Are you one to reminisce about food from your past? I sure am, and this recipe for Baked Sauerkraut Balls helps satisfy my cravings! These are a delicious snack to serve at parties and get togethers. I think you’ll love them!
Have you ever had a sauerkraut ball? I love, love, love them! When I talk about them, though, only people who grew up where I did — Akron, Ohio — seem to know about them.
These little nuggets are made of sauerkraut (Hello, Captain Obvious!), onion, bits of meat, and seasonings. They get rolled up, coated in breadcrumbs, and then they’re typically deep fried.
Mmm! They’re perfect for parties, and remind me of a mini Reuben sandwich. I served baked sauerkraut balls with a mustardy sauce for dipping. So good.
Word on the street has it that sauerkraut balls were first created in Akron. When I brought them up recently on Facebook, so many hometown friends chimed in about them. “Ahh! I’d give anything for some sauerkraut balls right now,” I read. Some friends declared, “My Grandma made the best sauerkraut balls!” Others insisted, “The sauerkraut balls at (insert-restaurant-name-here) are the bomb!”
Pretty much everyone from my hometown and its surrounding areas has a sauerkraut balls memory, and as I understand it, sauerkraut balls have been around for a long while.
I was lucky to get the chance to hang out with some old friends recently while I was visiting my family in Ohio. Enjoying cocktails and laughs one night at our friends’ house, I noticed a cool, vintage cookbook from Stouffer’s (yes, the frozen foods company, which got its start in Ohio) on the table.
The gem of a cookbook is called, “Here’s How: a selection of our famous drink recipes and hints for home entertaining.” Flipping through the pages, I came across a recipe for French Fried Sauerkraut Balls.
Then, the craving hit, and it hit hard, my friends. Next came the debate over where we could get our hands on some, late night. Somehow, reason prevailed. There was no late-night binge, but I did snap a pic of the recipe to take home with me.
These baked sauerkraut balls are a bit different from the classic in a few ways: first, they’re baked and not fried. This baked option is super delicious, but I just could not perfect the frying process! I tried, and I’ll try it again sometime, just to get the sauerkraut-ball experience I remember from my past.
If you fry them, add enough oil to a large pan to cover the balls at least halfway (you’ll flip them to brown them all over). The original recipe says to fry them for 1-1/2 minutes.
Also, I made these treats with sausage only instead of what the original recipe called for: sausage, ham, and corned beef. I added a few more seasonings, and these retro treats turned out great!
Do you have a favorite hometown food that’s hard to find elsewhere? Can you recreate it to quell your cravings? I’m so glad I came across this recipe, and can’t wait to make baked sauerkraut balls again!
Patricia Conte/Grab a Plate
Yields 75 sauerkraut balls
These regional, retro treats are fun to serve for get togethers and parties! I baked these rather than fry them for an update on a classic.
I adapted this recipe from an original Stouffer's recipe.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 pound spicy Italian sausage
- 1/3 cup white onion, minced
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup milk
- 16 ounces sauerkraut, drained with excess liquid squeezed out, finely chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup milk, plus 3 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Sift together the flour, dry mustard, garlic, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Set aside.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the sausage and cook, breaking apart with the back of a spoon, until browned.
- Add the flour mixture to the skillet, stirring to combine. Add the 1/2 cup milk to the skillet, stirring. Cook for a few minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.
- Remove from the heat and add the sauerkraut and onion. Mix well to combine.
- Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Place in a container and freeze for at least four hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Remove the mixture from the freezer and let it thaw just slightly.
- Combine the 3 tablespoons milk and the beaten egg in a shallow bowl. Mix to combine. Add the breadcrumbs to a shallow bowl.
- Scoop the mixture from the container and roll into walnut-sized balls. Roll each ball into the egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs. Pat lightly so the breadcrumbs stick.
- Place on the baking sheets so they are not touching. Lightly spray the balls with the nonstick cooking spray.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. If you’d like, place under the broiler for just a minute or so to add a bit more color, watching them carefully.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite mustard-based sauce.