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


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


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.


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

  1. Jenn on October 20, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I’m trying some skinless Ekrich kielbasa with the recipe! I am from Pittsburgh and I showed this to my family a couple of days ago and they all want me to make it for them. My dad is especially thrilled of the idea of cooking with beer 😉 For those who hate the complete bitterness of sauerkraut like I do – I boil it and drain it a few times before mixing it with anything else (usually I do a pork and sauerkraut dish). So excited to try this :) Thanks for the great idea — go Steelers and Pens!!!


  2. Patti on October 22, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    I just tried this recipe tonight for dinner. It is absolutely delicious! The kielbasa was so tender it just melted in my mouth. The combination of the brown sugar and beer made such a wonderful sauce. This is one of the best things I have had in a long time. My husband isn’t a fan of sauerkraut but he loved this dish also. I can’t wait to make it again. Thank you Brown Eyed Baker!


  3. Kooky Girl on October 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Hi, Can I follow the same guidelines and make this in a conventional fan oven on a low heat setting? All the best, Kg.


    • Michelle on October 24th, 2011 at 10:36 pm

      I’m not sure what a “conventional fan oven” is. Usually convection ovens have fans that run, and I have never used one. My guess though is that if you cooked this in an oven on a low temperature (equal to 325 or so), that should work as well.


  4. Glenda on October 25, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I can’t wait to try this, I have been dying to make kilbasa and kraut. I had a recipe that was similar (and I lost it) but used thinly sliced onions also that turned sweet and just melted into the kraut. I don’t remember using a whole can of beer but the more the better. I had no leftovers that time and I sure this recipe will be the same.


  5. Teri on November 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I put this in the crockpot this morning! So yummy! Great dish for an autumn evening!


  6. sivyaleah on November 6, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I finally made this tonight for dinner. Wow! It made my boyfriend and I both into kielbasa fans. Only problem is how filling it is, and the recipe sure is too much for 2 people. I think we’ll be eating this for days to come. Not. A. Hardship. 😀


  7. Sheena on November 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe! It was so yummy and I will be making it again!


  8. Kasia on December 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Wow our polish kiełbasa is famous 😉 How nice!


  9. Tammy on December 24, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Its Christmas Eve morning and I just loaded my crock pot up with 6 pounds of Kielbasa, one bag of sauerkraut. What I am wondering is should I double up on beer and brown sugar? My pot is oh so full right now, I am sure I could add more, do you think it would be too much?


    • Michelle on December 26th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

      Hi Tammy, I have almost doubled the kielbasa and left the sauerkraut the same, and used the same amount of beer and brown sugar and it has turned out fine. I think you’re okay!


  10. Aimee Carter on December 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I had to share this one on my blog today. I can not wait to try to make this one. OMG it looks so good.


  11. Michelle on January 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    No Beer am a Celiac,so I eat gluten free. what can I sub. for the Beer?


    • Michelle on January 4th, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      Hi Michelle, I know they have gluten-free beers out on the market now, I would look for one of those. Otherwise, maybe ginger ale or root beer? (I’m not sure how either of those would taste or if they are gluten free, but they are the first suggestions that come to mind.)


  12. JeniJ on January 9, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Let me also preface by saying, sauerkraut is NOT something you would ever find in my house, or on my plate, so I’m not even sure what made me want to try this dish (except the brown sugar….i will eat anything that contains brown sugar!), but with some hesitation (and alot of incense burning in the kitchen to combat the overpowering sauerkrat aroma) I figured why not, it’s a simple recipe with few ingredients thrown in a crock pot that I don’t have to pay any attention to for hours…that’s my kind of dish! And….it was amazing!! Even my 80-something, totally OCD mother (who will rarely touch anything that hasn’t been consistently on her table for the past 60 years) thought it was delicious and asked for seconds! No typical sauerkraut taste, the kielbasa was fall apart tender and sweet…I added some Maine Maple Mustard on the rolls which was the perfect compliment (for those who like their food on the sweet side). This will definitely become a regular on the menu rotation! The only thing I would change next time is the amount of sauerkraut…I bought two 16oz bags and had at least an entire bag-worth leftover since most of us weren’t huge sauerkraut fans and only added a small amount to our sandwiches; I believe one would be more than sufficient unless you’re eating it as a side dish to the meal. Excellent!!


