How to make a delicious smoked sausage and sauerkraut skillet. Prepare it entirely on the stovetop or start on the stove and finish in the oven.
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Sauerkraut and Kielbasa – A Satisfying Medley of Flavors
This simple, hearty sausage skillet combines the tangy taste of sauerkraut with the smokey, garlic and spices infused flavor of kielbasa. Sweet and savory notes lent by apple and onion boost the flavor base, aided by seasonings compatible and traditionally used with cabbage.
The real secret to creating a complex taste profile in the dish is to add a bit of richly flavored, malty dark beer (or hard cider) plus a bit of stock to balance the sauerkraut acidity and unite the contributions of all the other ingredients.
You Will Need
- Cooking oil. Vegetable or olive oil to saute the sausage.
- Kielbasa. Use a smoked sausage in the Polish tradition. We like to slice it diagonally to create a larger surface area for searing.
- Sauerkraut. Both naturally fermented of vinegar soured sauerkraut work here. Drain it and if using vinegar soured consider rinsing it with cold water to subdue the acidity.
- Onion. Use any onion, sliced thin to add a savory dimension to the dish.
- Apple. Pick a sweeter variety such as gala. Peel and slice the apple in long, thin sticks.
- Beer/cider/vegetable or beef stock. A flavorful liquid or a combination of these listed boosts the flavor base of the skillet and balances the tartness of the sauerkraut. If you do not have any of these on hand simply use water (certain loss of flavor is to be expected).
- Flavorings. Brown sugar, green peppercorns (use black as alternative), bay leaf, clove, caraway and bit of salt.
- Oven safe skillet. Use a heavy bottomed skillet that is also oven safe in case you want to finish the dish in the oven. A cast iron skillet is perfect for the job.
TIP: Choose a malty, dark beer (we really like to use doppelbock lager for its rich, smooth sweetness) or hard cider to deglaze the skillet and simmer the kraut in, then add a savory stock a bit later on during the final cooking stage.
How to Cook Sauerkraut and Kielbasa
Depending on your preference you can prepare this skillet entirely on the stovetop or begin on the stove and finish the dish in the oven, in which case only the last step will be different. Overall, the workflow is very simple.
- Sear the kielbasa. Heat oil in the skillet, brown the kielbasa and remove it.
- Saute. In the remaining oil saute the sliced onion and apple, add a bit of malty beer, cider or apple juice to deglaze. Next add the sauerkraut followed by the seasonings. Stir everything well. Add another splash of beer or cider and simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Add back the kielbasa. Add the seared sausage back to the skillet, add bit of stock or water and mix well. Let simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated or transfer to a 350 F oven and bake for about 6-10 minutes.
How to Serve Sauerkraut and Kielbasa
The dish is hearty enough to enjoy without a side, but if you do not fear carbs and want to indulge – freshly baked crusty bread sits on top of our list and completes the comfort food appeal of the sauerkraut and smoked sausage duo.
Also consider a side of mashed potatoes, or simply boiled potatoes cut in large cubes and tossed in melted butter, then seasoned with salt and pepper.
If you want to enjoy sauerkraut with apples and beer simply omit the kielbasa. Use three times the quantity of apple, sliced the same way as you see in the pictures and video and follow the recipe as given. The apple will lend its natural sweetness to the sauerkraut and the sweet beer its malty and caramel notes.
Other Recipes You Might Enjoy
Oven Pork and Sauerkraut
Alsatian Choucroute Garnie
German Sauerkraut Soup with Smoked Sausage
Crispy Sauerkraut Balls
Easy Skillet Kielbasa and Sauerkraut (with Apple and Doppelbock or Cider)
A hearty sauerkraut and kielbasa dish with fresh apple, onion and a bit of dark German beer or hard cider for a balancing sweetness infusion. A festive dish for Oktoberfest parties, New Year's or an easy weeknight dinner. Stovetop only or stovetop plus oven.
- 1 lb kielbasa sausage (or similar smoked sausage)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 onion, medium (yellow, red or white), thinly sliced
- 1 apple, medium*, peeled and cut in thin sticks
- 1/2 cup malty dark beer or hard cider (to deglaze)**
- 3 cups sauerkraut***
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 whole cloves (optional)
- 1/2 tsp peppercorns (green or black)
- 1/2 cup stock (vegetable or beef)****
- 1 tsp kosher salt
STOVETOP ONLY METHOD
1. Slice the kielbasa diagonally to create more surface area to sear. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet such as cast iron over medium-high heat. Add the cooking oil and kielbasa and sear until it begins to brown. Remove and set aside.
2. In the same skillet saute the sliced onion and apple for about 3-5 minutes. Deglaze with a bit of the malty beer or hard cider and let most of the liquid simmer away. Add the sauerkraut, brown sugar, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, caraway and salt and mix everything well together. Add the rest of the beer or cider and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf and cloves before they leave a hint of bitterness.
3. Add the browned kielbasa back to the skillet, add the stock and mix well. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Serve.
STOVETOP AND OVEN METHOD
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. (Make sure the skillet you are using is oven safe).
2. Perform steps from 1 and 2 above. Add the kielbasa and stock to the sauerkraut, mix everything and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 5-10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Serve.
NOTE: both bay leaf and cloves can leave a hint of bitterness. Do not use if you feel very adverse to the prospect or remove shortly after adding them to the skillet.
*Sweeter variety such as Honey Crisp or Gala
**The goal is to add acidity balancing sweetness and flavor the sauerkraut. You can use apple juice or stock to substitute for the beer or hard cider when deglazing.
***Drain and rinse the sauerkraut, then measure out 3 cups
****If you don't have stock on hand use water or a bit more beer or hard cider.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 564Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 84mgSodium: 2773mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 6gSugar: 20gProtein: 17g
I didn’t have any apples at home so I used a personal size of unsweetened apple sauce. Filled in like a charm! Also, I did not drain the kraut, I just let the liquid simmer down. I like really tart food.
Glenda Herald says
Can you make this a day ahead ?? Then put in crockpot to reheat ???
Milena Perrine says
We enjoyed the basic recipe but will be looking for ways to:
1. Keep flavors distinct and a little fresher — vegetable or chicken broth rather than beef broth, add small bit of unrinsed kraut just before serving, add more apple, increase sweetness with bit more sugar, roast the caraway seeds in dry skillet first to increase nutty flavors…and maybe a quick drizzle of lemon juice across each plate
2. Keep color lighter: Again, vegetable or chicken broth will help
3. Keep textures of ingredients more: less liquids overall…so less cooking to evaporate them.
And we’ll grind our peppercorns before adding to the skillet — so plates of food don’t chill while people fish the whole corns out.
Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers says
Such a perfect dish for the upcoming season! I just bought a big jar of sauerkraut in preparation, so I’m good to go 🙂 Can’t wait to put this one on the menu!