Beer and Brown Sugar Kielbasa & Sauerkraut

Two major disclaimers right off the bat:

#1: I have never been a fan of kielbasa.
#2: I am even less of a fan of sauerkraut.

Yet, I am hopelessly in love with this recipe. It doesn’t make logical sense. And yet, the stars somehow aligned. Could it be that beer and brown sugar make all the difference? Given the magical powers of both, it’s certainly possible. Back on the 4th of July, my Chief Culinary Consultant and I went to his friend’s house for a cookout. He mentioned there was kielbasa and sauerkraut (which I typically pass right over), and as a footnote said that they were cooked in beer and brown sugar. My ears shot up faster than a dog who hears a bread bag being rustled (or a peanut butter jar open, or a banana being peeled. Okay, my dog is weird!). I had to try it, even though I still kind of thought I wouldn’t really be crazy about it. Forget being crazy about it, or even liking it, I loved it. Afterward, I was sorry that I had filled up on so many side dishes because I was dying for another sandwich but was too full.

Over the last few months we reminisced about how great those kielbasa sandwiches were and how we needed to get the recipe from his friend. Finally last weekend we scored the recipe, and within hours had it simmering away in the crock-pot. This recipe honestly couldn’t be any easier to make – less than 10 minutes to get everything into your slow cooker, and then let it do the work. As with most things like this, the longer you let it cook the better it will taste. The kielbasa becomes so tender that it melts in your mouth, and the sauerkraut takes on a sweet flavor – delicious! If you’re a kielbasa and/or sauerkraut-averse person, take it from one of your brethren – you NEED to give this a shot!

This is perfect for football game days, and even for late Oktoberfest celebrations. Enjoy!

One year ago: The Baked Brownie
Two years ago: Black Bean Mushroom Burgers
Three years ago:  Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake
Four years ago: Sweet Dinner Rolls

Beer and Brown Sugar Kielbasa & Sauerkraut

Yield: About 10 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 4 to 10 hours

Total Time: 4 to 10 hours

Ingredients:

12 ounces beer (can or bottle)
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
3 pounds polish kielbasa
1 bag (or jar) sauerkraut (32 ounces), drained

Directions:

1. Combine the beer and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar melts and the mixture is slightly thickened; set aside.

2. Cut the kielbasa into links and place in a slow cooker. Cover with the drained sauerkraut. Pour the beer and brown sugar mixture over top. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, or on low for 8 to 10 hours. (We ended up doing a combination - high for 3 hours and then low for another 3 or so. Definitely the longer it cooks the better it tastes!)

3. Serve on its own or on your favorite sandwich roll.

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159 Responses to “Beer and Brown Sugar Kielbasa & Sauerkraut”

Comment Pages 1 2 3
  1. Stephanie @ The Brunette Foodie on October 14, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Michelle, these sound wonderful for the football season. I LOVE sauerkraut, and my husband loves kielbasa…so together we should be able to enjoy these easily!

    Reply

  2. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on October 14, 2011 at 6:24 am

    I actually love the combination of kielbasa and saurkraut but this sounds even better with the brown sugar kielbasa for balance!

    Reply

  3. Choc Chip Uru on October 14, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Dad is a big fan of all these components – he was practically drooling and I can’t wait to make it :)

    Reply

  4. A Kitchen Muse on October 14, 2011 at 7:18 am

    I love Kielbasa! Hubby has a poker night coming up and I know what I’m making for it! I’m drooling.

    Reply

  5. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on October 14, 2011 at 7:21 am

    I don’t like Kielbasa, but this looks hella good! My Hubby would love it! Maybe I’ll give it another shot?

    Reply

  6. Carrie@ Bakeaholic Mama on October 14, 2011 at 8:07 am

    OH MY GOD! I’m freaking out a little over how good that looks. I need to make it asap. I’m being good this week watching my calories and I’m hungry! I’m going to fall of the wagon thanks a bunch! ;)

    Reply

  7. Penny Wolf on October 14, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Taste buds change especially with good recipes.

    Reply

  8. Kerri on October 14, 2011 at 9:01 am

    This looks amazing!! I love crockpot recipes, too. I made something similar to this with turkey kielbasa a few months ago and it was a huge fail – the kielbasa was mushy. It was one of the few times my family and I had to actually throw a meal out and eat cereal out of desparation. I’m assuming the “mushiness” was due to the fact that it was turkey kielbasa. I’m anxious to try this one and redeem myself. :)

    Reply

    • Vicky on October 10th, 2014 at 12:56 pm

      Kerri, this is very late, but I think your sausage was over cooked, and that is why it was mushy.

      Reply

  9. Kristy on October 14, 2011 at 9:13 am

    There’s no other way to eat sauerkraut than with brown sugar!!

