Make Ahead

Caramelized Sauerkraut With Prunes, Herbs & Honey

January 18, 2013
3 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

When I was little, I hated sauerkraut; eating it was absolute punishment. Unfortunately, my family made a lot of it, especially during the long winters when fresh fruits and vegetables were not available. Every time I made a face at the sauerkraut, my dad would tell the story of Admiral Nelson and how he used to carry sauerkraut on his ships to fight scurvy. Then, over the years, I warmed up to it. In my mind, sauerkraut evokes the flavors of something sweet to fight its sometimes harsh acidity. It calls for herbs and garlic. A touch of caramel from long baking in the oven. When I feel really indulgent, it calls for bacon. And that is how I arrived at this dish. (I did not include bacon in the recipe below, but it can be a great addition.)

Note that the sauerkraut needs to sit in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days before serving, so do plan ahead. —QueenSashy

Test Kitchen Notes

This is the kind of dish Bert Greene or Julia Child would have made: ingredients that rarely shine on their own are turned into something bold, yet luxurious and comforting. Caramelizing sauerkraut renders it viscous and sweet, and the fresh thyme and prunes mellow it further. You can make the whole dish ahead of time, making it a perfect choice for cold weather dinner parties. The melange of sour and sweet is a reward for the adventurous palate. —epicharis

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 3 pounds sauerkraut, rinsed
  • 8 garlic cloves, cut in quarters
  • 16 prunes, cut in half
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 2 cups white wine, divided
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large casserole or Dutch oven, combine the oil with the onions over medium heat (alternatively you can heat the oil first, but starting the onions in cold oil will give them a mellower taste). Simmer the onions for about 10 minutes, until soft.
  3. Add the sauerkraut, garlic, prunes, thyme, and 1 cup of the wine to the casserole. Mix well and simmer for about 10 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add the remaining 1 cup of wine and the honey and bay leaves and simmer on the stove for another 25 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the sauerkraut acquires a deep golden color.
  4. Add a cup of water to the casserole, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, until all the water has evaporated and the top layer is nicely caramelized. (If it becomes dry during baking, feel free to add a bit more water.)
  5. Let the sauerkraut sit in the refrigerator 1 to 2 days before serving. (This is absolutely critical, so be patient).
  6. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • DonnaM
  • epicharis
  • Annie stader
    Annie stader
  • Rivka
  • MyCommunalTable
Aleksandra aka QueenSashy is a scientist by day, and cook, photographer and doodler by night. When she is not writing code and formulas, she blogs about food, life and everything in between on her blog, Three Little Halves. Three Little Halves was nominated for 2015 James Beard Awards and the finalist for 2014 Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. Aleksandra lives in New York City with her other two halves, Miss Pain and Dr. V.

32 Reviews

icharmeat February 12, 2018
Queen Sashy,
Is this recipe meant for storebought or homemade sauerkraut? At first I was thinking homemade (the image associated with the version i'm reading suggests home preserved) but your notes give me doubt. My homemade kraut is always gone before i have ever thought it might be too sour but then again, I'm not preserving fall's harvest for the year- only a gallon crock at time.
So, some insight here would be great.