  13. Michelle on January 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    O.K…….. Made this, and used Ginger Ale in place of the beer. It was excellent. We loved it :-)


  14. Erika on January 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I’ve made this a couple of times, but have shared the recipe MANY times. I love it and my little boys loved the sweetness of the sauce with the kielbasa. Thanks for the great recipe!


  15. Erin on February 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Are we using raw kielbasa?


    • Michelle on February 6th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      Hi Erin, By definition I think most kielbasa is like hot dogs – not “raw” meat, but cold and just needs to be heated. It’s the kielbasa you purchase in the case where the hot dogs and bacon are.


  16. Patty on February 8, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Made this for the superbowl and it was a HUGE HIT!!!!! My husband who is not a fan of kraut loved it. Everyone at the party raved and said it was a keeper!


  17. Sue Ames on March 3, 2012 at 8:10 am

    This was fantastic! I made this the other night for my Daughter and family because her husband and my 2 grandsons love Polish sausage. I added 2 # of country style spareribs and used the bagged sauerkraut with light beer and light brown sugar. They loved it and only enough left for a small lunch. This is a keeper and I will make it again but now will try it with chicken and possibly beef. Love your recipes


  18. Kerri on July 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Love this!!!! I also chopped about 1/2 sweet onion and mixed it into the Kraut… It is so simple… and soooo good…


  19. Gail Hebert on July 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I made this many times and it turned out so good! It is to bad that it did not work out for some people.


  20. Gail Hebert on July 11, 2012 at 10:35 am

    I have heard nothing but good compliments on this. Not everybody likes the same things. I have had flops before in my cooking but this was delicious.


  21. AC on July 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Seriously, man, what is your problem? Give it a rest!


  22. Jennifer on September 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Oh my goodness, thank you for posting this! It was delicious! And now I have another blog to follow. =)


  23. Joan on September 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Has anyone tried freezing leftovers? Does it work?


  24. Angela on October 6, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I really don’t care for kielbasa but can’t help but buy it when it’s BOGO. I’ve tried many different recipes trying to find something, anything I could do with it and make it worth my while. Never would I have thought a recipe that had two other ingredients I don’t care for, being beer and sauerkraut, would come together and end up being a meal that I really enjoyed. The husband was impressed with how tender the kielbasa was from the slow cooker. Very easy to make is an added plus!


  25. Dee on November 6, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I tried this recipe over the weekend for a little get together. Everyone LOVED it. It’s a keeper for sure. Wow – the keilbasa just melts in your mouth and everyone loved the flavor. Thanks for an easy great-tasting recipe!


  26. Brandi on November 15, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I just made this today and it was amazingly delicious! I used jalapeno kielbasa to add a little extra kick and decided to use Blue Moon Wheat Ale. I cut my pieces in half so the meat wouldn’t be so think and it would soak up more of the flavor. It cooked for about 4 hours on high and was perfect. I will certainly be making this a lot in the future. The only problem I’ve encountered is I can’t stop going back for leftovers!


  27. RondaRDH on November 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Thank you very much for the recipe! We found it to be waaaaay to sweet for our tastes, but it a great recipe that we are willing to “tweak” to suit us. We’re going to decrease the sugar by more than half, keep in some of the sauerkraut juice or add some apple cider vinegar, plus some caraway seed and maybe use a dark beer. The kielbasa does get super tender, this was a nice weeknight dinner, can’t wait to try again w/the revisions! :-)


  28. Shauna Fischer on November 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Hi there, had been looking for something like this and came across your recipe. I used Eckrich Polish Sausage , had the bagged kraut and used a Sam Adams Boston Lager. Anyway, I am a poor planner and have an electric pressure cooker. I boiled the sugar and beer as stated above then tossed in the kraut and frozen cut pieces of sausage. Brought to pressure and cooked for 20 minutes and it was amazing!!! Served it with some sweet potato fries. My picky 13 year old devoured it, my husband inhaled 2 servings and said he could definitely “polish” off the rest. Thank you for giving me a super easy meal that was a home run in flavor, am thinking the next time to try a little caraway and a dab of mustard to give a little more depth?


  29. Ken on November 30, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I am going to try this recipe on Dec. 8, 2012 for my sons birthday along with his friends, a bunch of drunken volunteer firemen. This will be his 30th anniversart of his birth ansd it is a surprise party being thrown by his wife.


