Croatian Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a Croatian tradition. My Grandma made this sauerkraut recipe at almost every family event we had. We would sit down at the table and share stories while enjoying the delicious feast in front of us. Food brings people together. My Mom continues to make Croatian Sauerkraut every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and holiday fiesta. The addition of the tomato sauce makes Croatian Sauerkraut exciting and unique when compared to other sauerkrauts you would typically find on a hot dog, sausage, or restaurant menu. Tomatoes are so abundant in Croatia. They seem to pop into many recipes while adding a plethora of flavor and health benefits. Both tomatoes and cabbage are great sources of vitamin C and contain amazing antioxidants for anti-inflammatory benefits which protect the heart and may prevent cancer. Sauerkraut is also awesome for gut health due to the probiotics found in the fermented cabbage.

Croatian sauerkraut is a perfect vegetable side dish for your meal with its savory flavor. Every time we have this dish, I instantly get transported to comfort-food heaven. I know you will enjoy it as much as I do. Pair the sauerkraut with your favorite protein and mashed potatoes for a complete meal. Click HERE for a healthy and creamy mashed potato recipe.

4.7 from 9 reviews
Croatian Sauerkraut
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Croatian
Serves: 12
  • 1 32-oz Jar of Sauerkraut
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp loose chicken or vegetable bouillon
  • 1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • ½ lb. bacon
  • ½ cup Water
  • Pepper to taste

  1. Heat the oven to 375° Bake.

  2. Rinse sauerkraut in cold water.

  3. Set aside. Meanwhile, cover a cooking sheet with tinfoil for easy clean-up. Put the bacon on the sheet and cook for 15 minutes.

  4. Over medium heat, spray a pot with cooking spray. Cook the onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes until translucent and slightly browning.

  5. Add washed sauerkraut. Sprinkle loose chicken bouillon and mix with sauerkraut, turning it over until it changes color. Add tomato sauce. Add water. Remove the bacon from the oven and add 1 Tbsp of the bacon fat to the sauerkraut. Chop the bacon into little pieces and mix in the sauerkraut.

  6. Cover and steam slowly for 1 hour over low heat. Stir occasionally.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup Calories: 121.7 Fat: 8.1 Saturated fat: 2.7 Carbohydrates: 5.9 Sugar: 1.6 Fiber: 3.2 Protein: 5.9 Cholesterol: 20.3

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  1. Mick Repanich November 19, 2018 at 8:57 am - Reply

    I make this dish using link sausages frying in the pan with the onion and garlic. I like to simmer for 6-8 hours over low heat. The flavors blend together the longer you simmer. The dish is even better the next day.

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN November 20, 2018 at 7:10 am - Reply

      So true! And I love your tips. Eating sauerkraut, stews, soups and other types of casseroles are always better the next day when the flavors blend together. And great adjustment with the sausage. Delish!

    • Peter March 20, 2023 at 3:40 am - Reply

      I can’t wait to make this tomorrow. Thank you so much.

      • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN March 23, 2023 at 11:35 am - Reply

        It’s going to be a delicious meal! Enjoy!

  2. Mick Repanich November 19, 2018 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Addition to my last comment. I also add about a 1/4 teaspoon of allspice. This give the dish a unique flavor that is repeated in other Dalmation food.

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN November 20, 2018 at 7:10 am - Reply

      Love it!

    • Mary Kay Stuvland November 5, 2023 at 1:09 pm - Reply

      My grandmother, who was from Vis island, and then my mother afterwards made similar sauerkraut for every festive occasion from my earliest memory. They also used Polish-type sausage, but typically did not use tomatoes or tomato sauce. A lot of finely chopped parsley disappeared into the meld with the chopped garlic cloves and added to the flavor profile, and the spice used was nutmeg. I’ve brought this dish to all friends holiday tables and they always enjoyit at my house. The grown children of my friends now make it for their own holiday meals.

      • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN November 7, 2023 at 5:55 am - Reply

        That is so wonderful. My one Grandma was from Vis, too! This specific recipe was from my other Grandma from Hvar/Molunat. Your version sounds lovely too. The dish is well-received by others. It has so much flavor. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Mare November 20, 2018 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    My Croatian mom used to make this for holidays too but she passed away when I was little with nothing written down. Your recipe is so close to tasting like what she made. 2 things I altered: like the previous commenter, she used fresh polish sausage. There was also caraway. I put a tablespoon in with the onions and garlic. Perfect! I’m going to try it with bacon like your recipe calls for next time. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN November 22, 2018 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      I love this! Family recipes are so awesome. Such a bummer you didn’t get to write it down. But I’m glad my family’s version is so similar. Polish sausage sounds divine! I’ll have to try that with the caraway seeds. Yum. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Louise December 3, 2018 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Could this be made in a crockpot?

