Sauerkraut with Bacon and Apples

Sweet, savory, and smokey sauerkraut, with onions, apples, and bacon.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 1/4 pound sliced apple-wood smoked bacon
  • 2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground
  • 3 cups unfiltered apple juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 pounds of refrigerated (in a jar, not can), prepared sauerkraut, drained (about 1 24-fluid-ounce jar, drained)


1 Cook and chop the bacon: Lay the slices of bacon down at the bottom of a large, thick-bottomed pot and heat on medium heat. Cook until the bacon has browned and most of the bacon fat has been rendered, 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove the bacon from the pot and set on paper towels to drain. Remove all but 1 Tbsp of the fat in the pot. (Do not pour down the sink, bacon fat will clog your drain!) Chop the bacon and set aside.

2 Cook onions, apples, then add garlic, caraway: Add the chopped onions and apples to the pot and cook until the onions are translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and caraway and cook for a minute more.

3 Add apple juice and vinegar, then boil: Add the apple juice and the white vinegar to the pot. Increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil and boil vigorously until the liquid is reduced to a syrup, about 5 minutes.

4 Add the sauerkraut and bacon to the pot and stir to coat with the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauerkraut has been heated through and is tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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  • Rebecca Vardiman

    Made this for Thanksgiving tomorrow. I don’t eat sauerkraut but a neighbor gave me a quart of his homemade. Only change I made was using apple cider vinegar which I thought could only add to to the flavor. Sure enough, results are amazing and I now love sauerkraut! Thank goodness for coffee grinder because I don’t know how else you’d grind caraway seeds, but worked great.

  • taylor

    Is there a substitute for the apple juice? I want to try the recipe but don’t ever buy apple juice.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Taylor, no, there is no substitute for the apple juice in this recipe.

      • Minni

        …What? It’s function is to add liquid + flavour. Any liquid would suffice – water, chicken stock, wine.

    • john

      I actually made this tonight using OJ. Turned out great.

    • Stephen Macrone

      I skip the apple juice & substitute with a can of Yuengling Lager…just like Grandpop did…

    • fritzi schnitzer

      I use white wine and brown sugar. Tastes great!

  • Rene

    How many servings is this recipe? Can it be made in advance and frozen? Can it be adapted for a crockpot? We’re going to host an Octoberfest and need to plan ahead.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Rene, I estimate that this recipe serves 4 to 6 people, depending on how much sauerkraut they want. As for a crockpot, the recipe cooks up really quickly, and needs more heat than a crockpot can provide for browning the bacon and reducing the liquid. It’s not a recipe that I would adapt for a crockpot, but if you do, please let us know how it turns out for you.

  • Larry

    Elise, this looks great. I’m a huge fan of sauerkraut (comes from having german-russian family roots) and I can definitely appreciate the sweet/sour balance that this dish would give. can’t wait to try it as a side dish with sauteed pork chops and mashed potatoes.

    You can totally tell a person with true eastern european roots by how much they love/are passionate about sauerkraut. we ate it all the time growing up, with smoked sausage, pork country-style ribs, pork chops, german sausage…heck, even hot dogs.

    I will echo one sentiment from above tho…the sauerkraut in the bag (I believe the brand name is Krisp Kraut) is really good, just as good as (or maybe just a little better than) the cold jarred brands (I’ve tried both bubbie’s and clausen).

  • Sylvia

    Aldi Stores here in Australia (a German food chain) were selling sauerkraut to clear. I grabbed some jars and used your recipe. Absolutely delicious. Here is Australia like to try lots of different foods from all over the world. I hadn’t realized just how yummy sauerkraut could be. Thanks for cooking advice. Just love it.

  • Kristin

    Wow, this was absolutely amazing. Made it for German night with the friends and it was a huge hit (even with those who said they didn’t like sauerkraut). It was the perfect compliment to the beer brats and was really easy to make.

  • Tonya

    My mom made sauerkraut a lot when I was growing up. She used spareribs and caraway seed sometimes hot dogs or smoked sausage, sometimes all of the above. We had mashed potatoes with this, and it was the meal. I make this also, but I do put brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. I use the bag sauerkraut, my mom used the jar, and we did not rinse the kraut. She cooked it all together. I cook the meat first and drain most of the fat water away. I do cook it for a few hours. We have this every year for the New Year. It’s to bring in good luck for the new year. We have German in our family as well and my mom grew up eating the same meal. YUM, YUM, YUM.

  • I Love Sauerkraut

    Some people make their sauerkraut in the crockery liner of a crockpot. Better than buying a special crock for it, if you already have a crockpot. If you don’t like the smell, put the crock inside a large plastic sotorage container (not airtight, like what you’d store extra linens in or something) and keep it outside or in the garage. It’s amazing that all that sauerkraut is made of is cabbage and salt.

  • Carolyn

    Just made this wonderful sauerkraut dish..I did chop my apples instead of grate, added some brown sugar and also irish bangers. Let simmer until the bangers were cooked..Unbelievable..what flavor..Thanks Elise for so many fantastic recipes..

  • Janna

    To Tom: I made my sauerkraut in a large cylindrical flower vase, and it was neither smelly nor scummy. I’m thinking maybe scum happens when you leave bits of cabbage above the level of the brine where it can rot? And I only left mine on the counter for two weeks, making a very young and mild sauerkraut which did not smell. It has continued to develop more of that nice tang in it’s jars in the fridge.

    Thanks for the recipe Elise!

  • Tom

    Has anyone used a sauerkraut maker like this: ?? It looks like it might make it easier (and less ‘scummy’).

    Also, does it smell while you make your own? My wife can’t stand the smell of sauerkraut. I have to wait til she is gone for the evening to cook it.

