Meaty and tangy with a hint of sweetness from the onion soup and brown sugar this Pork and Sauerkraut recipe is delicious!
A pork loin roast makes a great family meal with only 10 minutes of assembly before baking in the oven. Here is a classic pork and sauerkraut recipe that also works great with ribs that we make on New Years Day and throughout the year!
This recipe is sponsored by the Iowa Pork Association, but all opinions are my own!
Pork and Sauerkraut Recipe
A simple boneless pork roast is piled high with sauerkraut and baked until fork tender to create a delicious meal. The aroma fills the kitchen while baking and just looking at this roast will make your mouth water.
My husband has a strong German heritage, and he grew up eating this healthy meal regularly. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage which is a plentiful economical vegetable that pairs well with lean and budget friendly pork.
We found one new ingredient that adds a wonderful twist to this classic pork and sauerkraut in the oven meal. A can of French onion soup adds a hint of caramelized onions in a very simple way and is frankly a game changer. If the soup is not available then a medium or large onion can be sliced and nestled in the sauerkraut like we do in our Country Ribs and Sauerkraut.
We have several more similar recipes that all work great on New Year’s day and as healthy comfort food throughout the year including our Instant Pot Pork Chops, Sauerkraut and Bacon and Air Fryer Sausage & Sauerkraut.
Why This Recipe Works:
- Healthy and affordable this meal only takes 10 minutes to put together and set in the oven.
- Keto, low-carb and gluten free this meal has wide appeal and is conducive to many special diets.
- With a big pork roast there’s plenty of meat for those who prefer not to eat sauerkraut to scrape it off the meat and still enjoy a nice meal.
- Classic flavors with simple ingredients remind us of a homestyle meal that grandma and mom used to make on holidays and Sunday afternoons.
- I know that when I buy pork at the grocery store I’m supporting families in the USA like my family and many farm families in Iowa and all across the midwest.
- Pork – We like to use a boneless pork loin roast, but pork ribs also work well if you prefer the dark meat flavor. A pork shoulder roast would also taste great, but needs cooked much longer (10 – 12 hours) to become tender since it is such a large roast.
- Sauerkraut – A jar of sauerkraut is typically a higher quality than the bags in the refrigerated section or than the canned kind. We prefer Franks brand, but your favorite type will do.
- Brown Sugar – A sprinkle goes a long way to give a slight sweetness to the sauerkraut.
- French Onion Soup – Such an easy way to give a savory flavor that is a bit more unique than using freshly sliced onions. This ingredient is optional, but we love the additional flavor to this classic meal.
- Salt and Pepper – To suit your personal taste. We like to rub on top of the roast, but they can be added in any layer.
What Meat Goes With Sauerkraut?
Any cut of pork pairs well with sauerkraut, thus the combination is so popular.
We like to use a pork loin or country ribs, also known as boneless ribs in this recipe. Both of these cuts are fresh pork that have not been cooked, smoked or otherwise seasoned.
A whole pork loin weighs 7 to 10 pounds and is typically cut in half or into even smaller pieces to make a pork roast or slices to make pork chops. While it is commonly called a tenderloin because when pork is cooked properly it is very tender, the loin is a different cut of meat than the tenderloin. We always use a pork loin when pairing with sauerkraut.
People who like more of a smoky and salty flavor tend to prefer Kielbasa and Sauerkraut.
I’ve long known that it’s a tradition to eat pork and sauerkraut on New Years Day, so I started asking friends what recipe they use. Turns out, that people enjoy practically all cuts of pork with sauerkraut to ring in the New Year. And some people that really love fermented food and have a German heritage (like my husband) love eating these dishes all year around! So the term pork and sauerkraut means different things to different people based on your family traditions.
Why Do People Eat Pork & Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day
Pigs are known for bringing good luck because of the forward motion their snouts make while rooting. Beginning the year with good luck and the intent to move forward has been a long standing tradition for many according to the National Pork Board.
Pork is also very popular in October and the center of Oktoberfest celebrations because that was historically the time that a lot of pigs would go to market after eating and growing all summer. Oktoberfest has German roots and a lot of pork is eaten in Germany and by those with German heritage like some groups of Amish people.
How Long to Cook Pork & Sauerkraut in the Oven
A general guideline is to bake a plain pork loin roast for about 20 minutes per pound at 350ºF in the oven. In this recipe with the sauerkraut added and if anything else is also in the oven the pork will need 25 – 30 minutes per pound to cook.
Tradition has it that pork should be cooked for hours and hours. More recently research and the FDA have shown that pork is safe to eat when it is has reached an internal temperature of 145ºF.
We tested cooking a three pound pork roast for 4 hours and cooking a roast for 1 1/2 hours.
The most tender pork is the shorter cooking time and looks like a pork chop when sliced. The roast that is cooked longer will shred easily with your fork and taste tender when served with sauerkraut and the juices in the pan.
After extensive debate we decided the texture is really about personal preference and family traditions often play a big role in creating expectations about food. It is also easier to set to a longer cooking time instead of checking the internal temp regularly.
While our family enjoyed both pork roasts with white meat there is strong preference for country ribs because they have dark meat. Darker colored meat is by nature more tender than white meat once cooked because of a higher fat content. This recipe works well with a pork loin or country ribs!
Should the Sauerkraut Be Drained?
Draining sauerkraut is a personal preference. This recipe can be made with sauerkraut juice or after draining.
In this recipe the can of French onion soup replaces the tangy sauerkraut juice with a sweeter caramelized onion flavored liquid.
Do You Need Brown Sugar?
Adding a sprinkle of brown sugar to sauerkraut helps to give it a slight sweetness and knock off the strong flavor. While using a little brown sugar is popular it is a personal preference.
