4 Simple (and Tasty) Ways to Cook Canned Sauerkraut

Add some zip to your cooking with Germany's favorite condiment by learning how to cook canned sauerkraut the right way.

Updated November 28, 2023
brauts with sauerkraut

From a savory Reuben sandwich to a zingy hot dog topping, canned sauerkraut adds zip and flavor to all kinds of foods. And whether you like it straight from the can or you prefer to add your own touches, it's super easy to cook canned sauerkraut. So put on your dirndl, grab a stein of beer, and get ready to add some zesty flavor with our easy tips for how to cook canned sauerkraut. 

How to Sautée Sauerkraut

The classics are classics for a reason. So you can warm up the sauerkraut right out of the can, or if you're feeling spicy, you can add lots of flavor and texture with optional ingredients. Start with the basic recipe, and toss in one, a few, or all the optional ingredients to take your canned sauerkraut to the next level.


  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2 cups canned sauerkraut, drained

Optional Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon horseradish sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted caraway seeds
  • ¼ cup pan-toasted cashews
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup bacon pieces
  • ¼ cup sliced onions
  • 1 tablespoon of butter in place of oil


  1. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high until it shimmers. 
  2. Add the sauerkraut and any optional ingredients. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, until any optional ingredients have softened or cooked through and the sauerkraut is warm and browned.
Fast Fact

Sauerkraut is a staple in Germany, but it actually came from the Chinese people. They started fermenting cabbage in rice wine more than 2,000 years ago. 

How to Cook Canned Sauerkraut in the Microwave

We pop everything else into the microwave, so what about sauerkraut? Great news. It's super easy to nuke and should only take a few minutes from can to plate. Yay!


  • 1 can sauerkraut, drained

Optional Ingredients

  • ½ medium onion, thinly sliced and sauteed
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon toasted caraway seeds


  1. Place the drained sauerkraut in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Add optional ingredients if desired.
  3. Cover with a paper towel and microwave on high for about 1 minute. Test for warmth and doneness. Continue cooking for 30 seconds at a time until the sauerkraut and ingredients are warm and soft. 

How to Cook Sauerkraut on the Stovetop

If you have about 15 minutes and you don't want to have to be super attentive to your sauerkraut, you can warm it up in a saucepan. You'll need to drain the sauerkraut and add a little water or beer. 


  • 1 can of sauerkraut, drained
  • Water or beer

Optional Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup cooked bacon pieces


  1. Strain water from sauerkraut.
  2. In a saucepan, add sauerkraut and just enough liquid to cover it. 
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of white wine if desired.
  4. On medium-high, bring the liquid to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to low and cover. 
  6. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Add other optional ingredients and stir to combine; cover again until heated through — about 5 minutes more.
Quick Tip

Canned sauerkraut is ready to eat straight out of the can (just drain off any extra liquid). So if you're in a hurry, all you need to do is warm up the sauerkraut any way that works for you — or you can even eat it cold.

How to Cook Canned Sauerkraut in a Slow Cooker

If you need warm sauerkraut ready for some unspecified time (perhaps a party?), the slow cooker is the way to go. It's so easy to cook this way.


  • 2 cans sauerkraut, drained
  • water or beer


  1. Put sauerkraut in the slow cooker.
  2. Add water or beer to just cover the sauerkraut. 
  3. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.
  4. Reduce heat to keep warm. Keep the cover on, and serve as needed.

Should I Rinse Canned Sauerkraut?

Most canned sauerkraut comes in brine (usually salt and water), so you don't have to rinse it before you strain it unless it's too salty for your taste. Not rinsing it helps preserve the flavor in canned sauerkraut. But if you prefer milder-tasting sauerkraut, you can rinse it with water before the straining process.

An Easy Way to Add a Little Zip to Your Meals

Sauerkraut adds tangy complexity to tons of foods. So whether you want it on its own or it's kielbasa night, bring a little zest to your life with our easy cooking methods and tips. 

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4 Simple (and Tasty) Ways to Cook Canned Sauerkraut