How To Cook Sauerkraut From A Jar (7 Cooking Methods For Tasty Kraut)

Sauerkraut is one of those foods that you either love or hate. Those who love it typically enjoy the tangy flavors and crunchy texture. Others may see it as a slimy mess.

Luckily there are many ways to cook sauerkraut from a jar. Each cooking method has its own unique appearance and flavor. If you’re looking for different ways to cook sauerkraut and turn it into a delicious and creative Bavarian-style meal, this post is for you. 

Here are 7 ways to cook sauerkraut, whether canned, jarred, or homemade. I hope at least one of these cooking methods might spark your fancy. 

1. Cooking Sauerkraut On The Stovetop

cooking sauerkraut on stovetop

Sauteing on the stove is a fast, simple, and delicious way to prepare this fermented cabbage. It only calls for three ingredients; sauerkraut, fat, and sugar. 

Cooking on a stovetop is a traditional way to cook sauerkraut. It makes it a perfect side for pork or sausages and boiled potatoes, popular dishes in Poland, Germany, and Russia. 

This foolproof and straightforward recipe is also a great way to cook sauerkraut for hot dogs

To get a perfectly juicy, sweet, and tender result, you need to cook sauerkraut on the stovetop for 1.5 – 2 hours before sauteing it on the pan. The secret of this cooking method is ‘low and slow.’ 

Once patiently simmered on the stovetop, sautee sauerkraut on the hot pan for 10-15 minutes; add the sugar and fat while frequently stirring until golden brown.

Find the full recipe here.

Top Tip: To get a perfect consistency, drain the excess liquid with a colander before frying on the pan. But don’t throw away the leftover sauerkraut juice but drink it instead for some great benefits.

Some store-bought sauerkraut in the jar are NOT fermented but pickled with vinegar. And although vinegar is a product of fermentation, pickled foods are not fermented and have no probiotic benefits. Check out these 5 sauerkraut brands with the most probiotics.

2. Baking Sauerkraut In The Oven

baking sauerkraut in oven

Oven-baked sauerkraut is another traditional dish that has been enjoyed by Polish and German families for many centuries. 

Traditional oven-baked versions typically consist of sauerkraut, salt, pepper, onions, and caraway seeds. Add pork, sausages, or any other types of meat to create a satisfying entrée. Cook it in the covered roasting pan or casserole dish, and bake in the oven for 1 to 1.5 hours at 300°F (150°C).

The smell of this dish cooking in the oven can be enticing, especially on cold winter days.

Here is a great recipe that combines sauerkraut with pork.

Top Tip: Add brown sugar to this recipe to give it a hit of sweetness. 

3. Cooking Sauerkraut In A Slow Cooker 

cooking sauerkraut in slow cooker

This delicious, tender, and flavorful slow cooker sauerkraut is always a hit with my dinner guests. Well, at least some of them. This time of year, cooking sauerkraut in the slow cooker is the best way to get a perfectly tender, hands-off kraut for dinner. 

Like most of the crockpot meals, making sauerkraut in the slow cooker doesn’t take much effort. This cooking method is literally just set it and forget it. It can be done while doing other things around the house, or you can even leave your slow cooker on overnight. 

All you have to do is throw in all the ingredients and turn on the slow cooker. This recipe includes pork shoulder, sauerkraut, onion, brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, fennel seeds, and butter. 

You will get the most delicious result if you use more fatty cuts of pork like pork belly or rib chops.

It takes 6-8 hours to cook sauerkraut in the slow cooker. The result is tender kraut with a balanced sweet, salty, and tangy flavor and soft and tender pork. Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes.

Find the full recipe here.

Top Tip: Add shredded carrot and ginger to take away the bold tang of canned sauerkraut. 

4. Fried Sauerkraut

frying sauerkraut on the pan

One of the main benefits of this cooking method is that it is so fast (heat for 2-3 minutes) that the probiotics in sauerkraut could still stay alive. Probiotics die if exposed to high heat for extended periods. So, fried sauerkraut might be the best recipe if you want more health benefits unless you eat it completely raw and uncooked.

If you don’t want to risk destroying the probiotics, try out one of these healthy sauerkraut recipes here.

This is a very quick cooking method, so the sauerkraut will keep its crispy crunchiness, which is excellent for those who don’t like softer textures. This dish can be made in less than 5 minutes, and all you need to add is butter. 

This pan-fried sauerkraut is excellent for low-carb and low-calorie diet plans. It is also keto-friendly and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Just swap the butter with olive oil.

