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. Han Avatar

    I would like to see a sauerkraut factory in Germany around Kolin, Frankfrut or Buirsbrug.
    Please introduce some sauerkraut factories. I will give some Kimchi for them.

  2. jordan byrd Avatar
    jordan byrd

    Can I add a chopped apples and caraway seeds to this recipe? If so how much? Also could i use half red and half regular cabbagr? Thanks!

  3. Laura Avatar

    HI, my apologies for my last post. I have been in and out of several sites over the past few days and thought I was elsewhere when I responded. You answered my question exactly. No need for me to have asked a ‘stupid’ straw question about allowing the bubbles to escape. however, I am still a little confused. If I cover the jar with plastic wrap and tie securely, as per your directions, how can the gases escape; or, are they supposed to stay within the jar?

    Many thanks.

  4. Laura Avatar

    Is it preferable to provide an air-tight barrier (i.e. block all air from penetrating into the cabbage/liquid); or, is it necessary to allow the fermenting gases room for escape?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Both. That is why I use the bag for a seal. You want it airtight, but with a way for bubbles to escape. I’ve also seen some people rig a fermentation lid (used for beer brewing) on the top of a gallon size jar for this.

      1. Laura Harris Avatar
        Laura Harris

        Many thanks

        I started my very first batch yesterday. I only had 1.5 lb cabbage so my ‘small mouth’ quart mason jar is only 3/4 full but enough brine was produced to cover the cabbage.

        I didn’t have anything to use as a weight that would fit inside the jar that would prevent pieces of cabbage from floating to the top so I placed an empty sandwich size plastic baggy on top of the cabbage/brine and then added salted water to the baggy so that it has, seemingly, made an airtight barrier. But, I guess this method will not let it breathe. Would putting a straw into the cabbage between the jar & water bag be of any benefit? Any other suggestions?

  5. rebi Avatar

    After 5 days my sauerkraut was really fermented. Is it safe to eat it?Maybe the temperature was too hot that s why..I don t know how it will taste after 2-3 weeks.. It seems to be done from now.. Does it has the same properties as it would have after 2-3 weeks?
    Thank you so much

  6. Mary O Avatar

    Thank you so much for your commitment to this blog!! I’m new to fermented foods and was wondering what the brine looks like when fermented for a month? Is it cloudy, clear, slimy? I used distilled water and salt for my cabbage. Thanks again!

  7. stephanie Avatar

    I apologize if this has been answered…but I am sensitive to salt. Does anyone have advice or recommendations?

    1. Cat Avatar

      Stephanie, have you tried a natural sea salt, like himalayan pink? I find natural sea salts to be not only better for me in the way I feel, but they are yummier (it makes iodized salt taste chemically) and the kids say it tastes saltier (but yummier) so they use less.

    2. Lynn Avatar

      Hi Stephanie, I too am sensitive to salt as it makes me retain water under my eyes. Scary! I have made fermented cabbage using a method I learned on Dr. Mercola’s website. Instead of salt, I juice a bunch of celery and pour the juice over the pounded cabbage. The cabbage will release some moisture on its own, just add enough celery juice to submerge your mixture. I’ve prepared it this way twice with perfect results and no swollen eyes. Good luck!

  8. David Avatar

    Your recipe is a bit ambiguous. Step 9 instructs us to fill a 2 gallon bag with water, yet step 10 instructs us to place the “brine filled bag” on top of the cabbage. I’m assuming that these two steps are referring to the same bag, and the “brine filled bag” is a typo? Or am I misreading the recipe?


    1. Pat Avatar

      You can also find a flat rock , Clean very well and use that to hold the cabbage down I don’t like using plastic anything works good

  9. Amanda Avatar

    I need to get as many probiotics as possible! My breastfed infant just started getting pretty bad eczema at 8 months old. He’s never had it before. His poop is hard lately as well I think bc we’ve added more solids lately:( so I’m assuming his liver and kidneys are backed up making toxins come out on his skin ( eczema). Will me eating probiotics help get to him through my breast milk? Also, are there any good fermented vegetable brands in stores? I feel to stressed out at the moment to make my own. I read your article on eczema and am trying coco oil on his skin and also watching the food I eat and giving him more foods that have a probiotic effect. Any advice with his eczema is greatly appreciated!!

    1. Terry Avatar

      5 stars
      I feel for you. Wellness Mama has several articles on eczema relief. Just type in “eczema” in the search bar and they will all come up. I hope you find something that helps your little one.

  10. Ginny Avatar

    What would you use to cover if you did one head in a quart-size mason jar? Also, how much Bubbie’s juice would you use for that amount of saurkraut? Thanks!

  11. Cindy Avatar

    5 stars
    Hi there, would rinsing the kraut for saltiness also rise away the probiotics? Thanks 🙂

  12. Valda Avatar

    I’ve just started fermentation of cabbage and am enjoying the finished product. I started it on Feb 9 and haven’t put it in the fridge yet. It doesn’t taste strong yet. Is it possible in small batches to never make it to the fridge? I used a probiotic dissolved in water in the first batch and 1/2 c of brine from that batch for my next one.

  13. Terry Avatar

    I know I’m joining this conversation late, but I’m rather desperate. I’m having some issues with my thyroid and immune system. I’m wanting to add fermented foods to my diet but don’t want to exacerbate the problem. I’ve heard that cabbage is a goitrogenic food. Does fermenting it make it better for your thyroid or should it be avoided completely? The same with cauliflower, broccoli etc. I love these foods and would love to try them fermented but I’m leery of them not wanting to cause further problems. Please respond.

      1. Terry Avatar

        Thanks. I’ve started seeing a functional medicine doctor and she’s running multiple tests. She’ll be able to tell me if it’s Hashimoto’s and I can it from there.

  14. Britt Avatar

    I had made my kraut at the beginning of October, just cabbage, salt and a bit of water. I covered it with a clear plate, 2 2G plastic bags filled with water for weight and covered it with a tea towel. Room temps between 50*-65*. It bubbled for a while and has smelled right all along, but the dryness of the air has pulled moisture out of the crock leaving liquid to Just the top of the cabbage. I boiled some brine to recover it, but I am concerned it is no longer safe. Any advice?

    1. Jenny Avatar

      Should be fine if it smells good. Kraut is very forgiving. You are right to add the brine.

  15. Jennifer Avatar

    I’m a lil confused. In step 10 it says to put brine filled bag on top of cabbage and liquid. But in the step above it doesn’t say anything about adding salt to the water in the bags, and i don’t know what the point would be since it’s in plastic and not on food. Please explain. Thanks!

    1. Fiona Avatar

      Brine filled bags are in case the bags open by mistake then you don’t get plain water into the ‘kraut.

  16. Vicki Avatar

    Hi there. I made sauerkraut about 7-8 weeks ago. When I started it fermenting, there was some brine covering the top, but when I checked it a few weeks later there was none. I wasn’t sure what to do so I put it in the fridge, where it still sits. There was no bad odor, no mold, still looks fresh but I’m uncertain if we should eat it. I can see brine in there but it’s a least 6 inches from the top of the cabbage. Can this grow botulism? Should I just throw it out and err on the side of caution? Can you offer any advice? Thank you!

  17. Julie Avatar

    Help. First time with kraut. Did everything by the book. Used a 10 liter crock with the water seal lid. Just opened the crock and the weights had sunk to the bottom of the crock. What did I do wrong? I also had added green apple and some horseradish. The apple looks brown. Is the kraut still safe; it tastes fine.

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