Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (2024)

Jump to Recipe

Here’s A German Coleslaw Recipe That Pairs Well With Lots of Meals!

If you’re looking for an easy side salad, you should try making German coleslaw – known as Krautsalat in German. It is a light but flavorful salad that pairs well with many dishes, especially meat dishes.

A staple of German cuisine, it is made with white/green cabbage, fresh onion, white wine vinegar, oil, sugar and caraway seeds. Sometimes there are also regional additions such as bacon and mustard.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (1)

Krautslat has always been a classic side dish for Sunday lunches at Lisa’s grandparents’ house. These meals usually consisted of meat, potato dumplings or bread dumplings (Semmelknödel), and a side like German coleslaw.

Unlike coleslaw in North America, German coleslaw is not usually made with shredded carrots and mayonnaise to get the creamy consistency. So don’t be surprised when you make this recipe!

Ingredients

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (2)

To make this tasty recipe, here are the German coleslaw ingredients that you will need:

  • White cabbage – Use a fresh and firm small cabbage.
  • Salt – To soften and season the cabbage.
  • Sugar – Regular granulated sugar to balance the flavors and add a touch of sweetness.
  • Yellow onions – For extra flavor; you can also use a white onion if you prefer.
  • Caraway Seeds – Classic ingredient for Krautsalat, but can be omitted if you don’t like it.
  • Vegetable oil – To make the dressing. Alternatively, you can use sunflower oil.
  • White wine vinegar – Adds acidity and enhances the flavor.
  • Water – Or vegetable broth (preferably low-sodium); for the dressing.
  • Black pepper – To season the cabbage.

Recipe Tips and Substitutions

Before you make Krautsalat, have a read through these recipe tips and tricks so that you know what to expect and can modify the recipe to your liking:

  • For the best salad, cut the cabbage into thin, even strips. You can use a knife, a mandoline, or a food processor.
  • If you want the cabbage to be crunchier, massage it for less time, e.g. 4 minutes instead of 8 minutes.
  • After massaging the cabbage with salt, drain the excess water from the bowl. This will prevent the salad from being too watery.
  • You can use vegetable broth instead of water for extra flavor. Use low-sodium veggie broth if possible and/or adjust the amount of salt you add.
  • Adjust the amount of sugar and caraway seeds to your taste. Sugar balances the acidity of the vinegar, so add more or less to taste.
  • There are several ways to make German coleslaw, we’ve included two methods in the recipe instructions below. If you want a milder, softer salad use method 1; for a crunchier, fresher salad use method 2.
  • If you want to make a classic Bavarian-style Krautsalat, cook some bacon pieces, onion, and caraway seeds in oil, then add vegetable broth and vinegar and pour over the cabbage (method 1 below with the addition of bacon). Also add 1 teaspoon of German mustard (Dijon mustard works as well) to the dressing for extra flavor.
  • For the best flavor, let the Krautsalat sit in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. If you want the flavors to be more intense, you can also let it sit for longer.

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

In this section, we’ll show you exactly how to make this authentic Krautsalat recipe. We’ve included all of the recipe process photos that we snapped along the way so you can follow along as you make it at home.

This way, you can see if you’re on the right track – but this isn’t a difficult recipe, so you shouldn’t have a problem!

Of course, you can also find the recipe card at the end of this post with all the details.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (3)

Start by removing the outer leaves of the cabbage and then cut the cabbage into quarters. Remove the core from each quarter, then place it on its side and slice downward into thin, even strips.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (4)

Place the cabbage strips in a large bowl and add the sugar and salt.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (5)

Now it is time to massage the cabbage with your clean hands for around 6-8 minutes. This will soften the cabbage and release some of the excess water.

If you want the cabbage to be crunchier, massage it for less time.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (6)

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

Drain and discard the water that has pooled in the bottom of the bowl, then set the bowl aside.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (7)

Next, peel and finely chop the onions.

Then decide how you want to make your Krautsalat – cook the onions (and heat the dressing) for a milder salad, or leave them raw.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (8)

If you want to cook the onions, heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Then add the chopped onions and caraway seeds.

You can also fry up some small pieces of bacon before adding the onions if you like.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (9)

Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft.

Then add the water – or vegetable broth if you prefer – and white wine vinegar to the pan. Stir everything.

When the mixture is heated, remove the frying pan from the heat.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (10)

Carefully pour the hot dressing and onion mixture over the cabbage and mix well.

