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Sauerkraut Balls: a must-have appetizer for your Oktoberfest party

Total time: 30 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 12 people
By Cookist

Fried sauerkraut balls are one of the classic German beer garden appetizers that no Oktoberfest party can do without. Very popular in Ohio too since the 1950s, these mouthwatering bite-sized appetizers are super easy to make. They have a beautifully crispy golden brown exterior surrounding a savory, soft filling made from bratwurst, onion, cream cheese, sauerkraut, herbs, and spices.

Deep-fried sauerkraut balls are an amazing finger food to serve when you're hosting friends on game day. Serve them with mustard dips and wash them down with a crisp pilsner for the ultimate German beer garden experience in the comfort of your own home. You can even bake these appetizers if you want to make them healthier.

Sauerkraut Ball Ingredients

To make the best sauerkraut balls, there are several essential ingredients you'll have to pick up.

You'll need a few bratwurst links, an onion, sauerkraut, fresh parsley, and cream cheese for the balls themselves. The cream cheese gives the sauerkraut balls a luxurious texture, while the bratwurst and onion pack these delicious appetizers with savory flavor.

Don't forget a dash of garlic powder, salt, and pepper for seasoning!

For the batter, you'll need flour for rolling the sauerkraut balls, then egg and beer for dipping them.

You'll also need panko to give the outside of the balls that irresistible crispy, crunchy texture.

Finally, use a high smoke point oil for deep frying your sauerkraut balls. Sunflower, grapeseed, safflower, and vegetable oil are all fantastic options.

How to Make Sauerkraut Balls

No matter what the occasion is, making sauerkraut balls is a breeze. Start sautéeing the bratwurst in pan over medium heat. Add in the onions, and break up any larger sausage pieces with a spatula. Continue sautéing until the bratwurst is cooked through and the onions are soft. Take the pan off the heat and let the mixture cool.

Once cooled, put the bratwurst and onion mixture into a large bowl with the sauerkraut, breadcrumbs, parsley, cream cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix it well, then shape the mixture into golf ball-sized balls. Put your sauerkraut balls onto a parchment-lined baking tray, then pop the tray in the fridge for half an hour.

While the balls are chilling, whisk eggs and beer in a shallow bowl. In a second bowl, pour flour. Grab a third bowl and pour in the panko. Heat oil to 350F in a Dutch oven. Roll the balls through the flour, followed by the egg mixture, then the panko.

Deep fry a few of the sauerkraut balls at a time – you don't want to overcrowd the pot. Fry them until golden brown. Take them out with a slotted spoon and leave them to drain on paper towels. Serve warm with mustard, and enjoy!


Can You Bake Sauerkraut Balls?

Absolutely! For a healthier version of this recipe, you can bake your sauerkraut balls. After breading them, put the sauerkraut balls on a parchment-lined baking tray and bake them at 375F for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Tips for Making the Best Sauerkraut Balls

Use a light, crisp pilsner or lager to make your sauerkraut balls. Marzen, stout, and citrus IPAs are other good options if you're not keen on lager.

If you'd rather not use beer, you can substitute it for milk or water.

You might need a little extra panko to completely coat the sauerkraut balls.

Looking to make vegetarian sauerkraut balls? Use vegetarian sausages instead of bratwurst. Another alternative is to use boiled and grated potatoes. If you do, don't forget to add a little extra flavor with a dash of ground caraway or cumin.

Don't overcrowd the Dutch oven when frying the sauerkraut balls. Overcrowding will lead to soggy, unevenly cooked sauerkraut balls.

What to Serve with German Sauerkraut Balls

In German beer gardens, the classic dips for sauerkraut balls are Bavarian whole grain mustard, Dijon mustard, or honey mustard. They'd also taste fabulous with a Bavarian beer cheese dip. Other delicious options are hot sauce, ranch dressing, or a creamy mustard dressing.

How to Store and Reheat Sauerkraut Balls

Let the fried sauerkraut balls cool down, then pop them in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to 2 days. To reheat them, bake them at 350F for 15 minutes or until they crisp up again.

Can You Freeze Sauerkraut Balls?

Absolutely! You can make and freeze your sauerkraut balls ahead of time, so you have them whenever you'd like. After breading the balls, put them in a freezer-safe container and store them for up to 3 months.

Once you're ready to cook the sauerkraut balls, you can fry the frozen balls directly in the oil – no need to thaw. For baked sauerkraut balls, heat your oven to 425F. Once the balls are in, reduce the heat to 375F and cook them for 25 minutes.


uncooked bratwurst, casing removed
1/2 lb
yellow onion, diced
sauerkraut, drained
1 1/2 cups
2 tbsp
fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp
Cream Cheese
3 tbsp
Garlic powder
1 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp
large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup
panko, plus extra
1 cup
Oil for frying


Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.

Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add in bratwurst and sauté, breaking the links up into smaller pieces. Stir in the onion. Sauté until the onions are soft and the bratwurst is cooked through. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, cream cheese, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and bratwurst-onion mixture in a large bowl.

Add in sauerkraut, then mix well.

Shape the mixture into golf ball-sized balls.

Set on the prepared tray, then place in the fridge for 30 minutes. While the balls are chilling, whisk eggs with the beer in a shallow bowl. Set aside. Pour flour into a second shallow bowl. In a third bowl, pour in the panko.

Pour cooking oil into a Dutch oven. Heat to 350F. Roll the balls through the flour.

Dip them into the egg.

Then roll the balls into the panko.

Working in batches, fry a few balls at a time until golden brown, then remove them with a slotted spoon.

Let them drain on paper towels.

Serve with desired dipping sauces. Enjoy!

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