Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

January 5, 2013

This one-dish meal is perfect winter comfort food – and it’s quick enough to be made on a weeknight. You may be thinking, why would I need a recipe for something so simple? But mixed in with the sauerkraut are several other ingredients that greatly increase the complexity of the flavor: onion, grated apple, juniper berries, bacon… all subtle but oh-so-amazing when combined.

The original recipe, from one of the Cook’s Illustrated cookbooks (but it was a photocopy I made so I have no idea which one), calls for raw bratwurst sausages. The last time I made this dish I only had cooked kielbasa on hand and it tasted just as amazing, so the recipe below has been adjusted accordingly. I included the additional cooking time for the raw sausage if you’d like to make it the way it was originally written.

An important tip: make sure you do buy packaged (bagged) sauerkraut rather than canned (my grocery store carries it alongside the sausages in the meat department), or else the texture will suffer. Hope you enjoy this just as much as I do!

Kielbasa with sauerkraut

Serves 4


  • 2  tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½  pounds kielbasa or bratwurst, cut into 3-inch lengths and pricked all over with a fork
  • 1  medium onion, sliced thin
  • Salt
  • 2  pounds packaged sauerkraut, rinsed
  • 1  cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  slices bacon
  • 1  Granny smith apple, peeled and grated
  • 10  juniper berries
  • 4  teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2  bay leaves
  • Ground black pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sauerkraut, broth, bacon, apple, juniper berries, brown sugar, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Nestle the sausage into the sauerkraut, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. If using bratwurst, cook until the sausages are no longer pink in the center, 10 to 15 minutes, otherwise cook until kielbasa is heated through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Off the heat, discard the bay leaves and bacon. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.


  1. This looks quite good, but I have a question: How necessary do you think that the juniper berries are? I had an unfortunate incident with a bottle of gin in my late teens and cannot stomach getting anywhere near juniper berries. Do you think that the lack of them as seasoning would make a lot of difference? Of course, I’m not sure why I am even asking since Pat won’t touch the sauerkraut. ;(

    • I’ve never made it without them so I don’t know for sure, but honestly the lack of one ingredient like that probably wouldn’t make a huge difference. It’s not like you’re eating the actual berries themselves and there’s not a pronounced juniper flavor to the final result. And as far as Pat not liking it, well then, more for you! Sometimes I think it’s too bad that Devin likes this as much as he does. ;)

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