Make Ahead

Southern Slow-Cooker Choucroute

November 22, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 6 hours
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Very lightly adapted from The Southern Slow Cooker by Kendra Bailey Morris. But this is just as easy on the stove: just pile everything in a pot, cover it, and cook very, very slowly, over at least an hour, until the cabbage goes slack and the flavors merge. If you are using a slow cooker, this fits nicely in a 5- or 6-quart size. —Nicholas Day

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 10 Slow-Cooker Recipes Made for Fall TV Binges. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 tart apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon bacon grease (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 pinch caraway seeds
  • 1 pound smoked sausage links, halved
  1. Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker. Salt minimally. Mix well and nestle the sausage halves among the cabbage, so they are less likely to dry out. Cover and cook on low for at least 6 hours and as much as 8, stirring occasionally. Taste and then salt again. Serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • JBoyce
  • Julie Utley Shehata
    Julie Utley Shehata
  • lydia.sugarman
  • Alan Offstein
    Alan Offstein
  • strozyk
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

34 Reviews

brushjl September 27, 2022
Wow, pretty colorful reviews. Mine will be pretty boring, I followed the recipe exactly and it was delicious.
Sharon March 6, 2019
You know, if there's one thing that doesn't benefit cabbage, or any cruciferous vegetable, it's long cooking. It multiplies the sulfur compounds, making it stink, and turns it into mush. Anyone who has ever enjoyed the real Choucroute Garni can tell at a glance that this recipe ain't it. First, it has to start with sauerkraut, which is not achieved by cooking cabbage to death, but through slow, natural, fermentation, leaving it crisp, bright and tangy. Pickled, if you will. None of these elements exist in this dish, and dousing it with vinegar just won't do it. Since the French word for cabbage is CHOU, and the French word for sauerkraut is CHOUCROUTE, you might want to rename this recipe "Slow-cooked Cabbage & Sausage," so as not to disappoint.
JBoyce February 2, 2016
I am a huge fan of choucroute garni, so I thought this might be a lazy man's way to do the same.
However ...
This is the foulest recipe I have ever attempted off the Internet.
After only a few bites, it all went down the toilet!
lydia.sugarman February 2, 2016
Why do you think that is? What did you not like about it? I'm asking because there are so many other comments about happy results, multiple times. Also, what kind of sausage did you use?
JBoyce February 3, 2016
I used smoked sausages from a local butcher. Actually, they were fine. However, the cabbage combo tasted nothing like choucroute but like really old, overcooked cabbage. In fact, I had some of the same cabbage left, so I simply braised it inputter and chicken broth, and it was also fine. I suppose it's just a matter of taste, but this tasted terrible to me.
cookinalong February 3, 2016
Well, of course, there's no accounting for taste! I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than eat kale, but I know I'm in the minority if the cooking blogs & recipe websites are any indication. Do you think your reaction might be a case of unmet expectations? If you've made and/or eaten the traditionally prepared version & expected this to be identical, maybe this just didn't measure up.
lydia.sugarman February 3, 2016
Personally, I wouldn't include the apples. I see many have substituted apple cider vinegar. Sounds like it was just overcooked beyond your taste. I've had a slow cooker in my cabinet for more than a decade and I've never used it, just like I don't own a microwave. I prefer "real" cooking that gives me better control of the end product.
cookinalong February 3, 2016
If your slow cooker has been gathering dust for more than 10 years, that may explain your dismissal of slow cooking as not "real" cooking. The models that hit the market in the '70's, aka Crock Pots, had two settings: on and off. Not much control there, for sure. And it relied on the user being there to turn it off at the right time. It got the deserved rep of turning out stodgy, overcooked fare. The newer models have low, medium & high settings and a timer function that will switch off the cooker at a pre-set time. It's no different than braising in the oven except that most ovens don't switch themselves off, a definite drawback if you're going to be at work all day.
I've also tweaked this recipe a bit each time, but I do that with many recipes to account for taste and what ingredients I have on hand. But I still think the basic "bones" of this recipe are sound. As is using a slow cooker.
JBoyce February 3, 2016
Glad to meet someone who loves kale as much as I do, "cookinalong"!
Yes, Lydia, it was overcooked, although my slow cooker was set for the minimum 6 hours. I wouldn't try it again to see if it turns out any better. I'll just get good sauerkraut at the deli and make the traditional "choucroute garni"!
Jonny March 2, 2019
Same here slow cooker comes out when major DIY projects underway or I'm pressed for time.
Jonny March 2, 2019
My oven has a timer on it. It shuts off when it's done.
Quarterror May 21, 2021
"Real cooking". So pretentious. I bet you're a hit at church potluck or whatever event will have you.
Brenda N. June 7, 2015
This recipe was easy and turned out great. I, as others, did not have Juniper Berries, so I just left them out. I added a bit more mustard than is called far, as we love mustard. Thank you for a quick and tasty meal.
ItalianFoodie March 27, 2015
This is a very forgiving recipe that I make once or twice a month. I use apple cider instead of an apple, fennel, caraway or other seeds, leftover ham, salami or capicola from the deli to use it up, a can of drained and rinsed white beans, or small waxy potatoes. As another commenter said, use what's in the frig or spice drawer. You can match the seeds to the sausage -fennel with Italian, etc. And always remember that a slow oven is good for this recipe, chili, soup, or any long-cooking recipe.
cookinalong February 10, 2015
I've now made this 3 times, and it was a hit each time. The first time I didn't have any juniper berries...I know! Go figure! But I added a tbsp. of caraway seeds and used 1/2 smoked beef sausage and 1/2 kielbasa. Otherwise, ingredients as directed. The only practical difficulty was fitting it all in the slow cooker! I have the largest one Rival makes and when the cabbage was added, it was piled about 4 inches above the rim of the cooker. I realize that the size of a head of cabbage varies, but mine was a pretty average size, about 3 lbs. My solution was to saute about half the cabbage in a hot skillet for about 8 to 10 minutes. This reduced the volume enough to fit it into the cooker. And it was great, every time. Also, regarding the timing, I got a late start and set it on high for two hours, then switched to low for another 2. Perfect. No difference from the full 6 to 8 on low, at least in my slow cooker.
Julie U. February 10, 2015
I've made this twice now. The first time, I followed the recipe exactly. The second, I used red cabbage, added 10 oz of chicken stock, and cooked on high for 4 hr (only because I forgot to turn the slow cooker on in the morning - oops). Booth times were delicious, but we've decided we like the red cabbage version a little better.
kss February 7, 2015
Could I make this with proper choucroute, i.e., sauerkraut? Leaving out the vinegar, I guess.
lydia.sugarman January 14, 2015
How about adding some kind of cooked beans, Great Northern, cranberry, pinto, in the last hour?
ItalianFoodie March 27, 2015
I make this with a drained and rinsed can of white kidney beans (canellini).
okaykate January 10, 2015
I'm without a slow cooker. Any thoughts on stove temp (and cook time?? Thanks!!
ItalianFoodie March 27, 2015
I saute onions and cabbage in an oven-safe casserole, add sausage, mix all liquid ingredients together and add to the casserole and cook at 325 for three hours. I also use one cup of apple cider instead of the apple,
lilroseglow January 2, 2015
I've cooked a similar recipe on the stovetop before, with the additions of 1/2 cup white wine and 1/2 cup chicken stock, the liquid cooks off and leaves behind an awesome dinner for a cold night.
Alan O. December 16, 2014
Loved this recipe but made a few changes. Used sweet Italian sausages and did not use juniper berries. Taste very subtle but delicious and extremely easy to make. Sausages are great for a quick lunch smothered with cabbage mixture too!
Corinne December 14, 2014