It is also a deliciously crunchy and fast topping for your hot dogs. Adding the butter or clarified butter makes this kraut recipe extra special.

Note: Keep in mind that if you keep frying it longer than five minutes you will eventually start losing the probiotic benefits. Still, very delicious tho.

For the full recipe, click here

Top Tip: Add some grated raw beetroot. The sweetness and earthiness of the beets complement the sour tang of kraut because of the amount of sugar they contain. Beetroot will also give the kraut this beautiful vibrant purple color.

5. Instant Pot Sauerkraut

instant pot sauerkraut

Using an Instant Pot is another quick and easy way to cook sauerkraut that takes only 20 minutes total to cook from scratch. 

Cooking kraut in an Instant Pot gives you the benefits of a slow cooker but only in a fraction of the time. Just empty in a jar of sauerkraut and add chopped bacon, onion, bouillon cube, caraway seed, and ground black pepper. And voila, a delicious meal is ready in less than half an hour. 

The bacon in this recipe mixes excellently with the sauerkraut, giving you the perfect warm and smoky tang. 

One downside to using an Instant Pot is knowing how much liquid to use without turning this meal into a soup. So make sure you drain the sauerkraut juice before adding it to the Instant Pot. This is important because once an Instant Pot starts, it locks to avoid being opened when under high pressure. 

Check out the full Instant Pot kraut recipe here

Top Tip: Add some garlic. A key ingredient of kimchi can be added to many other ferments to enhance the taste of these products. It also pairs well with dill and lemon.

6. Deep Fried Sauerkraut

deep fried sauerkraut

Can you deep fry sauerkraut? Yes, indeed. You get the perfect amount of sauerkraut, bratwurst, and batter with this cooking method in true Oktoberfest fashion.

However, this recipe does take longer to prepare as you have to mix all the ingredients and then refrigerate the sauerkraut balls for 30 minutes before frying them. You also have to dip the balls in multiple ingredients before frying them, so you will have to make sure you plan when you are going to make this recipe. 

Shallow frying will also work if you don’t want to waste all that oil for deep frying. 

Although this is not a traditional kraut recipe, this meal is worth it because deep-frying the sauerkraut balls provide the perfect golden crunch of breading with a soft center on the inside. 

So, if you typically don’t like sauerkraut, then this alternative cooking method may change your mind.

Here is the full recipe. 

Top Tip: Juniper berries are used in sauerkraut to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and help preserve the overall flavor. They also contain terpenes that give juniper its distinct fresh pine flavor and flavonoids that give it antioxidant properties.

7. Microwaving Sauerkraut

microwaved sauerkraut

Although I am certainly not a big fan of using a microwave, this kitchen appliance has its benefits, mostly convenience and speed. This cooking method takes just a few minutes, so it’s perfect if you’re in a rush or want a quick way to heat up your kraut. 

However, microwaving sauerkraut will certainly destroy its beneficial heat-sensitive bacteria. So keep that in mind when heating up your kraut in the microwave. 

This is a time when you can experiment with different ingredients to switch up the typical tangy flavor. The recipe is simple, but you can use any of the ‘top tips’ throughout this article to enhance or subdue the tangy flavor. 

One unique ingredient you can add is apple. Apple will bring sweetness without taking away any crunch. Another option is adding garlic. Garlic adds a more sophisticated flavor and pairs nicely with other spices and flavors.

Microwaving sauerkraut takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish. 

Here is the full recipe. 

Top Tip: Add in some duck fat to make store-bought sauerkraut taste better. It helps to get rid of the sour taste of sauerkraut. Alternatively, sauté sauerkraut in a couple of tablespoons of butter to mellow the sourness.

Explore The Many Ways To Cook Sauerkraut

In conclusion, there are many ways to cook sauerkraut. Just heat it in a pot with some butter and enjoy the delicious tangy flavors if you want something easy. Add some caraway seeds or peppercorns to your dish for an extra zing. 

You can even make it by combining sauerkraut with other fruits and vegetables like cauliflower, sweet potatoes, onions, apples, carrots, juniper berries, and beets.

It is possible to experiment with sauerkraut and try different cooking methods to find a recipe you like. You can also try out different spices and herbs and find a combination that satisfies your tastes buds. 

About Jen Evansy

Nutritionist, researcher, avid home cook, and writer interested in everything nutrition and food-related. Striving to inform, encourage, and inspire all the readers to make healthy and informed choices when it comes to cooking, food, diet, and nutrition.