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What does sauerkraut taste like? Does it taste good? Learn more about why this fermented food is beloved for its distinctive flavor!

what does sauerkraut taste like

You’ve probably had cabbage in one form or another. But what about sauerkraut?

And what does sauerkraut taste like?

Sauerkraut is one of the most popular fermented dishes. It’s often compared to kimchi, so if you love sour, fermented foods and pickled vegetables, this article is for you!

What Is Sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut is essentially fermented shredded cabbage originating in central Europe.

It is also made in the Balkans but with whole cabbage heads instead of shredded cabbage.

Salt is the secret ingredient in this dish because it forms the brine and preserves the cabbage. I won’t bore you with the science, but to give you an idea, salt causes the cabbage to release fermentable sugars and prevent undesirable bacterial and fungal growth.

However, the bacteria we want (aka the beneficial probiotic bacteria) can tolerate the salt and convert the carbohydrates in the cabbage to lactic acid.

And this acid? It’s responsible for the sourness of sauerkraut!

What does sauerkraut mean?

Sauerkraut came from the German words “sauer” and “kraut,” meaning “sour” and “cabbage.” Straightforward and easy to remember!

What Does Sauerkraut Taste Like? Does Sauerkraut Taste Good?

So what does sauerkraut taste like? Sauerkraut has a distinctive sour-salty flavor without being too intense and intimidating. The best way I can describe the taste of sauerkraut is like kimchi without the spice.

Sauerkraut can be crunchy or soft, depending on the fermentation process and the amount of salt used.

Does Sauerkraut Taste Like Cabbage?

Sauerkraut is cabbage, but because it’s fermented, it won’t taste very close to raw or cooked cabbage dishes. Raw fresh cabbage tastes a bit bitter, and cooked cabbage, depending on the recipe, can taste sweet or savory.

Does Sauerkraut Taste Like Kimchi?

Sauerkraut and kimchi are both fermented, so they share an acidic flavor profile. However, the Korean dish has additional ingredients that give it a spicy and umami flavor compared to the simpler sauerkraut, which tastes tart but not overly salty.

Does Sauerkraut Taste Like Coleslaw?

Sauerkraut and coleslaw may both use cabbage, but they don’t taste alike. Coleslaw is often served with a dressing like mayo, so you can easily imagine how different it will taste from sauerkraut which is only fermented in salt.

Does Sauerkraut Taste Like Vinegar?

Both vinegar and sauerkraut are sour, so the latter is sometimes described with a vinegar-like punchy taste. Some people even ferment their sauerkraut in vinegar for extra flavor!

Does Sauerkraut Taste Good?

Every person is different, so it’s up to you to decide if you’ll like this German dish. More than the expected sour taste of fermented cabbage, we should appreciate how it also carries saltiness and, sometimes, sweetness (depending on the recipe) to make the overall flavor more complex.

what does sauerkraut go with

Is Sauerkraut An Acquired Taste?

Like other sour, fermented foods, sauerkraut is an acquired taste. I can imagine how some people won’t like it, especially if you just eat it on its own for the first time.

However, it pairs perfectly with many dishes because the tanginess and salty taste balances the other flavors perfectly.

What Is Sauerkraut Made Of?

Regular sauerkraut is very simple to make as it only needs shredded cabbage and canning or pickling salt. You will also find recipes with caraway seeds, juniper berries, and mustard seeds for homemade sauerkraut. 

Types Of Sauerkraut Products

Sauerkraut in pouch

You can just purchase sauerkraut in a pouch if you don’t want to ferment shredded raw cabbage yourself.

Canned sauerkraut

Storebought sauerkraut also comes in cans!

Sauerkraut jars

Personally, I like sauerkraut jars better than pouched ones because it’s much easier to store the leftovers.

Sauerkraut mustard

Enjoy the tangy taste of sauerkraut as a condiment to your favorite foods using sauerkraut mustard!

Sauerkraut brine

Drink sauerkraut brine shots and reap health benefits for mental well-being and digestion.

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Why You Should Try Sauerkraut

  • Health Benefits: Sauerkraut has many health benefits, mainly because it is packed with probiotics for overall gut health. And if that’s not enough to make sauerkraut a digestion-friendly food, it’s also high in fiber!
  • Easy To Make: Sauerkraut is very easy to make as you only need a few ingredients.
  • Delicious: Sauerkraut is delicious, even though some may call it an acquired taste. The crisp sour-salty cabbage is just perfect with a wide array of dishes. 🤤

How Healthy Is Sauerkraut?

Some people call sauerkraut a superfood, especially from being an excellent source of beneficial bacteria or probiotics.

Isn’t it interesting how the very reason behind the distinctive sour flavor of sauerkraut is also related to the gut health benefits it can provide?

I also love how it’s a high-fiber, low-calorie dish that keeps you full for longer. If you are looking to lose weight, consider this tasty dish!

And if these numerous health benefits still don’t impress you, sauerkraut is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is an important antioxidant that enhances our immunity.