    Reply

  10. Carrots & Cream on October 14, 2011 at 9:27 am

    OMGeeee that looks amazing. You really can’t go wrong with a great sausage. I was never a big fan of Kielbasa…but I think I will agree with you and say that I would probably love it like this.

    Reply

  11. CathyN on October 14, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I can’t wait to try this! Question though, if I can’t find bagged sauerkraut, could I substitute well drained canned? We love the Bavarian style sauerkraut.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 15th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Cathy, Yes, you can use drained, canned (jarred would be even better).

      Reply

      • margot on October 15th, 2011 at 4:19 pm

        How big is a bag of sauerkraut in case we do have to substitute caneed or jarred sauerkraut?

        Reply

        • Michelle on October 16th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

          Sorry, I forgot to include the size, I will edit it that now. It was 32 ounces.

          Reply

  12. Lori on October 14, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I can’t wait to give this a try. I might do this over the weekend while I’m cleaning up around the house. If this works out I might make it for the crew races. Thanks for posting.

    Reply

  13. Tracy on October 14, 2011 at 10:13 am

    The Polish girl in me is swooning over this recipe. I can’t wait to try it!!

    Reply

  14. Michelle on October 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Really??? Brown sugar & sauerkraut?? Sounds interesting . . . sweet sauerkraut . . . but it looks delicious and I am willing to give it a try. My family likes sauerkraut, well, “sour”, so I hope this will be a winner with them as well.

    As to your dog, Michelle, I find it so funny that our dog has the same food fettishes ;) bread, peanut butter, bananas – all among her most favorite! She’s a known carbaholic, and will steal bread left on the counter to get a fix :) I’m so glad to know she’s normal! hahaha!!

    Reply

  15. amanda @ fake ginger on October 14, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Ooooh, I cannot wait for an excuse to make this! I love kielbasa and sauerkraut so I can only imagine how tasty it becomes with beer and brown sugar!

    Reply

  16. Chantal on October 14, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Oh… this looks yummy and PERFECT for fall! :)

    QUESTION: I’m not sure that we have sauerkraut in a bag here, so I may need to substitute with jarred. How many grams are in the bag that you use?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 16th, 2011 at 12:49 pm

      Hi Chantal, The bag was 32 ounces.

      Reply

  17. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on October 14, 2011 at 11:24 am

    This is a very interesting recipe… I will have to give it a try! I do happen to like sauerkraut already, so I’m sure I’ll love it. In fact, my mom and I are planning on making some homemade sauerkraut tomorrow, so I will bookmark this one for when it’s finally ready to eat!!

    Reply

    • zack on November 1st, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Do you use fresh or smoked??

      Reply

  18. Amber Martin on October 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Wow, that sounds awesome! I just tried sauerkraut for the first time a few weeks ago and was surprised that I actually liked it. Adding brown sugar and beer I am sure would take it to the next level of deliciousness. I think it would be excellent for a cold football weekend when I just can’t force myself to get out of the house! Thanks!

    Reply

  19. Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) on October 14, 2011 at 11:41 am

    That looks SO delicious! I love sauerkraut and kielbasa so I’d love this.

    Reply

  20. Charlie on October 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Michelle:

    These sound so good but I can’t have beer.

    Any suggestions for substitutes?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 15th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      Hi Charlie, What about a non-alcoholic beer? If not then I might try something like ginger ale, although the flavor will be very different.

      Reply

      • Charlie on October 15th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

        Hi Michelle: Thanks for the suggestion.

        Reply

  21. Amanda on October 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I’m wondering if it matters if I use a dark or light beer. I’m not sure which would be better!
    I’m also without a slow-cooker at the moment…pondering if I could make this work in my dutch oven by either simmering on low or sticking it in the oven…Thoughts?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 15th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      Hi Amanda, I would recommend an ale or pilsner for maximum flavor. You could certainly use a light beer if that’s all you have, but one of the other two will give you more flavor. And yes, would totally work in your Dutch oven!

      Reply

  22. CouponClippingCook on October 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Sounds and looks so delish. Great choice on the bun you used too…it’s perfect. When I was little and had to eat sauerkraut I used to pile on ketchup so it would cover up the sour taste. Now I just love to eat sauerkraut with ketchup…only this time I like the sour taste. Kind of gross I know.

    Reply

  23. Christin M on October 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    The pictures look delicious. I too have been looking for more slow cooker recipes. I’m curious to know how sweet the kraut ends up being with 1 cup of brown suger added. Thinking I may try it with a little less sugar.
    Wonderful blog by the way!

