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Sauerkraut Stew – Polish Bigos Recipe

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Warming sauerkraut stew or bigos with pork and spicy sausages, one of the most popular Polish recipes.

Sauerkraut Stew with Pork and Sausages – Polish Bigos Recipe

This Polish sauerkraut stew is everything that a winter stew should be: hearty and comforting, it warms you up from the inside and leaves you full and satisfied.

There are quite a few cabbage or sauerkraut stew recipes on the blog; you might have noticed that. From the vegan Cabbage Turmeric Stew and the Romanian Stewed Cabbage to Pork, Rice and Cabbage Stew or Stewed Sauerkraut with Meat Dumplings.

Cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables, and stewing it makes it so wonderful. I love that sweet yet hearty flavor that develops while the cabbage cooks; I like to slightly let it caramelize and catch at the bottom of the pan so that it tastes even sweeter and more intensive.

I like to add a bit of tomato paste to give it a fruitier note, and I like it plain with nothing but some carrots in it or full of other delicious things like meat or sausages. Or both.

This Polish bigos is a deluxe version of the simple cabbage stew I grew up with. My grandmother did add some fattier pork pieces (for some reason, I distinctly remember some large meat pieces full of white fat that I used to pick out of my cabbage and give to my grandfather), but not often; most of the time, her stewed cabbage was meat-free.

Sauerkraut Stew with Pork and Sausages – Polish Bigos Recipe


  • Sauerkraut from a can or vacuum-packed. The best sort is the fresh one bought at the butcher’s (in Germany), but that might not be available anywhere. Canned sauerkraut is fine, but ensure you buy German Sauerkraut cans; the American version tastes different.
  • Pork: Ideally, you would use a piece of smoked pork. But regular stewing pork meat is fine as well. I always use a pork butt, also known as pork shoulder. It is not very lean, but that makes it perfect for stewing.
  • Sausages: Polish cabanossi or Krakauer, Kielbasa, or whatever they are called where you are.
  • Bacon: already chopped bacon cubes, preferably smoked. Don’t use the thin bacon slices which you would fry for breakfast; you need rough, sturdy cubes.
  • Plum jam: an important ingredient when making bigos. It adds a kind of smoky, gamey flavor you would not want to miss.
  • Spices: typical stew spices used in Eastern and Central Europe, like juniper berries and caraway seeds.
  • Dried porcini: use them together with their soaking liquid; they really add a lot of flavor.
  • Other ingredients: white or green cabbage, tomatoes, tomato paste (not tomato sauce or puree), and chicken stock.
Sauerkraut Stew with Pork and Sausages – Polish Bigos Recipe

How to make sauerkraut stew?

  • Chop everything, but keep the ingredients separated.
  • Fry the bacon in a Dutch oven.
  • Add the onion and the spices and stir for a few minutes.
  • Brown the pork pieces on high heat.
  • Add sauerkraut, cabbage, tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock to the pot.
  • Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  • Add the soaked and sliced mushrooms and their soaking water.
  • Add sausages and plum jam and simmer for one hour.
  • Adjust the taste.

Tips for making bigos

  • Plan ahead and make it one day in advance; it tastes better each time you reheat it.
  • Try to get at least one sort of smoked meat, either bacon or pork. If both are smoked, it is even better.
  • Start by chopping everything, this dish requires quite a bit of chopping, but it is otherwise super simple to make.