Where to Find Sauerkraut

  • Grocery Stores – Sauerkraut is usually found next to other fermented foods like kimchi in your local grocery.
  • German Markets – This is your best bet for getting sauerkraut of higher quality than typical store-bought sauerkraut. To find German Markets near you, search
  • Online Marketplaces – You can buy sauerkraut from sites like Amazon and Walmart. These online marketplaces sell different sizes and varieties of sauerkraut!

5 Best Substitutes For Sauerkraut


Kimchi is practically the Korean and spicier version of sauerkraut. This fermented cabbage should also be easy to find in most grocery stores.

Dill pickles

Dill pickles have a similar sour-salty flavor to sauerkraut. Dill pickles are super easy to get; almost every grocery store has them.

Dill relish

The tartness of dill relish makes it a tasty alternative if you don’t have sauerkraut for your meal.

Shredded carrots

What is one thing carrots and sauerkraut have in common? The crunch!

Carrots can substitute the tasty sauerkraut; all you have to do is toss them in apple cider vinegar.

Pickled banana peppers

The mild tangy flavor of pickled banana peppers makes them another potential substitute for sauerkraut. Some are even spicy!

Does Sauerkraut Go Bad?

It might surprise you, but sauerkraut can go bad.

It’s important to check the label of your store-bought sauerkraut to know the manufacturer’s instructions for storage. Usually, you’ll have up to 6 months if you refrigerate sauerkraut.

And if you made the sauerkraut yourself, then make sure the quantity is just right for something you can finish within a month.

You can refer to our guide on the topic “does sauerkraut go bad,” where we delved into this topic deeper.

While sauerkraut is known for its benefits for the tummy, eating expired or spoiled sauerkraut can also affect the tummy, but not in a good way, if you know what I mean. 🙈

does sauerkraut taste good

How To Store Sauerkraut

Use a tightly shut jar to store sauerkraut in the fridge. And to prevent spills, make sure there’s half an inch of space between the sauerkraut and the lid of the jar.

If freezing sauerkraut, Pennsylvania State University advises using plastic freezer containers or tapered freezer jars.

But if you have the time and energy, try canning sauerkraut!

Recipes That Have Sauerkraut In It

The acidity of sauerkraut tastes amazing with fish dishes! Try this recipe of sauerkraut with fish in cream sauce inspired by a dish from Alsatian riverside villages.

You can also make Polish sauerkraut soup or Kapusniak. I can imagine how comforting this flavorful meal is on a cold night. 🤤

What To Eat Sauerkraut With


Take your hotdog or grilled cheese sandwich to the next level by adding sauerkraut or sauerkraut mustard to it.


Salads can always use the tangy-salty flavor of Germany’s beloved sauerkraut. Try it on tuna or potato salad for an easy delicious meal!


Meats can sometimes taste too fatty and rich, which makes classic sauerkraut recipes the ideal complimentary food to pork BBQs and braised chicken thighs. 😋

What To Add To Sauerkraut To Make It Taste Better?

Since sauerkraut is pretty simple, you can add other ingredients to tailor it to your palate. For example, Chef Olaf Mertens’ recipe adds bacon and apple to sauerkraut!

How Do I Know If Sauerkraut Is Bad?

Bad sauerkraut smells off, and you might even notice mold on the surface (Eugh! 🤢). It’s also a good idea to throw away sauerkraut with a cloudy brine and slimy texture.

How Do You Enjoy Sauerkraut

  • As A Condiment – Just add a bit of sauerkraut to your main meal. Easy peasy.
  • As It Is – Some people enjoy sauerkraut as it is!
  • With Avocado – This combination is vibrant and nutritious. Cut an avocado in half and top with sauerkraut! 😋

FAQ About Sauerkraut

Does coleslaw have the same benefits as sauerkraut?

No, coleslaw does not have the same benefits as sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is more nutritious thanks to its probiotics, fiber content, vitamins, and minerals.

Can you eat sauerkraut raw?

You most certainly can! If you are one of those people who love the taste of raw sauerkraut, nothing should stop you.

Is sauerkraut crunchy?

Sauerkraut still retains some crunchiness, but it’s a matter of personal preference if you want to make it softer through cooking.

Does sauerkraut make you poop?

The rich fiber content of sauerkraut means it’s very helpful for digestion. I won’t get too descriptive, but this fantastic food should help constipated folks.

What do you eat sauerkraut with?

Sauerkraut can be eaten with meats, sandwiches, toast, and salads. Use it to add flavor into soups, fish, or even eggs!


So what does sauerkraut taste like?

In one word: sour. But it’s not just sour because sauerkraut also has some saltiness (or even sweetness, depending on the ingredients used!)

Sauerkraut is also not overly pungent like other fermented foods.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to give this sour cabbage try, consider this: it’s an extremely versatile ingredient that can be used in all sorts of dishes, from salads and sandwiches to main courses and side dishes.

Plus, it offers excellent health benefits thanks to its probiotics. 

Have I convinced you to give sauerkraut a try? I hope so!

For more frequently asked questions, visit our index of food-related questions and answers. Here are a few popular questions for you:

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