 4 fully cooked sausages (such as kielbasa or smoked bratwurst) on top of the raw cabbage (don’t stir them in). 
  • To make the dish a bit richer, fry 2 strips of chopped bacon with the onions. Proceed with the recipe as directed. 
  • A variety of vinegars may be used: sherry vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and white wine vinegar are all good flavor matches for this dish.

How to Store

  • Leftovers can be cooled and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Reheat in a sauté pan over medium heat or in the microwave on high until piping hot.
  • To freeze cooled leftover cabbage, transfer it to containers or resealable freezer bags for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

Comments

No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *