Sauerkraut balls are all-in-one bites of classic German beer garden fare – sauerkraut and bratwurst encased in a crispy, golden brown breading.
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Read on for relevant tips and step by step pictures of the workflow (2 mins)
Delicious partners to a variety of beer styles these tasty sauerkraut fritters are quite easy to make – whether you prefer them fried or baked. The vegetarian version uses boiled potato and is also delicious.
Ingredients for Sauerkraut Balls
- For the filling round up good quality sauerkraut, uncooked bratwurst, onion, breadcrumbs, cream cheese, parsley and seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, caraway).
- For the breading you will need flour, eggs, a bit of beer (sub water or milk) and more breadcrumbs.
How to Make Sauerkraut Balls?
The best approach is to organize your workflow in two stages:
- Prepare the mixture for the sauerkraut balls and shape them, then place them in the fridge to allow them to firm up and become easier to handle.
- After the brief refrigeration stint bread and fry (or bake) them. You can leave them in the fridge covered with wrap overnight and bread and cook them the following day.
- Step 1. Remove the bratwurst from the casings and break up the bratwurst with a wooden spatula, right into a skillet. Brown it together with the diced onion, no oil is needed. Be sure the bratwurst is completely cooked and then let the mixture cool down.
- Step 2. 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.
- Interim step. 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.
- Step 3. 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 boost the flavor of the egg wash we like to make it by adding a bit of beer to the beaten eggs (see image grid), but you can use water, soda water or milk instead.
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.
With or Without the Sausage
For a vegetarian version of 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 sour cream, flavored with thinly sliced green onions or Thousand Island dressing (or a variation thereof).
Can You Make Ahead and Freeze Sauerkraut Fritters?
Yes, you absolutely can. You can freeze the already breaded balls for up to three months. When ready to fry them you can proceed to drop them into the oil from frozen. If baking them preheat the oven to 425 F, then lower the heat to 375 F once they are in.
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Sauerkraut Balls (Fried or Baked, with Bratwurst or Vegetarian)
Crispy, golden brown breading encases sauerkraut and cooked bratwurst bound with cream cheese. Sauerkraut balls are a delicious all-in-one appetizer that partner great with beer.
- 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 (might need a bit extra)
- 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 (coat with flour, then egg wash, then roll in bread crumbs), arrange on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
* Optional - bratwurst is already seasoned, but if you desire more pronounced flavors you can add a pinch or two of cumin and/or ground caraway seeds at this stage.
If frying do not overcrowd frying pan, the temperature of the cooking oil will drop. Try to keep it around 350 F for best results.
Serve with honey mustard or Bavarian whole grain mustard.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 124Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 470mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 5g
I have these all prepped and ready to go for book club…German themed book! 🙂 I may not have enough time to bread them when I get home from work. Can I “pre” bread them and keep refrigerated until I am ready to cook them?
Milena Perrine says
You can definitely prep them in advance and keep them breaded in the fridge! Side note: I used to belong to a book club and it eventually fell apart because the focus increasingly shifted to themed food and drinks. One of the ladies had gotten a hold of these cocktail napkins that said “What book? I am just here for the wine…” We would display them among the food and bottles:) but never actually use them.
Has anyone tested both fying and baking to determine if there is a big difference in turn out. I have made these and only fried in the past. They are delectible!!!
Milena Perrine says
Judy, the fried version even though messier to execute tends to taste better. Cannot beat fried food:)
I.M. Dodd says
My husband & I made a triple recipe for an Oktoberfest party. They were a huge hit, in fact we were asked to pass this recipe on. They were amazing, we baked them & placed them in a shallow crockpot on warm, worked perfectly. My husband loved them & he dislikes sauerkraut!
Milena Perrine says
That is so great to hear! The flavor of the sauerkraut is really not overwhelming in this recipe, glad you guys liked your creation!
I tried making these the baked way, and although pretty good, I was disappointed the crust didn’t brown. Can these be broiled at the end of baking time, so they brown?
Milena Perrine says
You could broil them, but the oven heat on bake should be sufficient. Do you have an oven thermometer to verify temperature? Could be that your oven is calibrated to lean towards lower heat. Try 400 F and remove as soon as they look sufficiently browned. OVerall, keep in mind that frying results in crisper and better looking outsides for these.
Does it matter what kind of beer you put in these? I have Michelob Ultra that im trying to get rid of. Also, does the beer make a difference vs the milk?
Craft Beering says
You can definitely use the Michelobe Utlra. The beer’s carbonation helps and also flavorwise if suitably hopped with herbal, less bitter Noble hops. You would not want to use an IPA or similiar. If using milk it mellows out the flavors, but most people won’t catch it.
I sampled one of these this weekend and they were very good. Can’t wait to make my own.