If you decide you don’t want to cook the onions first, just add the chopped raw onions and the caraway seeds to the bowl with the cabbage. In a small bowl, combine the water (or vegetable broth), oil, and vinegar) and pour it over the cabbage. Mix well.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (11)

Taste the cabbage and add pepper to taste. Then cover the bowl and place the salad in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.

Taste it again and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (12)

Serve the German cabbage salad as a side to meals of your choice. Enjoy!

In Germany, it’s a classic side dish for meat dishes such as pork roast and pork hock, for BBQ get-togethers, or for Brotzeit with cold cuts and cheese.

Storage Tips

To store leftovers, simply cover the salad with plastic wrap or transfer it to a sealed container and place it in the fridge. It’ll keep 3 to 4 days.

Related Recipes

For more German salads and German side dishesin general, have a look at these recipes:

  • German Red Cabbage (Rotkraut)
  • Carrot Salad (Karottensalat)
  • Creamed Savoy Cabbage (Rahmwirsing)
  • Easy Sauerkraut Salad (Sauerkrautsalat)
  • German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalat)
  • German Tomato Salad (Tomatensalat)

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (13)

German Coleslaw (Krautsalat)

This authentic German coleslaw is made with fresh white cabbage, onions, and a touch of white wine vinegar and caraway. It's a light salad that works well as a side dish to hearty dishes.

4.84 from 18 votes

Print Pin Save

Prep Time: 20 minutes minutes

Additional Time: 2 hours hours

Total Time: 2 hours hours 20 minutes minutes

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 small green/white cabbage, thinly sliced (about 2 pounds or 9 cups tightly packed)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons caraway, more or less to taste
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar, more or less to taste
  • 1/3 cup water, or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Remove any wilted outer leaves from the cabbage and cut it into quarters. Remove the hard core and cut the cabbage into fine strips, then transfer them to a large bowl.

    1 small green/white cabbage

  • Sprinkle salt and sugar over the cabbage. Use your hands to massage the cabbage for about 6-8 minutes, until it becomes soft. Drain any excess liquid and set the bowl aside.

    2 teaspoons salt, 3 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • Peel and finely chop the onions.

    2 small yellow onions

  • Method 1: Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and caraway seeds, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft. Add the water (or vegetable broth) and vinegar. When the water and vinegar are hot, pour the mixture over the cabbage and mix well.

    Method 2: Don't cook the onion and caraway seeds; instead just add them to the bowl with the cabbage. In a small bowl, combine the water, oil, and vinegar and pour over the cabbage. Mix well.

    2 teaspoons caraway, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/3 cup water

  • Season with pepper to taste and refrigerate the Krautsalat for at least 2 hours before serving.

    black pepper

Notes

  • It’s important to cut the cabbage into relatively fine strips so the salad won’t be too crunchy. You can use a knife, a mandoline, or a food processor.
  • If you want the cabbage to be crunchier, massage it for less time.
  • You can use vegetable broth instead of water for extra flavor. Use low-sodium veggie broth if possible and/or adjust the amount of salt you add.
  • Adjust the amount of sugar and caraway seeds to your taste. Sugar balances the acidity of the vinegar, so add more or less to taste.
  • There are several ways to make German coleslaw, we’ve listed two methods. If you want a milder, softer salad use method 1; for a crunchier, fresher salad use method 2.
  • If you want to make a classic Bavarian-style Krautsalat, cook some bacon pieces, onion, and caraway seeds in oil, then add vegetable broth and vinegar and pour over the cabbage (method 1 below with the addition of bacon). Also add 1 teaspoon of German mustard (Dijon mustard works as well) to the dressing for extra flavor.
  • For the best flavor, let the coleslaw sit in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. If you want the flavors to be more intense, you can also let it sit longer.

Nutrition

Calories: 74kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 604mg | Potassium: 228mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 113IU | Vitamin C: 43mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 1mg

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.

Course Salad, Side Dish

Cuisine German

Author Lisa Wychopen

This recipe was first published in October 2020 and updated in December 2023.

Authentic German Coleslaw (Krautsalat) - Recipes From Europe (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Last Updated:

Views: 5761

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Birthday: 1992-02-16

Address: Suite 851 78549 Lubowitz Well, Wardside, TX 98080-8615

Phone: +67618977178100

Job: Manufacturing Director

Hobby: Running, Mountaineering, Inline skating, Writing, Baton twirling, Computer programming, Stone skipping

Introduction: My name is Wyatt Volkman LLD, I am a handsome, rich, comfortable, lively, zealous, graceful, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.