Grilled Polish Sausage

Grilled polish sausage with sauerkraut and onions, simmered in beer, spiced with caraway seeds.

We recommend jarred fresh sauerkraut (like Bubbies), which you can find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. If you don't have a grill, or this isn't grilling season, you can also put all ingredients into a casserole dish and bake in a 350°F oven for 1 1/2 hours.

  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds kielbasa, Polish sausage or bratwurst
  • 1 to 2 light-colored (not dark) beers
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pints of sauerkraut
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thickly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 Tbsp. caraway seed
  • Mustard

Method

1 Grill the sausages slowly over medium heat, allowing them to get well browned. Be patient; do not be tempted to grill the links over high heat, or they will break open and the juices and fat will drain into the grill (they may break open anyway, but they'll break less if you cook them slowly).

2 While the sausages are cooking, put an aluminum grilling pan on a cooler part of the grill and pour in the beer. Stir in the celery and caraway seeds and salt. Bring to a simmer. (This may require covering the grill.) Once the sausages are browned add the sausages, the sauerkraut and sauerkraut juices to the pan.

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3 Grill the onions. Paint the sliced onion with the vegetable oil and grill on high direct heat. If your grates are too wide and you think you will lose too much onion through the grates, you can either skip the grilling part and put the onions directly into the beer bath, or you can cut the onions in halves or quarters and grill them that way. Then slice them and add them to the beer.

4 Cover the grill and simmer (a low simmer, not a boil) for 30 minutes to 2 hours before serving.

Serve as is in a bowl or on a plate, or in a sandwich roll. Serve with mustard on the side.

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Comments

  1. Steve K

    Fantastic! I’m with your Dad. I grew up in Wisconsin and now reside in Minnesota, and Sauerkraut with Sausage finds its way to our table just about every other week. It’s usually accompanied by some form of potatoes. During the summer months, warm German potato salad is the standard side. During the winter, we nestle chunks of red potatoes into the kraut right along side the sausage.

    Now I’m hungry!

  2. Kimberly

    As a Minnesota resident myself, I have to agree that this is definitely a standby dish in this area. It’s too bad my husband doesn’t care for sauerkraut, because I could eat this at least once a week!

    Looks so good Elise!

  3. Anna

    How do I love Bubbies sauerkraut, let me count the ways…. Bubbies sauerkraut and pickles are sold in the chill case.

    Beware, not all the sauerkraut and pickles located in the chill case are as good as Bubbies, which is made the old-fashioned way, with cabbage or pickles and salt through an artisan style process called lacto-fermentation, which has been used through the ages to as food preservation and to boost nutrition/improve digestion.

    Most commercial sauerkraut is now made in with a quicker, cheaper, more standardized industrial process using vinegar and heat instead of beneficial bacteria, brine, and time. I like to serve condiment-sized servings of raw (uncooked) Bubbies sauerkraut often (or salad dressing made with sauerkraut or pickle juice instead of vinegar), as raw fermented foods are naturally probiotic food, which means they contain beneficial bacteria which support good gut flora and immune function (much of the immune system is located in the intestines, as the GI tract is source of exposure to the environment). The soluble fiber in cabbage also is prebiotic, which means even though we lack the enzymes necessary to break down the fiber, it can be fermented and broken down by gut bacteria, yielding beneficial nutrients and prompting healthy cell signaling (facilitating nutrient absorption).

    Heating sauerkraut over 115°F will kill the beneficial bacteria (though it’s still a healthy food) so keep that in mind if you are consuming sauerkraut for the probiotics.

    What excellent information, thank you! No wonder my dad only gets Bubbies. ~Elise

  4. Natanya @ Fete and Feast

    What a wonderful summer dish and so great for potlucks or a big group BBQ. It seems almost fool-proof. We’ve been lucky here in Austin as some fantastic local sausage artisans have started selling their wares at farmers markets. I think I’ll have to try some of their sausage in this preparation.

  5. Anna

    I make a similar shredded cabbage and kielbasa (smoked Polish sausage) dish when I’m really short on time and attention.

