Sauerkraut Balls (Bunny B's Copy-cat Recipe) (2024)

Delicious sauerkraut ballsaretangy, 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!

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I've partnered with my friends at OhioPork.org 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!


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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!

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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.


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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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"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!

  • Beer Cheese Dip with Bacon
  • Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs- make in your slow cooker!
  • Cheesy Sausage Pinwheels



sauerkraut balls, easy sauerkraut balls, kraut balls, appetizer recipe

Appetizer, snack

American

Yield: 8 servings

Author: Renee Paj

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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.

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Notes:

You will probably have extra Russian Dressing dipping sauce. This sauce also makes an excellent salad dressing or a spread for sandwiches!

Calories
682.09

Fat (grams)
49.05

Sat. Fat (grams)
9.28

Carbs (grams)
49.55

Fiber (grams)
3.82

Net carbs
45.72

Sugar (grams)
11.21

Protein (grams)
10.36

Sodium (milligrams)
1126.89

Cholesterol (grams)
63.53

Nutritional Information is an estimate and provided as a courtesy.

Copyright © 2020 Renee's Kitchen Adventures

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