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN December 4, 2018 at 7:08 am - Reply

      I’m sure it could. But you would still want to cook the onion and garlic on the stove. Then transfer to a crockpot and mix in the other ingredients. Maybe try cook for 3-4 hours on low? I have never tried it. But it could work.

  5. Kristi April 28, 2019 at 12:08 am - Reply

    So my great grandma made this, but she used chicken broth, tomato paste, and only lard no bacon or sausage. The rest of the recipe is the same. She moved to America when she was in her late teens. Maybe some things were too expensive like bacon, but it was never made with any meat. So interesting to used the bacon! I may try it! Thank you, when I make it, it brings back good memories!

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN April 29, 2019 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      Aaahh! I love that! It’s funny how nowadays lard is so expensive and bacon is cheaper. Maybe that’s why my Grandma used bacon instead of lard? Thanks for sharing!

  6. Lora May 7, 2020 at 11:42 am - Reply

    I learned this dish from my Croatian fiance. He used any left-over meat and bacon fat and tomato paste instead of sauce. It’s probably like cooking chili in that everyone has their own twist to the recipe.

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN May 8, 2020 at 1:31 am - Reply

      Yes! Sounds like a wonderful version. My family in Croatia adds ground lamb to theirs, too. But when my grandma moved to the states, they just used bacon. It’s so delicious.

  7. George bacich June 27, 2020 at 7:35 am - Reply

    I guess my mom couldn’t get polish sausage, she used hot dogs

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN July 1, 2020 at 9:28 am - Reply

      Either one works! Little modifications like that make recipes unique, customized, and tasty.

    • DS November 28, 2020 at 10:24 am - Reply

      My mom used hot dogs, also. But I don’t like hot dogs, so I’m excited to try it with bacon!

      • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN December 2, 2020 at 1:10 am - Reply

        Oh yes. You’ll love it with bacon. My mom has made it with polish sausages and kielbasa before too. It’s good. But I also prefer the bacon over the sausages. Let me know how it goes.

  8. Dianne Sandland December 5, 2020 at 6:05 am - Reply

    Going to layer it in a crock pot with pork chops and cook on low all day.

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN December 8, 2020 at 12:13 am - Reply

      Ooohhh! That sounds amazing! Let me know how it goes!

      • Diane Kovic January 1, 2021 at 5:25 am - Reply

        Thank you so much! My family is Croatian also.
        My story is much like Mare’s. My Uncle Vinny made this and I always loved it. He passed and I never had the recipe.
        So happy to have found this!❤️

        • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN January 2, 2021 at 9:20 pm - Reply

          Love it! Yes- my grandma made this every holiday and big family gathering. So glad to share it with you. ❤️

  9. Nicole Goodricj December 19, 2020 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    My grandma used to make stuffed peppers and kapusta. She would stuff the peppers with ground pork, beef and lamb , rice and egg. and the poor the kapusta , no bacon over the top and the whole thing would bake together. It is my most favorite meal. I am the one in the family that makes it now.

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN January 2, 2021 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      Aaahhh! I love that dish! It sounds so good. Stuffed peppers are amazing. And I love lamb so much. So yummy.

  10. carrie October 29, 2022 at 9:23 am - Reply

    I make this all the time but would now like to make a big batch. How long will this keep in the fridge?

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN November 2, 2022 at 8:44 am - Reply

      It should be OK for about 3 days in the fridge. You can also make a big batch and freeze it so you can pull it out as needed. If freezing it, you can put it into smaller containers so you just pull out what you want to reheat. Batch cooking is great for convenience!

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  12. Monica January 3, 2023 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    I grew up eating this. My mom would say this is how her grandma made it and she was from Croatia. My husband is Slovak and loves this dish. We have a huge new years day gathering and this is the premiere dish. I make it in a roaster starting at 5pm new years eve.

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN January 5, 2023 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      I love this story! It’s so beautiful. Glad you continue with your family traditions. XO!

  13. Jeff Gilligan February 11, 2024 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    My mom’s parents were from Podstrana kod Split. She would make it with pork (usually ribs), tomato sauce, garlic, onions, and a bit of brown sugar and dill weed.

    • Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN February 14, 2024 at 11:00 am - Reply

      It sounds so tasty and flavorful. Pork Ribs are a wonderful addition.

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