When I was growing up, we never added Sauerkraut to anything, especially hot dogs. I wasn’t introduced to them until later in life when I visited up North. Now, I am a big fan of the stuff and enjoy it anytime I get the chance. If you are craving some or need it for a recipe but don’t have any around, there are some viable substitutes.
1. Fried Cabbage and Onions
Sauerkraut is made from thinly-sliced cabbage that has been fermented in brine (or saltwater). The fermentation process creates its trademark taste, which is slightly sour and acidic, the dish’s trademark flavor.
If you have a craving for sauerkraut but don’t have a jar of it in your kitchen, you can create a similar-tasting dish using cabbage and onions.
Here’s how to do it:
- Slice half a head of cabbage thinly and chop one large onion. To save time, put them through a food processor.
- Lubricate a heavy-based frying pan with a few drops of cooking or olive oil, and, once it has heated up, start frying the cabbage.
- After the cabbage and onions have softened, place one cup of sherry vinegar into the pan to give the dish a pleasant, acidic taste.
- Simmer the ingredients for five minutes, and remove the pan from the stove.
This dish tastes delicious, either hot or cold, and works well if you eat it on its own or on a hamburger.
2. Fast-Pickled Cabbage
Sauerkraut is always a well-received side at any barbecue or potluck dinner. If you don’t have the time to labor over a hot stove and want a quick and easy sauerkraut substitute, consider fast-pickling some cabbage.
Fast-pickled cabbage only needs a few basic ingredients:
- Half a head of finely-shredded cabbage
- One large, sliced onion
- One cup of sherry or white wine vinegar
- One cup of boiling water
- One teaspoon of salt
- One teaspoon of caster sugar or honey
Here is how to fast-pickle cabbage:
- Place the sliced onion and cabbage into a large container with enough room for the water and vinegar.
- Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt, and mix it until everything has dissolved.
- Pour the water and your chosen vinegar type into the bowl, cover it with clingfilm, and leave for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Gently pour out the excess liquid, and serve.
3. Dill Relish
If you wanted to use sauerkraut as a condiment at a barbecue or for your hot dog but just realized that you’ve run out, dill relish makes an excellent substitute.
Like sauerkraut, dill relish has a slightly tangy, sour, and acidic flavor and tastes delicious on a wide range of foods:
- Hot dogs
- Deli-style sandwiches
- Tortilla chips
Many people already have a jar of dill relish in their pantries or refrigerators. If not, and you need to run to the store, dill relish is more widely available than sauerkraut and very well-priced.
Not everyone enjoys sauerkraut, and some say it is an acquired taste. If you’re preparing food for a party or a large group of people, there is a good chance that some of them won’t be sauerkraut fans.
In this case, kimchi makes a wonderful substitute. Kimchi is a Korean take on sauerkraut in that it consists of pickled and fermented vegetables (usually cabbage). However, unlike sauerkraut, it has a kick due to the presence of chili peppers and ginger.
Kimchi also contains fish sauce and garlic, giving it a lively and robust taste.
You can use kimchi in a similar way to sauerkraut and can find it in the international aisle at many grocery stores.
5. Homemade Pickled Vegetables
A cheap and convenient substitute for sauerkraut is homemade pickled vegetables. Although cabbage is the main ingredient in sauerkraut, you can still try and emulate sauerkraut using other vegetables, including:
Slicing the vegetables thinly is essential if you want them to resemble sauerkraut. This can be tedious, but a vegetable spiralizer can help. This vegetable spiralizer from Amazon comes with a detachable container and can create thin vegetable strips within minutes.
Once you have shredded or spiralized your vegetables, you can pickle them. Follow the same recipe above for fast-pickled cabbage but substitute the cabbage with other vegetables.
This dish makes a tasty alternative to steamed or roasted vegetables.
6. Salsa Verde
Sauerkraut has a distinctive sour and slightly acidic taste but is not spicy. If you are looking for a similar-tasting food but one with a bit of a kick, consider salsa verde.
Instead of cabbage, salsa verde’s main ingredient is tomatillos (green tomatoes) and green chili peppers. It is fermented in lemon juice, which gives it a bright, citrus taste, and contains cilantro and garlic.
This popular Mexican side is widely available in grocery stores, but you can also make your own salsa verde. To do so, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Three to four tomatillos
- One large, chopped onion
- One chopped green chili pepper (poblano, pasilla, or Anaheim peppers work well with salsa verde)
- One cup of chopped cilantro
- One minced garlic clove
- Three tablespoons of lemon or lime juice
- One tablespoon of caster sugar or honey
- One teaspoon of salt
- Half a tablespoon of cooking oil
Making salsa verde should only take about 20 minutes, and here is how to do it:
- Dehusk your tomatillos (the husks are the leafy outer layer), and give them a rinse.
- Place the cooking oil in a pan, and heat it before searing each side of the tomatillos for two to three minutes.
- Take the tomatillos out of the pan, and place them in a blender or food processor. Add the other salsa verde ingredients, and give them a good stir.
- Blend everything until you have a smooth but slightly chunky consistency.
- Place the salsa verde in the refrigerator for two hours, and serve with tortilla chips, hot dogs, or tacos.
7. Thinly-Sliced Pickles
Using thinly-sliced pickles works as an effective sauerkraut substitute in a pinch. Pickles come in many varieties, and if you have some sweet and sour ones, they can closely emulate sauerkraut.
Most jarred pickles are either whole, sliced, or disc-shaped, so before serving them, simply slice them thinly with a paring knife.
8. Homemade “Flash” Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut takes a long time to make, and you will need at least a week using the traditional method. If you don’t have a week to wait, you could rustle up some sauerkraut within one hour using an express method.
This way of making sauerkraut will produce a very similar taste, but because it hasn’t been fermented, it won’t offer the same amount of probiotics, which are great for gut health.
Here is what you’ll need for this method:
- Half a head of cabbage (white and green cabbage work well)
- One large onion
- Two cups of apple cider, white, or sherry vinegar (you can also use one cup of each vinegar type if you wish)
- One tablespoon of cooking oil
- Half a cup of water
- One tablespoon of salt
Here is how to make homemade “flash” sauerkraut:
- Shred the cabbage using a food processor or sharp knife, and thinly slice the onion.
- Place the oil in a pot, heat it, and add the cabbage and onion.
- Fry the cabbage and onions for two to three minutes until they are soft.
- Add the vinegar, water, and salt, and simmer the ingredients for half an hour. If you notice that the water and vinegar have evaporated too quickly, add another cup of water.
- Turn the stovetop off, and allow the sauerkraut to cool before serving.
You can toss all the ingredients into a slow cooker for a hands-off approach (and if you have a few hours to spare). Select the low setting, put the lid on, and slow-cook it for four hours.
The best substitutes for sauerkraut::
- Fried cabbage and onions
- Fast-pickled cabbage
- Dill relish
- Homemade pickled vegetables
- Salsa verde
- Thinly-sliced pickles
- Homemade “flash” sauerkraut
Thanks for stoppin’ by’!
For more, don’t miss How to Tell When Brats Are Done on the Grill | The Best Way.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.