This recipe for Kielbasa Kapusta is my family’s traditional Polish Kapusta recipe made in a slow cooker!

A plate full of kielbasa kapusta with text overlay for Pinterest.

Traditional Sauerkraut and Kielbasa

My dad is 100% Polish, and he has been talking about his grandmother’s and mother’s Kielbasa Kapusta for decades! When my Polish grandmother passed away when I was 17, I inherited a couple of her cookbooks and her recipe tin. 

That recipe tin has produced fabulous gems over the years. To surprise my dad on a recent trip back home, I decided to make our family Kielbasa Kapusta recipe for him, but with my twist!

I kept all of the ingredients and quantities the same, but decided to cook it in the crockpot! It’s way more convenient for my lifestyle, and I know so many of you will find this cooking method helpful, too!

Another change I made was to cut the kielbasa pieces smaller. This method enhanced the flavor of the dish by releasing more of the kielbasa juices, AND it allowed more surface area for the kielbasa to soak up the Kapusta juices! Is your mouth watering yet?!

Overhead picture of Kielbasa kapusta on a white plate.

While the Kielbasa Kapusta was cooking, my dad snuck into the kitchen more than once with a huge, nostalgic grin on his face saying, “This smells familiar,” and “Ooohhhh weeeee, is it dinner time yet?”

While I never tasted my grandmother’s version, my dad thought I pulled off a near match. I am SO glad I found and tried this recipe, which gave my dad and me another link to our family heritage, and produced a heartwarming treat we can pass forward to generations to come!

What is kielbasa?

Kielbasa is a staple in any Polish home. It is a type of sausage. In the USA, it is best known as any kind of meat that is U-shaped with a coarse texture. 

Kielbasa and Sauerkraut Crockpot ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 2 ½ cups sweet yellow onions finely chopped
  • 2 32 ounce cans sauerkraut
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • 3 pounds kielbasa

How to season Kielbasa

Seasoning kielbasa is a simple and delicious way to enhance its flavor. Start with fresh or smoked kielbasa. If you’re using fresh kielbasa, you can cook it as is. Add some flavor to the smoked kielbasa by brushing it with olive or vegetable oil. While kielbasa is already flavorful, add extra seasonings to suit your taste preferences. Popular seasonings for kielbasa include black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, mustard powder, and caraway seeds.

How to make Kielbasa and Sauerkraut

  1. First, melt the butter and bacon drippings until foaming stops in a large skillet for a couple of minutes.
  2. Next, add onions and cook, occasionally stirring, for about 8 minutes.
  3. Then, drain the sauerkraut at least twice, ensuring it is well-drained before putting it in the crockpot.
  4. Next, add the onions, salt, pepper, brown sugar, water, and kielbasa in the crockpot. Stir everything before you cover it and cook on high for 1 hour.
  5. Finally, reduce to low and cook for an additional 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve and enjoy!

Kapusta Recipe Cook’s Note

  • My dad distinctively remembers his mom using bacon drippings that she would keep in the refrigerator for this recipe. If you don’t have any on hand, then substitute two additional tablespoons of butter (for a total of 4 tablespoons) for the bacon drippings.
  • I like to serve this dish with mashed potatoes (this recipe is SO good!). After all, potatoes, kielbasa, and cabbage are the holy trinity of Polish cuisine!
  • This recipe is even MORE flavorful the next day! I know hard to believe, right?!
  • My family likes to eat leftovers between toasted Kaiser rolls with grainy mustard.

How to serve this Kielbasa Crockpot Recipe

Kapusta means cabbage, so when serving this recipe of cabbage and Kielbasa (sausage), potatoes are a great option. These crispy smashed potatoes are seriously one of my all-time favorite potato recipes. For a classic choice, check out these creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes. But if you are like me and need more cheese in your life, you will want to make these 3-cheese potatoes Au gratin! If you’re going to make it a complete Polish meal, then serve this along with my Polish Beet Soup

How to store Polish Sausage and Sauerkraut

To store this recipe, follow these guidelines:

Store: Place the leftover Polish sausage and sauerkraut in separate airtight containers. Polish sausage and sauerkraut can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Reheat: You can reheat the sausages on a grill, stovetop, or oven until warm. You can heat it in a saucepan on the stovetop until heated to your desired temperature.

Freeze: Place the cooled Polish sausage and sauerkraut in a freezer-safe container or resealable bag, removing any excess air before sealing. Freeze for 2-3 months.

Thawing: Transfer the frozen Polish sausage and sauerkraut from the freezer to the refrigerator and let them thaw overnight. Once thawed, reheat the sausage and sauerkraut, following the guidelines mentioned above.

Kielbasa and Sauerkraut Crockpot FAQs

What is Kapustka?

Kapustka is a surname in the Polish language, and its literal translation is “cabbage.”

Is kapusta Polish or German?

The word “kapusta” is of Slavic origin and is used in several Slavic languages, including Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and others, to refer to “cabbage.”
In German, the word for “cabbage” is “Kohl” or “Weißkohl” (white cabbage) for the specific type of cabbage. The term “kapusta” is not used in the German language.

What is the best way to cook Polish sausage?

The best way to cook Polish sausage depends on your preferences and the cooking equipment you have available. Here are some popular methods:
Slow Cooking: Slow-cooking Polish sausage is another fantastic option that infuses delightful flavors from anything you cook with it, like sauerkraut.
Grilling: Grilling Polish sausage over medium heat on a barbecue or grill pan is a popular method that imparts a delicious smoky flavor.
Pan-Frying: Pan-frying Polish sausage in a skillet with oil or butter is quick, easy, and tasty.
Boiling: Boiling Polish sausage is a traditional method that ensures even cooking and helps to reduce excess fat.
Baking: Baking Polish sausage in the oven is a convenient option that gets them nice and brown.

Should you poke holes in kielbasa?

No, it would be best not to poke holes in the kielbasa before cooking. Poking holes in the sausage can cause the flavorful juices and fats to escape, leading to a drier and less tasty result.

Serving kielbasa kapusta on a white plate.

Cook’s Tools + Products – Kielbasa Kapusta:

  • Large Skillet
  • Slow Cooker (this is my 3rd slow cooker and the last one I’ll ever own, I love it so!)
  • Bacon Drippings
Picture collage for Pinterest.

Here’s my family’s traditional Polish kapusta recipe:

Close up picture of kielbasa kapusta on a serving place with mashed potatoes.
4.56 from 50 votes

Sauerkraut and Kielbasa Crockpot Recipe

Author Jankowski Family Heritage Recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 7 hours 20 minutes
8 people
This recipe for Kielbasa Kapusta is my family’s traditional Polish Kapusta recipe made in a slow cooker!


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 2 ½ cups sweet yellow onions finely chopped
  • 2 32 ounce cans sauerkraut
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • 3 pounds kielbasa cut into 2-inch slices


  • In a large skillet over medium heat melt butter and bacon drippings until foaming subsides, about 2-3 minutes. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and edges begin to brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  • While onions cook rinse and drain sauerkraut at least twice. Make sure sauerkraut is well drained and add it to slow cooker along with onions, salt, pepper, brown sugar, water, and kielbasa. Give everything a good stir and cover. Cook on high for 1 hour, then reduce to low and cook for an additional 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve.



Serving: 1serving | Calories: 498kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 1324mg | Potassium: 360mg | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Vitamin C: 4.9mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1.8mg

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This post first appeared on Food Folks and Fun on May 12, 2016. I have since updated the pictures and added a recipe video. The original images are below. 

A plate of Kielbasa Kapusta with Mashed Potatoes with text overlay for Pinterest
Kielbasa Kapusta on a sandwich bun
Kielbasa Kapusta collage of process shots and finished meal with text overlay for Pinterest
Process shot of Kielbasa Kapusta in a slow cooker
Close up of Kielbasa Kapusta with mashed potatoes on the side
A serving of Kielbasa Kapusta with mashed potatoes on the side

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  1. I am really gonna try this one. I’m from the Netherlands and I looks so much like a real dutch meal we called zuurkool stamppot (mashed sauerkraut) that’s with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, bacon mixed together, with smoked sausage called in Dutch rookworst. We mostly eat it in the winter