Sauerkraut is to European cuisine—and, to a lesser extent, to North American cuisine—what kimchi is to Korea’s culinary tradition: a delicious fermented food which bears both history and nutrients in large amounts. As early as 160 BC, Cato the Elder mentioned it in his De Agri Cultura, the oldest known work on agriculture.

However, it seems that the practice disappeared for a while after the fall of the Roman Empire. In fact, it took until the 13th century for it to be reintroduced in Europe, by way, the story goes, of Mongolian Emperor Genghis Khan’s army, the campaigns of which not only took kimchi all over Eurasia, but more broadly, brought about a renewed interest in fermentation as a way to preserve food.

Sauerkraut’s growing popularity quickly spread, causing new traditions to arise in each new country to which it traveled. Today, it is an integral part of the culinary heritage of Germany and France, as well as the Netherlands, and as far as Pennsylvania, where German immigrants popularized it practically from the day of their arrival in the 17th century.

Traditional Sauerkraut Recipes

Sauerkraut enjoys a prominent place in European and American culinary repertoires. To truly learn about these cuisines, a good sauerkraut recipe, tasty and easy to prepare, is key.

Traditional European Recipes

In Belorussian, Russian and Ukrainian cuisines, the cabbage is usually fermented with grated carrots; apples and cranberries may also be added. From Polish pierogi to Russian shchi and choucroute garnie, the following recipes include absolute musts of European cuisine—and they all feature sauerkraut!

Traditional American Recipes

Some recipes take inspiration from American cuisine to spotlight sauerkraut. The result is comforting, flavorful dishes that will make you want to sit down with your family and enjoy.