Easy German Sauerkraut Balls Recipe - GypsyPlate (2024)

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Sauerkraut Balls…This is it, you kraut lovers, this is for you! This classic Bavarian snack, crispy golden brown ping pong sized balls, combines the creaminess of potatoes and the tangy tartness of sauerkraut.

Bring home this German Beer Garden and Oktoberfest party food and introduce it to your friends and family. Make a big heap of these savory treats to get that party going, because everyone will be going back for seconds…

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Seriously, when Jason suggested these balls, his German blood after all, I kinda rolled my eyes. I do like sauerkraut in moderation here and there, but I don’t go crazy at the sight of some kraut. So it did take some convincing from my other half to make these part of GypsyPlate.

But one bite into them and I said “hmm… why not, they’re good”. A few seconds later I was eating another…

Why this Easy Recipe Works

  • Tangy Meets Creamy: The tangy sauerkraut and potatoes create a palate-pleasing balance of flavors.
  • Crisp & Tender: The crunchy exterior and soft interior offer a delightful textural contrast.
  • Quick to Make: Most ingredients are pantry staples, and the steps are straightforward.
  • Versatile: Works as both a perfect appetizer or a side dish, fitting for various occasions.
  • No Special Tools: No need for fancy kitchen gadgets; a pot, a bowl, and a skillet get the job done.
  • Easily Customizable: Adjust spices or add additional herbs to make it your own.
  • Great for Sharing: They’re a fun finger food for communal eating that sparks conversation and togetherness.

What Are Sauerkraut Balls?

Sauerkraut translates to “sour cabbage”, and is simply fermented cabbage. Although it is believed to have originated in China, fermented cabbage is most commonly associated with central and eastern European cuisine.

These tasty little best sauerkraut balls combine that distinctive sauerkraut tang with some other ingredients and are fried till crispy (though sometimes they are baked).

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They are the most commonly seen as munchers in German beer gardens, but there is one place in the United States that is very passionate and possessive about them: Akron, Ohio.

The northeastern parts of central Ohio have large German communities with deep rooted traditions and culture. If ever you go there, your trip will be incomplete without trying their beloved sauerkraut balls.

The simplest method is making balls of sauerkraut mixed with a few other ingredients and then breading and frying them crispy golden brown.

Some variations mix in some meats like ground pork, ham or sausage. Many people believe pork and kraut together bring good luck, so these are a common treat for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Today we are making ours super simple, something to base the variations off of.

Ingredient Notes

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  • Sauerkraut –The star.
  • Potatoes –The supporting role.
  • Egg –To help bind everything.
  • Bread crumbs –Another binder, plus the breading.
  • Garlic –You knew I would be adding this, right?
  • Salt, black pepper and paprika –Some basic spices.
  • Fresh parsley –Because it’s so good.
  • Vegetable oil –For frying.

How to Make Fried Sauerkraut Balls

1. Cook the potatoes:After scrubbing them clean, place them in a pan and add enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered till the potatoes are soft.

We are using smallish potatoes, so 15-20 minutes did the trick, but larger potatoes can take up to 30 minutes. When they are done, submerge them in cold water so they can be handled. Peel, and place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Make the filling:Next, squeeze as much of the liquid out of the sauerkraut as you can. Add the sauerkraut to the bowl along with egg, salt, pepper, parsley and ¼ cup breadcrumbs.

Mash everything together with a fork. The potato does not need to be completely mashed, as in mashed potatoes, it can be a little lumpy.

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3. Form the balls:Spread the remaining bread crumbs on a plate. Scoop out ⅛ cup of the potato sauerkraut mixture, form into a ball and roll in the breadcrumbs until covered. Repeat until you have made all of the mixture into 1-inch balls.

Arrange on a parchment paper lined plate or sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow them time to firm up.

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4. Fry the sauerkraut balls:Meanwhile, add about ¾ inch oil to a frying pan or large skillet over medium-high heat and heat to 350°F. I use an electric skillet to control the temperature, but you can cook on the stove top on medium high heat.

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Add the sauerkraut balls to the hot oil and cook till golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.

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Make sure not to overcrowd them, cook in batches if necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked sauerkraut balls to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve immediately.

How to Serve Sauerkraut Balls

We love these dipped in dijon mustard, stone ground mustard, honey mustard or thousand island dressing. But please experiment with your favorite dipping sauces! Here are some ideas:

Chipotle Mayo
Garlic Aioli
Fry Sauce

If you really want to get in the German mood, serve these as an appetizer and follow them up with myJägerschnitzel!

