Sauerkraut Balls (Bunny B's Copy-cat Recipe) | Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Sauerkraut Balls (Bunny B's Copy-cat Recipe)

Delicious sauerkraut balls are tangy, salty, and creamy ham and sauerkraut rolled into balls and covered in seasoned breadcrumbs then golden fried. They make great appetizers or snacks. 

You can buy frozen sauerkraut balls in the grocery store, but with this easy recipe you can make this popular Northeast Ohio delicacy right at home!

Sauerkraut Balls on white tray with dipping sauce

I've partnered with my friends at to create this delicious recipe and blog post for you. All opinions are my own.

Do you love sauerkraut?

I have to admit. I wasn't always a sauerkraut fan. But over the years, I've grown to really enjoy the pungent, tart, taste of tangy sauerkraut. 

Sauerkraut is particularly good when paired with pork. It's a great accompaniment in this Maple Dijon Pork Roast with Sauerkraut recipe. I also love it in these Country Style Ribs with Sauerkraut. Kraut on a hot dog or with bratwurst is pure heaven! My Easy Kielbasa and Sauerkraut recipe is always a welcome site! 

This sauerkraut appetizer is one more way to enjoy the salty, tangy goodness of sauerkraut and pork, but in a whole new form! It's such a fun appetizer because it's unexpected. 

I was first introduced to sauerkraut balls at a local deli/restaurant here in Northeast Ohio. As the story goes, sauerkraut balls were invented in Akron, Ohio back in the 1960's. No one knows if they came from German or Polish roots, but it seems like outside of Northeast Ohio, few people have ever heard of them.

Which is a real shame. Because they are incredibly tasty and addictive!

Another angle of sauerkraut balls ready to eat on try with dipping sauce

What are sauerkraut balls? 

A sauerkraut ball is a savory sphere of sauerkraut and ground up ham that is breaded and deep fried. They make a wonderful kind of tangy, tart savory appetizer even self proclaimed sauerkraut haters enjoy. The Bunny B company was the first Akron company to commercially make sauerkraut balls for local restaurants and grocers. The company has been sold, but they are still making sauerkraut balls with the original recipe today. 

The easy sauerkraut balls recipe I'm sharing with you is as close to the original Bunny B sauerkraut balls recipe as you can find. You may see other recipes using things like sausage and cream cheese in their recipes, while I'm sure they are delicious they aren't like the Akron, Ohio original. This recipe doesn't use sausage nor cream cheese. A cooked roux made with all purpose flour holds all the goodness in place. 

I think this is the best recipe for sauerkraut balls on the planet! 

Close up of sauerkraut ball on a skewer with white tray in background with more sauerkraut balls and dipping sauce

Dipping sauce for sauerkraut balls

When I enjoy these sauerkraut balls at the deli, they are always served with a spicy Russian Dressing type dipping sauce that compliments the sauerkraut balls perfectly. There are instructions on how to make a delicious sauce in the recipe box below. Make sure you serve these fun appetizers with a dip. Dipping really elevates the flavors. 

Other favorite dipping sauces for sauerkraut balls include store-bought Thousand Island Dressing, stone ground mustard, honey mustard, or Dijon mustard.

Fingers holding a sauerkraut ball that has been dipped in sauce in the front and a tray of more sauerkraut balls and dipping sauce in the back.

What brand of sauerkraut works best in this recipe for sauerkraut balls?

Any store bought brand or homemade sauerkraut will work in this recipe. You will need some of the liquid the sauerkraut is stored in for this recipe. Make sure you don't discard it.

What kind of ham should I use to make sauerkraut balls?

Any kind of smoked ham works great in this recipe for sauerkraut balls. This is a great recipe to use up leftover holiday ham. 

If you don't have ham, you could also substitute fully cooked pork sausage or even corned beef in place of the ham. 

Directions for baking, frying in oil, or Air Frying sauerkraut balls

These sauerkraut balls are creamy on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside. In the recipe card below, I've written instructions for 3 ways to "fry" them. You can choose the cooking method best for you.

  • Fry in oil: Frying in a pan on the stove top or in an electric skillet with vegetable oil will give you the most crunchy and golden crust, while the insides stay moist and creamy. (You will need to drain them on a sheet pan lined with paper towels before serving.)
  • Fry in an Air Fryer: Air frying is the cooking method I used! I think this is the best way to make this recipe for sauerkraut balls. Less oil, means less calories but you still get the crunch you would from frying in a pan with oil. I used an Air Fryer to brown and crisp the sauerkraut balls in the photos. 
  • Oven "Frying": With this method, you will have the least crispy results, but the sauerkraut balls will still be delicious! 
Remember, you aren't actually cooking the sauerkraut balls at this point, you're simply crisping up the outside and warming the inside. The insides are completely cooked by this stage. 

close up of a bite taken out of a sauerkraut ball showing inside sitting on a smear of dipping sauce and more sauerkraut balls in the back

How to make sauerkraut balls

Gather all the ingredients you need to make the kraut balls, except the flour for breading, egg, and seasoned bread crumbs. You'll need those later. 