My husband who has German roots and loves the taste of sauerkraut does not think brown sugar is necessary, but opinions will vary based on tradition.
My mom typically adds brown sugar to her sauerkraut, while my mother in law does not. So, personal preference wins the question of whether or not to add brown sugar to sauerkraut.
Do You Need to Add Beer?
Some traditions add a half or a whole can of beer to the dish before baking, but this recipe works very well without beer.
For a more bitter flavor cook with a can of beer instead of the can of French onion soup.
If you like beer we have this recipe Instant Pot Sauerkraut, Sausage & Potatoes that uses some.
How to Make Pork and Sauerkraut
- Preheat oven to 350ºFahrenheit and coat roasting pan with non-stick spray.
- Place pork loin in roasting pan and season with salt and pepper.
- Pile sauerkraut on top of pork loin and cover with a lid.
- Pour a can of French onion soup on top if you would like.
- Roast for pork for 25 – 30 minutes per pound. Use a meat thermometer to cook pork to an internal temperature of 145ºF with a slight blush of pink in the center and maximum tenderness that is easy to slice with a knife. OR cook covered for 4 hours until fork tender and serve with the juices in the baking dish.
Is Pink Pork Safe to Eat?
Always use a digital meat thermometer to check the internal temperature in the center of the meat. When the pork is a roast or other whole muscle (not ground pork) it is safe to eat when a thermometer reads 145ºF.
A lot of people over cook pork because they are worried about something called trichinosis which is virtually non-existent on today’s farms. Once pork reaches 145ºF and rests for 5 – 10 minutes it is safe to eat. There may be a blush of pink in the center of the pork loin roast and that is okay.
Ground meat should be cooked to 160ºF until there is no longer any pink.
Bone in Pork Compared to Boneless Pork
Bone-in pork is known to have a bit more flavor because of the extra fat connecting the cut of meat to the bone. However meat with a bone takes longer to cut and more effort to carve, slice or cut up before eating.
Boneless pork loin is much more common in the grocery store, is more economical, should not require a special order and tastes great too.
I prefer a boneless pork roast because it is easier to handle.
Sauerkraut to Pork Ratio
We like to use almost as much sauerkraut in pounds as we use pork in pounds. The pork will purge some liquid while cooking and the sauerkraut will separate from the liquid and cook down quite a bit. Keep the liquid to spoon over the pork to help keep each bite moist.
This nearly equal ratio of pork to sauerkraut enables a generous serving of sauerkraut with each slice of meat.
Recipe Tips & Tricks:
- There is not a right or wrong way to make pork and sauerkraut as there are many options that are based on personal preference.
- Many traditions use a boneless pork loin as the pork roast, but many other people expect the dark, more flavorful meat in ribs to be served with sauerkraut.
- We love using the can of French onion soup in place of sliced onions as a super easy way to change the flavors a bit.
Step By Step Instructions
Lightly grease a 9 x 13 or larger baking dish. Sometimes I use a larger roasting pan if I want to make a big batch with the full pork loin.
Set the pork in the dish with the fat side up. Do not trim any fat as it will help keep the pork juicy. Season with salt and pepper, rub into the pork.
Drain the sauerkraut and pile on top of the pork.
Some will fall to the sides and that is okay, just try to put as much as possible on top.
Then sprinkle the brown sugar over the top.
Next pour a can of French onion soup over the top of sauerkraut.
Cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake in an oven preheated to 350ºF for 3 to 4 hours or until tender.
I like the color and finish on my roast at this point, but if you would like the top a bit more brown feel free to uncover for the last 20 minutes of baking for additional browning.
The pork is safe to eat once it has reached an internal temperature of 145ºF if you choose. When cooking for 3 to 4 hours it will be closer to an internal temp of 200ºF and become more fork tender, but the individual pieces of meat will be a little bit more dry. So serve with the juices in the pan for the best results.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 – 20 minutes to allow the juices in the meat to redistribute. Then slice, serve and spoon more of the juice and sauerkraut over your meat as you enjoy.
Can You Freeze Pork & Sauerkraut?
Yes, once cooked this meal can be divided into individual portions. Then seal in an air tight freezer container and place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If the meat has a bone I prefer to remove the cooked meat from the bone before freezing. This makes the meal easier to enjoy after defrosting.
What to Serve with Pork & Sauerkraut:
- Green Beans with Bacon
- Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes
- Air Fryer Baby Potatoes
- Enhanced Instant Potatoes
More Classic Pork Recipes:
- Basic Oven Baked Pork Chops
- Farmhouse Marinated Pork Chops
- Easy Pork Chops with Brown Sugar, Garlic & Rosemary
- Farmhouse Pork Chop & Stuffing Casserole
- Easy Caramel Apple Pork Chops
Pork and Sauerkraut
- 3 pounds boneless pork loin roast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 32 ounces sauerkraut drained
- 1/4 cup brown sugar optional
- 10 ounce can French onion soup
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 13" pan or roasting pan with non-stick spray.
- Place loin in roasting pan fat side up, do not trim. Season pork loin with salt and pepper.
- Pile sauerkraut on top of pork loin, then sprinkle with brown sugar.
- Pour can of French onion soup over the top; do not dilute.
- Cover with foil or place lid on roasting pan and bake for 3 to 4 hours or until tender. If desired uncover for the last 20 minutes for the top to brown.
- The pork is safe to eat once it has reached an internal temperature of 145ºF if you choose. When cooking for 3 to 4 hours it will be closer to an internal temp of 200ºF and become more fork tender, but the individual pieces of meat will be a little bit more dry. So serve with the juices in the pan for the best results.
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Recipe originally shared December 26, 2017 with updates made on June 21, 2023.