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German Cabbage Salad or Coleslaw

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German coleslaw with crème fraiche and lots of chives, this is a typical recipe for a German cabbage salad.




German Cabbage Salad



This cabbage salad is my husband’s favorite grill salad, I would say. A typical German salad or German coleslaw recipe, just the way his mother and grandmother have been making it their whole lives and considering that his grandmother lived to be 96, you could call this a vintage recipe :).

It is not a recipe I’ve often made myself, the main reason for it is that this is one of those recipes that my mother-in-law usually makes, just like her Beef Roulades, Jägerschnitzel or chocolate cornflake cakes.

Everything easy and delicious, but somehow belonging to her, the way the Chicken Dumpling Soup or birthday cakes belong to me.

So usually, when my husband or my brother-in-law feel like eating this particular cabbage salad, they don’t ask me, they call their mama… 🙂

And this is not the only traditional German recipe I never have to bother making, there are quite a few more… maybe I should make a “Mother-in-law recipes” series one day! Not a bad idea, she has some really good ones…


German Cabbage Salad




  • This is a very cheap and easy recipe, just like most cabbage recipes.
  • Cabbage is a wonderful vegetable, with just one head of cabbage, which is always economical, you can make food for an entire family and probably always have some leftovers.
  • I used a small head of white cabbage, which weighs about 750 g/ 1.7 lb, a little more or less is fine.
  • If you can only get a large cabbage (like I often do), use the leftovers to make other cabbage recipes.


  • I use German sour cream – Schmand or crème fraiche. They are very similar in taste and texture, crème fraiche is just a little less stiff than Schmand.
  • You could use sour cream as well, the taste might differ slightly, but if you like sour cream that should not be a problem.
  • You will also need a splash or two of milk to loosen the salad dressing. About 2 splashes when using Schmand and 1 when using crème fraiche.


  • Fresh parsley and chives are best, but frozen herbs make a very good substitute.
  • Whatever you do, don’t use dried parsley or chives for the German coleslaw.
  • When it comes to dried herbs, there are some that are really good when dried: thyme, rosemary, oregano, for instance.
  • Parsley, chives, basil and many times dill make no sense in dried form, they only taste of dust.


German Cabbage Salad



  • Think that you have to make the coleslaw in advance.
  • The shredded salad has to be mixed with salt and it has to spend at least 6 and up to 12 hours in the fridge.
  • Kneading the cabbage with salt and letting it rest, will tenderize it and make it more easily digestible.
  • When adjusting the taste with salt and pepper, go easy on the salt at first. The cabbage is already salted and you should not overdo it.
  • Chop the onion very finely, my mother-in-law always crushes it with a fork after chopping it.
  • Use fresh or frozen herbs, not dried.
  • If you make the cabbage salad a few hours in advance, keep it in the fridge and bring it to room temperature before serving. Don’t forget to adjust the taste again. Add more salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar as needed.


How to keep the cabbage salad?

  • The German coleslaw can be made in advance and be kept in the fridge.
  • Leftovers keep very well for several days in the refrigerator.


How to serve German coleslaw?

  • I’ve always loved eating any kind of cabbage salad with only boiled or roast potatoes. It is such a great combination, I don’t really need any meat anymore.
  • Otherwise, the German cabbage salad makes a great side dish for any kind of meats or sausages.
  • It is a great potluck salad as it can be made in advance, it can be easily transported and it goes well with just about anything.




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german coleslaw in a bowl


German Cabbage Salad

German Cabbage Salad

German coleslaw with crème Fraiche and lots of chives is a typical German cabbage salad recipe.
4.67 from 3 votes
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Course: Salads
Cuisine: German
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6 -8
Calories: 147kcal
Author: Adina


  • 1 small cabbage about 750 g/ 1.7 lb
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup crème fraiche 250 g
  • 2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-2 splashes of milk
  • small bunch of parsley
  • small bunch of chives
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Slice the cabbage very finely; you could use a mandolin. Place it in a large bowl, add some salt, starting with 2 teaspoons. Knead the cabbage thoroughly with your hands, taste, and add more salt if not salty enough. Don't overdo it, though, with the salt. Cover and let it stand in the fridge for at least 6 hours and up to 24.
  • Chop the onion very finely.
  • Dressing: Mix the crème Fraiche with the onions, add the vinegar and add everything to the cabbage. Mix well and adjust the seasoning with salt (if still necessary), pepper, sugar, and more vinegar if necessary; the salad should be on the sour side. Finally, add a splash or two of milk to loosen the dressing.
  • Chop the herbs very finely and add them to the salad.
  • Refrigerate: Stir well and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. It keeps for several days in the fridge.


Serving: 1/8 of the dish | Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 204mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g
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Recipe Rating

Elizabeth Weaver

Wednesday 11th of September 2019

Did I do something wrong? Mine is frothy. I used sour cream and mixed in some half and half instead of Creme fraiche because I cannot find it in stores. I also substituted about 1/2 teaspoon of “no salt” because we try to keep the sodium content down.


Thursday 12th of September 2019

I don't know, Elizabeth, maybe one of the milk products was passed its best before date or you left the salad in a warm place. I don't know what "no salt" is, maybe something in it reacts with the milk products. Replacing the creme fraiche with sour cream and half and half is fine, that should not be a problem at all.


Monday 6th of June 2016

Rosi sounds like a pretty fantastic cook and MIL :) Oh Adina my husband is going to looove this salad, he's crazy for anything cabbage but especially salads that are slightly tangy and sweet like this one! Thanks for sharing this vintage family recipe.

Kate @ Framed Cooks

Sunday 5th of June 2016

Looks perfect to go alongside of grilled steak or chicken - I love finding out about a new summer salad!


Saturday 4th of June 2016

What a wonderful cabbage salad! I love cabbage in all forms (sauerkraut, cooked, raw...) but this salad sounds quite original. Judging from the look and the ingredients I'd really like it, so I must remember to try it. I'm very glad to discover your beautiful blog. So many luscious-looking dishes!

Angie@Angie's Recipes

Saturday 4th of June 2016

Looks quite crunchy, delicious and easy to prepare!