Authentic German flavors come forward in this easy stovetop autumn supper.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess sauerkraut isn’t on your list of favorite comfort foods. The name literally translates in English as sour cabbage, so it’s not a big leap to assume a plate of this wouldn’t appeal to many of you.
But bratwurst, well, that’s another story. According to the website statista, more than 89 million Americans consumed fresh bratwurst in 2020, according to a 2022 study. I’m going to hazard another guess that many of you, while at a tailgate event or inside the ballpark, were served a grilled brat on a bun topped with sauerkraut right out of the jar or can. Thus, you’ve concluded that sauerkraut is gross, and in that instance, you’d be correct.
However, it takes little effort to cook brats and sauerkraut the correct way that enhances the flavors of both key ingredients while balancing the sour with a bit of sweet and savory. Granted, there are over half a million recipes for brats and kraut—some cooked on the stovetop, others in the oven, slow cooker, or instant pot—but my family did a slow braise after partially cooking the sausage in the same pot. Turns out perfect every time.
To make my Bratwurst Braised in Sauerkraut, which yields five servings, you’ll need these ingredients:
5 bratwurst links
1 (16-ounce) can or jar of sauerkraut
1 medium apple (recommend sweeter variety), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1½ teaspoons nutmeg
Whenever I eat this dish, my mind goes to sauerkraut and sausage dinners my family church put on every October. I grew up attending Trinity United Church of Christ on South Grand Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri. The congregation has since relocated to another part of town, but in the 1970s, its sausage suppers were huge, and my family worked the kitchen, dining room, and carryout station. Dad usually served on the carryout team, mom and grandma were in the kitchen prepping ahead of and cooking the day of the supper, and the youth group (of which I was a member) bussed tables. As I grew older, I joined the ranks of dining room servers and I loved doing that until my college days. Good times. Great memories. These are why (in part) I get warm and fuzzy about sauerkraut. My ancestral lineage also plays into my affinity for German sausages other foods.
And a pot of braised brats and sauerkraut includes wonderful autumn-friendly ingredients, including apples and nutmeg. Making this recipe in my grandma’s Dutch oven is even more special. This is the perfect season for braised meals, so let’s get cooking!
Directions to make Bratwurst Braised in Sauerkraut
First, bring a Dutch oven up to medium-high head and brown the fresh bratwurst on both sides. Remove to a plate for now.
Add chopped onion to the fat rendered from sausage and cook until onions become translucent; if necessary, add a teaspoon of butter or canola oil. Add the apple and cook until onion and apple start to brown.
Add the caraway seeds and toast for about a minute to bring out their flavor.
Pour the sauerkraut and the juice into the Dutch oven. Add brown sugar and stir to incorporate all ingredients.
Nestle the bratwurst into the mixed sauerkraut, cover, and turn down to medium-low heat. Cover and cook for 1 hour. Sausage should reach 165 degrees F.
To serve, place bratwurst link inside a warmed hot dog bun and top with sauerkraut. If desired, include a side of kraut on plate. A small amount of mustard is allowed, but if you squirt a line of ketchup on that sausage, we cannot be friends. (Just kidding, but I can’t promise I won’t look askance at your plate.) You also could skip the buns and serve brats and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes as we often did.
If you’ve been a victim to plain canned kraut on your brat in the past, I hope you’ll try this recipe to experience how sauerkraut should taste. You may not feel warm and fuzzy about sour cabbage like me, but at least you won’t turn away in aversion. Happy Oktoberfest!
Can I make this in my slow cooker?
Yes, but I still recommend browning the sausage first to give it some appetizing color. Place the brat links in your slow cooker and top with sauerkraut, apple, onion, nutmeg, brown sugar and caraway seeds. Cover and cook on low for three to four hours.
Want more ideas for Octoberfest dinners?
You can’t miss with my Authentic German Sauerbraten. Pork Schnitzel with Sauerkraut is another winner that delivers on big flavors without a lot of effort. German Potato Salad is another idea to accompany bratwurst or your favorite sausage.
About the blog
Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.