Bratwurst Sausage And Sauerkraut

Bratwurst and sauerkraut is a delicious and simple one pot or skillet dinner. This classic pairing of German sausage and braised sauerkraut is smoky, sour, slightly sweet, and perfectly savory comfort food. You’re going to LOVE this recipe.

Golden brown bratwurst sausages nestled in braised sauerkraut in a cast iron skillet.

A traditional preparation of German sauerkraut and bratwurst sausage is one of the most comforting and delicious one-pot meals you can make. And it’s a simple dinner the whole family will love.

Growing up, my mother would frequently make us sausages braised slowly with sauerkraut, and it was always a favorite meal. Feel free to use something other than bratwurst — any fresh sausage will do in this recipe.

Serve this simply as-is, or with roasted veggies, authentic German spaetzle, or rustic bread on the side — or make this as a sausage on a bun with all the traditional sides like mustard and pickles or even hot peppers!

By the way, you can make a big batch of this traditional braised German sauerkraut and enjoy it as a side dish throughout the week with all sorts of other meals.

If you love sauerkraut, try my German sauerkraut soup, my Istrian Jota Soup, or Segedínský Guláš (Pork & Sauerkraut Stew).

Golden brown bratwurst sausages in hot dog buns covered in braised sauerkraut and topped with mustard and pickles.

Equipment

I’m using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet with a lid to make this recipe. Any heavy pot will work as long as it has a lid (for the oven portion) or can be safely covered with something.

Ingredient Notes, Variations, & Substitutions

The quantities of each ingredient are listed in the printable recipe card; this section will help you make this recipe and suggest alternatives.

All of the ingredients needed to make bratwurst and sauerkraut in your cast iron skillet, and the extras needed if making them as sausages on a bun.
  • Bratwurst Sausage | Your grocery store will carry brats, sometimes called beer brats. Any fresh sausage will do, and you can use a mixture of different sausage varieties as well, which is something we frequently do when making this recipe. Kielbasa is another great choice.
  • Sauerkraut | Plain, canned (jarred) sauerkraut works just fine. Feel free to use your own homemade sauerkraut too!
  • Bacon | You can technically omit this, but I love to add a bit of bacon to make the sauerkraut taste even more delicious.
  • Onion | Any onion, but I prefer yellow.
  • Apple | Any apple works. I like tart varieties best like Granny Smith.
  • Liquid | I use beef or chicken bone broth. If using water, consider adding a stock/bouillion cube.
  • Sweetener | I recommend honey or maple syrup. You can also use brown sugar. You can also leave this out.
  • Oil or Fat | My favorite is pastured lard or tallow; feel free to use whichever neutral oil you prefer.
  • Spices & Seasonings | A bit of salt & pepper to taste. A bay leaf. For a real German flavor, I’m adding caraway and juniper too, but you can leave them out if you prefer.

Instructions

Four bratwurst sausages browning evenly in a hot cast iron skillet.

Step 1: Drain the sauerkraut. Do not rinse it. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat fat or oil in a large, hot skillet or pot, and brown the bratwurst evenly on all sides, getting a nice, golden brown sear.

Remove and set aside once done.

Vegetables being diced and prepped for cooking on wood cutting board.

Step 2: As the sausage browns, prep the rest of the ingredients. Thinly slice the onions. Dice the bacon. Chop the apple.

Veggies and bacon being sautéed in hot cast iron skillet and oil.

Step 3: In the same skillet or pot, sauté the bacon and onion over low-medium heat. When the bacon is crisp and the onions are golden, add the chopped apple and turn the heat low.

Stir regularly to keep from burning, and cook everything for 2-3 minutes longer.

Sauerkraut added to cast iron skillet with other ingredients.

Step 4: Add a generous pinch of fresh ground black pepper, the juniper berries and caraway seeds (if using), the maple or honey, the broth or water, and the bay leaf, and stir well to combine.

The browned bratwurst sausages in the sauerkraut ready to braise and finish cooking.

Step 5: Return the bratwurst sausage back into the pan, nestling them on top. Cover the skillet and place it into the oven for 45 minutes.

The finished bratwurst and sauerkraut skillet ready to serve.

Step 6: Remove from oven and uncover. If there is too much liquid, remove the brats, and let the sauerkraut reduce on the stovetop on med-low heat until the texture is correct. Stir constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper if required.

The finished bratwurst and sauerkraut skillet ready to serve.

FAQ

Can I cook something acidic like sauerkraut in cast iron without ruining the seasoning?

A well-seasoned cast iron pan that is properly maintained can be used to cook acidic foods like sauerkraut and even tomatoes. If your food tastes off — it means your pan is not properly seasoned or maintained, period.

After cooking something acidic in cast iron, wash your pan in hot, soapy water, dry it, and then let it heat up on the stovetop with a bit of oil or fat.

How To Store, Freeze, & Reheat Bratwurst & Sauerkraut

A perfect meal to refrigerate, store them together or separately, as you prefer, in an airtight container. The brats will continue to add more flavor to the sauerkraut in storage.

Reheat gently on the stove, partially covered, with a splash of water or broth on medium-low heat until your desired temperature.

Freeze by wrapping tightly and separately (preferably). Allow to defrost in the refrigerator before reheating to serve as above.

What is authentic German bratwurst?

Authentic German bratwurst is a type of sausage that is an integral part of German cuisine. It is traditionally made from pork, although beef or veal versions also exist. The term “bratwurst” is derived from Old High German, with “brät” meaning finely chopped meat, and “wurst,” sausage. Each region in Germany has its own unique recipe and variation of bratwurst, often flavored with a distinctive blend of spices such as marjoram, nutmeg, coriander, or garlic.

What do Germans eat with bratwurst?

In Germany, bratwurst is typically served with sauerkraut, and mustard and is often accompanied by German potato salad, bread rolls, or pretzels. Other common sides include mashed potatoes, fries, or grilled vegetables like onions and peppers. These sides provide a balance of flavors and textures to complement the sausage.

How do Germans cook their brats?

Germans typically cook bratwurst by grilling or frying them. Grilling is a popular method, especially in outdoor settings or at public festivals, where bratwursts are cooked over an open flame until they’re nicely browned, which gives them a smoky flavor. Alternatively, bratwursts are often pan-fried, especially in home cooking. They’re cooked in a bit of oil or butter in a skillet over medium heat, turned occasionally until they’re evenly browned and cooked through

Should you boil brats before grilling or frying?

No! Boiling bratwurst before grilling or frying is not recommended as it can lead to a loss of flavor and a less desirable texture. Direct grilling or frying allows the bratwurst to retain its juiciness, develop a crispy exterior, and fully showcase the spices.

Related Recipes

The finished bratwurst and sauerkraut skillet ready to serve.

Bratwurst And Sauerkraut

This classic pairing of German bratwurst sausage and braised sauerkraut is smoky, sour, slightly sweet, and perfectly savory comfort food that can be eaten as-is or put on a bun!. 
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: German
Servings: 4
Calories: 546kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Equipment

  • Cast Iron Skillet (With Lid) Or any heavy pot or skillet with lid.

Ingredients

  • 4 Bratwurst Sausages
  • 1 Jar Plain Sauerkraut About 1 quart or liter
  • ½ Cup Bacon Minced small (optional)
  • 1 Cup Chicken or Beef Bone Broth or Stock Or 1 cup of water and stock cube
  • 1 Tablespoon Oil or Fat
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion Thinly sliced
  • 1 Apple Chopped into small pieces
  • 4 Tablespoons Maple or Honey
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 5 Juniper Berries Optional
  • 5 Caraway Seeds Optional
  • Salt + Pepper To Taste
  • If serving as sausage on a bun: buns, mustard, pickles, hot peppers etc.

Instructions

  • Drain the sauerkraut by pouring it into a colander and then setting the colander over a bowl to capture any drips as you move on with the rest of the recipe. Do not rinse it.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heat fat or oil in a large, hot skillet or pot, and brown the bratwurst evenly on all sides, getting a nice, golden brown sear. Remove and set aside once done.
  • As the sausage browns, prep the rest of the ingredients. Thinly slice the onions. Dice the bacon. Chop the apple.
  • In the same skillet or pot, sauté the bacon and onion over low-medium heat. When the bacon is crisp and the onions are golden, add the chopped apple and turn the heat low.
  • Stir regularly to keep from burning, and cook everything for 2-3 minutes longer.
  • Add a generous pinch of fresh ground black pepper, the juniper berries and caraway seeds (if using), the maple or honey, the broth or water, and the bay leaf, and stir well to combine.
  • Return the bratwurst sausage back into the pan, nestling them on top. Cover the skillet and place it into the oven for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and uncover. If there is too much liquid, remove the brats, and let the sauerkraut reduce on the stovetop on med-low heat until the texture is correct. Stir constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper if required.
  • Remove from oven and uncover. If there is too much liquid, remove the brats, and let the sauerkraut reduce on the stovetop on med-low heat until the texture is correct. Stir constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper if required.
  • Serve hot nestled in sausage buns with spicy mustard and sliced pickles or on a plate, depending on preferences. Enjoy!

Notes

A well-seasoned cast iron pan that is properly maintained can be used to cook acidic foods like sauerkraut and even tomatoes. If your food tastes off — it means your pan is not properly seasoned or maintained, period.
After cooking something acidic in cast iron, wash your pan in hot, soapy water, dry it, and then let it heat up on the stovetop with a bit of oil or fat.
Storage
A perfect meal to refrigerate, store them together or separately, as you prefer, in an airtight container. The brats will continue to add more flavor to the sauerkraut in storage.
Reheat gently on the stove, partially covered, with a splash of water or broth on medium-low heat until your desired temperature.
Freeze by wrapping tightly and separately (preferably). Allow to defrost in the refrigerator before reheating to serve as above.

Nutrition

Calories: 546kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 2342mg | Potassium: 868mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 89IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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