Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe (Easy Countertop Method)

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Traditional homemade sauerkraut recipe-packed with probiotics
Wellness Mama » Blog » Recipes » Side Dish Recipes » Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe (Easy Countertop Method)

Fermenting is an age-old way of preserving foods and increasing their nutritional value. Turning cabbage into sauerkraut is one of the easiest fermented foods to master.

Why is this sauerkraut better for you? During fermentation, billions of beneficial bacteria are produced. Because it’s homemade (and not pasteurized like in the store), this bacteria is still present when we eat it and helps our gut flora.

In fact, homemade sauerkraut is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to add probiotics to our diets!

Sauerkraut: Why Make It from Scratch?

In short, it is cheaper, healthier, and oh so much tastier!

Being the ¼ German that I am, I have always had a love of sauerkraut. The problem is, short of authentic German restaurants, good sauerkraut is hard to find. The logical solution, of course, was to make my own. Sauerkraut was the first thing I got brave enough to try to ferment, and it will always have a special place in my heart and on my counter.

Sauerkraut has all the benefits of traditional fermented foods, including the abundance of natural probiotics. It is made using natural lactic acid fermentation. In other words, beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria do the hard work of breaking down the cabbage into its delicious and salty final product.

Store-bought sauerkraut is often cooked, killing the beneficial bacteria. The few good brands, like Bubbies, are great, but expensive.

The Kraut-Making Process: Sauerkraut 101

Sauerkraut simply means “sour cabbage” in German, but making kraut does so much more than just make cabbage sour!

As I mentioned, the Lactobacillus bacteria are the active workers in the process. These bacteria occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, and even on our skin and in our bodies. They are generally considered harmless and even beneficial. Lactobacillus also have two major properties that make them perfect for fermentation:

  1. They can survive in an anaerobic environment (oxygen-free)
  2. They handle salt well, unlike many other types of bacteria

This allows us to ferment the cabbage under a brine in an oxygen-free environment without killing the Lactobacillus. Many other types of bacteria don’t handle salt or lack of oxygen well. The lactic acid fermentation process allows the good bacteria to stay and flourish while discouraging the bad bacteria.

If it sounds complicated so far, never fear … the recipe itself is a snap!

The Right Equipment Makes a Big Difference

Sauerkraut is tough to mess up, but the right equipment makes the process so much easier! Since kraut is one of the most budget-friendly real foods out there (along with sardines), I’ve found that it is worth investing in some inexpensive equipment to make it a regular part of my diet. There are several different methods to choose from.

Option 1: A Good Ol’ Mason Jar

The most basic method of sauerkraut-making is done in a simple glass jar. Even a quart-size mason jar will work, though many people choose a half-gallon size to be able to make a little more at once. You can use a plastic bag filled with water to seal the jar from air, though considering my feelings about plastic, I highly discourage this method. Instead, I recommend getting these pieces of equipment:

Whichever equipment you pick, I encourage you to have some kind of weight and some kind of fermentation lid. You can also use this equipment when making kimchi and pickles!

Option 2: A Fermentation Crock

I prefer the more traditional method of making sauerkraut in a fermentation crock. For one thing, you get to use a cool-looking traditional stoneware fermentation crock (like this one). I find this method easier and a high-quality crock costs less than the weights, lids, and jars you need for the mason jar method.

If you aren’t sure you’ll love making sauerkraut, it might be best to start with the mason jar method. If you like it, a fermentation crock will greatly simplify the process.

How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut

A few tips for making the best homemade sauerkraut:

  • Use the freshest cabbage available. Any color cabbage will work, but the fresher it is, the more crisp the finished sauerkraut will be. I love making kraut with fresh-picked cabbage from my garden or farmers market.
  • Make sure everything is clean. Since this process relies on a certain type of bacteria for fermentation, it is important to remove as much unwanted bacteria as possible. No need to bleach anything (please don’t!), but  make sure the jar or crock has been washed well in warm, soapy water, and wash your hands well too!
  • Get rid of the air. As explained above, the beneficial bacteria need an anaerobic environment to ferment correctly. Using any of the methods I explained above will accomplish this.
  • Get the salt right. This recipe does require salt. It is necessary not just for taste, but for proper and safe fermentation. I’ve tested it and it can be done with as little as 1 tablespoon per quart of sauerkraut (2 tablespoons total for this recipe), but doesn’t work well with less than that.
  • Keep the temperature moderate. In my experience, kraut is best when fermented at around 64-67 degrees, though anything in the 60-70 degree range works well. If it gets cooler than that, fermentation is very slow. At higher than that, it is too fast and can yield a mushy finished product. Cabbage is often freshest in cooler months, and counter temperatures are perfect at these times. In warmer months, I often place kraut near air conditioning vents to keep it cool, or just make sure it is in a cool, dark corner of the pantry.
  • Then make it stop! Once you’ve achieved the desired level of fermentation, it is important to move it to the refrigerator to stop the fermentation. At this point, it will store for up to 6 months if kept cool and with the kraut below the brine.
Traditional homemade sauerkraut recipe-packed with probiotics

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

Enjoy delicious, crisp, perfectly salty kraut for months! Only takes 30 minutes of hands-on prep. This traditionally made sauerkraut is brimming with healthy probiotics.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 14 days 30 minutes
Calories 10kcal
Author Katie Wells


2 quarts


  • heads cabbage (about five lbs)
  • ¼ cup salt (see note below)
  • 1-2 TBSP caraway seeds (optional)


  • Get things clean – Wash all equipment, work surfaces, and your hands in warm soapy water. 
  • Slice the cabbage – Remove the outer leaves and cores from cabbage. (Compost them if you can!) Slice the cabbage into quarters for easier slicing. Then, thinly slice cabbage into very thin ribbons. If you have one, a food processor speeds up this process. 
  • Add the salt – Place the thinly sliced cabbage in a large bowl (make sure it is clean too!). Sprinkle the salt over it. Knead and squish the cabbage/salt with your hands for about ten minutes. At first, it won’t seem like it is doing anything at all, but be patient. After a few minutes, the cabbage will start releasing liquid and by the end, there should be enough liquid brine to cover the cabbage in the crock or jar. Add the caraway seeds at this point if you are using them. 
  • Move it to the fermentation vessel – Stuff the cabbage very tightly into the jars or fermentation crock. Pour any liquid from the bowl into the jar. If needed, add just enough water to make sure the water/brine covers the cabbage entirely. If the cabbage is fresh, no liquid may be needed, but don’t worry if you have to add a little water.  
  • Weigh and cover – Add the fermentation weights and fermentation seal (or use the fermentation crock as directed). If you are just using a basic mason jar, you can also do this by adding a smaller jar that just fits inside the lid of the mason jar and covering both jars with a cloth and a rubber band. 
  • Let it ferment – Now you get to practice patience! Fermentation will begin within a day and take 2-5 weeks depending on temperature and desired tartness. After 2 weeks, check for desired tartness. The sauerkraut is technically slightly fermented after only a few days, but the best flavor seems to be at the 2-3 week mark. Taste is the best measure here, so check it often and stop the ferment when you get the desired taste. Note: It is normal to see bubbles, white scum, or foam on top during the fermentation. You shouldn’t see any actual mold, though. If you do, scrape it off the top, and make sure all the rest of the cabbage is fully submerged. All cabbage below the brine level should still be fine. 
  • Cool it down – Once fermented, it can be eaten right away, or it will store in the refrigerator for up to six months. 
  • Enjoy! Sauerkraut is delicious on its own or added to salads, soups, or on top of meats.


Nutrition Facts
Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 /2 cup)
Calories 10
% Daily Value*
Sodium 450mg20%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 3g13%
Protein 1g2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


*The salt should be at a ratio of about 2% by weight. If you have a digital scale, it is worth weighing the cabbage and the salt if you want to get the perfect ratio for the brine. I find it easiest to weigh the cabbage (in grams) and then I calculate 2% of the weight of the cabbage to use in salt. Any high-quality salt will work but I find the best results when I use this one
**Nutrition data may vary based on fermentation time. Longer ferments will break down more of the naturally occurring carbohydrates in cabbage. Also, a ½ cup serving size can vary greatly based on how it is measured (scooped vs. packed down). 

Like this recipe? Check out my new cookbook, or get all my recipes (over 500!) in a personalized weekly meal planner here!

