This Bavarian-style German sauerkraut with bacon is not only popular at Oktoberfest events. The excellent side dish goes well with many traditional German meat dishes.
Even if you don't like sauerkraut, you should try this recipe. I guarantee your perception of sauerkraut will change! This German sauerkraut side dish is flavorful but not sour. It's fragrant without the acidity that most people associate with sauerkraut.
Kraut (cabbage) was once a staple diet for farming households throughout the chilly winter months. It was edible for a long period, provided key vitamins, and could be grown in areas where other vegetables could not.
"Sauer" is the German word for "tangy" or "sour" but it also can mean that something is fermented or pickled. The name "Sauerkraut" was given to the cabbage, not because of its tangy flavor, as many people believe. The word "sauer" in sauerkraut actually refers to the kraut's fermentation process. German sauerkraut has a much milder flavor than "Sauerkraut" sold in the United States.
Fermentation is one of the oldest conservation techniques for food.
The exact origin of Sauerkraut is unknown. Though, it is assumed to have first been produced in China. In old China, Sauerkraut was used to provide strength to heavy workers. Rice and fermented cabbage was also fed the people working on the Chinese Wall during the third century B.C. (before Christ).
Nomadic Mongol tribes eventually brought fermented cabbage to Europe, and European cooks refined the fermenting and cooking processes.
How is Sauerkraut called in German?
Sauerkraut is called (das) Sauerkraut in German as it is a German word.
How to pronounce Sauerkraut in German?
Click on the play button to learn how people in Germany pronounce Sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut is not just utterly delicious and versatile, but also very healthy. The lactic acids in it kill germs, the vitamin C strengthens your defenses, and the fiber supports beneficial bacteria in the intestinal flora. Researchers believe that certain plant compounds in sauerkraut can even be preventative against cancer.
This delectable recipe has few, and inexpensive, ingredients.
- beef broth
- bay leaves
- caraway seeds
- juniper berries
- whole all spice
See recipe card for quantities.
Follow these easy step-by-step instructions to learn how to make authentic German sauerkraut.
Step1: Cut the bacon and the onion into small cubes and add them a medium sized pot.
Step 2: Add the garlic paste and butter, and cook with the bacon over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Step 3: Add the caraway seeds, sugar, juniper berries, whole all spice, bay leaves and let cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Step 4: Add beef broth and bring to a boil.
Step 6: Add sauerkraut and allow to simmer for at least one hour.
Tip: If you are using an American brand of sauerkraut, make sure to add the kraut to a colander and rinse well. If you are using a German brand, you can add the sauerkraut directly to the pot.
Hint: Before serving, remove the bay leaves, whole all spice, and juniper berries. The seasonings add a wonderful flavor to the dish, however chewing on them while eating causes an unpleasant sensation and taste.
- Sauerkraut - I used sauerkraut from a jar for this recipe but the recipe would be also great with homemade sauerkraut. Check out this recipe for homemade German sauerkraut if you want to learn how to make sauerkraut from scratch and save a lot of money.
- Whole All Spice - if you only have ground all spice on hand you can use ¼ to a ½ teaspoon ground all spice instead of the whole all spice berries.
- Bay Leaves & Juniper Berries - you can omit the bay leaves and juniper berries if you don't have any on hand. But I would highly recommend including them because these spices are crucial for an authentic German flavor. Bay leaves can be found very cheaply in every supermarket. Juniper berries are more difficult to find locally but can be ordered online.
- Caraway Seeds - some folks simply do not enjoy the taste or texture of caraway seeds. Instead, use 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds. Caraway is an important ingredient because it helps digestion and prevents gas.
- Onions - Yellow onions are commonly used in this dish. However, red or white onions can be substituted. If you don't like onions or have trouble digesting them, simply leave them out and substitute with 1 teaspoon of onion powder.
Make this kraut dish creamy:
- Cream - Give this side dish a rich creaminess by adding half a cup of heavy cream or sour cream.
The dish requires so few utensils that it could even be prepared on a camping trip.
- cutting board
- medium-sized pot
- cooking spoon
How to Serve
You can serve bacon sauerkraut to all kinds of German meat dishes. Traditional dishes like this Franconian pork roast or roasted pork shank are some classics that are usually served with German sauerkraut and potato dumplings.
This German cabbage dish can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. It is one of these dishes which truly become better with each reheat. The dish also freezes well and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove.
Make a double batch and freeze half for an easy side dish when you don't feel like cooking.
German Sauerkraut with Bacon
- 32 oz. sauerkraut
- 3 oz. bacon
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tsp. butter
- 1 tsp. garlic paste or 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ tsp. caraway seeds
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 whole juniper berries
- 3 whole all spice
- 1 ¼ cups beef broth
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- Cut bacon and onion into small cubes and add to a medium sized pot.
- Add garlic paste and butter, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add the caraway seeds and sugar and let cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add beef broth and spices and bring to a boil.
- Add the sauerkraut and reduce to a simmer. (If using an American brand of sauerkraut, place it in a sieve and thoroughly rinse it. If you're using a German brand, you can add the sauerkraut right into the pot.)
- Allow to simmer for at least 1 hour.