Jump to Recipe Print Recipe

Loaded with good bacteria and tang, learning how to make sauerkraut in a crock is so easy! Perfect for a snack or side dish, this easy recipe promotes good gut health and tastes delicious. Perfect for beginners!

Sauerkraut in a brown crock next to a lid and weights on a white table.

❤️ Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy: This is the easiest way for a beginner to get into fermentation. It was the first one we tried (other than kombucha!).
  • Hands-off: Once the sauerkraut is safely in the crock, there’s no need to touch it for four days. Then after that, all you have to do is taste a little each day to see if it’s ready. Super simple, no-fuss.
  • Healthy: One of the best things about sauerkraut is that it’s a natural probiotic. That means it’s packed full of beneficial bacteria for your gut health.
  • Makes plenty: As we don’t eat too much at a time, our jar lasts for about a month in the fridge (but can last for up to 6 months). That gives us enough time to do another recipe in the crock between batches. We love rotating sauerkraut and kimchi!
  • It’s pretty old-school: This is the traditional way of fermenting vegetables. This method has been around for thousands of years for food preservation and will no doubt stick around for many years to come.

🗝️ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Cabbage: One head of cabbage is used in this recipe. It can either be white cabbage or red cabbage. If you want to double the recipe and use two heads of cabbage, you can, depending on the size of your crock.
  • Apple: We love adding a granny smith apple to sauerkraut, however, any kind of apple will work (red or green). Apples are optional, so you can skip them if needed.
  • Carrot: Adding a carrot provides just a little more sweetness and color. You can skip this if you want.
  • Onion: A sweet onion like a red onion is what we prefer to balance the acidity. White or yellow onions are also great options, or you can skip the onion entirely.
  • Salt: High-quality, ground, or coarse sea salt is necessary for the fermentation process to happen. It extracts all of the liquid from the cabbage (and other fruits and vegetables). Then, the cabbage sits in the salty brine which helps to encourage the right kinds of probiotics to develop and ferment for a few days.

🥣 How to make this Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

1. Begin by making sure your sauerkraut crock is clean and dry. No need to sanitize it, just wash it clean with hot, soapy water and allow it to dry.

2. Next, Prepare the veggies. Remove the coarse outer leaves, and save two unblemished leaves from the cabbage head. Remove the thick core, then shred the cabbage in thin slices (as thinly as possible), grate the carrot and apple (on the largest shredding side of the grater), and thinly slice the onion.

3. Add the shredded cabbage, carrot, apple, and onion to a large mixing bowl along with the salt, and mix everything together with your hands. If you’d like to add in extra herbs or spices, now is the time! See the list below for some tasty options, or create something unique on your own.

4. Gently squeeze and massage the vegetables and fruit. After about 10 minutes there should be liquid pooling at the bottom of the mixing bowl. Not much liquid coming out? Click here to jump to the troubleshooting section if there isn’t enough brine.

Vegetables in a clear mixing bowl with hand pulling some back showing liquid gathering at the bottom.

5. Taste it to see how salty it is. It should be pleasantly salty but not overwhelming. If it’s too salty add more vegetables, not salty enough, add more salt.

6. Next, pack the crock pot with the sauerkraut. Add in a little at a time, pushing it down firmly so that the liquid comes to the top above the cabbage. We like to use our crock weights that came with the crock to help push it down.

Hand pushing sauerkraut down in a crock.

7. When all of the sauerkraut has been added in, top it with the two saved cabbage leaves from earlier, followed by the weights. Don’t have any weights? Click here to jump to the troubleshooting section and check out the last question about fermentation weights.

8. Seal the crock with its lid.

9. Place it in a place that’s easy to access but won’t be disturbed. We use a shelf in our kitchen.

10. If it’s a water-sealed crock, add the water after you’ve set it where it’s going to stay.

Adding water to the water seal on a fermentation crock.

11. Allow the sauerkraut to sit for 4 days before tasting it. This allows all of the beneficial bacteria to work their magic.

12. Check the water in the water seal hasn’t evaporated every day. If it has, just add some more water to it.

It takes between 4-14 days for the fermented cabbage to be ready to eat. This number depends on your personal taste and also the temperature of the room. If it’s a cool place, it will take longer to ferment. With that in mind, it may take longer in winter than in summer if the temperature inside fluctuates throughout the year as ours does. We recommend tasting a little every day to see if you like the flavor.

Sauerkraut in a small white bowl next to a crock with its lid off and weights.

