How to Make Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe & Tips

July 30, 2020

Learn how to make a delicicous bowl of sauerkraut from fresh cabbage.


Store-bought sauerkraut can’t compete with the homemade stuff. Follow our sauerkraut recipe to learn how to make sauerkraut of your own!

Tips Before You Start

  • Sauerkraut is prepared entirely in a brining crock. Don’t worry about going out and buying an expensive stoneware crock—”crocks” can be any unchipped enamel pot or large glass jar. The gallon, wide-mouth jars work beautifully. 
  • If you have an old crock you want to use, don’t use it if there is a white film on the inside that disappears when wet and reappears upon drying. That crock has been used for waterglassing (preserving) eggs; there is no way to remove it and it will ruin your sauerkraut. 
  • The old jingle “A hand in the pot spoils the lot” is completely true. Keep your hands, and any metal object, out of the crock. Use wooden spoons and mashers and glass or crockery for dipping and weighting. 
  • The best and freshest ingredients will yield the best sauerkraut. You can make relish with your old, tough cabbage, but use your young, fresh, tender cabbage for your sauerkraut.

How to Make Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut has many uses; from piling it on sandwiches to covering bratwurst—to even making a cake with it—you will have no trouble finding uses for your homemade sauerkraut.

  1. For a 1-gallon container, core and shred 5 pounds of cabbage. Measure out 3 tablespoons of pickling (or kosher or dairy) salt.
  2. Alternate layers of cabbage with a sprinkling of salt, tapping each layer with a clean wooden spoon or potato masher. The top layer should be salt. This will not seem like it’s enough salt, but it will give you a 2.5% solution, the perfect strength for fermentation. 
  3. In a saucepan, boil an old dish towel or piece of sheeting for 5 minutes and cover the crock with it. Weigh this down with a flat plate the size of the inside of the crock and weigh it down with a canning jar full of water. If you’re using a glass jar instead of a crock, you might not need to weigh it down. Let it sit like this for a day. 
  4. If you used fresh and tender cabbage, by the next day you should have enough brine to cover the cabbage. If you don’t, make more brine by adding 1 ½ teaspoons salt to a cup of water and add enough to cover the cabbage.
  5. In 2 or 3 days, white scum will form on the top. Skim this off, replace the cloth with a newly boiled one, wash the plate, and replace it all. Repeat this skimming (a 5-minute job) each day until the bubbles stop rising, or for about 2 weeks. Then your sauerkraut is done!
  6. At this point, simply keep the cabbage below the brine with the plate, cover the crock tightly, and store at 40°F to 50°F. If your cellar isn’t that cool, heat the sauerkraut just to simmering, pack in canning jars, seal, and process in a water bath 20 minutes for quarts, 15 minutes for pints.

Sauerkraut Recipes

Try your freshly made sauerkraut in these recipes!

More Pickling Projects

Interested in pickling or fermenting other garden vegetables? Here are some tips on how to make kimchi, another fermented dish made with cabbage—and good for digestion, too! Also learn how to make dill pickles, an old-fashioned classic.

Wondering when to make sauerkraut? Some folks swear that the best days are by the Moon’s sign. See our Best Days timetable.

How did your sauerkraut come out?


The Forgotten Arts, Book Five, 1982


Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Recipe for pails instead of crocks

