Authentic German Sauerkraut Recipe

You will love this authentic German sauerkraut recipe, even or especially if you’re not a big fan of sour sauerkraut.

I think that there is nothing more synonymous with German cooking than sauerkraut.

In this post, I am showing you exactly how to make the best sauerkraut ever.

During the typically long and dark winters, there is not a whole lot that grows in Germany – and Eastern Europe for that matter. So Germans resorted to fermenting cabbage.

On one hand, it is a great way to preserve cabbage naturally and at room temperature. On the other hand, it is actually a very healthy dish that is high in vitamins C and K, as well as other nutrients. The fermentation process turns this humble vegetable into a probiotic-rich food.

For those reasons, and because I am German, I always have a big mason jar or two of fermenting green cabbage in my basement. I like the nice sour tartness and the health benefits of sauerkraut. You can really use it in so many healthy recipes.

I also love how the German word sauerkraut has made it into other languages as well. It literally means “sour cabbage”.

Keep reading to find out how to make this easy recipe for the best-tasting sauerkraut!

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Why you’ll love this German sauerkraut recipe

If you’re not a big fan of sauerkraut because you find it too sour, then you really need to try this recipe! It takes a very basic sauerkraut to the next level with some extra spices and ingredients. You then have the perfect side dish for many German recipes, mainly meat dishes.

Last but not least,

braised sauerkraut with sausage and potatoes on a plate

Ingredients for this German sauerkraut recipe

This is what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Sauerkraut: Obviously, this is the main ingredient here. While you can absolutely make your own sauerkraut and in this recipe, I am showing you how to cook sauerkraut from a jar. Canned sauerkraut is pretty widely available. Since we’re cooking it, I like to save my homemade fresh sauerkraut for when I am looking for a raw, unpasteurized product that still has all the various lactic acid bacteria in it.
  • Onions: Gently caramelizing onions helps mellow the sour taste of the sauerkraut with their natural sugars. Also, it adds more body to this dish.
  • Apples: Apples add a hint of sweetness to this dish that balances the flavor of this sour cabbage nicely.
  • Bacon: We are using bacon for its fat, slightly smoky taste, and crunch.
  • Broth: We are simmering the sauerkraut in broth which helps round out the flavors.
  • Juniper berries and caraway seeds: I am bundling them since they are completely optional. Germans traditionally add these spices to help with the digestion of the heavy cabbage. You can see below under substitutions and variations what to do if you’re not a big fan of them.
  • Maple syrup: The sweetness of the maple syrup also helps balance the sourness of the sauerkraut.
braised sauerkraut in cast iron skillet

Useful tools and equipment

These are some pieces that I often like to use:

  • Large pot, skillet, or Dutch oven: If you’ve been following me for a while, you might know that I absolutely love using cast iron. For this recipe, I like to use my 12-inch cast-iron skillet. I have a cast-iron lid from a Dutch oven that fits it perfectly. But you can use any enameled cast-iron pot or stainless steel pot you like.
  • Large strainer: This is very useful for draining the juice from the sauerkraut.
  • Tea infuser: Especially if you don’t like the taste or texture of the juniper berries or caraway seeds you can use this to get the best of both worlds.
sauerkraut with bratwurst and potatoes on a plate
authentic German sauerkraut on a plate with bratwurst and potatoes

Substitutions and variations

While many of the ingredients are not absolutely necessary, you can substitute them with other ingredients. As you might imagine, every family and every region in Germany has its own favorite fried sauerkraut recipe. In fact, this recipe is more of a Bavarian sauerkraut.

  • Bacon: I personally feel that this is an essential addition. If you would like to make it a vegetarian dish, you can leave it out entirely.
  • Broth: The same goes for the broth. You can use vegetarian bouillon, white wine, or rice wine instead. You might even like to replace a portion of the broth with white wine.
  • Juniper berries and caraway seeds: if you don’t like either or both of them, leave them out. We really like both because their taste reminds us of so many typical German dishes. Also note, that both of them are healthy and help with the digestion of the fermented cabbage. Alternatively, you can use a tea bag or tea infuser that you place right into the sauerkraut during cooking. Afterward, you simply remove it.
  • Bacon fat: Hopefully you will get a lot of fat out of your bacon. If not you can use another fat such as lard, goose fat, duck fat, or, for vegetarians, avocado oil. You could use olive oil but I feel that the previous options impart a better flavor.
  • Bay leaves: this is another spice that would work really well in this German food.
  • Maple syrup: I really like the complex flavors of the maple syrup. If you don’t have it or don’t like it, you can use regular granulated or brown sugar as well.
  • Cream: To make this German sauerkraut dish taste even more mellow, you could add a good dollop of sweet cream or sour cream to it.
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How to cook sauerkraut the German way

  1. Cut the bacon into small dice.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp and the fat has been rendered.
  3. In the meantime, drain the juice from the canned sauerkraut. You can keep the sauerkraut juice if you like.
  4. Peel and cut the onion in half. Then cut the onion into small rings.
  5. Peel, core, and quarter the apple. Then cut it into small pieces.
  6. Remove the bacon from the skillet and try to leave as much fat in the skillet as possible. Set the bacon aside.
  7. If there is less than about a good tablespoon of fat in the skillet, add some extra lard, avocado oil, or other oil with a high smoke point.
  8. Sautee the onion until translucent. Add the apple and saute for another few minutes.
  9. Add the drained sauerkraut.
  10. Add the broth, maple syrup, and spices if you are using them.
  11. Turn the plate to low heat, put a lid on the skillet or pot and gently simmer the sauerkraut for 30-45 minutes. You might like to check it every so often so it doesn’t burn at the bottom. However, it’s perfect if there is some browning since that gives it a nice caramelized flavor. At the end of the cooking time, all the liquid should have been absorbed.
  12. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  13. Serve with grilled German bratwurst and boiled potatoes for the perfect German dinner or however you like it. You could even make your favorite Reuben sandwich with it!

