Bavarian Sauerkraut


For many, sauerkraut is synonymous with German cuisine. This pickled cabbage side is a staple that brings a taste of Bavaria wherever it’s served. Learn all about authentic Bavarian-style sauerkraut and how to make this zesty, probiotic-packed staple at home.

What Makes Bavarian Sauerkraut Special?

True Bavarian sauerkraut starts with high-quality jarred or canned German cabbage. It’s then cooked low and slow with smoky bacon, tart apple, onion, spices, and apple cider for complex flavor. The result is a pleasantly sour side that perfectly complements rich German sausages, pork roasts, schnitzel and more.

What Type of Sauerkraut Works Best?

Look for good-quality packaged sauerkraut from German brands when possible for an authentic tangy flavor. Kraut sold in barrels by butchers also makes excellent starting material. Genuine German sauerkraut ensures the proper sourness level for this recipe.

Does This Dish Have Vegetarian Versions?

Yes! To make a vegetarian or vegan Bavarian sauerkraut, simply omit the bacon and cook the vegetables in oil instead of lard or bacon grease. You’ll still get fantastic flavor without the meat.

How Should I Use Up Leftover Kraut?

Stored in an airtight container, leftover Bavarian sauerkraut keeps 4-5 days refrigerated. Reheat gently with a splash of water to prevent drying out. Or enjoy leftovers cold, mixed into salads, sandwiches and more. You can also freeze sauerkraut for 4-5 months – it defrosts beautifully.

Bavarian Sauerkraut Recipe

Ingredients Redefined:

  • 1.8 lb. (about 800 g) Sauerkraut (Note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon Bacon Fat (Note 2)
  • 2.6 oz (about 75 g) Onion
  • 2 oz Bacon (Note 3,4)
  • 3.5 oz (1 medium) Apple
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Apple Cider (Note 5)
  • 1 teaspoon Caraway Seeds
  • ½ teaspoon Fine Sea Salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper (or to taste)

Instructions for Culinary Delight:

  1. Preparation: Begin by draining the sauerkraut. Finely chop the onion and dice the bacon. Peel and cube the apple for a burst of freshness.
  2. Cooking: In a saucepan, heat the bacon fat. Sauté the onion and bacon for 3 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the apple and continue stirring for another 3 minutes.
  3. Caramelizing: Sprinkle sugar over the mixture and stir, allowing it to caramelize for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Simmering: Mix in the sauerkraut, salt, pepper, caraway seeds, and cider. Cover and let it simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, infusing the flavors.

Serve this Bavarian sauerkraut hot, as a side to your favorite German meat dish.

Chef’s Notes:

  • Sauerkraut Varieties: Choose from fresh (homemade or from the butcher), canned, jarred, or bagged. For authentic taste and texture, opt for a German product like Mildessa/Hengstenberg.
  • Bacon Fat Alternatives: Lard, schmalz, or even vegetable/olive oil can be used.
  • Bacon Options: Lean or regular bacon works well. Unsliced varieties are preferable for chunky texture.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Twist: Omit bacon and use oil.
  • Apple Cider Substitutes: White wine or apple juice can be used. Adjust sugar if using dry white wine.