This slow cooker pork and sauerkraut recipe is the easiest way of cooking a traditional German dish—tender pork infused with those delicious sweet and sour sauerkraut flavors.
Apparently, eating pork and sauerkraut for New Year's Day seems to be a traditional way of starting the year in the US. And apparently, people in America think this to be a German tradition.
Fine with me, any occasion for cooking pork and sauerkraut is a good occasion, but I've been living in Germany for 17 years now, and I've never heard of anyone cooking this dish for New Year's… Maybe in other regions, but not where I live. However, as pork symbolizes good luck and sauerkraut money, I think it is good to start the year with this dish.
And if you like a hearty dish and great flavors, check out How to Cook Sauerkraut, Bavarian Sauerkraut, Brats with Sauerkraut, Polish Bigos, or German Meatballs with Sauerkraut. Or try some of our favorite pork recipes, like the Pork Neck, Crispy Pork Hocks, or the Dutch Oven Pulled Pork.
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Why cook this recipe in a slow cooker?
- This kitchen gadget is perfect for meat (making it incredibly tender and delicious) and for any kind of smothered meat and vegetable recipe.
- Hands-free: All you have to do is put the ingredients in the pot and wait for it to do its magic. Perfect for any celebration day when you are busy cooking or baking something else or when you don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen.
- Delicious: Succulent, tender meat full of flavor.
- One-pot meal: Meat and vegetables cooked together. But you do need the mashed potatoes; this meal would not be complete without them.
- Boneless pork roast, which is usually a boneless pork loin roast or a shoulder. Both taste delicious; however… The shoulder is fattier; the extra fat makes it more tender and flavorsome. And the fat that oozes into the sauerkraut makes it buttery and heartier.
- I use these cuts depending on my diet plan at the moment and on what's on offer at the butcher's. I don't recommend using pork tenderloin; it would dry out too much.
- Alternatively, you can use another cut of pork, for instance, pork butt, country-style ribs, or thick pork chops.
- Make sure to use a German brand; it guarantees for best results. You can buy fresh if you happen to have a German butcher in your area, or you can use a large can (or two small ones), for instance, Mildessa or Hengstenberg.
- Brown sugar, 1-2 medium apples (about 5.3 oz/ 150 g), and about ½ cup apple juice.
- I almost always add a bit of sugar when cooking kraut; sugar, apple, and apple juice help balance out the acidity of the sauerkraut.
Other ingredients: caraway seeds (try not to leave them out, they have a lovely flavor), bay leaves, onion, salt, and pepper. You can also add some juniper berries, which I usually do, but I forgot this time.
- Season the meat generously with salt and ground black pepper. Rub the spices slightly into the meat (1).
- Slice onion and apples (2).
- Fill crockpot: Place pork loin or pork shoulder roast into the slow cooker. Drain the sauerkraut, and arrange it around the piece of meat (3). Sprinkle it with brown sugar and add salt, pepper, caraway seeds, and bay leaves. Arrange sliced onion and apples on top of the pork (4). Pour the apple juice around the meat.
- Cook pork and sauerkraut in the slow cooker on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
- Rest: Remove the sauerkraut mixture to a serving bowl or platter. Transfer the crockpot pork to a cutting board and slice it thickly.
Expert Tips and FAQ
Rest the meat for about 15 minutes before slicing, the juices will be reabsorbed, and you lose less of them when cutting the pork.
A good idea, we love to have some extra sausages. Cut kielbasa or cabanossi into thick slices and add them to the pot before adding the apples and onions.
You can cook the dish in a Dutch oven. Heat oil in a Dutch oven, sear the meat on all sides, and remove it. Place kraut in the Dutch oven, add all the remaining ingredients, and nestle the loin or shoulder on top. Cover and cook in the preheated oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit/ 160 degrees Celsius for about 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit/ 63 degrees Celsius.
You can, but I rarely do it when cooking this dish in the crockpot. I did do that a few times, but I could never taste much of a difference, so I let it be. One step less and one less pot that needs to be cleaned.
My first choice is always mashed potatoes. Otherwise, boiled potatoes are fine as well. I've never served this dish with anything else, to be honest.
Refrigerator: 3-4 days in an airtight container.
Freezer: For up to 3 months in an airtight container. Defrost in the fridge and reheat well before serving.
Stovetop: Add a splash of water or apple juice to prevent the kraut from sticking. Mix well, place the meat slices on top, and cover. Reheat on medium-low heat until hot, stirring a couple of times in between and turning the meat slices.
Oven: Preheat the oven to about 325 degrees Fahrenheit/ 160 degrees Celsius. Place the vegetables in a baking dish. Add some water and stir. Arrange the meat slices on top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and heat for about half an hour or until hot. Stir the kraut and flip the meat halfway through.
Microwave: Reheat covered at 50% power until hot. Stir the veggies and flip the meat slices halfway through.
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Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut
- Slow cooker
- 2.2 lb pork roast loin or shoulder, 1 kg (Note 1)
- 1 large can sauerkraut Note 2
- 1 large onion about 3.5 oz/ 100 g
- 1 apple about 5.3 oz/ 150 g
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 2 large bay leaves
- ½ cup apple juice 125 ml
- Rub the meat generously with salt and ground black pepper. Place it in the slow cooker.
- Drain the sauerkraut, arrange it around the meat. Sprinkle it with brown sugar and add salt, pepper, caraway seeds, and bay leaves.
- Slice the onions and the apples. Arrange both on top of the meat.
- Pour the apple juice around the meat.
- Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
- Rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.