Polish Sauerkraut Slaw {Surówka z Kiszonej Kapusty}

For those of you who don’t know, my husband is currently serving in the Army. He has a busy schedule with a 4 am wake up and food is just not a priority for him.  But when away from home for extended periods of time, he misses home cooked meals and mentions it a lot. Access to fresh fruits and vegetables is limited and the lack of it is much noticed.

He’s been training in the field for the past what seems to have been a decade. He always comes back at least a couple, three pounds lighter. Their main food supply comes from meals prepared in the Army field kitchen and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), which shouldn’t even be called food. Even though the calorie intake is sufficient, the flavor is just not there. 

Before he comes home, I always ask him what he wants for dinner, and always, without fail he asks for crunchy salad. I guess a month of eating mushy mystery food does that to ya. 

Aside from a big green salad, I’ve made him a sauerkraut coleslaw today. It’s crunchy and fresh, tangy and sweet. It will deliver the much desired crunch perfectly. This salad goes well as a dinner side dish, paired with a protein and a starch, like mashed potatoes. It is a must-have addition to fried fish and french fries and it is often made in the summer with freshly cut cabbage.

When I was growing up we always made our own sauerkraut. Supply would last us the whole winter, and we would use up a large barrel of it each year. You can read about how to make your own sauerkraut HERE.

Don’t be intimidated, the process is easier that in sounds. If you’re not feeling that crafty, store-bought kraut will do also. When purchasing sauerkraut though, pay attention to the ingredients. All there should be is cabbage and salt (spices and other vegetables are OK). Sauerkraut gets it’s distinctive sour and tangy flavor from undergoing a fermentation process triggered by salt. This is a lengthy process and some producers are cutting corners by adding vinegar (or other mysterious additives) to replicate the flavor. For me, it just never works. Old school, fermented sauerkraut is the ONLY way to go.

If you happen to be near a Polish deli and buy a larger quantity of it, don’t fret. This stuff will stay in the fridge (or cold basement) for a long time. If you haven’t yet, prepare one of Polish favorites hunter’s stew {BIGOS} or sauerkraut soup {Kapuśniak}, both packed with flavor and goodness (sauerkraut is a natural probiotic). Win – win!

Sauerkraut Slaw {Surówka z Kiszonej Kapusty}

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 5 min


  • 1 cup of Polish (fermented) sauerkraut
  • 1 carrot (only if you’re using canned sauerkraut without carrot in it)
  • 1 apple
  • 1/2 of a small regular cabbage (if you’re feeling adventurous, you can skip this, and double the sauerkraut)
  • 1 quarter of a medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Slice the regular cabbage into thin slices (go as thin as you can), and cut into shorter strips.

  2. Place shredded cabbage in a mixing bowl, sprinkle with salt and mix with hands squeezing the cabbage to soften it and to release the juices.

  3. Shed carrot and apple on a vegetable grater and add to the mixing bowl with the sour kraut. Add onion. Sprinkle with sugar.

  4. Mix well and let sit for a couple of minutes to let the salt and sugar dissolve. Mix again and done!


If you have access to a Polish grocery store, buy jared sauerkraut with carrots. It comes in a bucket, jar or a sealed bag. If not, go with the regular canned stuff, but pay attention to the ingredients. All it needs to have is cabbage and salt. This means the cabbage fermented on its own, and was not treated with vinegar to give it sour flavor.