Having had problems with old crocks contaminating recipes, I have switched to 5 gallon (19 litre) pails - I buy two new ones from hardware store - wipe down inside with bleach, rinse and air dry. Shred cabbage to preferred size and take 1000 grams (2.2 pounds), place in bottom of pail and mash/tamp down as tightly as possible with a potato masher. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of pickling salt and repeat layers until pail is completely full. I like to take white wine and pour a cup over the top layer (Royal White in a gallon jug) and then sprinkle top layer with 2 more tablespoons of salt. Take a clean, unscented plastic bag and put over the top of the cabbage in the pail. Take second pail and sit it on top the first pail and then fill the top pail with water to act as a weight. Place outside or in a tray, as the brine will over flow as the cabbage is squished down by the top pail. Check daily to make sure that there is enough brine - you can take top pail off after a day or two and replace with a plate weighted down with a bleach or vinegar jug of water. Make sure that it does not dry out down to cabbage level and allow cabbage to mold. I leave mine outside in the heat to ferment faster, covering them up with a garbage bag to prevent dirt and insects getting into the top brine. When you are satisfied with the taste (1-4 weeks of fermenting) , bring inside, do not drain and pack into clean jars. Top each jar with another tablespoon of wine, seal and water boil for 30-45 minutes. Hope this helps!


Ace Hardware has a 1 gallon crock kit available. It comes with the crock, 2 crock weights and a lid. It is perfect for 1 head of cabbage, about 5 pounds. The weights keep the cabbage under brine and the lid keeps it covered. I put a zip lock gallon bag full of water on top of the weights to seal out the air and add extra weight. I just started my second batch and it is perfect. To crush the cabbage, I took a length of PVC pipe and cemented 2 end caps on. It works well, is easy to clean and inexpensive. I get a lot of requests for sauerkraut when it is ready.


Grandpa usedto shred the cabbage, i guess salt, put in a 5 gallon bucket, and fill a plastic garbage bag with water and put it on top. He said it kept weight pushing down on it, and kept air out because it pushed to the sides. Yes,,, no,,,? He also kept it in a cool room. I want to make kraut, simple is good! Help?!

Canned Sauerkraut

I planted 61 cabbage plants this spring. When it is ready, I want to make sauerkraut. I know that when I can it, I will kill the beneficial probiotics, but I can't keep a crock of kraut, as I have nowhere to keep it. So for convenience sake, I will can it. I will keep a couple of jars of "raw" sauerkraut in the refrigerator to eat first. My question is this, after I open a jar of canned kraut, can I pour juice from the raw kraut into the jar of canned kraut to jump start the good probiotics? Would I need to leave it on the counter a day or two to let the "raw" juice go to work, or put it in the refrigerator immediately? And can I reuse the juice from jar to jar until I have used up all my canned sauerkraut?
Thank you for your replies.

freeze sauerkraut

The Editors's picture

Hi, Dana. Instead of canning the kraut and killing all of the beneficials, we recommend freezing it. It will keep for up to a year. Use good quality zip-top storage bags and squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing.


I keep your article on Sauerkraut linked on my desktop. I like sauerkraut but my interest now at age 84, is the health benefit. I put my finished batch in pint jars, cover, and stash them in the back of the refrigerator, eat it out of the jar (unless we have company). Two medium cabbage heads are about right for us. Seniors have digestion and elimination challenges and the RAW kraut is a winner for both problems. (I read your other stuff too, but the fermented foods are Blue Ribbon.)

Old Fashion way

I want to make my Sourkraut the old fashion way using a large 15-20 gal. croak and a wooden plunger. Do you have a step by step recipe?

Sauerkraut in a Crock

The Editors's picture

Unfortunately, we do not have a recipe involving a crock. We do have another step-by-step sauerkraut recipe, though: Sauerkraut Step-by-Step


I have sauerkraut in a crock for 6 weeks now and it still smells yeasty is it still good mold floating on top as well

mold on sauerkraut

The Editors's picture

Mold takes advantage of any air-contact space on the top of the brine. Scrape it off. The sauerkraut is still edible. We are concerned about the “yeasty smell” though.


Can I use red cabbage? And if I wanted to use just 1 lb what would the amounts be for the salt,and water etc? Thank you

How to make S'kraut.

Point 4, to make more brine ... . It states, "add 1-1/2tsp. to 1c. water". 1-1/2tsp. of WHAT to 1c. water? Thanks.

how to make sauerkraut

The Editors's picture

Hi, CJ. Add 1-½ teaspoons of salt to 1 cup of water.