Expert Tips

  • Potato Choice: For best results, opt for starchy potatoes like Russets.
  • Squeeze That Kraut: Really wring out the sauerkraut to avoid excess moisture which can make the balls fall apart.
  • Breadcrumb Options: For more flavor, season your breadcrumbs with herbs or garlic powder.
  • Chill Factor: Don’t skip the chilling step; it helps the balls maintain their shape during frying.
  • Perfect Sizing: To ensure all of your balls are equal in size, consider using a cookie scoop to portion the potato mixture.
  • Test Fry: Fry one ball first to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  • Temperature Check: Use a thermometer to ensure the oil stays around 350°F for consistent frying.
  • Batch Cooking: Don’t overcrowd the skillet; fry in batches for even cooking.
  • Sauce Prep: If making a homemade dipping sauce, prepare it in advance to allow the flavors to meld together.

Baking Instructions

Though they won’t be as crispy, this healthier variation is still tasty. Just preheat your oven to 375°F and bake them for 20 minutes, flipping half way through, on a greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Air Fryer Instructions

Preheat your air fryer to 375°F. Place the balls in the air fryer basket in a single layer, ensuring they are not touching. You may need to work in batches depending on the size of your air fryer.

Air fry for about 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time for even browning.

Can Sauerkraut Balls Be Made Ahead of Time?

Yes, make a day ahead and refrigerate overnight, covered in cling wrap. Alternately, you can freeze up to three months. Freeze on a parchment paper lined sheet, then when they are frozen transfer to a zip top bag.

Thaw them out and fry whenever you have a craving!


As mentioned above, many like to mix in different kinds of meats, they are super tasty this way! The most popular meats to use are ham, sausage and ground pork.

Make sure to fully cook your meat first, then break up or dice. Then just stir into your mixture before forming the balls. Try ½ pound of meat for this recipe.

Some people also add cream cheese or diced onion for different flavor profiles.

Leftovers and Storage

Sauerkraut balls, like any fried food, are best eaten fresh. That being said, you can place cooled sauerkraut balls in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheat at 350°F in the oven or air fryer.

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These delicious sauerkraut balls are a fun appetizer that everyone will enjoy. So pour an ice cold pilsner beer and bring the taste of Germany into your own home.

Be sure to check out our collection of favorite German Recipes. And keep following GypsyPlate to continue our culinary adventures. Guten Appetit!

German Sauerkraut Balls, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

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Try these other great appetizers!
Gambas al Ajillo
Fried Green Tomatoes
Mediterranean Charcuterie Board
Indian Chicken Tikkas
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

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German Sauerkraut Balls

Yield: 15-20 balls

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Sauerkraut balls! Add some Bavarian flair to your party with these crispy little nuggets, famous in beer halls across Germany.


  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup sauerkraut
  • 1 egg
  • 1.25 cup breadcrumbs, divided
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Oil for frying


  1. Add potatoes to pot and cover with cold water and place on stove over high heat. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until easily pierced with a knife, about 15-20 minutes, depending on size. Drain, then immerse in cold water. Once cool enough to handle, remove skins.
  2. Squeeze as much liquid from the sauerkraut as you can, then add into a large bowl along with potatoes, egg, ¼ cup bread crumbs, parsley and spices. Mash them with a fork until potatoes are mostly mashed and everything is thoroughly mixed.
  3. Spread the remaining 1 cup of breadcrumbs on a plate. Form the potato sauerkraut mixture into golf ball sized spheres, about ⅛ of a cup of mixture per ball. Roll them in the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
  4. Place balls on parchment paper lined tray and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat ¾ inch of cooking oil in a skillet over medium high heat, about 350°F. Add ball to hot oil and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  6. Remove and drain on paper towel lined plate. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.


  1. For a tasty variation, try adding diced ham or cooked and crumbled sausage.
  2. Opt for starchy potatoes like Russets for a creamier texture.
  3. Don’t overcrowd the skillet; fry in batches for even cooking.
  4. Fry one ball first to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  5. They can be baked at 375°F for 20 minutes, or air fried at 375°F for 10-12 minutes.
  6. To store, place cooled sauerkraut balls in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or air fryer.
Nutrition Information

Yield 4Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 313Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 47mgSodium 882mgCarbohydrates 54gFiber 6gSugar 5gProtein 10g

Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.

