Sauerkraut balls are all-in-one bites of classic German beer garden fare – sauerkraut and bratwurst encased in a crispy, golden brown breading.
Delicious partners to a variety of beer styles they are quite easy to make – whether you prefer them fried or baked.
You will need to round up good quality sauerkraut, uncooked bratwurst, onion, breadcrumbs, cream cheese, parsley and a few seasonings to make the balls.
Flour, eggs, a bit of beer (or water or milk) and more breadcrumbs for the breading.
How to Make Sauerkraut Balls?
Start by browning the bratwurst and diced onion in a skillet (#1 below). Simply remove the casings and break up the bratwurst with a wooden spatula, right into a skillet. No oil is needed. Be sure the bratwurst is completely cooked and then let the mixture cool down.
TIP: Even though bratwurst is already nicely seasoned, we like to add a bit of extra cumin and ground caraway seed at this stage.
Next, mix the drained sauerkraut, bread crumbs, parsley, cream cheese, seasonings, add the cooled bratwurst/onion and mix everything into a coarse paste.
Form into golf sized balls (or a tad smaller) and arrange them onto a parchment paper lined sheet (#4 above).
Refrigerate the sauerkraut balls for about 30 minutes before you proceed with the breading and cooking steps .
Once they have firmed up proceed to bread and cook them as shown below.
NOTE: We like to make our egg wash by adding a bit of beer to the beaten eggs (#1 image grid above), but you can use water, soda water or milk instead.
Roll in flour, dip in egg wash and coat with bread crumbs (use Panko for crispiest results). Fry the sauerkraut balls, allow them to drain on paper towel lined plate and serve.
To bake sauerkraut balls instead of frying them place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and cook in a 375 F oven. Depending on the calibration of your oven it may take 15 to 20 minutes.
Twists and serving sauce ideas below the recipe card.
- 3 links (about 1/2 lb) uncooked bratwurst, casings removed
- 1 onion, medium sized, diced
- 1 1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained
- 2 tbsp bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp cream cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 4 tbsp flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup beer (sub with water or milk)
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- cooking oil as needed for deep frying
- In a skillet over medium heat brown the bratwurst while breaking it up with a wooden spatula or spoon.* Add the diced onion, mix it in and let soften. Once the bratwurst is fully cooked let the mixture cool down.
- In a mixing bowl add the drained sauerkraut, breadcrumbs, parsley, cream cheese, salt and pepper, garlic powder and cooled off bratwurst and onion mixture.
- Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated and form into golf-sized balls. Arrange them on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 min to let them firm up.
- Prepare a breading set up - one bowl with flour, one bowl with the beaten eggs + beer (sub water/milk), one bowl with breadcrumbs.
To Deep Fry
- Over medium-high in a deep frying pan heat enough cooking oil to fully submerge the balls to 350 F. Bread the chilled sauerkraut balls (coat with flour, then egg wash, then roll in bread crumbs). Fry a few at a time until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
- Heat oven to 375 F. Bread the chilled sauerkraut balls, arrange on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
With or Without the Sausage
For a vegetarian version of these sauerkraut balls simply substitute the bratwurst with two medium sized, boiled, peeled and grated potatoes. Soften the diced onion in 1 tbsp of cooking oil, mix with the grated boiled potatoes, season with salt and a bit of cumin/caraway seed and proceed with the recipe as given.
Sauerkraut Balls Dipping Sauce Ideas
If you want to go classic look no further than mustard.
We like to serve ours with beer mustard and/or honey mustard – both are very complimentary to the flavors of the crispy sauerkraut balls. Sweet Bavarian mustard or creamy horseradish mustard are other options.
We also like them with Thousand Island dressing (or a variation thereof).
Can You Make Ahead and Freeze Sauerkraut Balls?
Yes, you absolutely can. You can freeze the already breaded sauerkraut balls for up to three months. Be sure to thaw them completely in the refrigerator before frying or baking them.