To finely chop ham, it works best to use a food processor. If you don't have one, you can chop the ham as finely as possible with a knife. 

Overhead view of food processor with ham ground up for sauerkraut ball recipe

Drain the sauerkraut well and reserve as much liquid as you can to use in the recipe.

sauerkraut draining in a colander placed over a 4 cup glass measure to drain sitting on a grey countertop

In a large nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat, melt the butter then add onion. Cook until onion begins to brown. 

a skillet with a wooden spatula browning onions on a stovetop

Add in ham, garlic powder, and flour. Cook the ham mixture for one minute stirring constantly.

A skillet with a wooden spatula showing more ingredients (ham, flour, and garlic powder) added

Add to large skillet, sauerkraut, 1/4 cup reserved sauerkraut juice, dried parsley flakes, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for one minute, stirring around, until thick paste forms.

Remove from heat and transfer sauerkraut and ham mixture to a small bowl and cover. Place in refrigerator to cool. 

Mixture needs to be completely cold before forming into balls. It should take 2 to 4 hours, or you can chill it overnight.

If you are making the Russian Dressing for dipping, you can make this while the sauerkraut-ham mixture cools. 

Skillet with wooden spatula showing remaining ingredients added

When sauerkraut and ham mixture is cold, it should hold it's shape when pressed together. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls. Use a small cookie scoop to keep the balls consistent, if you like.

Once all the balls are formed and placed on a baking sheet, pop in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes while you get dredging station ready.

Shaping the cold sauerkraut and ham mixture into balls. Balls on metal baking tray in the foreground and the 4 cup glass measuring cup with a scoop in the front.

Set up breading station by placing flour, beaten eggs, and seasoned bread crumbs each in a shallow bowl. Roll balls in flour, then egg mixture, then seasoned bread crumbs.

Breaded sauerkraut balls ready for frying on a baking sheet over head view

"Fry" sauerkraut balls with your preferred method (frying pan with oil, oven, or air fryer) in single layer until golden brown. Serve warm with dipping sauce. These sauerkraut balls are also good at room temperature. 

Wouldn't this be the perfect appetizer to ring in the new year? 

More pork appetizers you might enjoy!

sauerkraut balls, easy sauerkraut balls, kraut balls, appetizer recipe
Appetizer, snack
Yield: 8 servings
Author: Renee Paj
Sauerkraut Balls

Sauerkraut Balls

Prep time: 4 H & 15 MCook time: 15 MTotal time: 4 H & 30 M
These tangy, salty, and creamy ham and sauerkraut balls covered in seasoned breadcrumbs and golden fried make a great appetizer or snack.


For sauerkraut balls
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped ham (use a food processor for best results)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 14 ounce can of sauerkraut, well drained, reserve juice
  • 1/4 cup reserved sauerkraut juice
  • 2 TBSP dried parsley flakes
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
To bread sauerkraut balls
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg + 2 TBSP water
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • Cooking spray or oil for pan frying
for Russian Dressing dipping sauce
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 - 4 tsp. prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce (Franks works well here)
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • dash paprika
  • pinch of salt


To make sauerkraut balls
  1. In large skillet, melt butter. Add onion and cook over med heat until onions are browned (about 6 to 8 minutes). 
  2. Stir in ham and garlic powder. 
  3. Add in 2 TBSP flour and stir and cook for about 1 minute. 
  4. Add drained sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice, dried parsley, and Worcestershire sauce.  Stir and cook until mixture becomes a thick paste. 
  5. Remove sauerkraut/ham mixture to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill. Mixture needs to be completely cooled before proceeding to next step. (About 2 to 4 hours or overnight).
  6. While mixture is chilling, make Russian Dressing dipping sauce following directions below. 
  7. Once sauerkraut/ham mixture is completely cold, form into 1" balls. This is easy to do with a small cookie scoop. Mixture should be putty like and hold it's shape while cold. Continue with remaining sauerkraut/ham mixture and pop in refrigerator for about 10 minutes, while you set up breading station.
  8. Set up a breading station. Put flour in a shallow bowl (or I like to use paper plates for easy clean up).  Whisk egg with water in a shallow bowl, Put seasoned breadcrumbs in shallow bowl or paper plate.
  9. Bread the sauerkraut balls by rolling in flour, next egg, and then breadcrumbs. Set each breaded sauerkraut ball on sheet pan or plate. 
To fry sauerkraut balls
  1. Remove sauerkraut balls from refrigerator. You can use three methods to fry the sauerkraut balls. Choose which one is best for you. 
  2. SKILLET FRYING: Heat about 1" of oil in a large skillet. Fry sauerkraut balls, turning to brown all sides, until golden brown. 
  3. AIR FRYER: (This is the method I used) Spray sauerkraut balls with cooking spray. Heat air fryer to 400 degrees F. Place sauerkraut balls in basket allowing for space and not over crowding. (depending on the size of your air fryer basket, you may need to work in batches.) Air fry for approximately 5 minutes, shaking the basket once during cooking time. 
  4. OVEN METHOD: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and spray sauerkraut balls liberally with cooking spray. Bake in oven for approximately 10 - 20  minutes, turning the balls once during bake time. 
  5. Serve sauerkraut balls warm with Russian Dressing dipping sauce on the side. 
For Russian Dressing Dipping Sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate to combine flavors for at least 2 hours. 