  30. Ken on November 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Forgot to mention, I am going to cut the kielbasa into small pieces instead of links. It will be smoked from the Polish butcher in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY


  31. Stephanie on December 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Made this for the second time tonight and my husband and I both really enjoyed it (him especially!). The first time I made it as written and it was a little sweet for our tastes, but still good. This time I halved the amount of brown sugar and it was perfect. More of a hint of sweetness to balance out to sauerkraut and beer than a really sweet flavor. I’ll definitely be making this again, so easy to put together and leftovers are good too! Thanks for sharing!


  32. Heather on January 1, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Absolutely fabulous!!! Thank you for sharing! I made this today and it is going to be our New Years tradition!


  33. Amy on January 1, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I just made this for the first time for New Year’s day and it was amazing. I never liked kraut before. But I do now. Even my two year old ate it.


    • Amy on January 1st, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      It’s our New Year’s tradition now also!!


  34. Meaghan on January 3, 2013 at 8:35 am

    This looks really good…even though it is breakfast time as I type this, I would eat some right now :) I’m adding this to my recipe list to make for the month….



  35. Ida Pletz on January 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    We always love sauerkraut and pork coming from Pittsburgh it is a tradition for us to have on New Years. So we tried this recipie but added our port roast the the kraut and kilbassi in the crockpot and with a steam po of mashed potatoes there is nothing better than this recipie yummmmmm is all we can say


  36. Eric on January 10, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    This recipe was very good, just like the poster I wasn’t a fan of kraut or kielbasa but after making this today I am sold….Thank You for sharing the Recipe!


  37. Erin on March 1, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Are you sure it takes a whole cup of brown sugar? I made this last night, and it was waaaaaaaay too sweet. It also looked nothing like the picture. I think it would be great if the sugar was about 1/3 c instead of a whole one.


    • Michelle on March 1st, 2013 at 11:40 am

      Yes, 1 cup of brown sugar + 1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer. I’ve made this at least 10 times, and it seems to come out the same every single time. I’ve never had an issue with it being sweet – everything just sort of caramelizes.


  38. Gayle on March 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    I made this tonight with a couple of small changes because I didn’t start it until about 2:30, and I didn’t want to stay up until midnight.

    Ingredient adjustments:
    – Sliced kielbasa instead of cutting it in links
    – Replaced beer with hard cider (dry) because (gasp) I only had one Guinness and my hubby wanted it.
    – Added about a 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce (added to cider/brown sugar mix), because I like apples & cabbage, and figured it might be nice with the cider.
    – Drained and rinsed the saurkraut, drained again

    First, I combined the apple sauce, cider and brown sugar until it was a simmering liquid.

    Then, I added the sliced kielbasa and cooked the entire mixture down until the kielbasa was cooked through. After that, I removed only the kielbasa and put it in the bottom of the crock pot.

    Next, I added the sauerkraut to the simmering liquid and let it all get to a strong simmer / low boil. At that point, I added that to the crockpot. as well, covered it up, put it on high, and let it cook for about 3-4 hours.

    Results were very good!


  39. Kammie on May 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Made this recently and it is wonderful! Made exactly as recipe stated, but I did wash and drain the sauerkraut. I’m not a huge sauerkraut fan, but this is really delicious and so simple to make. A keeper for sure.


  40. Lauren on September 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I know this recipe isn’t recent but it sure as hell is timeless. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve included it in my recipe round-up post coming out tomorrow. Stop by and check it out. Lots of Love, LB


  41. Sara on September 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Can I make this the day before and heat it up the next day to serve for a party?


    • Michelle on September 16th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      Hi Sara, I would definitely recommend making this fresh. Since it’s made in a slow cooker, I don’t think you really need to make it in advance. If your party is early in the day (lunchtime), just put these in the crock-pot the night before on low. If it’s later in the day/evening, just put them in in the morning on low.


  42. Brandy Yekel on September 22, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I am making this today for my Hubby & his best friend for tonight’s Steeler game. Since the season isn’t going so good thus far, at least we have good food to look forward too. These two are my best critics, so I we shall see….


    • Brandy Yekel on September 23rd, 2013 at 10:49 am

      My husband LOVED this. He is not a big fan of sauerkraut. I, on the other hand, didn’t care for it. I thought it was too sweet. I feel sauerkraut should be sour.


  43. Alicia on October 1, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Hi- Came across your recipe tonight and I want to make it, but I only have 1lb of kielbasa.. I can cut the recipe, but what about the slow cooker time? I’d be worried I’d ruin the kielbasa if it’s on low for 8 hours. Thoughts?


