Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat)

Here’s An Authentic German Coleslaw That Pairs Well With Lots of Meals!

Searching for a great European coleslaw recipe? Our German coleslaw – known as Krautsalat in German – is light and simple but definitely worthy as a side to any meal you’re whipping up.

Made from green cabbage, fresh onion, white wine vinegar, and a variety of spices like cumin, it’s a refreshing coleslaw that is enjoyed by many!

green german coleslaw in white bowl with spoon
This German coleslaw isn’t creamy – and we like it that way!

For Lisa, Krautsalat is a staple in German cooking. It’s a classic side dish that goes with typical Sunday meals in the part of Germany where she grew up.

These meals usually consisted of meat, potato dumplings, and a side like German coleslaw, carrot salad, or red cabbage.

Our German coleslaw is very simple and kept authentic, but you can add various things to it like bacon or carrots if you want a slightly different taste.

round white bowl of german coleslaw with shredded cabbage around
A simple recipe that looks great on the table, too!

It is assumed that coleslaw originates from the Netherlands, but these days there are multiple different versions of it in various European countries and beyond.

Unlike coleslaw in North America, though, German coleslaw is not usually made with mayonese etc. to get the creamy consistency. So don’t be surprised when making this recipe!

How to Make German Coleslaw (Step-By-Step)

If you want to make this authentic Krautsalat, you can follow the recipe card below and check the visuals we snapped along the way. This way, you can see if you’re on the right track – but this isn’t a terribly difficult recipe to do!

half of a green cabbage with core removed
This is what we mean by “taking the core out of the cabbage”.

Start by removing the outside leaves of the cabbage and washing the cabbage thoroughly. Then it’s time to cut the cabbage into half and remove the core.

Now cut the cabbage into thin strips. One tip for when you are cutting the cabbage into thin pieces: Cut the cabbage into smaller wedges so that you can get a better handle on the piece you are cutting.

green cabbage cut into thin strips in a metallic bowl
Thinly cut cabbage in the bowl awaiting its massage!

Place the cabbage strips into a large bowl and add the spices to it. Then it is time to massage the cabbage for around 8 minutes with your hands.

thin strips of green cabbage in metal mixing bowl
Here’s what the massaged cabbage looks like – it’ll excrete some water.

After you’ve massage the cabbage, it should feel significantly softer and will have excreted some water.

Set the bowl with the cabbage aside and chop the onions into small cubes.

onions frying in a black frying pan on stovetop
Time to fry up those onions to go in the German coleslaw…

Heat oil in a pan, add the onion cubes and lightly fry them until they are translucent. Then add the water and vinegar.

Once the mixture is heated, pour it over the cabbage and mix everything together.

german coleslaw in mixing bowl with dressing
This German coleslaw is mixed together and ready to go!

After you have mixed the coleslaw sufficiently, add pepper to taste. Cover the bowl and place the salad in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.

The longer it sits the better it tastes since the vinegar dressing gets a chance to really infuse.

green german coleslaw in bowl with spoon and green cabbage around
Just pop a serving spoon in the German coleslaw and you’re all set!

As for storage, simply cover the salad and place it in the fridge. This German coleslaw lasts in the fridge for around two to three days.

green german coleslaw in bowl with spoon and green cabbage around

German Coleslaw (Krautsalat)

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

This authentic German coleslaw is made from fresh green cabbage, onion, and a touch of white wine vinegar and cumin. It's a light salad that works well as a side to hearty dishes.

Ingredients

  • 1 small head green cabbage
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3-5 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Remove the outside leaves of the cabbage, wash the cabbage, and cut it in half. Now remove the hard stem (core the cabbage) and cut the cabbage into fine strips. Place the strips into a large bowl.
  2. Add salt, sugar, and cumin. Massage the cabbage (seriously) for approximately 8 minutes with your hands until it is soft to the touch and the cabbage has given off some of its liquid.
  3. Cut the onions into small cubes. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onions, and fry them until they become translucent. Now add the water and the vinegar. Once the water and vinegar are hot, pour the mixture over the cabbage and mix everything together with a spoon.
  4. Add pepper to taste and let the German coleslaw rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

Notes

  • This is a classic German "Krautsalat". Unlike the typical North American coleslaw, there is no creaminess to this coleslaw. There's also no shredded carrot for that classic orange hue throughout the salad. Basically, don't be surprised when this Krautsalat doesn't look like the coleslaw you get at a restaurant in North America.
  • It's important to cut the cabbage into relatively fine strips so the salad won't be too crunchy when eating it later.
  • We recommend letting the coleslaw sit for at least two hours before serving. If you want the flavors to be more intense, you can also let it sit for longer.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 50Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 796mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 1g

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice. The exact values can vary depending on the specific ingredients used.

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