You will probably have extra Russian Dressing dipping sauce. This sauce also makes an excellent salad dressing or a spread for sandwiches!
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  1. Absolutely perfect, came out just like the recipe. Everyone loved them

    1. Awesome! So glad you enjoyed this recipe and appreciate you leaving a review.

  2. Can you freeze them ahead of time?

    1. Hi Amanda, I have not frozen these myself, but have had other readers say they have so with success. Thanks so much for your question.

  3. Hi Amanda, I really want to make these. I would like to know what the best ham would be to get that I can chop? Thank you!

    1. I used a small Sugardale smoked ham and it worked beautifully.

  4. I grew up on Bunny B kraut balls and these were better! I threw corned beef, prosciutto, pastrami and a slice of Swiss cheese into the food processor and used Panko. My air fryer did the job! What deli are you referring to, Lou and Hy’s? Primo’s? Thanks!

    1. Hello! I'm so very happy you enjoyed this recipe! Love the additions too. The deli I was referring to is Simon's Deli. That's where I had my first taste of delicious sauerkraut balls.

  5. I've not heard of Sauerkraut Balls. The image looks so good and they sound amazing! Would using spam be alright to use? Do you prefer baking method? Kindly, Chris Ann

    1. Hi Chris Ann! Thank you for your question! If you like sauerkraut and ham, you'll love these Sauerkraut Balls. I've never used Spam in this recipe, but I think it would work! It may alter the taste a bit, but I think it would still be delicious. I like using my airfryer, but all the methods work well! Traditionally, they are deep fried. I hope you get a chance to make them and love them as much as I do!

  6. This is very similar to my grandmothers recipe! She grew speaking German in our hometown of Ravenna, Oh just miles from Akron. I have a batch mixed up and am getting ready to fry them now. As with a lot of recipes handed down, there were some details left out, yours filled in the blanks for me. Thanks!

    1. I'm so happy this blog page could help you out. They really are so delicious! I can't wait to make up another batch soon.

  7. Im from the area and this recipe is spot on. One exception ! also add 1/4 cup of slab bacon(good stuff not cheap packaged), finely chopped(processed). We got em that way at a bar in Kent ,Oh.and oh boy THE BEST!!upon request from my family, I'm making 4 batches today for New Years

    1. Hello! Awesome! I'm so glad you are enjoying this recipe!! Love the addition of bacon!

  8. Can you use cooked ham? I’m a new cook but this recipe sounded so good & so much like what my grandma made. I will definitely check out all your recipes.

    1. Hello and thanks for your question. You should be able to use any cooked ham in this recipe. Just make sure it's finely chopped. Hope this helps!

  9. I grew up in Akron as well with Bunny B being the favorite. I'm making these today; can't wait to try them. I moved south recently and, of course, no one has heard of them down here. Ugh. Thanks for sharing the recipe!!

  10. Carol - Akron, Ohio

    1. Hi Carol! Thanks for your comment. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! I think they are pretty close to the Bunny B's version! I hope you do as well.

  11. My mom used to make these for oil fondue on special occasions and they were the BEST! I think she used sausage. FYI her roots are German;-)

    1. Hello! Thanks for sharing your memory. I've seen these made with sausage too and I bet they are great. For me, this recipe comes closest to the ones I grew up with. We love them.

  12. I’m a kraut ball freak. But instructions were a bit confusing. Drain kraut. But add the juice after ??? Also it said add remaining mixture ??? Confused on that as well please let me know thanks I’m using ham and corned beef fyi !!! Thank you

    1. Hello! I'm sorry to have confused you. Yes, drain the kraut into a bowl or measuring cup reserving the liquid. You will then measure out a 1/4 cup of that liquid and add to the recipe when it's called for. You can discard the rest of the drained liquid, as it's not needed. Make sure to follow the directions in the recipe card itself for clarity. I hope this helps.


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