Delicious! Any suggestions for a side?
Martha December 9, 2014
FIrst time using this recipe, and I just want to check -- I don't add any water? Does the cabbage just give off enough liquid to keep it from burning? Thanks!
Nicholas D. December 9, 2014
Yep! If you're doing it on the stove, check occasionally, though.
Martha December 16, 2014
For a first run through, it was a success. I couldn't find juniper berries which was sad because at my old house there were enough bushes to flavor gin. mmmm. Second factor was I used generic sausages, they were too mild and had a texture like mashed potatoes. Next time I'll go to the Polish butcher and get something with a stronger flavor and texture.

I'm glad I didn't add water to the cabbage because it really did give off a lot of moisture. I could have left the lid off for the last few minutes to reduce the broth.

Enough success with this recipe that I'll try it again soon. It is very easy and a nice change from my other weekday meals.
strozyk December 8, 2014
I made this as written except I used only a teaspoon of added sugar, and while it was delicious, I still found it REALLY REALLY sweet.. So, if you're not going for a distinctly sweet sweet-sour thing, you might want to consider skipping the sugar entirely, or doing less apple, or ?? I think it might also have benefitted from a shorter slow cooking, because the kielbasa gave up most of its flavor in the alloted time. For our tastes, next time I'll skip the sugar, only do one apple, and up the mustard and vinegar. But talk about an awesome, easy peasy one pot meal! I'm so glad I tried it.
Erika L. January 18, 2015
Unfortunately, I have to agree in that it was Way too sweet for me (plus the sour you mention, so I would cut back the vinegar too.)
eusyab December 8, 2014
Any thoughts on whether this recipe would work with purple cabbage instead of green?
strozyk December 8, 2014
Oh, absolutely. But red cabbage is sturdier and usually gives up less liquid - you might want to slice it a bit thinner than you might the green and add a splash of broth.
Erika L. January 18, 2015
Used a mix of red and green cabbage as that's what was on hand, and that worked just fine; still plenty of liquid.
cookinalong December 8, 2014
Even if I never make this (and I definitely will), that accompanying article was priceless! Thank you! And now, more than ever, I'm kicking myself for caving in and buying the America's Test Kitchen slow cooker book. Should have just checked out Food52. When will I ever learn!?
BARBARA M. December 7, 2014
I think this recipe will save me from the torments of coming home tired, very tired, from work and having to face the contents of a fridge stocked with every condiment but not actual food and agonizing over whether I have the energy to actually prepare a meal or reduce myself to simply throwing frozen french fries in the oven. I am going to try it out tonight.