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How To Cook Sauerkraut (4 Ways!)

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If you are a sauerkraut fan, you will love learning How To Cook Sauerkraut. Choose your preferred way to cook it: on the stove, in the slow cooker, air fryer, or instant pot. This simple side dish from eastern Europe takes minimal prep time and can be cooked in large batches to last all week for healthy snacks and side dishes!

Sauerkraut in an air fryer.

❤️ Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy: All you have to do to make this German sauerkraut recipe is finely slice the apple and onion, and sauté them for a few minutes followed by the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, liquid of choice, and sugar if using. Cook with your preferred method below!
  • Quick: Cooking sauerkraut in the air fryer, on the stove, or in the instant pot are all super fast methods. The slow cooker is a little slower (of course!).
  • Delicious: Sauerkraut has a nice sour tartness which I personally find addictive. Mixed with the flavors of apple, onion, and caraway, this is my favorite way to eat sauerkraut.
  • Really good for you: The health benefits of sauerkraut are vast! It contains a large about of lactic acid bacteria which can improve the absorption of nutrients, help prevent cancer, improve digestion, and control cholesterol levels. It’s an all-around winner.
  • Goes with just about anything: Sauerkraut is the perfect side dish for just about any type of sausage or pork, or even on its own as a snack.

🗝️ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Sauerkraut: You can use either homemade sauerkraut or sauerkraut from a grocery store. My grocery store carries Bavarian sauerkraut which is very simple, just cabbage and brine.
  • Apple: A granny smith would be ideal, but you can also use a sweet apple to compliment the tangy sauerkraut.
  • Onion: I finely sliced a red onion for this easy recipe. A yellow or white onion would also work.
  • Caraway seeds: These little seeds have a great flavor, kind of like aniseed or licorice, but not as strong. It is my favorite part of this recipe.
  • Sugar: You can add a little brown sugar to cut the tartness. I have also successfully added coconut sugar (paleo) and brown erythritol (keto).
  • Seasoning: I added ground black pepper and just a pinch of salt. You can adjust the seasoning to your own taste.
  • Apple juice, sauerkraut juice, white wine, or chicken broth: Choose one or two of these liquids to suit your taste. If you can’t get enough of that funky sauerkraut flavor, add sauerkraut juice. To make it sweeter try apple juice. Sweeter and tangier: white wine. Saltier and a little more hearty: chicken broth is ideal.
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🥣 How to cook sauerkraut

Begin each of these cooking methods by slicing the apple and onion thinly.

How to cook sauerkraut on the stove

Great for: a quick and easy side dish with plenty of moisture, that you don’t mind keeping an eye on while it’s cooking.

1. Add olive oil to a medium-large skillet on the stove over medium heat.

2. When the oil is hot sauté the onion for 5 minutes, followed by the apple for another 5 minutes.

3. Add the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, black peppercorns, sugar, and chicken stock, and bring it to a boil.

4. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow it to cook for 30 minutes until soft.

Sauerkraut in a pan on the stove.

How to cook sauerkraut in the slow cooker

Great for: an easy side dish that you don’t need to keep an eye on after prep. It also develops the flavors more.

1. Add olive oil to a medium-large skillet on the stove over medium heat.

2. When the oil is hot sauté the onion for 5 minutes, followed by the apple for another 5 minutes.

3. Add the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, black peppercorns, and sugar, and stir everything together to combine.

4. Add all of the ingredients (including the chicken stock) to a slow cooker and set it on low for 1-2 hours to allow the flavors to develop.

How to cook sauerkraut in an Instant Pot

Great for: for developing the flavors more, but quicker than a slow cooker.

1. Turn the instant pot on to the sauté function.

2. Add olive oil to the instant pot.

3. When the oil is hot, sauté the onion for 5 minutes, followed by the apple for another 5 minutes.

4. Turn the sauté function off and add the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, black peppercorns, and sugar, and stir everything together to combine.

5. Add the chicken stock and seal the instant pot with the lid.

6. Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes.

7. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before switching the valve from “sealed” to “venting”.

How to cook sauerkraut in an air fryer

Great for: a slightly drier sauerkraut for use on sandwiches (so the bread doesn’t get soggy) or a substitute for salad/coleslaw.

1. Preheat the air fryer to 177°C/350°F.

2. Add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix well, apart from the chicken stock. We’ll skip that for the air fryer.

3. When the air fryer has heated, add the sauerkraut mixture to the air fryer basket.

4. Cook the sauerkraut for 15 minutes, stirring it every 5 minutes with a wooden spoon or tossing it with tongs.

Overhead shot of sauerkraut.

🫙 Storage Instructions

  • Fridge: Allow the sauerkraut to cool to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container (like quart jars) in the fridge. It will keep for up to a week.
  • Reheat: Reheat any leftovers in the microwave until piping hot, or you can eat them cold straight from the fridge.
  • Freeze: Freeze in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 6 months. Thaw completely before reheating and/or consuming.