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Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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    Easy German Sauerkraut Balls Recipe - GypsyPlate (2024)


    What makes German sauerkraut different? ›

    In Germany and Austria, cooked sauerkraut is often flavored with juniper berries or caraway seeds; apples and white wine are added in popular variations.

    What is the tradition of sauerkraut in Germany? ›

    Viel Glück! Germans have been eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year's for generations because they believe it brings good luck (viel glück in German).

    Where did sauerkraut balls originated? ›

    More immigrants to Ohio tweaked other recipes, too, like Sauerkraut balls. These round appetizers are found almost exclusively in Akron, where they were invented. They're a mix of ground meat and sour cabbage that is breaded and deep-fried.

    What makes sauerkraut taste better? ›

    Sprinkle in spices and aromatics

    When we're talking about sauerkraut, the most traditional spices and aromatics come from anise-like caraway seeds, bay leaves, and the distinctive spicily earthy juniper berries. Those are all good options, and a lot of recipes call for them.

    What is Germany's number one sauerkraut? ›

    Hengstenberg is Germany's leader in pickles and sauerkraut. All vegetables are processed and packaged within hours of harvesting to ensure a fresh and delicious product with distinctive flavors.

    Is sauerkraut good or bad for you? ›

    Sauerkraut may provide various health benefits, such as effects on immune health and inflammation. It may also contain antioxidants and substances with anticancer properties. Most people can safely consume sauerkraut. However, it may cause people with histamine intolerance to develop allergy-like symptoms.

    What is the white stuff floating in my sauerkraut? ›

    One of the most common visible contaminations is a white, cloudy substance called Kahm Yeast. While Kahm yeast isn't harmful it can indicate that there is a problem with your ferment. Kahm yeast is actually safe to eat as long as there are no molds present and the ferment tests at a pH of 4 or lower.

    Why do they put caraway seeds in sauerkraut? ›

    Juniper berries and caraway seeds add beautiful flavor, but they also are anti-fungal and help to keep mold, yeast, and other microorganisms from growing that could ruin your developing kraut's flavor.

    What do Germans call sauerkraut? ›

    What does sauerkraut mean? Sauerkraut is the German language equivalent of “sour cabbage.” In reality though, it can mean different things to different people. To busy home chefs, sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage, is a fast, easy way to liven up their families' favorite meals.

    Which country eats the most sauerkraut? ›

    Germany is considered a sauerkraut nation - especially in international perception. During world war, English and American opponents even called Germans "Krauts". And the term is still used today. As a side note, however, the per capita consumption of sauerkraut is higher in the US and France than in Germany.

    What are some facts about German sauerkraut? ›

    Fact #1.

    Rich in nutrients and probiotics and low in calories, sauerkraut is a real-life, bona fide superfood. It's loaded with fiber, essential minerals, vitamins, and folate – just about everything you need to keep your body and mind functioning properly day in and day out. Best of all, it's only 30 calories per cup.

    What did Americans call sauerkraut during ww2? ›

    The governor of Iowa declared speaking German in public to be against the law, sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage,” and temperance organizations took aim at the German immigrants running breweries in cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis.

    What did America rename sauerkraut? ›

    During the First World War any reference in the USA to things German was deemed unpatriotic, and this included foodstuffs. An alternative name had therefore to be found for sauerkraut, and the choice fell on liberty cabbage.

    Is sauerkraut Ukrainian or German? ›

    Americans most often associate it with German cuisine—and rightfully so, it is a national dish of Germany—but many Central and Eastern European countries have their own sauerkraut varieties, including Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Slovakia, and Czechia, to name a few.

    What does German sauerkraut taste like? ›

    The taste is in the name, even if it's spelled the German way. Good sauerkraut has a sour punch, backed by acidic and salty notes. It's not sour like Sour Patch Kids or Warheads; it has a far more natural taste (close to the flavor of a pickle) that is quite delicious in big heaping doses.

    Does German style sauerkraut have probiotics? ›

    However, it's not just sauerkraut's fiber content that makes this food so good for digestion. Sauerkraut is also packed with probiotics that can improve your overall gut health. This combination makes sauerkraut an excellent food to aid with digestion.

    Is German style sauerkraut healthy? ›

    Summary. Sauerkraut is a versatile food full of essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Live sauerkraut can also contain probiotic bacteria, which are good for your gut. Some nutrients in sauerkraut may contribute to improved heart health, bone health, immune function, and inflammation.


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