Craft Beering says
Thank you for stopping by, Joni! Hope yours turn out just as good when you make them.
Shery Sullivan says
My daughter and grandkids are coming for Christmas. Might surprise them with these. And she’s vegetarian, so perfect. I’ll make that version too.
Craft Beering says
Hope they like them, Shery!
Definitely going to try these. Never heard of them until today. Another twist using fermented cabbage, replace sauerkraut with kimchi and go the veggie route with potato filling and definitely oozey cheese as well as cream cheese.
claire s. says
I made Rachel Ray’s quick sauerkraut recipe instead of buying sauerkraut from store. It tasted great.
How can I make these plant based with no eggs, meat or oil??? They sound so good
We have never tried, so not sure what to advise you, Michele.
Michael Kevin Perry says
Ach du lieber…
And since Texas German, Bless your heart
The recipe suggests a veggie alternative using potatoes instead of brats. For no oil, I’d bake them in an air fryer or oven and use and egg replacement product for binding.
D. Freshour says
I have made these vegetarian twice now, substituting beyond bratwurst. They’re awesome! Even my carnivorous husband enjoys them!
Craft Beering says
So glad you shared! Thank you for taking the time.
SUSAN SHEAHAN says
I am making these today and baking tomorrow. Looking forward to trying. Sound uniquely delicious. To clarify…when baking, just bread coating needed and not egg/flour step? Please and thanks.
Hi Susan, thank you for trying out the recipe. The breading procedure is the same when baking. Coat in flour, then egg wash and finally bread crumbs. The flour helps the eggs stay around each ball and the bread crumbs stick to the egg. You prep them the same regardless of how you actually cook them in the end. Cheers and enjoy!
Can these be baked or fried, then reheated in the oven?
Yes, certainly, just be sure the oven is set at a lower temp.
Could you make these in an air fryer?
You sure can!
Would like to serve with some type of dip. I’m thinking of mustard, (like it on brauts with sauerkraut) & sour cream, ( have a recipe for a “polish stir fry that is topped with sour cream & my family loves it). What do you think of those options? Can you recommend a third option?
Hi, Faye! Yes, if using only mustard Bavarian mustard works really well as it is a bit sweeter. Did you happen to notice the honey mustard idea listed in the post? Another idea is horseradish sour cream – simply mix 1 tbsp prepared horseradish to 1/2 cup sour cream, then taste and adjust either ingredient to taste (some prepared horse radish brands make theirs really spicy). Cheers!
Richelle M says
Can you make these up ahead of time and freeze then fry or bake at a later time?
Absolutely – do refrigerate them first, then freeze in an air tight container. When ready to cook them, thaw in the fridge overnight then proceed with the breading steps as per the recipe.
Hello, I am wondering if these would be able store in a crockpot for travel to a party?
Hi Chris, hmm…tricky. Most likely they will get soggy and the crust will not deliver. How about you make them all the way, breaded and all, up to step #4 in the recipe card, then transport them to the party in a cooler bag or similar and then bake them there? If it is an option to use their oven, it won’t take long…You could arrange them on baking sheet(s) with a sheet of parchment paper underneath and covered with another one, all that wrapped in plastic so they don’t move around while you are driving and then bake at the party. Possibly the best solution. Also – since you won’t know their oven too well, watch them closely and about 10 mins in turn them around so they bake evenly, plus you will know by how the breading looks if you want to leave them longer than total of 20 mins or shorten the total time, or lower the oven temp a bit. Otherwise I would try to layer the crock pot with parchment paper and place them in layers, but regardless the crust will ‘take damage’.
Just thought of another suggestion. If you make them all the way, then transport in crock pot with parchment paper you could try to warm them up in their oven at 200 F for about 5 mins (on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper). This might help to remedy the crust situation:)
Ronda LaFontaine says
If you make these and put them in the crock pot stick a paper towel in there and that would exhorb some of the moisture.
Craft Beering says
Thank you for the tip!
Nicoletta De Angelis Nardelli says
Thank you for the vegetarian option, so both Loreto and I can be happy with our yummy fried sauerkraut balls! I always say you can give me anything deep fried, but if it is this delicious, way better 😉 !
Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says
I’m obsessed with sauerkraut but I’ve never seen these before! I can only imagine how much I’d love fried and breaded kraut :). I need to try these soon!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
My husband (and, of course, me) would absolutely LOVE these. We are HUGE sauerkraut fans over here so fried in a crispy, bite-sized ball sounds so delicious! Happy Holidays, my friends 🙂
Marvellina|What To Cook Today says
I’m so going to try this! I LOVE sauerkraut and this sauerkraut balls idea is just brilliant! I’m imagining dipping them into spicy sambal sauce LOL!
Mmm, spicy sambal sounds so good as the dip of choice! Thank you, Marvellina!