More Polish dishes

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polish sauerkraut stew with sausages and pork in a red cast-iron pot

Sauerkraut Stew – Polish Bigos Recipe

Warming sauerkraut stew or bigos with pork and spicy sausages, one of the most popular Polish recipes.
4.75 from 4 votes
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Course: Stews
Cuisine: Polish
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 4 -6
Calories: 327kcal
Author: Adina


  • 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
  • 3 oz smoked bacon cubes 75 g
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon juniper corns
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 lb pork stewing meat 450 g, smoked if available
  • 13 oz cups sauerkraut about 2 ½ cups/ 350 g
  • 1.6 lb white cabbage about 10 cups/ 750 g
  • 12 oz tomatoes about 2 cups/ 350
  • 3 oz tomato paste 75 g
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock 500 ml
  • 0.35 oz dried porcini 10 g
  • 10.5 oz Polish sausage cabanossi or Krakauer 300 g
  • 2-4 teaspoons plum butter or jam to taste (plum butter is less sweet than jam, so use to taste)
  • fine sea salt and pepper


  • Prepare ingredients: Cube the bacon, if necessary. Chop the onion finely. Cut the pork into cubes. Rinse the sauerkraut and let it drain in a sieve. Chop the white cabbage. Chop the tomatoes. Slice the cabanossi.
  • Saute: Heat the lard or oil in a Dutch oven or another heavy-bottomed pot. Fry the bacon for a few minutes. Add the finely chopped onion, the crushed juniper seeds, and the caraway seeds and stir for a few more minutes.
  • Add the pork pieces to the pot and cook until well browned, about 2 or 3 minutes on high heat.
  • Add sauerkraut, cabbage, tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock to the pot. Stir well, bring to a boil, turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Porcini: In the meantime, soak the porcini in 200 ml/ about ¾ cup of warm water. Drain, but reserve the soaking liquid. Chop the porcini and add them to the pot together with their soaking liquid.
  • Add the sausage slices as well. Add two teaspoons plum butter or jam, cover, and continue simmering for one hour.
  • Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, and more plum butter or jam, if necessary. Serve hot or reheat when needed; it tastes even better the next day.


I recommend cooking the stew one day in advance and let it develop the flavors overnight.


Serving: 1/6 of the dish | Calories: 327kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 1623mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @adinabeck or tag #WhereIsMySpoon!

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Saturday 28th of September 2019



Sunday 29th of September 2019

Hi. We loved the food in Poland too. Let me know if you liked the recipe. :)


Saturday 3rd of March 2018

I hear you re: traveling abroad and food. I guess that there are some very picky eaters out there; or maybe people like your... is it mom-in-law? who refuse to eat lamb because it tastes "sheepy." Personally, I am with you: I love to get to taste how the culture and geography of a people expresses in the food. Saying that, where Poland is concerned, some of the dishes are familiar in both Germany and Poland, a cultural exchange between members of the once large Jewish population and people with German roots living near the Polish border, spreading the recipes. Something decidedly NOT wide-spread in Germany is to use prunes in meat stews, but I say don't knock it til you tried it.


Saturday 3rd of March 2018

Yeap, that's my mother-in-law. :) Picky eater number 1 around here, worst than the kids. (Hab dich trotzdem lieb, Rosi!) Polish food resembles both German and Romanian food, maybe that is why I liked it so much. I've made a lamb stew a few years ago with prunes in it, it was definitely something different than what we usually know, but I loved it, especially when reheated, after the different flavors had the time to really blend. I should make it again sometime...


Saturday 27th of January 2018

Your lovely looking dish has almost made me change tonight's dinner plans and defrost the last portion of my bigos... (Actually not only does it get better when reheated but it's fantastic defrosted!) I always add chopped prunes and tons of marjoram (just like I do with many Polish pork dishes), and also some red wine which adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the dish. I also cook my bigos for2-3l days; several hours every day, so I prepare huge amounts and freeze in individual portions.


Thursday 1st of February 2018

I saw a recipe with prunes, but I was almost afraid to use them, I thought my people here would not eat the food... That is why I went for the plum jam version. :) But I would like to try it with prunes and marjoram.

Chris Scheuer

Wednesday 24th of January 2018

I think I might have to come to your house to have sauerkraut Adina! This looks so good. I'm the only one in my family who LOVES (even likes) sauerkraut so I never make it. They all think it's disgusting. That's the only thing that makes me sad about my family :)