🤔 Other optional ingredients

These ingredients can be added for even more flavor:

  • Caraway seeds
  • Juniper berries
  • Black Pepper (peppercorns or ground)
  • Lemon
  • Dill
  • Bay leaves
  • Smoked salt

🫙 Storage Instructions

When this classic dish has finished fermenting, place sauerkraut in an airtight container like a mason jar in the fridge. Push it down in the jar as much as possible, and make sure it stays submerged in the brine so that it doesn’t go off.

Sauerkraut in a jar on a white table.

⌛ How long does homemade sauerkraut last in the refrigerator?

As long as it’s kept submerged under brine, homemade sauerkraut will last between four and six months in the fridge. Keep in mind that any bad bacteria that comes in contact with it will spoil it, so always use clean, unused utensils when you’re taking out some kraut to eat, and seal it and place it back in the fridge as soon as possible.

🪄 Troubleshooting sauerkraut

What if there isn’t enough brine to cover the vegetables?

If there isn’t much liquid coming out of the vegetables, firstly taste them. The raw sauerkraut should taste pleasantly salty. If it doesn’t taste like there’s enough salt, mix in a little extra salt. On the other hand, if it tastes like there’s too much salt you can add in some extra vegetables. Then, cover the mixing bowl with a clean tea towel and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. After that, you should see some liquid gathering at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
When you’ve packed the sauerkraut into the crock and there still isn’t enough brine to cover everything, you can add leftover brine from a previous batch of sauerkraut, or some lemon juice to top it off.

What if it smells pretty funky?

Sauerkraut is supposed to smell a little like vinegar and tangy. It may even smell yeasty as it is wild yeasts that help to ferment the vegetables. It shouldn’t be a bad smell. If you think it smells off, throw it away or check inside for mold or discoloration.

What should I do if my sauerkraut has changed color?

Making sauerkraut usually turns the cabbage (and other ingredients) slightly translucent. This is normal and good! Some mold can even be okay if it’s just sitting on the top and can easily be removed, particularly grey or greenish mold. If the mold is pink, orange, or black, this is unsafe and it’s best to throw it away.

What kind of crock do I need?

We make our homemade sauerkraut in a fermentation crock. We like to use a water-sealed crock because the good bacteria are less likely to be disturbed by bad bacteria which can ruin the food. The capacity of our stoneware crock is 3 liters with is just shy of 1 gallon (0.8gal). With the crock, you will need something to weigh the sauerkraut down.

What are fermentation weights? What can I use instead?

Our crock came with weights. They look like two crescent moons that fit easily into the pot. Some like to use a jar filled with water that just fits into the crock to weigh the sauerkraut down. An 8-ounce jar is great for this. However, the drawback is that the brine on top is exposed to the air and may also be exposed to bad bacteria.

Fermentation crock and weights on a white table with a white cloth.

❓ Can you cook sauerkraut?

Yes, sauerkraut tastes amazing when it’s cooked! It’s one of our favorite side dishes. If you’re not too keen on the sour taste you can add a little brown sugar or apple juice to even out the flavors a little. Check out these 4 Easy Ways to Cook Sauerkraut. You can make it on the stovetop, air fryer, instant pot, and even make slow cooker sauerkraut. It has such great flavor no matter what cooking method you decide!

🍽️ What can I serve with with this tangy sauerkraut dish?

We often have it as a snack on its own, but sauerkraut also tastes amazing when it’s cooked or raw as a side dish! It’s even a traditional dish for good luck on new year’s day. The traditional meal is served with some tender pork and a side of mashed potatoes. Keep in mind that cooking sauerkraut will kill off some of the beneficial bacteria, however, it’s still very healthy and tastes great! Here are our go-to recipe ideas for sauerkraut:

Sauerkraut in a small white bowl next to a crock with its lid off, a jar of sauerkraut, and fermentation weights.

😋 More recipes you will love

Have you made this recipe? I’d love to know <3 Tag me (@makehealthyrecipes) on Facebook and InstagramPin it on Pinterest, and please give it 5 stars with a review below! Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list (top right of this page) for sparkly new recipes in your inbox.

📖 Recipe

Sauerkraut in a brown crock next to a lid and weights on a white table.

