Sauerkraut Balls | Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Sauerkraut Balls

Sauerkraut Balls are tangy, salty, and creamy ham and sauerkraut rolled into balls and covered in seasoned breadcrumbs then golden fried. They make a great appetizer or snack. Make this popular Northeast Ohio delicacy right at home with this easy recipe!

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 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!

This sauerkraut appetizer is one more way to enjoy the salty, tangy goodness of sauerkraut and pork, but in a whole new form!

I was first introduced to sauerkraut balls at a local deli 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 holds all the goodness in place. I think they are the best 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 make the dip! It really elevates this sauerkraut appetizer! 

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.

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.

  • Fry in oil: Frying in a pan with oil will give you the most crunchy and golden crust, while the insides stay moist and creamy.
  • Fry in an Air Fryer: Air frying is the bomb! 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 the juice 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 skillet, over med/high heat, melt the butter and 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 for one minute stirring constantly.

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

Add to 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/ham mixture to 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.

Skillet with wooden spatula showing remaining ingredients added

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

Once all the balls are formed, pop in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes while you get breading 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. Bread the sauerkraut balls by rolling 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 until golden brown. Serve warm with the reserved dipping sauce.

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!
Fat (grams)
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Nutritional Information is an estimate and provided as a courtesy.
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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!


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