Similarly, i believe you posted a recipe for faux kraut either here or somewhere else that I've read. I've tweaked that recipe into something that people ask me to make. Imagine people asking for a sour cabbage recipe. Thanks for that one, too.
QueenSashy February 13, 2018
I know what you mean... But the recipe works with both. I usually rinse the storebought sauerkraut a couple of times, to bring the acidity level to that of the homemade sauerkraut early in the winter. I am not a big fan of a heavily acidic foods :) And thanks for letting me know about the "fake" one.
DonnaM November 16, 2016
Queen Sashy-
I am so so excited to make this for my parents on Thanskgiving!! I am the first in my family to be born in the states - my parents both are born in Serbia. I think this would be a fitting dish to go with the turkey as a tribute to our culinary culture!! You are amazing! I follow you and love all your recipes. You inspire me with your creativity and elevation of serbian cuisine!!
epicharis December 24, 2015
Just writing to say I make this dish at least quarterly; in fact, we have a batch of it baking in the oven right now for tomorrow's Christmas dinner! I love it with pork chops and a nice dry Riesling, but it's also killer with onion marmalade on rye toast. You are a genius, QueenSashy, and if there is ever a contest for "Your Best Recipe That Smells And Tastes Like A Warm Hug" this would be first place.
QueenSashy December 24, 2015
Oh my, epicharis!!! That is so incredibly kind of you to say, and I am so honored and touched that this dish will be a part of your Christmas table. You just gave me a wonderful Christmas present!!! All the best to you and your family -- have a great one!
Annie S. March 26, 2015
I tested this for the contest and I loved it. I had also had just home cured a pastrami. They were a great pair and I also put some on a Reuben type sandwich. Reuben never had it so good!
QueenSashy March 26, 2015
Annie - you are genius! I have been making this dish for like 20 years and it never ever occurred to me to do it. Thanks so much for testing my dish, the comment and the tip.
Rivka December 10, 2013
This recipe is just fantastic. I can't tell you how much I love it....or how much of it I ate in one sitting. Thank you!
QueenSashy December 10, 2013
... and thank you for letting me know!
Rivka December 10, 2013
...between friends, try slipping a little leftover gravy into the pot. wow.
QueenSashy December 10, 2013
i MUST try that ASAP
em-i-lis December 12, 2013
I'm so glad you made this and then wrote, Rivka. It reminded me to get started. First batch is in the oven now, and I can't wait. Will be hard to wait a day or two...
MyCommunalTable October 4, 2013
I love the recipe. I also love that it is made ahead of time. Perfect for entertaining. thanks.
QueenSashy October 4, 2013
Thank you... It can also be kept for a couple of days, and it really gets better as it "ages"
loubaby October 3, 2013
This sounds great...I grew up with sauerkraut, being in a Polish family and my mom used in so many ways, but not like this with prunes and such...I will definitely put in the bacon as you suggest and I will serve it along some sausage---smoked or brats coming from the Midwest, that would be a natural with a bakery good rye bread!...delicious...thanks so much.
rbknits March 21, 2013
I have about 5 jars of homemade sauerkraut to still use up from the end of last summer's harvest; will definitely be trying this recipe...thanks for sharing! Any ideas of what to serve it with? Potato? Beans?
QueenSashy March 21, 2013
Potatoes definitely. And, one of my favorite ways of serving the dish is with warm or grilled polenta
AntoniaJames March 7, 2013
Goodness! My mouth is watering just reading the title of this recipe. A brilliant turn West from the more standard sauerkraut + apples. I am definitely giving this one a whirl, most likely this weekend! ;o)
QueenSashy March 7, 2013
Thanks AJ! I look forward to your comments, like it or not, please let me know if it worked out.
AntoniaJames March 7, 2013
By the way, what kind of wine do you use when making this? Will be shopping tomorrow! ;o) P.S Love the three bay leaves. Totally my kind of dish.
QueenSashy March 7, 2013
To be honest, the dish is very forgiving, and likes most of white wines. Well, maybe not the mineral ones, and definitely not the extremely sweet ones, since with all the prunes and the honey it could be a bit too much. I generally like to drink Alsatian wines, and always have the leftovers handy. Also, it kind of stays true to the spirit of sauerkraut :)
QueenSashy March 7, 2013
But do leave it for a day or so... The flavors come together after a day of rest and the taste will be very different.
em-i-lis March 6, 2013
ooh, this looks delightful. i love sauerkraut! and prunes!
QueenSashy March 6, 2013
Emily, thank you!
lapadia March 6, 2013
Love your story, I never tasted sauerkraut, growing up, my husband has always loved it, always had it and I must say I finally acquired a taste for it. This sounds like a great recipe to try, I can even picture making a pumpernickel pizza style crust and using this as a topping...maybe with a little leftover corned beef. St. Patrick's is around the corner, I just may try that. Stay tuned.
QueenSashy March 6, 2013
Thank you lapadia, the pizza and corned beef sounds enticing, I would love to try it. Please let me know if the dish worked for you.
lapadia March 6, 2013
Will do. I copied the recipe and am hoping to find the time to make this asap!
QueenSashy March 6, 2013
btw, I usually taste the sauerkraut before making the dish, and if it is way on the sour side, I give it an extra rinse or two to get rid of the excessive acidity.
lapadia March 6, 2013
Thanks for the tip :)
AntoniaJames March 7, 2013
Wow, didn't know that rinsing could help with the acidity. The things we learn here! (I've adored sauerkraut, especially when cooked forever in a slow oven, my whole life. I am so looking forward to this.) ;o)
lapadia April 4, 2013
Hi QS! Well I finally made your recipe, served to the side of the family (husband's) that grew up eating kraut. They LOVED it, we all loved it. I will def. make it again. Thanks for sharing it :)!
QueenSashy April 5, 2013
Oh, I am so glad you liked it! Thanks a lot for letting me know.