How to make Sauerkraut in a Crock

Bethany Galloway
Loaded with good bacteria and tang, learning how to make sauerkraut in a crock is so easy! Perfect for a snack or side dish, this easy recipe promotes good gut health and tastes delicious. Perfect for beginners!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 days
Total Time 4 days 20 minutes
Course Healthy Gut
Cuisine German
Servings 32 servings
Calories 12 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 head of cabbage white or red
  • 1 large carrot optional
  • 1/2 red onion red, white, or yellow (optional)
  • 1/2 apple green or red (optional)
  • 1.5-2 tablespoons of sea salt ground or coarse

Instructions
 

  • Begin by making sure your sauerkraut crock is clean and dry. No need to sanitize it, just wash it clean with hot, soapy water.
  • Next, Prepare the veggies. Remove the coarse outer leaves, and save two unblemished leaves from the cabbage head. Remove the thick core, then shred the cabbage in thin slices (as thinly as possible), grate the carrot and apple (on the largest shredding side of the grater), and thinly slice the onion.
    Thinly slicing a cabbage with a knife on a wooden chopping board.
  • Add the shredded cabbage, carrot, apple, and onion to a large mixing bowl along with the salt, and mix everything together with your hands. If you'd like to add in extra herbs or spices, now is the time!
    Hand mixing ingredients in a clear mixing bowl.
  • Gently squeeze and massage the vegetables and fruit. After about 10 minutes of massaging there should be liquid pooling at the bottom of the mixing bowl. See note 1 if there isn't enough liquid (brine).
    Vegetables in a clear mixing bowl with hand pulling some back showing liquid gathering at the bottom.
  • Taste it to see how salty it is. It should be pleasantly salty but not overwhelming. If it's too salty add more vegetables, not salty enough, add more salt.
  • Next, pack the crock pot with the sauerkraut. Add in a little at a time, pushing it down firmly so that the liquid comes to the top above the cabbage. We like to use our crock weights that came with the crock to help push it down. See note 2 if you don't have fermentation weights.
    Hand pushing sauerkraut down in a crock.
  • When all of the sauerkraut has been added in, top it with the two saved cabbage leaves from earlier, followed by the weights.
    Cabbage leaves and weights on top of sauerkraut in a crock.
  • Seal the crock with its lid.
  • Place it in a place that's easy to access but won't be disturbed. We use a shelf in our kitchen.
  • If it's a water-sealed crock, add the water after you've set it where it's going to stay.
    Adding water to the water seal on a fermentation crock.
  • Allow the sauerkraut to sit for 4 days before tasting it. This allows all of the beneficial bacteria to work their magic.
  • It takes between 4-14 days for the fermented cabbage to be ready to eat. This number depends on your personal taste and also the temperature of the room. If it's a cool place, it will take longer to ferment. With that in mind, it may take longer in winter than in summer if the temperature inside fluctuates throughout the year as ours does. We recommend tasting a little every day to see if you like the flavor.

Notes

  1. Not enough liquid (brine): If there isn't much liquid coming out of the vegetables, firstly taste them. The raw sauerkraut should taste pleasantly salty. If it doesn't taste like there's enough salt, mix in a little extra salt. On the other hand, if it tastes like there's too much salt you can add in some extra vegetables. Then, cover the mixing bowl with a clean tea towel and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. After that, you should see some liquid gathering at the bottom of the mixing bowl. When you've packed the sauerkraut into the crock and there still isn't enough brine to cover everything, you can add leftover brine from a previous batch of sauerkraut, or some lemon juice to top it off.
  2. Fermentation weights: Our crock came with weights. They look like two crescent moons that fit easily into the pot. Some like to use a jar filled with water that just fits into the crock to weigh the sauerkraut down. An 8-ounce jar is great for this. However, the drawback is that the brine on top is exposed to the air and may also be exposed to bad bacteria.
  3. Other ingredients to add to enhance the flavor: We love adding 0.5-1 tablespoon of:
  • Caraway seeds
  • Juniper berries
  • Black Pepper (peppercorns or ground)
  • Lemon
  • Dill
  • Bay leaves
  • Smoked salt (replace half of the regular salt with this)

Storage Instrictions

When this classic dish has finished fermenting, place sauerkraut in an airtight container like a mason jar in the fridge. Push it down in the jar as much as possible, and make sure it stays submerged in the brine so that it doesn't go off. Sauerkraut will last between 4-6 months if it's kept properly.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 12kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 1gSodium: 401mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2g
Keyword crock, easy, fermentation, fermentation jar, fermentation pot, good bacteria, gut health, homemade sauerkraut
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe. It’s so rewarding to ferment food at home rather than buying from the store, and I think it tastes better too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating