Spareribs and Sauerkraut

Comfort FoodGermanGluten-FreeLow Carb

Pork spareribs cooked with sauerkraut, onions, white wine, and juniper berries. Classic German recipe!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever had spareribs and sauerkraut?

This is a dish that I’ve never had outside of my own home. My father claims that there are restaurants in Minnesota (where he grew up) that serve spareribs and sauerkraut. But I certainly have never seen them as a menu item here in California.

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Too bad, too! This is a perfect dish for a cold winter day.

We serve them over boiled potatoes with ketchup. The sweet tang of the ketchup is a perfect complement to the savory spareribs and potatoes. Many people also prefer them served with mustard. Your choice!

Spareribs and sauerkraut is a German dish; my grandmother made spareribs this way and my father makes them this way. I suppose if you’ve never had spareribs and sauerkraut, they don’t look particularly appealing—what with the different shades of gray. But believe me, they are wonderful, especially with the ketchup.

Spareribs and Sauerkraut Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs of bone-in pork spareribs
  • 2 Tbps vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large (28 oz) jar (or 1 1/2 to 2 pounds) of sauerkraut (refrigerated)
  • 1 cup dry white wine (like a Sauvignon blanc)
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 Juniper berries
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds


1 Brown the ribs: Separate the ribs, and sprinkle them with salt. Heat vegetable oil in a large heavy pot on medium high heat. Add the ribs and brown them.

2 Sauté onions and garlic: Remove the ribs from the pot and add the chopped onion to the pot. Sauté the onions for 3 minutes. Then add the minced garlic for a minute more. Return the ribs to the pot.

3 Add sauerkraut, wine, juniper berries, caraway seeds: Add the sauerkraut and wine to the pot. Add just enough water to cover the ribs.  Add 10 juniper berries and a sprinkle of caraway seed to taste.

4 Simmer until meat is falling off the bones: Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until the meat falls off of the bones, anywhere from one to two hours. Remove the bones and juniper berries. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with boiled potatoes. Delicious with ketchup which creates a sweet contrast to the sour sauerkraut, or you can use whole grain mustard.

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Spareribs and Sauerkraut

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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75 Comments / Reviews

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  1. Dave

    My family recipe is similar. I brown 3-4 lbs of ribs, add the sauerkraut and garlic, add 8-12 small potatoes or halved or quartered potatoes. I used to peel the potatoes, now I just leave the skin on. My Greek ex-wife added caraway seeds. Cook in a Dutch oven on simmer for 3 hours. (I still use an avocado Westbend electric Dutch oven from the 1970’s). I have had a bottle of juniper berries for 25+ years not knowing what to use them for, so here goes. Onions make sense too.

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  2. Mary Jo

    Spareribs, sauerkraut, and DUMPLINGS – Czech soul food in Milwaukee!

  3. Devon

    Hello All,
    I’m from Fairfield, Kentucky and we grew up eating this filling and tasty meal. Regardless of the season, we’d have it all year round. My mom would use either country style ribs or neckbones, saurkraut, and white potatoes. Throw it all in a crock pot and serve it with her bacon grease fried cornbread! I still fix it to this day. Wherever this recipe originated, I’m glad my mom introduced me to it.

  4. Janet

    In our house here in Minnesota it was either neck bones or ribblets with sauerkraut. Then we just added Irish potatoes and some parsley.

  5. Janie

    P.S. That was an Iowa recipe for us. But our German grandma came from Good Thunder, Minnesota — so perhaps it was HER recipe!

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