Pork and Sauerkraut to Polish people is kind of like Spaghetti and Sauce to Italians. Everyone’s grandmother had their way of making it, every family recipe is different, but they all have one thing in common: they are delicious.
Many Ways to Make Pork and Sauerkraut
I’ve heard of it being prepared with apple chunks and slices, others claim the secret ingredient is pork lard. And my best friend’s family insists it be made one week ahead of time to sit until it really builds flavor.
I love to indulge in tangy sauerkraut and tender pork on New Year’s Day. It’s said that sauerkraut brings good luck when eaten on New Year’s Day, and while it’s always delicious that time of year, I like to make it all year round.
Before I set out telling you about my recipe, I am not going to claim it is the best or authentic. What I will say is that it is darn good and there are A LOT of darn good kielbasa and sausage recipes out there.
Pork and Sauerkraut Ingredients
You are going to love how short the ingredients list is for this traditional dish. They’re all easily found at your local grocery store.
- Kielbasa – While it is technically a pork and sausage recipe, I use kielbasa because I like that it is precooked and has a smoky flavor. Many traditional recipes use a pork shoulder, pork roast, pork tenderloin, or even a pork loin roast as the cut of pork. I had kielbasa leftover from my bacon kielbasa bites, so it was a natural!
- Sauerkraut – You can buy pre-made sauerkraut from the store, or you can even make your own. I have a great homemade sauerkraut recipe if you’re feeling fancy.
- Onions – I like to use a sweet yellow onion for this, but you could also use a white onion. Some recipes even add bell peppers and refer to it as “sausage and peppers” which to me is also a baked Italian dish.
- Potatoes – For this recipe, I used russet potatoes. But red potatoes would also work well, while providing a different color to the mix as well.
- Brown sugar – We need a bit of sweetness, and a bit of brown sugar gives that element while also adding a slight molasses flavor to the dish.
- Liquid – I use apple juice for the liquid, but you can also use chicken stock, plain water or even dry white wine.
Which usually brings non-Polish readers to asking the next question… what is sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is simply fermented cabbage, basically pickled. It is best to be rinsed and drained before cooking otherwise you might get a super vinegary flavor. Also, it would be like using pickles and not draining them… which some pickle fanatics probably would do!
It is also fairly easy to make at home. I made it once a few years ago and the batch was so good that it was gone by the time I went to go take pictures and post the recipe.
In Maryland, where I live, sauerkraut and sausage is eaten all the time, but mostly for celebratory events. It might sound odd to others, but you’ll see it at Thanksgiving and also Christmas, but most notably, New Year’s.
How to Make Pork and Sauerkraut
Using a skillet is a much faster method of cooking this dish than making crock pot pork and sauerkraut. The entire recipe is ready in 20 minutes and still has great flavor just like slow cooker pork.
- Sauté potatoes. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add diced potato. Sauté until pieces start to turn translucent and soften.
- Sauté onion and kielbasa. Add onion and kielbasa. Toss until kielbasa browns and onion softens.
- Add sauerkraut. Add rinsed and drained sauerkraut, apple juice and brown sugar, mixing until combined. Reduce to a low simmer.
- Season. Season with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
What to Serve with Pork and Sauerkraut
This delicious dinner can really be served with anything you can think of. Although there are already potatoes in the skillet, you could serve with mashed potatoes. The sauerkraut juice almost acts like a gravy.
There are plenty of ways you can make this pork and sauerkraut recipe your own.
- Apples – The combination of a sweet apple and pork is one that I love. Sauté some granny smith apples and throw them into the mix for a wonderful flavor combo.
- Cuts of pork – Not a fan of kielbasa? You could use a boneless pork loin, pork butt, or any kind of pork you can think of. Just make sure the internal temperature of the meat is safe with a meat thermometer.
- Liquid – Instead of using apple juice, you could use chicken broth, chicken stock, dry white wine or even water.
Storage and Freezing
Make ahead: Pork and sauerkraut can be made ahead of time, in fact some insist it is better after it sits for several hours.
Storage: You can any leftovers of this sauerkraut dish in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Freezing: It is also perfect for freezing, but keep in mind that the sauerkraut might not be as snappy when thawed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Eating pork and sauerkraut on New Years is said to bring good fortune for the year to come.
I like to serve any sauerkraut mixture with some sort of potatoes and also a green vegetable or salad.
Pork and sauerkraut is very much a Pennsylvania Dutch food tradition and is still popular there.
More Skillet Recipes
Pork and Sauerkraut Skillet
- 1 large Russet potato , peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 small onion , thinly sliced
- 1 pound kielbasa , sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups sauerkraut , rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat and add the potato. Saute the potato until the pieces start to turn translucent and brown on the edges, about 5 minutes.
- Add the onion and kielbasa. Toss until kielbasa browns and onion softens, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the rinsed and drained sauerkraut, apple juice and brown sugar, mixing until combined. Reduce to a low and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
- Season with the salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve immediately.
- If you've tried this recipe come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.