    Place shredded cabbage in a buttered or greased casserole (bacon drippings are great!). Include grated carrot and/or kale for visual and flavor interest if desired. Dot with some bits of bacon drippings if you have some; otherwise use dots of butter. Add 1 tablespoon of water.

    Slice a smoked kielbasa sausage into 3/4″ thick rounds and place sausage cut side up all over the top of the cabbage, spaced closely together (hot dogs will work, too). Bake in a 350°F oven, covered for 30 minute, then another 10 minutes uncovered (40 minutes total). Serve hot.

  6. Casey

    Upon reading this posting, my mouth started watering and stomach started growling. This was followed by sending a link to this recipe to several family members telling them to expect to see this recipe this summer.

    I grew up (in Central Minnesota) eating sausage and kraut on a regular basis and this looks superb.

  7. Alta

    Make it gluten-free beer, and I’m there in a heartbeat! I love love love sauerkraut and sausage. And Bubbie’s makes GREAT sauerkraut too.

  8. JamiJo

    My mom’s family is from Sheboygan, WI, and I have fond memories of brat cookouts just about everywhere you could think of when we went back to visit. This recipe is definitely awesome for polish sausage and kielbasa, but brats should be cooked a little different.

    The best bratwurst is one that starts its life simmered (stove or grill, whichever) in a good beer until cooked through, and is then grilled over medium-high heat just to crisp the skin and get some grill marks. Serve it up in a kaiser or hard roll with a light pass of strong mustard, and you have the essence of summer on a plate.

  9. CJ McD

    I recommend using smoked keilbasa, not fresh keilbasa. The smoked keilbasa lends itself flavor and texture wise to grilling.

    All you need is some boiled baby potatoes, some grilled corn and mmm-mmm-mmm!

  10. yumm

    kielbasa, as you say, in almost any slavic language means sausage not only Polish. And it does not say anything about it. I mean there are tens or more types of sausages in shops. So … ummm… which one do you recommend ? Pork? Beef ? Lamb ? Smoked ? Milky ? Garlicky ?

    Whatever kind you like. ~Elise

  11. esti

    I don’t drink but would love to try this recipe what would be a good alternative for the beer?

    Hmmm, this recipe really requires beer. You could just cook the sausages in a mixture of half water half chicken stock, making sure you use all of the liquid from the sauerkraut as well. It won’t taste the same but it should still be good. ~Elise

  12. Greg Walker

    I was seeking another use for my pickle crock collection, and I stumbled upon my grandmother’s sauerkraut recipe. Best ever and so very simple. It is nothing more than shredded cabbage and a little onion layered in the crock with coarse salt and a weight on top. You do have to keep an eye out for anything that you do not want on your kraut, like fuzz or mold, but other than that, it just ferments away and in a few weeks you have great sauerkraut.

    Just make sure that your fermentation room is well ventilated. When you do everything right, it becomes a bit aromatic.

    I’ve heard about the “aromatic” part. Why my father refuses to let me make sauerkraut in his garage. ~Elise

  13. June Terzich

    Sauerkraut and Kielbasa is a favorite dish of my husband and me. I make it very similar to your recipe but cook it on top of the stove and during the last 20 minutes of cooking with the beer bubbling I drop dumplings on top of the whole pot. My grandma was German and dumplings were always cooked with sauerkraut. The first time I made this for my husband he really questioned the idea but now I can’t make this dish without the dumplings. I have to admit that I short-cut and use Bisquick for the dumplings.Carrots pushed down in the kraut to cook adds a good vegetable to the dish.

    Dumplings? Oh my does that sound good. Thank you for the idea! ~Elise

  14. frank gladysz

    I’m a Polish boy native to Western PA. I would sure like to know how to get the salt out of that stuff. All I got to do is taste it and my legs swell up from water. Sure love that stuff.
    Here abouts we use bagged cortland sauerkraut, it isn’t as sweet as other stuff.
    Happy eating.

  15. Casey@Good. Food. Stories.

    I will definitely be a member of your sausage-and-sauerkraut club – kielbasa, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes are popular at many western Pennsylvania tables too (thanks to the lasting influence of Polish/Slovak miners and steelworkers). Can we make a jaunty badge or crest for the group?