    I’ve never tried it with apples, but it sounds yummy, and bacon is never wrong…

  • Karina

    I was just reading how sauerkraut is beneficial for those of us with touchy digestion. [As if I need an excuse to eat it- not!] This looks so good, Elise!

    I make a kind of stew with sauerkraut, sausage, chopped apple and caraway- and the bacon idea sounds like a yummy addition.

    • Candii

      This looks wonderful, but I want to throw out a bit of information as the grand-daughter of an eastern European immigrant . Both high heat and vinegar will kill the beneficial bacteria that makes it so good for our guts. I have to do some research on apple cider vinegar, that may be different, but I’d put everything else together and add the sauerkraut at the last minute to warm as the recipe indicates and not let it boil.

  • Janna

    I live at the southern end of the san francisco bay and just recently made some of my own sauerkraut, and it was incredibly easy!

    You basically just chop the cabbage up, add a whole bunch of salt, and let it sit on the counter for a few weeks, topping off with more brine to keep all the bits well covered. The cabbage apparently has the required bacteria naturally occuring on it, and the salt makes an inhospitable environment for any “bad” bacteria. This guy Sandor Katz has a more precise recipe at

    Anyways, I highly recommend making your own, as it was a great way to use up the extra cabbage we get from our CSA, and really delicious!

    And I’ll be trying this recipe when our next batch of sauerkraut is ready to be eaten!

  • Jenny

    Hi Elise,

    This looks so good! I really want to try this soon. One quick amateurish question…is this meant to be a side dish or a main dish? It seems like a side dish…what would be a good main dish? Pork of some sort, I’m assuming.
    Thank you! Love the site. :-)


  • queenmom

    I am looking forward to trying this recipe, my family loves sauerkraut. How long will sauerkraut last in the refrigerator? Any tips for storing it?

  • Leisureguy

    My daughter wrote to me:

    Sauerkraut is a traditional Thanksgiving side-dish in Baltimore. Maybe you should give it a go for your Thanksgiving as well, since The Wife seems to express a mild preference against Brussels Sprouts? For example:


    6 slices of smoked bacon, cut into 1/4″ wide strips
    1 large onion, coarsely chopped
    1 carrot, coarsely grated
    1 2-lb. jar of German-style sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
    2 c. dry white wine
    1 1/2 c. beef, pork, or chicken stock
    2 TBSP gin
    1 TBSP caraway seeds
    4 juniper berries, crushed (optional)

    Preheat oven to 300°F. Place bacon, onion, and carrot in heavy large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté until onion is tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from sauerkraut. Add sauerkraut to Dutch oven. Add wine, stock, gin, caraway seeds, and juniper berries. Bring to simmer. Cover tightly, place in oven and bake 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring frequently.)

    Serves 4.

    Note from Elise: Thanks for the recipe, Leisureguy!

  • Irene

    Every fall/winter I have made something similar to this, only instead of bacon, I would dredge country-style pork ribs in flour, brown them, then add the sauerkraut & chopped apples, cover, then lower the heat and let cook slowly until the pork is cooked through and apples are tender. Tender & yummy! Plus the flour would help thicken the ‘kraut a little as well. A woman who ran a tiny, little German restaurant in San Jose years & years ago taught me to fry some bacon, then make a roux from the grease with flour and use it to make a cream-style sauerkraut. I need to try this style though, with all the other added ingredients and I love applewood smoked bacon on just about anything!

    Note from Elise: a white sauce made from the bacon fat to serve with the sauerkraut? Sounds like heaven. Thanks for the idea!

  • Jerry

    While sauerkraut is less common in this part of Texas than it is in East Texas, we still manage to get some pretty good local varieties, even at the Mega-Mart.

    The cool thing is I just picked up some Granny Smith apples, so I may have to give this a go!

  • Alanna Kellogg

    If there are fewer and fewer sauerkraut lovers these days — I suspect that you’ll make converts with your Dad’s recipe, Elise!

    The sauerkraut from ‘bags’, like that from ‘jars’, is definitely better. And, at least in the Midwest, there are many many small producers of sauerkraut. Some times the sauerkraut makes its way to grocery store shelves, other times into farmers markets. Mostly, however, I just keep an eye out in odd spots, like the corner butcher, who also makes a great sauerkraut using an old family recipe.

    Note from Elise: Dad and I saw an old cabbage slicer at an antique store the other day. He remembered these from growing up in Minnesota. Lots of people had them so they could make their own sauerkraut. Don’t think the climate is right for it here in Northern California, probably not cold enough in the winter, or we would see more fresh sauerkraut here. I think people make it in big barrels that they keep in their basement, don’t they? I’d love to try some truly fresh stuff.

  • christine

    Silly question but why white vinegar? wouldn’t cider vinegar be better? How would it effect taste? Just curious…. :-)

    Note from Elise: Good question. I have no idea. You can probably interchange them just fine for this recipe.

  • Christine

    Oh, I love sauerkraut! So simple to make also! I am definitely making this a weekend treat!

    A million years ago, I had in-laws in rural PA and New Years was not complete without sauerkraut and dumplings! It’s a PA Dutch good luck ritual. It is so yummy, the perfect comfort food!

    The used a pork broth, purchased in large containers from the local butcher, otherwise make your own with meaty pork bones, so the broth is full of chunks of meat. I have boiled the bone from a Boston butt to do this. Now, to this yummy broth was added a lot of homemade sauerkraut, bring it to a boil and drop homemade dumplings on top, cover and cook as per your dumpling recipe.

    It may sound basic, the seasonings are all in the ingredients but it is sublime! It was served with a sweet pickle relish or a golop of fresh horseradish!

    Note from Elise: Sauerkraut and dumplings sound so good! I’ve got to tell dad. I’m sure he’ll be all over it. Thanks for the suggestion, Christine!