If you’re looking for a way to add a tangy crunch to your meals, then sauerkraut may be the perfect condiment for you.
Made of either fermented or pickled cabbage, there are endless variations and tons of ways that you can use it in the kitchen.
Though sauerkraut is a German word and it is commonly enjoyed in that country, the food itself is thought to have originated in China over 2000 years ago.
It’s famous for its bright, slightly sour, and deliciously tangy flavor and the soft crunch of the shredded cabbage.
While you are likely familiar with combining sauerkraut and sausage there are tons of potential combinations you can use with kraut.
So, what to eat with sauerkraut? Sauerkraut can be served over a pork chop, with mashed sweet potatoes, in a grilled cheese sandwich, in a casserole, or in a favorite egg dish or salad. The brine itself can also be used in a vinaigrette.
Read on to discover the easy and delicious ways to enjoy sauerkraut whether you’re a meat-eater, vegan, or vegetarian.
What Is Sauerkraut?
Basic sauerkraut is made from finely chopped cabbage leaves, sea salt, and water.
It’s either massaged or pounded to release the liquid from the cabbage leaves and then fermented for anywhere from 1 week to 1 month to allow the lactic acid bacteria to do their job.
Many sauerkrauts that you will find on the grocery store shelves are not actually fermented but use vinegar and salt to mimic the lactic acid fermentation of traditional sauerkraut.
The taste is similar, but there can be a distinct difference between fermented and vinegar-brined sauerkraut.
Both variations are absolutely delicious and make a versatile kitchen ingredient.
While the most basic sauerkraut is going to be quite plain, you can get interesting varieties that include everything from caraway seeds to fresh herbs to carrots and ginger.
Whatever your flavor preference, it is a virtual guarantee that you will find some kind of sauerkraut out there that satisfies your taste buds.
How To Eat Sauerkraut
There are so many ways to enjoy sauerkraut either raw or baked. Below I will provide lots of recipes and options for vegan or vegetarian ways to enjoy sauerkraut.
But one of the classic sauerkraut dishes that is always worth a try is baked pork chops and sauerkraut.
This dish is a classic for a reason. It’s bursting with flavor and is relatively easy to pull together. It makes a great main component to your meal and you can serve it with one of the delicious side dishes shared below.
Baked Pork Chops With Apple And Sauerkraut Recipe
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with oil. Set it aside for now.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of drained sauerkraut with 1 diced white onion, 1 diced red apple, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 a tablespoon of caraway seeds.
- Take 4 center-cut pork chops and season them with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add your cooking oil and let it heat up for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Sear your pork chops until golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Place your pork chops in your baking dish in a single layer. Cover with the sauerkraut mixture.
- Seal the baking dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven until the center of the pork chop reaches 145°F. Check it at the 25-minute mark, though it may take up to 40 minutes depending on the thickness of your chops.
- Remove from your oven, peel off the tinfoil, and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
What To Eat With Sauerkraut And Sausage
If you want to go with a meal of sauerkraut and sausage there are a few tasty side dishes that you can pair with this classic combination.
Since the sauerkraut is so rich, you will likely want to try a creamy side to balance everything out. Try one of these recipes:
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Depending on preference you can peel your potatoes or leave the peel on for “dirty” mashed potatoes.
- Cut 3 large potatoes into quarters.
- Place a large saucepan on the stove at high heat and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes. Add a generous amount of salt, at least 1 teaspoon.
- Add the potatoes to the pot and cover with the lid. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiled, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until a fork easily slides through the flesh. It should take about 15-20 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan.
- Add 1/2 a cup of cream, a 1/4 cup of butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the potatoes. You may want to have the heat on low if the butter isn’t melting.
- Using either a potato masher or an electric hand mixer, mash the potatoes until they reach your desired consistency. If you want a creamier texture feel free to add more cream or butter.
- Season with salt and pepper and enjoy topped with sauerkraut and sausage.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
If you want to try a sweeter side dish for your sausage and sauerkraut, then creamy mashed sweet potatoes could be a perfect choice.
- Peel 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes and then cut them into 1-inch chunks.
- Place a saucepan on the stove and fill halfway with water. Place a steamer basket on top and fill with the sweet potatoes. Cover with the lid.
- Turn your heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer.
- Steam your sweet potatoes until fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes. You may want to stir the sweet potatoes halfway through to move the bottom ones to the top and vice versa for even cooking.
- Once the sweet potatoes are soft and easily pierced with a fork, remove them from the steamer basket and place them in a mixing bowl.
- Add 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of cream plus 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
- You can use either a potato masher for a more rustic result or an electric hand mixer for a smoother consistency. Mash your sweet potatoes until you reach your desired consistency. Feel free to add more cream or more butter.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with your sausage and sauerkraut.
Vegan Sides For Sauerkraut
Even though your first thought on how to eat sauerkraut likely combines it with some kind of meat, there are lots of great ways to enjoy it as a vegan or a vegetarian.
Below I will share some of my favorites, like using it in a vinaigrette, adding it to a salad, or served with a vegan sausage.
Use Sauerkraut Brine In A Vinaigrette
One of my favorite ways to use sauerkraut actually uses a component that generally gets tossed away: the brine. This brine is often a combination of salt and vinegar or the lactic acid byproducts of sauerkraut fermentation.
