Bavarian sauerkraut – a regional way of cooking the famous German sauerkraut, with apples, bacon, cider, and caraway seeds. This is the perfect side dish for many German meat dishes.
There are hardly any other food items that people relate more to German cooking. Sauerkraut or kraut is linked to Germany more than any other foods seem to be. Try this Bavarian sauerkraut or learn How to Cook Sauerkraut in an even more basic way, and you will always be only “one can away” from a real authentic German culinary experience.
And if you are more into German food, have a look at the Crispy Pork Hocks (also a Bavarian recipe) or the German Potato Salad, another typical recipe for the South of Germany. Or check the German Recipes category, I have loads of wonderful recipes there.
What is sauerkraut?
White cabbage mixed with salt and fermented by lactic acid bacteria. During the fermentation or pickling process, microorganisms digest the cabbage’s natural sugars, which are converted into carbon dioxide and organic acids.
Fermented cabbage is not only popular in Germany, but all over Europe, especially Central and Eastern Europe.
Sauerkraut is a super food, in my opinion. It’s full of beneficial probiotics or live bacteria produced during the fermentation process. These probiotics are great for the digestive health, they feed the good bacteria in the gut and can help fight against inflammation.
It also contains dietary fiber, which also aids digestion, helps with keeping a balanced blood sugar and might help with lowering cholesterol. It is a good source of vitamins C (supports immune system), A (reduces inflammation), and K (heart and bone health).
What do you need?
- You can buy it in a can, jar, bag, or fresh from a barrel at the butchers. I’ve tried all these sorts; I can’t even count how many times I’ve cooked and eaten sauerkraut…
- All sorts are delicious, the butcher’s sort might be the finest and healthiest (all the live bacteria it’s still there and alive), but the canned variety is good as well, not to mention that it is more convenient, as it can be bought way in advance and it can be stored for ages.
The right brand and where to buy it?
- If you don’t live in Germany, make sure you buy a can of German kraut. Only this will ensure an authentic taste.
- Not everything labeled as sauerkraut is fit for making this recipe. Look for German brands, like Mildessa from Hengstenberg. Even if they might cost a little more, they are worth it if what you are looking for is genuine taste and texture.
- You could also make your homemade version, but that requires a bit more time and dedication than opening a can or a jar, something I don’t do much myself either, the bought stuff is simply good and exceptionally good value.
- You might find these products in larger supermarkets, maybe those with an Ethnic food section, or in German/European/Eastern European food stores.
- I had pretty lean bacon cubes this time, but regular bacon, pancetta and similar products are all fine. They can be either smoked or unsmoked.
- Bacon fat, lard or schmalz. If you don’t have those, use oil instead.
- I love to use it. However, if you don’t have it, you can sub it with white wine and add an extra ½ - 1 teaspoon sugar to the mixture.
- For a non-alcoholic version of the Bavarian sauerkraut, use apple juice.
- You should definitely use them for an authentic flavor.
- And if you bought the spice just for this recipe, you might want to see these other recipes using caraway seeds: Sweet Irish Soda Bread, Romanian Pretzel - Covrigei, Homemade Cheese Crackers, Fried Cabbage with Bacon, Lamb Bone Soup.
Other ingredients: apple, onion, salt and pepper.
How to make Bavarian-style sauerkraut?
- Drain the sauerkraut.
- Chop the onions and the bacon, peel and chop the apple into small cubes.
- Heat the fat in a saucepan.
- Cook the onions and the bacon for about 3 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Add the apple cubes and stir for another 3 minutes. (1)
- Sprinkle the sugar on top, stir and let caramelize slightly 1-2 minutes.
- Add the fermented cabbage, salt, pepper, caraway seeds, and apple cider/white wine/ apple juice. (2)
- Stir well, cover, and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes.
Can I make the dish vegetarian/vegan?
Definitely. Use oil instead of lard/bacon fat and leave out the bacon. The dish will still taste delicious!
How to serve Bavarian kraut?
Oh, so many delicious ways! You can serve it as it is with potatoes, bread dumplings, or potato dumplings. If serving as a main dish, you might make the dish with more bacon.
Or as a side dish for a multitude of meaty main dishes, preferably dishes made with pork, pork and sauerkraut are a match made in heaven! Try it with the Pork Hocks mentioned above, with Baked Pork Chops and Potatoes, with Baked Schnitzel, Pork Chops in Milk Marinade, or with Romanian Meatballs.
Try it with Brats in the Oven, Brats on the Stove, or Brats in the Air Fryer. Or check out this post showing you How to Cook Frozen Sausages. Any of the sausages mentioned there are delicious when served with kraut.
What to do with leftovers?
Leftovers keep very well in the fridge for at least 4-5 days in an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave or in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water if the mixture seems too dry and threatens to catch when reheating.
You can also enjoy the leftover kraut cold, as a salad. Or add to soups. Use for making sandwiches with chicken, cold meats, strong cheese or even fried tofu (so good). Or make hot dogs with wiener, frankfurters or bratwurst.
Freeze the Bavarian sauerkraut, it should keep very well for at least 4-5 months. I often make a larger batch and freeze smaller portions that can be quickly defrosted in the microwave or on the counter. The perfect, quick side dish to have in the freezer for all occasions.
More sauerkraut dishes:
- Meatballs and Sauerkraut
- Vegan Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Sour Cabbage Rolls
- Vegan Cabbage Rolls with Sauerkraut
- Polish Sauerkraut Stew – Bigos
- Sarmale – Romanian Cabbage Rolls
- 1 can sauerkraut about 800 g/ 1.8 lb. (Note 1)
- 1 tablespoon bacon fat Note 2
- 1 onion about 75 g/ 2.6 oz
- 2 oz bacon Note 3,4
- 1 medium apple about 150 g/ 3.5 oz
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup apple cider Note 5
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- about ½ teaspoon fine sea salt to taste
- about ¼ teaspoon black pepper to taste
- Prepare: Drain the sauerkraut. Finely chop the onions and cut the bacon into small cubes. Peel and dice the apple.
- Heat the fat in a saucepan. Cook the onions and the bacon for about 3 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the apple and stir for another 3 minutes.
- Caramelize: Sprinkle the sugar on top, stir and let caramelize slightly for about 1-2 minutes.
- Simmer: Add sauerkraut, salt, pepper, caraway seeds, cider/white wine/ apple juice. Stir well, cover, and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately or reheat.
- Either fresh (homemade or from the butchers), from a can, jar, or bag. Search for a German product for genuine taste and texture. I recommend Mildessa/Hengstenberg. (Amazon affiliate link, but I am not getting paid for recommending the products).
- Or lard or schmalz. Vegetable or olive oil can be used instead.
- I had lean bacon cubes, but regular bacon is perfect as well. Preferably the one sold unsliced, as it is nicer to have the cubes in the dish than some chopped thin slices.
- To make the dish vegetarian/vegan, use oil and leave out the bacon.
- Or white wine or apple juice. If using dry white wine, you might want to adjust the taste with another ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar.