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 regular hors d’oeuvre and introduce it to your friends and family. The look on their faces will be priceless when they eat them, or even hear about them, for the first time. But then again, they won’t just stop at the first ball, so make a big heap of these savory treats to get that party going.
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…
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 balls combine that distinctive sauerkraut tang with some other ingredients and are fried till crispy (though sometimes they are baked).
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 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 Years Eve.
Today we are making ours super simple, something to base the variations off of.
- 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, pepper and paprika – Some basic spices.
- Fresh parsley – Because it’s so good.
First, 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 bowl.
Next, squeeze as much of the liquid out of the sauerkraut as you can. Add to bowl along with egg, salt, pepper, parsley and 1/4 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.
Spread the remaining bread crumbs on a plate. Scoop out 1/8 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 balls. Arrange on a parchment paper lined plate or sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow them time to firm up.
Meanwhile, add about 3/4 inch oil to a frying pan 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.
Add the sauerkraut balls to the hot oil and cook till golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
Make sure not to overcrowd them, cook in batches if necessary. Drain them on a paper towel lined plate and serve hot.
Frequently Asked Questions
We love these dipped in mustard, honey mustard or thousand island dressing. But please experiment with your favorite dipping sauces! If you really want to get in the German mood, serve these as an appetizer and follow them up with my Jägerschnitzel!
Absolutely! Though they won’t be as crispy, this lighter variation is still tasty. Just preheat your oven to 375°F and bake them for 20 minutes on a greased baking sheet.
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 ziploc bag. Thaw them out and fry whenever you have a craving!
As mentioned above, many like to mix in 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 1/2 pound of meat for this recipe.
So pour an ice cold pilsner beer and bring the taste of Germany into your own home. And keep following GypsyPlate to continue our culinary adventures. Guten Appetit!
German Sauerkraut Balls, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1 cup sauerkraut
- 1 egg
- 1.25 cup breadcrumbs, divided
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Oil for frying
- 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.
- Squeeze as much liquid from the sauerkraut as you can, then add into a large bowl along with potatoes, egg, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, parsley and spices. Mash them with a fork until potatoes are mostly mashed and everything is thoroughly mixed.
- Spread the remaining 1 cup of breadcrumbs on a plate. Form the potato sauerkraut mixture into golf ball sized spheres, about 1/8 of a cup of mixture per ball. Roll them in the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
- Place balls on parchment paper lined tray and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat 3/4 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.
- Remove and drain on paper towel lined plate. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.
For a tasty variation, try adding diced ham or cooked and crumbled sausage!
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 313Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 47mgSodium 882mgCarbohydrates 54gFiber 6gSugar 5gProtein 10g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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