    • Michelle on October 3rd, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      Hi Alicia, I think it gets better the longer it cooks, but if you’re worried, just check on it sooner, and take it out when it’s cooked to your liking.


  44. Ursula on October 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    This is has been a staple in our house for a year. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I have used different types of beer and it turns out great every time. Also, I assemble and freeze it so I can just drop it in on any given morning for dinner that night :)


  45. Diana Uzzolino on October 4, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I’m making this now for an Octoberfest party. My friends and family always loved my typical kielbasa and sauerkraut that i make in a stock pot on the stove. I’ve always used brown sugar and butter, and thin slices of one large onion. So I did the same for this recipe, also using the beer and crockpot. I sliced my kielbasa since it’s for a large party. I’m cooking on low so the meat isn’t over-cooked. Do you stir it at any time or just leave it alone..


    • Michelle on October 6th, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Hi Diana, If I’m around the kitchen, sometimes I will move them around, especially if I pack a lot in there, but it’s not necessary.


  46. Denise on November 12, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    can you put potato’s in and if so do you think they will be mushy after eight hours?


    • Michelle on November 13th, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Hi Denise, You can add potatoes; they will certainly be very soft, I’m not sure about mushy though.


  47. Sharon @ Life After Empty Nest on November 17, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I LOVE this recipe!! I shared it on my blog with a link back to you!
    I didn’t like kielbasa either…this is the ONLY way I’ll eat it!
    I knew I had to trust another brown eyed curly haired gal!
    Thanks for sharing!


  48. Jim on December 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    K& K – Recipe below creates a heap of goodness.
    1) Purchase 4 packages of Eckrich Polish Kielbasa. There are two links per .pkg. I’ve tried smoked, fresh, and other manufacturer’s product but Eckrich has the right fat and flavor combination for me.
    2) 4 bags of kraut. Kroger or Westborn is where I shop.
    3) 3 bay leafs
    4) 4 cloves of garlic
    5) 3 tbls caraway seed. I taste and add more as it cooks.
    6) 1 peeled, cored, and chopped apple of your choice. I use a Granny Smith.
    7) 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Add more to your taste. I do, but the 1/4 cup is a good place to start.
    8) 1 medium onion.
    9) 1/4 cup of olive oil.
    10) 1/2 a stick of butter.
    11) Salt and pepper to taste.

    Turn on the oven to 350 F. Put the kielbasa on a cookie sheet and with a fork poke each link with several holes. Cook for about 20 – 30 minutes. We’re going for some rendering and browning of the links. Once finished put on a clean plate or cutting board.

    Drain and rinse each bag of kraut in a colander. Shake the colander to get rid of as much water as you can.

    On medium heat add the olive oil into your largest soup pot and, once heated, add the onion followed by the garlic and bay leaves once the onion is almost translucent. Add a little salt and pepper.
    We will be adding everything to a crock pot later. I like to start this way to get everything incorporated.

    Add 1/4 of the kraut into the pot and sprinkle with some of the brown sugar, caraway seed, apple, salt, and pepper. Toss to incorporate the oil into the mixture.

    Continue the above process until the remaining kraut is added. Then add the butter and toss.
    Cook covered until the kraut is tender. Usually it takes about an hour. After about a half hour you can start adjusting for sugar and caraway flavor.

    Once the kraut has become somewhat tender, cut the kielbasa into 1.5 – 2 inch slices.

    Bring the pot over to the where the kielbasa is and also plug in your slow cooker (SC) and set on high.

    Add some of the kielbasa (one layer) to the bottom of the SC and then cover with some of the kraut mixture. Continue building this way until all of the ingredients have been added to the SC.
    Put the top on the SC. After about a half hour stir the entire mixture and test for taste and tenderness of the meat. You should leave on high for about two hours, checking every 40 minutes to adjust to yourtaste. Reduce accordingly depending on when you plan to dine.

    This is a good one. Partakers of this recipe always want a copy for their selves. Of course I say no, but if invited, I will bring it. Ha!


  49. Katie on January 1, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Made this recipe for New Years today. Too sweet for me and Kielbasa turned out mushy after cooking on high for 4 hrs. :(


  50. Jen on January 1, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Made this recipe today. While it was good, it was overcooked. I would not recommend the suggestion to cook on high 3 hours then low 3 hours. I think all low would have been better.


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