Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage (Paleo, AIP, GAPS)

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cooked recipe served on a white plate

“Frugality includes all the other virtues.”
~ Cicero


One of the complaints you often hear about paleo is that it can be expensive. There are no coupons for organic broccoli, and the “buy 1 get 1 free” sales at the grocery store feature junk food, not wildcaught salmon. Still, there are some foods that are incredibly good for you, while also being easy on the wallet. Cabbage is one of those foods. It goes a looooooooong way, and it’s even one of the Clean 15 which means you can pay conventional prices. I’ll be honest though – I never used to like cabbage. This recipe changed all of that. It’s one of my favorites, and when I cook this recipe, it feeds me and my husband (happily) for days.


This humble vegetable is also a nutrition powerhouse. Terry Wahls recommends we eat 3 cups of sulfur-rich vegetables (like cabbage) daily, because they support our bodies’ detox pathways. In the modern world, this is essential for everyone, but if you’re battling autoimmune disease, it’s even more important. In addition to that, check out these other benefits:

  • The Power of Red: While all cabbage is beneficial, red cabbage contains significantly higher concentrations of phytonutrients, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Red cabbage also has 6 times the vitamin C of green cabbage. That’s why they say to “eat the rainbow.” The color is more than just pretty.
  • Have you heard of H. Pylori? It’s a normal inhabitant of our stomach, but when its population becomes too large it interferes with digestion and can even cause ulcers. Cabbage helps control this population. How cool is that?

adapted from the former blog, Five and Spice

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Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage (Paleo, AIP, GAPS)

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  • Author: Eileen Laird
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings


  • 1 head red cabbage (about 2 1/2 lbs)
  • 3 apples (cored and hand chopped into small chunks)
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds (optional – omit for strict AIP)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar


  1. Cut cabbage in half and remove the core. If the outer leaves are wilted, throw them away. Cut the remaining cabbage into large chunks and feed into your food processor, using the largest grater blade or a slicing blade to shred the cabbage. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the cabbage finely with a knife.
  2. In large soup pot, put apples, coconut oil, honey, salt and caraway seeds (if using).
  3. Turn heat to medium-high. Once the oil melts, add the shredded cabbage.
  4. Pour apple cider vinegar on top, stir to blend, and cover pan.
  5. Once it starts to steam, stir and cover again, and reduce heat to medium-low.
  6. Cook for 1 hour, stirring 2 or 3 times over the course of the hour.
  7. Taste. If it’s too sour, add a little more honey. Too sweet, add a little more vinegar. Enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Side Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop

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23 comments on “Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage (Paleo, AIP, GAPS)”

  1. Would this work in the instant pot? Would you please comment on cooking time and any changes you would make to use the instant pot?

    1. Anne, I’ve never made this in the Instant Pot, so I can’t direct you. But if you do some experiments yourself and come up with the right variation, please report back and let us know. Since you’re an Instant Pot fan, I want to be sure you know that the Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook goes on sale this Saturday. Woot woot! I’ve been working on this for the past 6 months, and I’m so excited. If you subscribe to my blog, you’ll be the first to know. It has 141 recipes.

  2. Hi Eileen – I’m diabetic and FODMAPs intolerant. Do you have an alternative to the Apple? Like Joanne & her husband, I would reduce the honey (and vinegar). And if I do make this, I’ll also try Heidi’s suggestion of cool/reheat. Thanks for all your research, and great recipes! 🙂

    1. Hi Sue. The apple & the honey together provide the “sweet” in the “sweet and sour”, so that’s tricky with you being diabetic. Is there a fruit that you tolerate well that you could try as a substitute? I believe cranberries are low-fodmap and lower on the sugar scale, and I bet their flavor would go great with the cabbage. I wouldn’t add them at the beginning of the recipe, though, because they cook more quickly than apples. Maybe add them halfway through? If you decide to try it, let us know how it turns out. Cooking is always a grand experiment!

      1. Thanks Eileen. I think I’ll try the recipe with yellow or gold Kumara/Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas). These are the sweetest cultivars. Also a ‘known’ in my diet. I have never seen fresh cranberries in NZ, only dried (with added preservatives and sugar!) There seem to be a number of variations on this recipe (also called Rodkal) which use juice (cranberry, pomegranate, redcurrant) which are often expensive and hard to get here. I’ll try some cloves too, as they go well with kumara.
        Cooking as art and science! Always interesting, usually edible. <3 I&#039ll let you know the results on this thread. 🙂

  3. is there any way to make it without vinegar ? i’m yeast sensitive so
    would this be a good alternative to fermented cabbage

    1. I’d just add lemon or lime juice instead. Like you, I avoid vinegar, though pure distilled vinegar could would as there is no remaining yeast.

  4. I’ve made ‘rot kraut’ for years albeit not quite AIP. My recipe from my Oma in Germany calls for white vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaf, and regular sugar; there is no caraway in my recipe. I think bay leaf is OK on AIP, right? Also, my recipe calls for only one apple and one or two tablespoons of sugar. Just a note that this recipe tastes much better after it’s cooled and reheated and is delicious with roast beef. I can hardly wait to try this AIP adapted! Thank you!

  5. I wonder how it would be with 1/2 the apples and 1/2 the honey? My husband is type 1 diabetic, I read the recipe to him and he thought it was to much sugar for him. Any thoughts or have you tried it that way? Love your breakfast sausage recipe.

    1. If you do that, I recommend reducing the vinegar by half as well, and replace that amount with water (for the added moisture). Since I haven’t tried it, I don’t know for sure, but I think it will still taste good. Please report back and let us know!

  6. This is my favorite food from childhood! Can’t wait till I can fix it ” legally,” (gut is still too sensitive for veggies…even puréed… Sigh…)

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