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 15th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Christin, Hard to really say how sweet since people have varying palates and what is really sweet to one person may not be the same for someone else. I personally think it has just the perfect balance of flavor – it doesn’t taste like sugar or candied yams or anything like that.

      Reply

  24. Kim on October 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Just re-located from the “other” side of the state :) Actually, lived in a very nice area – Lancaster, PA but all hearts come home and we are now back in Pittsburgh. LOVE your site! This is a keeper for my Pittsburgh board on Pinterest : )

    Reply

  25. Aneta on October 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Ohhhhh,I love kiełbasa:D and this recepie as well:)Thank you:)

    Reply

  26. Nicole on October 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Sounds amazing however I have never cooked w/ beer before. What kind of beer is recommended. I live in CO where there are tons of options and want to make sure I take full advantage of those options and choose the right type. :0 )

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 15th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Nicole, I would use an ale or pilsner – I think you will get a lot more flavor than if you use a light-style beer.

      Reply

  27. Chip on October 14, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    This recipe is similar to one that my wife taught me. She grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country and for dinner on New Year’s Day, the cook this except they substitute pork steaks for the sausage. I use a dutch oven, put the steaks in the bottom, cover with sauerkraut and juice, and sprinkle brown sugar on top. Cook with the lid on for the first 2 hours. Remove the meat to cool, returning the kraut to the oven. Once cooled, separate the meat into small-ish chunks and return to kraut with the lid off. At some point during the process you will have to add more liquid to keep it from burning, we use water. At the end, the kraut and pork is served over mashed potatoes. This meal is said to bring you luck in the new year.

    Reply

    • Lynne on September 1st, 2014 at 11:53 am

      I use a similar recipe (with pork – no beer), and it also references the tradition of making this on New Years Day. I don’t know if it actually comes from an ethnic tradition, or if it’s just because it’s easy on a holiday (and has the comfort food factor). Here is the recipe I use: http://www.food.com/recipe/crock-pot-pork-roast-and-sauerkraut-106555

      I’m going to try this one, though, as the kielbasa and the beer sounds great.

      Reply

  28. The Doll Baker on October 14, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Oh my, I have never used brown sugar to make this. I can’t wait to try it… I’m drooling…

    Reply

  29. Sophie @ LoveLiveAndLearn on October 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I’ve never had either but this recipe and your gorgeous photos make me want to try it! :-)

    Reply

  30. jean on October 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I’m from German decent. Beer is used in many dishes. I’ve cooked kraut and/or sausage in beer for years, adding a little caraway seeds for extra flavor. SO GOOD! Will try it with brown sugar and beer… a great combination.

    Reply

  31. Leanne on October 14, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Sounds great! One question – did you use fresh or smoked keilbasa?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 16th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      Hi Leanne, I use the kielbasa found in the refrigerated section, but it is fully cooked. It’s not smoked sausage, which is usually found near it, but the polish (or polska) kielbasa. So I’m not sure if that means it’s fresh or not, since it’s already cooked ;-)

      Reply

    • Pat on March 28th, 2013 at 8:38 am

      What about fresh kielbasa? I bought kielbasa from a local church that sells it as a fundraiser for Easter. It looks like fresh kielbasa to me. Should I boil it first? I will be slicing it, so will the 6 hours in the crock pot cook it thoroughly enough? Thanks

      Reply

      • Michelle on March 28th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

        Hi Pat, I have never used fresh, so I would check any package directions about how long it needs to be cooked.

        Reply

  32. Valerie on October 15, 2011 at 7:48 am

    When I came over here this morning, I was looking for a cupcake recipe I had seen here. Then I saw this picture. OMG, this looks sooooooooooo, good. I don’t like sauerkraut either but I may try this. The picture alone is a winner.

    Reply

  33. Curt on October 15, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Wow, now that’s a flavor packed dish. I love kielbasa. I’ll bet it’s really good with the brown sugar.

    Reply

  34. Lisa Freeman on October 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I’ve never eaten suaerkraut – what does it tastes like, and which part of the grocery store do you find it?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 15th, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Lisa, It’s sort of sour and like wilted cabbage. You can find it bagged in the refrigerator section near the hot dogs, or jarred/canned where the canned vegetables or condiments are.

      Reply

  35. Sandi on October 15, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Sometimes foods we think we don’t like, just have to be prepared in the right way :)
    Here’s to trying new recipes!

    Reply

  36. Kath on October 15, 2011 at 11:31 am

    # I love kielbasa!

    #2 I love sauerkraut!

    #3 This recipe looks fantastic!! :)

    Reply

  37. News Junkie on October 15, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I adore the idea of Not watching the stove & i love the wonderful smell of the crock pot simmering
    TY for this great idea

    Reply

  38. Susan @ Seafield Farm on October 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    That looks so unbelievably yummy! I wish I had a big pile of them in front of me now! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  39. Rosemary on October 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    This is oh-so-familar! And oh-so-loved around here! I’ve always wondered if this was a Pittsburgh thing. You know?

