For a flavorful and satisfying dish that can be prepared quickly and easily, this comforting Skillet Kielbasa and Sauerkraut nails it. It is a perfect option for those busy weeknights when you want a delicious, easy dinner without spending hours in the kitchen.
This recipe combines the smoky and savory flavors of Polish sausage with the tanginess of sauerkraut, creating a mouthwatering combination that will leave you craving for more.
The great thing about this recipe, is that with just a few simple ingredients and minimal preparation, you can whip up this hearty skillet meal in no time. Whether you're cooking for yourself or feeding a hungry family, this easy kielbasa sausage with kraut recipe is a keeper.
Why Make Skillet Kielbasa and Sauerkraut
- It's a time-saving dish: The beauty of this kielbasa recipe lies in its quick cooking time. In just 30 minutes, you can have a delicious and satisfying meal on the table. Perfect for those days when you're short on time but still want a home-cooked meal.
- Economical meal: All of the ingredients are inexpensive.
- Hearty and filling: This classic comfort food dish is satisfying without adding extra side dishes or starters.
- Minimal ingredients and preparation: You don't need a long list of ingredients or to spend hours prepping for this simple recipe. All you need is a few staple items from your pantry.
While skillet kielbasa and sauerkraut is a complete meal, you can also add simple side dishes. A traditional German side dish that is one of our favorites is Spaetzle. You can find packages of these dried German noodles in your grocery store, often where packaged rice is displayed.
More sides that work well with Polish sausage and kraut are boiled potatoes, roasted baby potatoes, or these easy air fryer baked potatoes. Sauteed green beans is also a great accompaniment and cooks up just as quickly. You may even want to serve it with rye bread or a crusty bread to mop up the flavorful juices.
- Smoked Kielbasa: Smoked sausage is a flavorful and fully cooked sausage that adds a smoky and savory taste to the dish. Its robust flavor complements the tanginess of sauerkraut, creating a delicious combination.
- Butter: Butter adds richness and depth to this dish. It is ideal for browning both the onions and Polish sausages. If you must, you can use a vegetable oil but with less flavorful results. I do not recommend using olive oil as it imparts an uncomplimentary flavor.
- Onion (Yellow): Chopped yellow onion brings a hint of sweetness and mild onion flavor to the skillet. As it cooks alongside the kielbasa and sauerkraut, it softens and caramelizes, imparting a subtle sweetness and enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
- Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is the star ingredient of this recipe, providing a tangy and slightly sour taste. Its acidity helps balance the richness of the kielbasa. The amount of sauerkraut you use can vary. But, start with the recommended 32 ounces when you begin.
- Brown Sugar (Packed): The sweetness of the brown sugar counterbalances the tanginess of the sauerkraut. It helps create a perfect balance of flavors in the skillet, enhancing the overall taste of the dish and adding a subtle caramel-like note.
- Caraway Seeds: Caraway seeds have a slightly nutty and earthy taste, which complements the other ingredients and adds depth to the dish. The seeds also provide a pleasant texture, making each bite more interesting. Caraway seeds are typical for a Bavarian style kraut.
Exact measurements of these ingredients is included in the recipe card.
- Bacon Grease: In place of the butter, use bacon grease for a richer, smokier flavor. Choose butter for a milder taste or bacon grease for a more pronounced flavor. Both add nicer flavor than cooking oils.
- Apple Slices: Adds a touch of sweetness and a nice flavor by incorporating thinly sliced apples into the dish. Granny Smith apples work the best. The natural sweetness of the apples provides a pleasant contrast to the tangy sauerkraut. You can also add a splash of apple juice if you like.
- Mustard Seeds: Introduce a subtle tang and texture by incorporating mustard seeds into the recipe. The seeds provide a delightful pop of flavor and a slight crunch, enhancing the overall taste experience and adding a unique twist to the traditional kielbasa and sauerkraut combination.
- Smoky Paprika: Enhance the smoky flavor profile by adding a generous sprinkle of smoky paprika to the dish. The smokiness of the paprika complements the sauerkraut and adds an extra layer of depth to the overall taste, giving it a deliciously bold and aromatic twist.
- Beer Braised Sauerkraut: Instead of using plain sauerkraut, simmer it in your favorite beer before adding it to the skillet. The beer imparts a unique flavor and subtle bitterness that pairs exceptionally well with the smoky kielbasa.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Add a tablespoon or two for a sweet acidic ingredient for a tangy twist.
- Adjust cooking time: You can adjust the cooking time of the sauerkraut to achieve a softer or crunchier texture. As long as the sausage is cooked through and the flavors have melded, you can make incremental changes to the simmering time.
How To Make It
- Slice kielbasa into 5 sections. This makes the number of servings in addition to being easier to handle.
- Grab a large skillet (I like to use cast iron) and place it over medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it heat up until it starts to bubble.
- Now, it's time to add the kielbasa to the skillet. Cook it for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning it often, until it gets a nice light brown color. This will give it a delicious caramelized flavor. Once done, transfer the sausage to a plate and set it aside.
