Spare Ribs, Cabbage, and Sauerkraut

Leave it to my Germanic father to find yet another twist on pork and sauerkraut. Yes, we already have a perfectly good recipe for spare ribs and sauerkraut which we’ve been making for years. No, that’s not enough to deter the siren call of something potentially even better. Dad found a recipe for spare ribs in The Niman Ranch Cookbook to which he incorporated a completely different way of cooking the sauerkraut, one that includes slow cooking cabbage and sauerkraut together with beer.

Okay, spare ribs, cabbage, sauerkraut, and now beer? No wonder he loves this recipe. It does take twice as long to make as our other recipe. But it really is amazingly good, and so worth it if you can make the time.

Spare Ribs, Cabbage, and Sauerkraut Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6.


  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds pork spare ribs, bone-in
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 32-ounce jar of sauerkraut, drained
  • 4 cups thinly shredded cabbage (about 1 medium head)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bottle of your favorite beer
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds


1 Rub the ribs with garlic, caraway seeds, and cracked black pepper. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours (if you have time, otherwise skip).

2 Preheat oven to 400°F. Unwrap ribs from plastic wrap. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Wrap the ribs with aluminum foil and place them on a roasting pan. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

3 Place sauerkraut, onion, caraway seed, brown sugar, and cabbage in a Dutch oven. Stir in beer, water, and chicken stock. Add pepper to taste. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Bake the sauerkraut cabbage mixture, covered, for 3 hours.

4 Lower the oven temperature to 325°F. Place ribs over sauerkraut, cover, and cook for an additional hour. Add more liquid if needed.

Serve the ribs with the sauerkraut. Good with boiled potatoes.

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  1. Chad

    I’ve never taken a stab at German food before – other than beer-boiled brats.

    This has the look of adventurer!

  2. jennbec

    Only you could make a picture of ribs and sauerkraut look so pretty, Elise. :-)

  3. Monica

    Also being of Germanic origin, I’m interested in this. Question: Why can’t the ribs go in with the baking of the sauerkraut mixture from the get-go? I would think it would cut at least an hour of cook time and provide the ribs with deeper flavor.

    In this recipe the ribs are cooked at a high heat first separately from the sauerkraut at first, to help them brown. If they were cooked with the sauerkraut, the steam from the sauerkraut wouldn’t allow them to brown properly. In the third stage of cooking, they are cooked at a much lower temperature with the sauerkraut. ~Elise

  4. Karen

    This sounds fantastic! I may try this in a slow cooker/crock pot, browning the ribs first in the oven? What do you think?

    If you want to use a crockpot, I would use our other recipe for spare ribs and sauerkraut. ~Elise

  5. Jennifer in Texas

    I don’t like sauerkraut but this looks really good.

  6. merd

    Yum! I’ve made a nearly identical meal many times before. I add slivered onions and green peppers to the kraut. I have never used chicken broth… just added water. That’s a good idea though.

    Grolsch works well with both pork and sauerkraut. The skunkiness blends well with the tangy flavor of the ‘kraut and mellows it slightly. DAB (lo-carb version) is good for this also. I have made a nearly identical recipe, except I will pour 1/2 the beer into the pan with the meat. I drink the other 1/2. Of course that means I need another 1/2 beer for the kraut… and I get to drink the other 1/2. I use a similar technique for boiling bratwurst and polish sausage before throwing on the grill.

    Oh, why do I read this blog at work?! Hungry!!

  7. Peter

    Just when I thought ribs and kraut couldn’t get any better! I’m going to try this next time!

  8. Dewey Gilley

    Would you please tell me if this recipe can be used in a crock pot? Thanks

    Hi Dewey, this particular recipe is best done as described. If you want to make a spare ribs and sauerkraut recipe in a crockpot, I recommend using the other, simpler spare ribs and sauerkraut recipe we have on the site. ~Elise

  9. Susan at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy

    This looks like a great Sunday Dinner dish, when I’d have time to prepare it right. I’ve made a similar dish just adding smoked sausage and apples to the sauerkraut.

    Could you bake the ribs the night before and cook them with the sauerkraut in a crock pot the next day? I’ll bet that would work.

  10. Jo

    Elise –
    This recipe is a prime candidate for crockpot cooking. You could TOTALLY do the sauerkraut mix in the crockpot without sacrificing any flavor, just as long as you followed the oven baking method for the ribs, including the last bit where you also bake them together.

  11. Susan from WV

    Elise, This sounds delicious and I plan to try it right away but why the long cooking time for the cabbage mixture? Doesn’t it turn out all mushy?

    Oddly, it doesn’t get all mushy. Dad came up with it from somewhere, probably pulled it from some other recipe he found. ~Elise

  12. Josh

    Thanks! I made this today and it was excellent! Very tasty, everyone enjoyed.

  13. Joe

    Absolutely delicious. Used a cast iron dutch oven and it was perfect. Meat was so moist. Served with corn on the cob and a green salad. Thanks.

  14. Ruth

    Absolutely the best sauerkraut I have ever eaten. I am hooked and will use this recipe over and over again. Loved that the ribs browned nicely first. I’m still licking my chops. Delicious.


    One important step not noted in almost every sauerkraut recipe I have ever seen and needs to be added to this one. My mom always taught me to put that jarred or canned sauerkaut in a collander first and squeeze out as much of that brine first, Rinse and repeat. Do this at least two or three times, then add your apple juice, beer, apples onions whatever flavorings you like. You will have a much better tasting product without all that brine.

    It really depends on 1) the product, and 2) your individual taste. We use a high quality jarred and chilled sauerkraut that we use right out of the jar. Sometimes if you rinse and drain too much, there isn’t any sauerkraut flavor left. Sort of like taking the pickle out of the pickle. ~Elise

  16. Jennifer

    This is very similar to my mother’s Polish Kapusta recipe. She adds yellow split peas which do add a nice, nutty flavor and texture. She braises the ribs first and then cooks down onions, cabbage and sauerkraut in the pork fat. Then takes the meat off the bones and mixes it in. Salt & Pepper. Yum.

  17. Shannon

    Fabulous dinner! Cooked it in shifts throughout the weekend before throwing it all together for the final slow cooking. The kitchen smelled amazing all weekend and the taste was even better! I was concerned about the amount of caraway seed on the ribs but it mellowed considerably as it cooked. Brilliant! So glad I stumbled on your site. p.s. I spent my first 33 years of life in MN and miss it very much, have very proud Polish roots, and am married to a proud German. Needless to say, I love you and your parents!

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