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    German Sauerkraut Balls

    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…

    sauerkraut balls on a grey plate alongside a small dish of mustard.

    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).

    Overhead shot of several sauerkraut balls on a grey plate.

    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

    overhead shot of the ingredients for this dish
    • 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.

    Submerged potatoes in a pot.

    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.

    the ingredients being mashed with a fork.

    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.

    three formed balls being rolled in breadcrumbs.

    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.

    several balls sizzling in hot oil.

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

    now they are nicely browned after flipping them.

    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 my Jägerschnitzel!

    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.

    side view of some sauerkraut balls.

    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!

    A bunch of sauerkraut balls on the Gypsy Plate.

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

    featured image for german sauerkraut balls post

    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 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.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    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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