- Using the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium. Toss in the chopped onion and let it cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir the onions often and scrape up any tasty browned bits that may have stuck to the skillet. You want the onion to become translucent and slightly golden brown.
- Next, add in the sauerkraut, brown sugar, and caraway seeds to the skillet with the cooked onion. Give it a good mix, making sure all the ingredients are well combined.
- Take those cooked kielbasa sections that you set aside earlier and add them back to the skillet with the sauerkraut mixture. Nestle the kielbasa sections into the sauerkraut. Let everything cook over low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the flavors meld together, and the sausage is hot and ready to go.
- Taste test the sauerkraut and kielbasa. If you prefer, season the dish with a sprinkle of pepper to enhance the flavors even more. Adjust according to your taste preferences.
- Serve up this delicious skillet kielbasa and sauerkraut with some condiments on the side. A classic Dijon mustard is perfect for adding an extra kick of flavor.
- Don't skip browning the kielbasa: Taking the time to brown the kielbasa adds a depth of flavor and creates a delicious caramelized exterior. It's worth the extra effort.
- Adjust the sweetness: The amount of brown sugar can be adjusted according to your preference. Taste as your go and add more or less sugar for your preferred balance of flavor.
- Experiment with different sauerkraut varieties: While traditional sauerkraut works wonderfully in this recipe, feel free to try different flavors and variations. One of my favorites is Bavarian-style sauerkraut.
- Get creative with condiments: Consider offering stone ground mustard, horseradish, or even a dollop of sour cream on the side.
- Use high-quality smoked kielbasa: Opt for a high-quality smoked kielbasa. Johnsonville or Hillshire Farm® Polska Kielbasa are two of my favorites. But, I also like to try varieties created by local meat markets.
Leftover kielbasa can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days. They should be cooled down to room temperature. Then, store leftovers in an airtight container. Leftovers Refrigerate them within 2 hours of removing from the heat to prevent bacterial growth.
Divide leftovers into smaller serving portions. If you have a large batch of leftovers, consider dividing them into smaller, individual-sized portions before storing. This allows for easier reheating and reduces the risk of contamination when reheating only a portion at a time.
To reheat leftover kielbasa and sauerkraut, place them in a skillet and cook until warmed through. You can also reheat them in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Kielbasa and sauerkraut pair well with various side dishes such as mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, crusty bread, mustard, and pickles.
Kielbasa complements several accompaniments, including sauerkraut, mustard, onions, peppers, red potatoes, cabbage, or even in a hearty sandwich or wrap.
Kielbasa can be enjoyed in several ways, such as grilling, pan-frying, boiling, braising, or roasting. It can be served as a standalone sausage, served in a hoagie roll, or added to various recipes like stews, potato casseroles, or skillet dishes.
Traditionally, kielbasa is often simmered or boiled in water, chicken broth, or beer until fully cooked. It can then be pan-fried, grilled, or baked to enhance the flavors and add a crispy texture.
It is not necessary to remove the casing from kielbasa before cooking. The casing helps retain the sausage's shape and flavors during the cooking process. If you plan to feed the polish sausage to a child or someone who has difficulty masticating, then by all means remove the sausage.
No. It is not recommended to poke holes in kielbasa before cooking. Unlike some sausages, kielbasa does not require venting as it is fully cooked or cured. Poking holes may cause the juices to escape and result in drier sausage or unnecessary spattering during cooking.
When pan-frying it is often unnecessary to add oil as the sausage itself contains fat that renders during cooking. However, a small amount of oil, butter, or bacon grease can be used, if desired.
Boiling kielbasa before frying is a traditional method that helps ensure the uncured sausage is fully cooked. For smoked kielbasa which is already cooked, boiling is not necessary. You can directly pan-fry fully cooked kielbasa if desired.
To pan fry fully cooked kielbasa, preheat a skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of butter, bacon grease, or oil if desired. Place the sliced kielbasa in the skillet and cook for a few minutes on each side until browned and heated through. Adjust cooking time based on personal preference for crispiness.
Sauerkraut and Kielbasa Recipe (One Pan 30 Minutes)
- 1 ring smoked kielbasa 14 ounces
- 3 tablespoons butter or bacon grease
- 1 large onion diced
- 32 ounces sauerkraut
- 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Cut the kielbasa into 5 sections. In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, add the butter and heat until bubbling. Add the the kielbasa and cook, turning often, 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer the sausage to a plate and set aside.
- To the same skillet over medium heat, add the diced onion and cook, stirring often and scraping up any browned bits, 5 to 7 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Stir in the sauerkraut, brown sugar and caraway seeds, mixing well.
- Add the kielbasa to the sauerkraut mixture and nestle the kielbasa sections into the sauerkraut. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until the flavors are melded and the sausage is hot. Season to taste with pepper.
- Serve with condiments such as stone ground mustard on the side.