Other German recipes you might like

Homemade Sauerkraut

Authentic German Schnitzel

German Potato Salad

How to Make German Rouladen

German Onion Tart | Zwiebelkuchen

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Canned German sauerkraut

12 inch cast iron skillet

Stainless steel strainer

Stainless steel tea infuser

German sauerkraut with bacon
Print Recipe
4.13 from 16 votes

Traditional German Sauerkraut

This is the way most Germans eat sauerkraut: braised with seasonings until tender and served with crispy bacon.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: German
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 145kcal
Cost: $9


  • 1 jar sauerkraut (about 28 oz drained)
  • 1 whole onion, large (or 2 small ones), cut into thin slices
  • 1 whole apple, peeled, cored, cut into small dice
  • 2-4 oz bacon, cut into small dice
  • 4 oz broth or bouillon
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 1 TBSP juniper berries – optional
  • 1 TBSP caraway seeds – optional
  • salt & pepper to tastee


  • Drain the sauerkraut. You might like to keep the sauerkraut juice.
  • In a large skillet or pot, saute the bacon over low-medium heat. When crisp, remove the bacon from skillet, leaving as much of the bacon fat in the skillet as possible.
  • If there is less than 1 TBSP of fat in the skillet, add some extra lard, goose fat, avocado oil, or other oil with high smoke point.
  • Add the onions and saute until translucent.
  • Add the apples and sautee for another 2-3 mins.
  • Add the sauerkraut, broth, maple syrup, and spices (if using), stir until combined, lower the heat to low, put a lid on, and gently simmer for 30-45 mins or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with German bratwurst and boiled potatoes or with your favorite meat dish and sides.


  • If you don’t like the spices, you can add them to a tea bag or tea strainer and keep that in the sauerkraut during the simmering. Remove before serving.
  • If you like your sauerkraut a bit more sour, you can add the sauerkraut juice and use a little less sweetener.
  • If you like your sauerkraut a little less sour, be sure to drain all the sauerkraut juice and add a little bit more broth and sweetener.


Calories: 145kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @ourgabledhome or tag #ourgabledhome!

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

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How to Make Traditional German Sauerkraut


  1. 5 stars
    Really good. I used chicken broth and white wine, and applesauce instead of apples because that’s what I had. I ate it with bratwurst.
    BTW, ignore John Doe and his ilk. There’s at least one like him in every big group. He’s just trying to appear smart and dramatically achieving the opposite. I wonder if he would say he made spaghetti or pad Thai for dinner if he didn’t make the noodles. Or would he say he made coffee if he didn’t roast and grind the beans?

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made your recipe a dozen times for my family that lived in Germany previously! We love it and like that it could be varied, too. It’s just what I was looking for. Thank you so much for sharing such a perfect recipe!! 🩷

  3. This isn’t sauerkraut. It’s a recipe to enhance canned sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. It takes at least 3 weeks to make. The most important part of sauerkraut is that it is fermented and full of probiotics. Canned sauerkraut has already killed the probiotics and won’t have any of the health benefits. Look elsewhere to learn to make sauerkraut. This is like buying a can of baked beans and adding some brown sugar and saying you made baked beans. No. Bush make baked beans, you just added some flavors.

    1. Thank you for your opinion. If you had read my entire blog post you would have seen the link to my recipe how to ferment sauerkraut. Many people, and most Germans, find raw sauerkraut too sour for eating so they add other ingredients. This is one of my most popular recipes ~ Anja

  4. That is how my Opa would serve sauerkraut. Bacon and onions were essential. However, he didn’t use maple syrup or apples, he would use a small can of crushed pineapple or maybe some applesauce and a little bit of cream. Ausgezeichnet kraut! Like you, he rarely measured his ingredients, he would go by taste as he cooked. And he always had a crock or two of sauerkraut fermenting in the pantry. Opa war der Koch, Oma war Bäcker(in). So war es immer so.

  5. Please tell us if we can can our saurkraut. I love good saurkraut and once I make some I would like to keep a few jars for later use. Also, in addition I like the added vegetables for salad. Thankyou.

  6. Great recipe! Balanced flavours, not to sour nor sweet. The whole family loved it with German sausages. Thanks for this lovely and authentic recipe, Anja.

  7. Holy smokes, this was DELICIOUS!!!
    I used beef broth and did not add juniper berries (didn’t have any)— it was FABULOUS!

    1. ***** recipe. This is my third time making this recipe. Delicious and so much better than just caraway seeds that I had made prior. No leftovers here, family loved it. Thanks for the recipe. Happy in Nova Scotia, Canada. 🙂

    1. 4 stars
      I use the chicken broth but just don’t forget to put the bacon pieces back in. It does not remind you that on the recipe lol.

  8. The first time I ever had sauerkraut and liked it was when my aunt uncle served it slightly sweetened over mashed potatoes and topped with diced pork chop. Sounds odd but it was so good! I can’t wait to try your suggestions!

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