German Sauerkraut

A Taste of Germany: Making a Traditional Sauerkraut Recipe with Bacon, Apples, and Caraway Seeds

Sauerkraut, Germany’s iconic fermented cabbage dish, is more than just a condiment; it’s a culinary experience brimming with tangy, savory flavors and rich cultural heritage. Not only is it versatile and delicious, but it’s also surprisingly easy to make at home.

Sauerkraut and Sausages

Today, we’ll guide you through the process of creating your own authentic German sauerkraut recipe featuring bacon, apples, and caraway seeds. This flavorful dish is perfect for a cozy fall meal, an Oktoberfest celebration, or simply a casual side dish that pairs well with various proteins.

A Journey Through Time: The History of Sauerkraut

The origins of sauerkraut can be traced back to ancient China, where cabbage was fermented as a way to preserve it during winter months. The practice eventually made its way to Europe, and by the 16th century, sauerkraut had become a staple food in Germany.

Sauerkraut played a crucial role in sailors’ diets during long voyages, as its fermentation process allowed it to stay fresh for extended periods without refrigeration. It also provided essential vitamin C, vital for preventing scurvy.

Understanding the Fermentation Process

This sauerkraut recipe is made by fermenting cabbage in a brine solution. This process allows beneficial bacteria to break down the sugars in the cabbage, producing lactic acid. Lactic acid not only preserves the cabbage but also imbues it with its characteristic tangy flavor and crunchy texture.

Gather Your Ingredients:

For this German sauerkraut recipe, you’ll need:

  • 5 pounds cabbage, thinly sliced (use a mandoline for even slices, if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 juniper berries (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 cup apple cider or water

Optional Toppings:

  • Chopped fresh dill
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Step-by-Step Sauerkraut Recipe: From Cabbage to Fermentation

  1. Salting the cabbage: In a large bowl, toss the thinly sliced cabbage with the kosher salt. Massage the cabbage with your hands for several minutes, until it starts to wilt and release its juices. This process helps break down the cell walls of the cabbage, preparing it for fermentation.
  2. Transferring to a jar: Pack the salted cabbage mixture tightly into a clean, non-reactive container, such as a large glass jar or crock. Push down firmly to ensure the cabbage is submerged in its own juices.
  3. Adding aromatics: Nestle the sliced onion, minced garlic, juniper berries (if using), bay leaf, and black peppercorns in between the layers of cabbage.
  4. Weighting the cabbage: To keep the cabbage submerged in the brine, place a weight on top. You can use a clean glass jar filled with water or a small plate weighted down with another jar or clean stones.
  5. Creating the perfect environment: Cover the jar loosely with a lid or cheesecloth, allowing gases to escape while preventing contamination. Place the jar in a cool, dark location, ideally between 60-70°F (15-21°C).
  6. The waiting game: The fermentation process typically takes 4-6 weeks, depending on the desired level of tanginess. During this time, you might see bubbles forming and hear slight hissing sounds, indicating active fermentation.
  7. Checking in on your sauerkraut: Every few days, open the jar briefly to release any built-up gases. Skim off any mold that may form on the surface (it’s harmless, but discard and rinse the weight if necessary).
  8. Tasting and adjusting: After 4 weeks, start tasting your sauerkraut. If it’s reached your desired level of tanginess, you can proceed to the next step. If not, allow it to ferment for a few more days, checking on it regularly.
  9. Adding the finishing touches: Once the sauerkraut is fermented to your liking, transfer it to a clean, non-reactive container.
  10. Storing and enjoying: Store your homemade sauerkraut in the refrigerator for up to several months.

Doctoring up your Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

  1. Heat a Dutch Oven or Crock Pot on high. Place about 32 ounces of sauerkraut, 1/2 cup applesauce, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, and 2 bay leaves into the cooker.
  2. Saute 3-4 pieces of chopped bacon in a pre heated pan for one minute. Add 1 cup diced onion and cook for two more minutes. Then add 1 clove of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of crushed juniper berries and cook for two more minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup Riesling wine and let that cook down for a minute or two. While the wine is cooking, scrape the bottom of your pan with a wooden spoon.
  4. Pour this mixture into your cooker or Dutch oven and cook on high for at least 1 1/2 hours.

🎬 Watch How to Make This Recipe

Want to see this recipe come to life? Check out this video where I walk you through the entire process, step-by-step!

Serving suggestions

  • Enjoy your German sauerkraut as a delicious side dish with bratwurst sausages, roasted pork, chicken, or smoked ham.
  • Layer it on rye bread for a tangy and flavorful sandwich.
  • Use it as a topping for hot dogs or burgers.

With a little patience and these simple steps, you can create your own authentic German sauerkraut recipe at home. So, embrace the fascinating history and delightful flavors of this fermented dish, and enjoy a taste of Germany in every bite!

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Sauerkraut and Sausages

Sauerkraut with Bacon, Apples and Caraway

Recipe by Jason Hill –
Juniper berries, caraway seeds and applesauce give this sauerkraut recipe a unique and authentic German flavor. Serve with roasted chicken or grilled Bratwurst sausages.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine German
Servings 4


  • 32 ounces sauerkraut rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3-4 strips bacon diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries crushed
  • 1 cup Riesling wine


  • Heat slow cooker or Crock Pot on high.
  • Place the sauerkraut, applesauce, caraway seeds, and bay leaf into the cooker.
  • Saute bacon in a pre heated pan for one minute. Add diced onion and cook for two more minutes. Then add the garlic and crushed juniper berries and cook for two more minutes.
  • Add the Riesling wine and let that cook down for a minute or two. While the wine is cooking, scrape the bottom of your pan with a wooden spoon.
  • Pour this mixture into your cooker and cook on high for at least one and a half hours.
  • Serve with roasted chicken or grilled Bratwurst sausages.
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Keyword apples, bacon, cabbage, sauerkraut, sausages
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AboutJason Hill

Hi, I’m Jason Hill, host of YouTube’s “Chef Tips” series. I graduated from culinary school in 1998, and gained my experience working the lines in Southern California. I launched my cooking videos in 2007. I love sharing quick and easy recipes that get people back in the kitchen.

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