  16. Amanda

    Thanks for the shout-out to German and Polish roots! Sauerkraut & hot dogs/kielbasa is DEFINITELY a staple here in western PA, too. Although you find it anywhere year-round, it’s what we eat for New Year’s Day, along with a pork roast.

  17. Susan

    I need to try this. I don’t have much experience with sausage, but we love sauerkraut at our house. I always caramelize the onions over very low heat first and add a splash of balsamic vinegar near the end of the caramelization before adding the sauerkraut and caraway to it. Do you suppose I could be cooking the sausage in with the onions for an indoor meal?

    Sure! ~Elise

  18. steff

    This is one of those comfort meals my mom used to make when i was a kid, it cooked in the crock pot. She served it with mashed potatoes! Top a pile of potatoes with kraut dip a bit of the sausage in! Y U M M E R S!

  19. Lee

    Oh, man! I have just finished dinner and now I’m craving sausage and kraut. And warm German potato salad. In the winter, my grandmother (who, coincidentally, was from MN) would add a peeled, sliced onion into the sauerkraut with the onions. Sometimes, she would even get wild and crazy and add a little bacon, too!

  20. Kenneth Hine

    I’m with you and thanks for these recipes. I want to try them all. I was born in Canada but with a low German mother we were raised on saurkraut in many different dishes. Deliscious.One of my most favorite foods. Ken

  21. judy

    I grew up in Wisconsin and my mom served sauerkraut and ring bologna often. Now I like to buy better sauerkraut like Hengstenberg Wine Sauerkraut.

  22. Mari

    Love your site, Elise! I was wondering – apple goes well with this dish, as somebody said above. Would apple juice, maybe watered down a bit, work instead of beer? I noticed someone asked about beer-free recipes above. Also, they should be aware that even though beer gives the recipe its distinct flavor, all the alcohol is cooked out pretty quickly – beer brats won’t get you drunk!

    Apple juice might work. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  23. Nan

    This really looks good but I’m confused as to whether you start with cooked or raw sausages. Both are available at a German market here. Thanks for a clarification. Love your blog, Nan

    Kielbasas are usually cooked aren’t they? I would look for cooked. You could make this with raw sausage, but you would probably need to cook them longer, and then make sure they were cooked through before eating. ~Elise

  24. Shelly

    Do you serve with regular mustard or some other type?

    Any type of mustard you like. Dijon, yellow, whole grain, your choice. ~Elise

  25. Gary Langenfeld

    I am from Minnesota also, and am from German descent. I lived in a town that the yearly festival was sauerkraut days. So, you can see I know sauerkraut. Most recipes are bland and this one sounds like the one from my younger days. I will can hardly wait to try it. How about a club for German cooking. Ya,ya, sure ya betcha.

  26. Serenite

    As a Polish girl I must say I’m somehow proud that the name “kielbasa”, which in polish means any type of sausage, is used around the world. ^^ Somebody mentioned “kielbasa&kapusta” which is even more surprising to me (“kapusta” is simply cabbage). The easiest way to prepare the dish similar to this one is just to fry some chopped onion with a little bit of oil on the frying pan, and the sausages and fry it all for a couple of minutes. It tastes wonderful with traditional Polish bread! :)

  27. Angel

    It’s very popular in Pennsylvania as well, mostly the western side, but also parts of middle PA. We usually make it with pork, and old German tradition brought over by many German families!

  28. Amanda B

    I just had to laugh when you mentioned a sausage & sauerkraut pizza! When I was pregnant, I craved sauerkraut like nobody’s business. I also craved spicy things, so a co-worker made me a special “pregnancy pizza” with sauerkraut, sausage, & jalapenos. It sounds gross, but it was DELICIOUS! I’m definitely in the “S&S” fan club! Thanks for sharing. I think I’ll grab a fork and start eating kraut straight from the jar right now!

  29. Mary

    A friend of mine is having the sauerkraut and sausage meal and ask us to bring a salad. What type of salad should accompany this type of meal. Thank you in advance.

    Personally I love coleslaw with sausage. But then, that’s just a raw form of sauerkraut. But it would taste good. ~Elise