If you like curry, add some to the freshly prepared cabbage before you ferment it. Delish.


Just made 10 pints of sauerkraut, cut up the cabbage, stuffed into the jars, added 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each jar, added different spices to each. Filled each jar with hot boiling water to cover the cabbage, left the lids loose. This is my mothers recipe for sauerkraut that turned out great. Except I know she never had a place to store the jars at a cool temperature below 70deg. If I put these pints jars in a refrigerator temp below 40, with lids left loose, will the sauerkraut still make good??

probiotics are completely useless if heated

making sauerkraut and kimchi and any naturally-fermented pickled veggies is fine, but remember if you want digestive aid, that will only happen if you consume the finished product WITHOUT heating. if you cook the fermented products, all probiotics die. why do these sites never mention this? same with sourdough bread. unless you eat the raw dough, which i do not suggest, all probiotics die upon reaching a relatively low heat.

Previously posted

Hello. The first part of this thread has Dan Carr commenting on eating it raw for various reasons. Maybe the book he mentions has more info in it.

Making Sauerkraut

We've made kraut for years, and used to make about 100 lbs at a time! Canning was always a very time consuming process, and one time after making, my late father mentioned that on the farm, in Manitoba they used to simply put the crock in the back porch over the winter, where it froze! When they wanted some, would go out with an ice pick and chip off the amount, and then cook it! That got me thinking, and tried freezing the raw kraut in zip lock bags! We tried it and would never can it again! Simply open the frozen bag and cook it!

Making freaking freezer sauerkraut

Can you tell me, do you go ahead and ferment it in the crock first before putting it in the freezer? Would like your complete recipe please.


Is is OK to us Himalayan pink or gray salt? I don't have any other kind, currently.

what kind of salt to use to make sauerkraut

The Editors's picture

You should use pickling or kosher salt when making sauerkraut.

makeing home made sauerkraut

when in crock covered with towel and weight what temp do I keep it at first few days and after that for the 5 weeks

cloth to cover brine

Should cloth completely cover sauercrout smooth down tightly any extra folded over?

Grey Salt

The main thing is to NOT use processed salt and iodized salt as they both have chemicals added which will kill your "bugs"

adding broth to fermenting kraut

I ate at a German restaurant & had the best kraut I have ever had. I asked for his secret to the flavorful kraut & he told me the secret is to add a little beef broth. He said it was a family secret from Germany so he would not tell me how much broth or how strong or exactly when to add(before fermenting or after). Your thoughts?

sauer beans

I remember my mom and dad making sour(sauer) beans. Fresh green beans.
They had a gadget that made them french cut. And I remember the beans going into glass bell jars and every so often, they skimmed something off the top. They kept the jars in the basement. Eventually, they put the lids on the jars. Would I prepare the green beans just like the recipe for the sauerkraut? Thanks.

fermented green beans

The Editors's picture

Hi, Charlotte. You could try it, but we think the seasoning would be off. We don’t have a recipe to offer, but try doing an internet search for “fermented green beans.”

Sour kraut

Try Sour Kraut on a Pizza. Delicious.



Take sterile quart wide mouth jars. New lids and rings. Shred the kraut, fill the jar up to the neck. Add1 level tablespoon of pickling salt,, fill the jar with room temperature water. Make sure the kraut is covered. Do not use city water because it has chemicals and chlorine. I use well water from our spring out of the tap. Put on the lid and ring ,, not tight. Put the jars in the basement or away from sunlight until Christmas. It will ferment and stink, but you will have the easiest and best saurkraut ever.I have done this for 50 years and it is awesome.


I make the sauerkraut the same way, except I add Caraway seed and dill leaves, but I have a question for you. How do you keep the brine from fermenting out of the jar? Mine always ends up with only a 1/2 filled jar with brine so the top half goes bad. Also, how tight do you pack in the sauerkraut? Do you fill the jar with tap water to the rim? Thank you for any help!