Sauerkraut Health Benefits

Now that you’ve made some delicious kraut, you get to enjoy its many benefits. Sure, it’s delicious, but it also has some other nutritional benefits:

Probiotic Powerhouse

If high quality probiotics aren’t in the budget, just make some sauerkraut. It contains billions of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria. Probiotics are thought to be beneficial in supporting the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. Some studies even indicate that probiotics and gut health are important for mental health, digestive health, and proper immune function.

Vitamins B & C

Cabbage is a natural source of B vitamins and vitamin C. The process of fermentation increases the availability of these nutrients, potentially making sauerkraut more nutritious that the original cabbage itself.

Good for Digestion

Sauerkraut is included in protocols like the GAPS diet to seal and heal the gut. Many people report that sauerkraut soothes and helps improve their digestion.


Sauerkraut is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are well-studied for their benefits to the eyes.

Do you like sauerkraut? Ever tried to make your own? Share below!

How to make traditional lacto-fermented homemade Sauerkraut. An excellent source of probiotics and enzymes for gut health.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


227 responses to “Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe (Easy Countertop Method)”

  1. Trinity Avatar

    Hi! Quick question. I’m making my first batch of sauerkraut. There seems to be a pinkish hue around the caraway seeds. Is that a problem? Or is it just from the seeds? There isn’t any mold on top, and it smells fine. I just want to make sure it’s safe. Thank you!

  2. Susan Goodman Avatar
    Susan Goodman

    5 stars
    I read it and didn’t believe it, but then it happened to me. My glass weight in the top of the full jar SHATTERED. I just found it that way. Back to the plastic water-filled bags for me! I do have some black solid volcanic rocks I use. Need to get more….

  3. Michelle Avatar

    5 stars
    I attempted to use my crock but it was too big. I transferred to a 1 gallon glass jar, covered it with a small square of plastic wrap and put a bowl of water on top of that. In my recipe I followed it as written but added 5 carrots. I like the added color, makes it more fun to eat and I had them on hand. So far the jar looks beautiful, and the house smells like cabbage. Looking forward to tasting it in a few weeks. May have to QC the product and take sample tastes along the journey. 🙂

  4. Heidi George Avatar
    Heidi George

    I bought a crock with a weight to make sauerkraut, but don’t want to make as much as it holds, can I fill the crock just half way.?

  5. Susan Orpilla Avatar
    Susan Orpilla

    What type of salt is best? Sea Salt? Pink Himalayan?

  6. Michael Rappe Avatar
    Michael Rappe

    I have fermented my sauerkraut in a Sauerkrock for about 6 weeks. How do I know if it is OK? At one time I found that the weight on top of the cabbage were exposed to the air and there were a few small pieces on top of the weights. I keep my crock in a cooler with cold water surrounding the crock to keep is cool because I live in Texas and the temp in my house is usually between 73 and 78. I took it out today and the sauerkraut looks ok. I haven’t seen and mold or other strange stuff in there. I tastes OK so I am not sure that there is any other way to tell if it is good or bad.

  7. Chloe Avatar

    5 stars
    Giving this a try! I have the Easy Fermenting lids and I’m a little confused about the pump. Is that not necessary for sauerkraut? Just not sure if I should be pumping air out or not. No recipe I’ve found calls for that step, but it was included in my kit and I feel like I’m missing something.

    1. Sue Avatar

      I have the lids with the pump too. My instructions said after opening the lid to check flavor this allows oxygen to enter so pull air out with the pump if you want to continue your fermentation. Before the pump I used the large cabbage leaves to keep the kraut under the brine so oxygen wasn’t a problem then. But the pump is handy if you need to pull air out of jar.

  8. Teresa Avatar

    I just tasted mine after two weeks and it is too salty. How can I save it? Or what can I use it for?

  9. Katie Pace Avatar
    Katie Pace

    Could you please tell me if soft /mushy sauerkraut is still safe to eat. I usually have really good results, but this last batch is soft and mushy . It tastes ok except for the bad texture. I am having a hard time trying to get an answer to this question on the internet. Thank you.

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      I haven’t ever had that happen but I’d guess it is based on temperature. Is it warmer than usual? As long as it still smells and tastes ok, it should still be good.

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