🪄 Recipe Notes & Tips

  • Strong taste: Sauerkraut is known for its strong, sour flavor. If you find it a little too strong, it’s a great idea to rinse the sauerkraut before cooking this easy sauerkraut recipe.
  • Add flavor: You can add other spices, herbs, and vegetables to sauerkraut to make it your own. See below for some ideas.
  • Add meat: Feel free to add sausages if you’re cooking this in the instant pot or slow cooker. Increase the slow cooker time by 2-3 hours.
Close up of sauerkraut.

🤔 What else can I add to sauerkraut to make it taste amazing?

Here are some common ingredients found in sauerkraut dishes that you can add to make it your own:

  • Juniper berries
  • Bay leaves
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Dill
  • Fresh garlic
  • Dijon mustard
  • Carrot
  • Potatoes
  • Lemon
  • Bacon
  • Bacon fat (bacon drippings)
  • Duck fat
  • White vinegar
  • Rice wine
  • Apple cider
  • Beer

🍽️ What can I serve sauerkraut with?

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

What is sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut is a fermented sour cabbage. It can be made with red cabbage or green cabbage and salt. The fermentation process releases natural probiotics which are so good for your gut and building healthy bacteria in your body. Sometimes sauerkraut has other fresh vegetables in it like carrots, onion, apple, and spices like caraway seeds, juniper berries, and dill.

How is sauerkraut made?

To make your own sauerkraut, all you have to do is remove two outer leaves and the stock, shred the rest of the head of cabbage finely and sprinkle salt all over it in a large bowl. Massage the shredded raw cabbage leaves until liquid starts to come out of them. I like to let it sit for 45 minutes to gather plenty of brine at the bottom. Then you fill a crock or mason jar with the salty shredded cabbage, pressing down with your fists, a potato masher (great for big crocks), or a weight to make sure all of the air pockets are squeezed out. You should see some brine at the top. Cover it with the two leaves followed by weights and seal the crock. The homemade sauerkraut will be ready in 4-24 days.

Does sauerkraut need to be cooked?

Not at all! Sauerkraut is great either raw & straight from the jar, or you can cook it to add more flavor and warmth. It is delicious either way.

Close up of sauerkraut.

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Sauerkraut in an air fryer.

📖 Cooking Sauerkraut Recipe

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

If you are a sauerkraut fan, you will love learning How To Cook Sauerkraut. Choose your preferred way to cook it: on the stove, in the slow cooker, air fryer, or instant pot. This simple side dish from eastern Europe takes minimal prep time and can be cooked in large batches to last all week for healthy snacks and side dishes!

Ingredients

  • 455g (1lb) sauerkraut
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-3 teaspoons of brown sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar substitute (optional)
  • 240ml (1 cup) chicken stock (or apple juice, white wine, or sauerkraut juice)
  • Salt & ground black pepper or peppercorns (to taste)

Instructions

Air Fryer

  1. Slice the onion and apple thinly and mix them well with the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, olive oil, sugar (if you're using it), salt, and pepper. I tossed it with tongs.Sauerkraut ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add the sauerkraut to the air fryer, spread it out evenly, and cook for 15 minutes, tossing it with tongs or stirring it with a wooden spoon every 5 minutes. When it's finished cooking, it will be heated through with some browned bits here and there.Sauerkraut in an air fryer.

Stovetop

  1. Add olive oil to a medium-large skillet on the stove over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot sauté the onion for 5 minutes, followed by the apple for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, black peppercorns, sugar, and chicken stock, and bring it to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow it to cook for 30 minutes until soft.Sauerkraut in a pan on the stove.

Slow cooker

  1. Add olive oil to a medium-large skillet on the stove over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot sauté the onion for 5 minutes, followed by the apple for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, black peppercorns, and sugar, and stir everything together to combine.
  4. Add all of the ingredients (including the chicken stock) to a slow cooker and set it on low for 1-2 hours to allow the flavors to develop.

Instant Pot

  1. Turn the instant pot on to the sauté function.
  2. Add olive oil to the instant pot.
  3. When the oil is hot, sauté the onion for 5 minutes, followed by the apple for another 5 minutes.
  4. Turn the sauté function off and add the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, black peppercorns, and sugar, and stir everything together to combine.
  5. Add the chicken stock and seal the instant pot with the lid.
  6. Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes.
  7. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before switching the valve from "sealed" to "venting".

Notes

  • Additions: Feel free to add in other flavors (all methods, see the post for ideas) or your favorite sausage (slow cooker or instant pot only).
  • Leftovers: I like to double the sauerkraut dish for easy leftovers throughout the week. It's delightful hot or cold and great with hot dogs, or other delicious sausage like Polish sausage, Italian sausage, or bratwurst. I sometimes just eat it on its own as a snack, it's just so good.
  • Strong taste: Sauerkraut is known for its strong, sour flavor. If you find it a little too strong, it's a great idea to rinse the sauerkraut before cooking this easy sauerkraut recipe.
  • Storage Instructions

  • Fridge: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The sauerkraut will last for up to 1 week.
  • Freeze: Freeze any leftovers in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to 3 months in the freezer. Thaw completely before reheating.
  • Reheat: The sauerkraut can be reheated in the air fryer, on the stove, or in the microwave until it's heated through.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 71Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 156mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 1g

    Nutrition information and calculations will vary with the use of different brands or ingredients. These figures are estimates. Please get in touch if you have questions!

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