    Reply

  40. Jen on October 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I have to say, I have also never been a huge kielbasa fan, but these look delicious!

    Reply

  41. sivyaleah on October 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Count me as another “don’t like either of those” people but…beer and brown sugar?
    My boyfriend is going to fall down and kiss my feet on this one (he likes all of it!).
    Yea – I’m all over this recipe!

    I’ll be trying it for sure.

    Reply

  42. Gail Hebert on October 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    This is about the same way I have been making mine, but I have never tried the beer and brown sugar simmered and than poured over it. Next time I am going to use ale or pilsner beer as I could not get my syrup to get a little thick. This recipe is a winner(we loved it) now for the sausage, I used the right sausage but it got kind of mushy, can you tell me why. I cooked it 2 hrs on high than switched to low for 3 hrs.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 16th, 2011 at 9:13 pm

      Hi Gail, You know we just made this again today and our kielbasa didn’t get mushy, but it did break open. Last week we used Silver Star brand, and this week Giant Eagle brand. We cooked it the same way, so I’m chalking it up to maybe the casings being different, and perhaps the later breaks down more easily.

      Reply

      • Gail Hebert on January 9th, 2012 at 9:37 am

        Hi Michelle,

        We just love this sauerkraut. Where do you find Silver Brand and or Eagel Brand Kielbasa? Also do you leave your sausage whole or cut it small pieces? Thank you.

        Reply

        • Michelle on January 9th, 2012 at 8:56 pm

          Hi Gail, I bought Silver Star at Sam’s Club, and Giant Eagle is a grocery chain here in the greater Pittsburgh area; that is their store brand.

          Reply

  43. Lindsey@Lindselicious on October 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Im drooling this sounds so good. Oooh I wonder if it would be yummy to add in a tbsp of some mustard in there too?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 16th, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      I’m sure that would be great if you’re a mustard fan!

      Reply

  44. Crystal W. (@EatDrinkClev) on October 17, 2011 at 9:40 am

    This is how I make mine all the time and it’s SO good! I serve mine w/ gnocchi – deelish!

    Reply

  45. nettie Moore on October 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Looks like the perfect combo for me, love Kielbasa and kraut. Making this!!

    Moore or Less Cooking Blog

    Nettie

    Reply

  46. Brooks at Cakewalker on October 17, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Michelle, I’m not much of a sauerkraut fan myself, but I must say you’ve presented a delicious looking dish! I’d sit down for this kielbasa sandwich in a heartbeat… especially with a nice pint of beer!

    Reply

  47. Kita on October 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I’ve never had sauerkraut but I am amazed by how amazing you have made it look here. That kielbasa isn’t looking too bad itself. lol, maybe this is a great starting recipe for someone like myself who isn’t sure the sauerkraut is my friend.

    Reply

  48. Becki's Whole Life on October 18, 2011 at 7:34 am

    I love recipes like this and I love both kielbasa and sauerkraut (must be the German in me.) I am making this very soon. These would be really cute as sliders, too. Yeah, I am drooling over this:-).

    Reply

  49. Bree on October 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I love having things you can throw in the slow cooker for guests and this one looks like the perfect Wisconsin recipe!

    Reply

  50. Kerri on October 20, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Does anyone have any ideas on what to serve this with? Often, I make fries with sandwiches like this, but it would be nice to come up with something new for a change. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Gail Hebert on October 20th, 2011 at 11:22 am

      I serve this with mashed potatoes. It is very good. My Mother-in-law started me on serving mashed potatoes with sauerkraut. She used to make ribs with her sauerkraut. She would brown the ribs and than put the kraut over them and sprinkle brown sugar and salt and pepper on the kraut and bake in the oven. It was very good. I think you could use pork chops also.

      Reply

    • Michelle on October 20th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      I serve it on buns/rolls, so I just serve whatever you would serve with a sandwich – chips, etc.

      Reply

    • PhillieB on July 20th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      Kerri, i like to eat perogies with this type of recipe. You can find them in most stores in the frozen section, I get them from Kroger. You can boil,pan fry,bake and my favorite,deep fried! I also use the perogies as a main starch for many meals. Use them instead of mashed potatoes for any meal. They do not have much flavor to them, which allows you to customize the seasonings to the meal you are preparing. Pan frying them is also a fav of mine,as they are finishing frying in they pan, I like to add salt,pepper and a tablespoon of butter. YUM! Also, perogies are like ravioli filled with mashed potatoes. I hope you Hillary them and you like them.

      Reply

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