Old Fashioned German Coleslaw (Krautsalat)

German coleslaw is a delicious side dish that goes with various grilled meats and sausages. The marinade makes this sweet and sour German cabbage salad a culinary highlight. White or green cabbage, onions, a vinegar and oil dressing and a hint of caraway seeds make this salad a winner for any season.

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What is German Coleslaw?

German coleslaw is a simple cabbage salad. It differs from British or American coleslaw as it is made without mayo and does not contain carrots.

Coleslaw in German is known as “Krautsalat”. There are two terms for Cabbage in German “Kohl” (for example Rotkohl) and “Kraut”. So “Krautsalat” literally translated Cabbage Salad in German.

There are different ways of making Krautsalat in Germany. You mainly differentiate between warm German coleslaw and cold German coleslaw.

In the warm version, the cabbage gets blanched with hot water. This recipe is for the cold version, where we eat the cabbage raw.

How to make authentic German Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • cabbage – white or green cabbage works with this recipe. In Germany, white cabbage is more often used.
  • white onions
  • white vinegar – the vinegars which work best are white wine vinegar, cider vinegar or a herb-infused vinegar.
  • vegetable oil – use a neutral oil such as sunflower oil or rapeseed oil
  • salt
  • sugar
  • caraway seeds – this is optional. You can use whole caraway seeds or, if you like the flavor without the crunch, you can use ground caraway seeds.

Krautsalat Recipe- Step by Step

Stem from cabbage removed.  Cabbage being shredded in food processor.
  1. Wash the cabbage and remove the outer leaves. Quarter through the stem and remove the dense core with a sharp knife and discard.
  2. Finely slice the cabbage into thin shreds. Alternatively, you can use a mandolin or a food processor to shred the cabbage. Place into a large bowl.
White cabbage being kneaded with salt to draw out water.
  1. Now sprinkle the salt over the cabbage. With your hands kneed the salt into the cabbage for approximately 5 minutes. Then leave to rest for at least 20 minutes. (This process is necessary to draw out the excess water from the cabbage. Otherwise, your coleslaw might end up soggy).
  2. In the meantime, finely cube the onions.
onion fried in pan.  German coleslaw dressing poured into cabbage.
  1. Heat up 2 teaspoon of oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until they begin to brown. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  2. For the German coleslaw dressing thoroughly mix the vinegar, oil, pepper, caraway seeds and sugar in a jug. Then add the cooled down onions.
  3. Strain the cabbage in a colander to remove any excess water. Add into a salad bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix well and then leave to rest for approximately 2 hours.
  4. Before serving adjust the seasoning to taste. You can always add more salt or pepper.

Recipe Variations

German coleslaw with bacon

This recipe is very popular in Bavaria. Add about 100 g of smoked bacon to the pan and fry until crispy with the onions. This adds a lovely meaty flavor to the salad.

Replace the white cabbage slaw with red cabbage

You can just replace the white or green cabbage with red cabbage. To intensify the sweet and sour taste, I would use brown sugar instead of white. Also chopping in some apples will give this red cabbage coleslaw a crunchy note.

Serve the Krausalat warm

If you prefer to serve the German slaw warm, then blanch the cabbage leaves with some hot water. After the onions are fried, place the cabbage, read chopped, in the pan. When ready to serve slightly warm up the leaves and then pour over the vinaigrette.

Krautsalat in a bowl.  in the background some bread, vinegar and oil

How to serve Krautsalat

I love my German slaw at room temperature. This means, I prepare it but do not place it in the fridge again. You can also serve it cold, but this is up to personal taste.

Serve the coleslaw with

  • roast meats – such as Bavarian Pork Roast, Sauerbraten or German Meatloaf
  • Grilled sausages and meats – such as Bratwurst (affiliate link)Nürenberger Würstchen, Schwenkbraten or Grillfackeln.
  • With sandwiches – this is a popular side dish for Brotzeit or Abendbrot as a refreshing side to some German Rye bread.
fork full of German Coleslaw

Storage Instructions

German-style coleslaw contains no mayo. This does not only have the advantage that it is healthier but also keep for longer. The salad should be kept in the fridge and will keep to up to 5 days.

You will recognize gone off Krautsalad at the smell, and bitter taste.

FAQ

What is German style coleslaw?

German coleslaw is known as “Krautsalat”. It is a simple light salad made from shredded white or green cabbage that is served with a sweet and sour vinegar dressing.

How do you make German coleslaw dressing?

The dressing consists of vinegar, oil and sugar. This gives it the famous sweet and sour flavour. Optionally you can add some caraway seeds to your dressing.

Is Coleslaw German?

Coleslaw has its origins all the way back in Roman Times, where a dish made of cabbage, vinegar and oil was very popular. The term coleslaw was derives from Dutch term for cabbage salad “koosla”. The German have their own version of cabbage salad called Krautsalat.

More German Salad Recipes

Recipe

a bowl of German coleslaw

Old Fashioned German Coleslaw (Krautsalat)

Marita

Try this German coleslaw- a light cabbage salad made without mayonnaise.

Prep Time 25 mins

Total Time 25 mins

Course Side Dish

Cuisine German

Servings 6 people

Calories 128 kcal

Ingredients

  • 800 g cabbage (1 ¾ lb) white or green cabbage
  • 200 g onions (7 oz) white
  • 50 ml white vinegar (1.6 fl oz) use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 50 ml vegetable oil (1.6 fl oz) use a neutral oil such as sunflower oil or rapeseed oil
  • 2 test salt
  • 2 test sugar
  • 1 test ground caraway seeds (optional) you can also use whole caraway seeds. Or omit them if you do not like the taste

Instructions

  • Wash the cabbage and remove the outer leaves. Quarter through the stem and remove the dense core with a sharp knife and discard.

  • Finely slice the cabbage into thin shreds. Alternatively you can use a mandolin or a food processor to shred the cabbage. Place into a large bowl.

  • Now sprinkle the salt over the cabbage. With your hands kneed the salt into the cabbage for approximately 5 minutes. Then leave to rest for at least 20 minutes. (This process is necessary to draw out the excess water from the cabbage. Otherwise, your coleslaw might end up soggy).

  • In the meantime, finely cube the onions.

  • Heat up 2 teaspoon of oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until they begin to brown. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

  • Mix together the vinegar, oil, pepper, caraway seeds and sugar in a jug. Mix well. Then add the cooled down onions.

  • Strain the cabbage in a colander to remove any excess water. Place in a salad bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix well and then leave to rest for approximately 2 hours.

  • Before serving adjust the seasoning to taste. You can always add more salt or pepper.

Nutrition

Sodium: 812mgCalcium: 64mgVitamin C: 51mgVitamin A: 133IUSugar: 7gFiber: 4gPotassium: 280mgCalories: 128kcalTrans Fat: 1gMonnounsaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gFat: 9gProtein: 2gCarbohydrates: 12gIron: 1mg

Keyword German cabbage salad, German coleslaw, Krautsalat

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