It is packed with flavor and can easily replace the acid or vinegar in a salad dressing.
When making a dressing or vinaigrette I like to use a 2:1 ratio of oil to acid (lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, etc.). From that starting point, you can add herbs, spices, and mustard to customize your dressing.
Try this simple recipe for a tangy sauerkraut vinaigrette:
- In a small jar combine 1/4 cup of sauerkraut brine with 1/2 cup of olive oil.
- Add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or honey, 1 clove of garlic that has been finely chopped, and 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped dill to the jar.
- Vigorously shake the jar until the ingredients are fully combined.
- Place the jar in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour before serving.
- Taste the dressing. You may want a splash more sweetener, salt, or oil to balance out the flavors.
- Store in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Chop Sauerkraut And Add It To A Fresh Salad
Another great way to enjoy your sauerkraut is to use it as a tangy element in a fresh salad. The fresh crunchy texture and sour notes of the kraut will go well with almost any type of salad.
It’s especially great in grain-based power bowls made with quinoa or rice. Try this one to get started:
- Cook 1/2 cup of quinoa or brown rice using a ration of 2:1 water (or veggie stock) to your grain. For 1/2 a cup of quinoa you will need 1 cup of water or stock.
- Add 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt for seasoning.
- Stir together grain, water, and sea salt, cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
- Once boiled, turn the heat to simmer and let it cook for 15-20 minutes for the quinoa and 25-35 minutes for the brown rice.
- Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and let it cool while you prep the rest of the salad.
- Chop one or two celery stalks into bite-sized pieces.
- Grate 1 carrot.
- Thinly slice 1 green onion.
- Cut half a cucumber into small cubes.
- Chop half to one full red pepper into small pieces.
- Finely chop 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, basil, and/or cilantro (use one, two, or all three herbs depending on your preference).
- Drain a quarter cup of sauerkraut and finely chop it.
- Combine all chopped vegetables with quinoa or brown rice. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds and your favorite salad dressing. Enjoy.
Enjoy Sauerkraut With Vegan Sausages
Since the vegan diet is becoming so popular, there are many types of tofu, bean, and/or legume-based sausages available on the market.
Combining your favorite vegan sausage with sauerkraut is a great way to enjoy a classic dish without the meat.
Serve it with the mashed sweet potatoes or regular potatoes from above with a mushroom gravy for the full effect.
Vegetarian Sides For Sauerkraut
As we’ve already seen, there are plenty of ways to enjoy sauerkraut without using meat. Below I’m going to share some recipes to help you get the ball rolling in the kitchen.
Sauerkraut And Eggs
One of the simplest and most delicious ways to enjoy sauerkraut is as a topping for your eggs. Here are a few things for you to try:
- Finely chop your sauerkraut and stir it into your scrambled eggs just before you’re ready to serve them. It tastes great with a little goat cheese and fresh dill.
- Finely chop your sauerkraut and use it as a filling in an omelet with your favorite cheese(s), and some green onions.
- Chop it up and add it to your frittata with red peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, goat cheese, and spinach.
Sauerkraut Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
You’ve likely had a classic Reuben sandwich with sauerkraut, but if you’re looking for a great vegetarian option, try making a classic grilled cheese stuffed with sauerkraut.
It’s super simple and the tanginess of the sauerkraut cuts through the richness of the cheese.
- Slice rye bread into your desired thickness and spread some mayo on the inside with a little bit of Dijon mustard.
- Choose your favorite cheese and cover one side all the way to the edges. I like to use American cheese slices or you can go fancy and use an old cheddar, provolone, Havarti, or a blend of your favorites.
- Place a layer of sauerkraut over the cheese then top with more cheese and place the other slice of bread on top. You can use either butter or mayo (trust me on this one- it is a game changer) on the outside of this top slice of bread.
- Heat a skillet over medium and then place your grilled cheese, butter/mayo side down into the pan. Gently press it down into the pan, being careful not to squish out the middle.
- Spread butter or mayo onto the top slice of the bread and then cover the saucepan with a lid to help melt the cheese all the way through.
- Once the bottom slice is browned, about 2-3 minutes, remove the cover. Flip the grilled cheese and cook another 2-3 minutes or until the outside of your bread has achieved your desired color. You may need to adjust the heat up or down slightly as you cook.
- Once outside is browned and cheese is melted, remove from the skillet, slice in half on a diagonal, and eat immediately.
Vegetarian Sauerkraut Casseroles
The option for casseroles using sauerkraut is endless. You can use either a potato base, noodles, or rice to create endless combinations depending on your preference. A few combinations you can try include:
- Rice, cream, cheese, and sauerkraut with diced onions and lots of garlic.
- Your favorite noodles like macaroni or egg noodles, with tomatoes, olives, sauerkraut, onions, feta cheese, cream, and a crispy bread crumb topping.
- Try using either mashed or cubed potatoes tossed with vegan sausage meat, garlic, onions, sauerkraut, and your favorite cheese to make an easy one-pot sauerkraut casserole.
There are so many different combinations out there so don’t be afraid to search sauerkraut casserole plus your favorite ingredient to find one that works for you.
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