Our Ribs and Sauerkraut recipe makes an easy family meal that can be made in the oven, crock pot or instant pot.
The best country style ribs are both tender and browned on the outside to enhance all of the natural flavors. Potatoes and onions are easy to add in any of these cooking methods.
This post is sponsored by Wisconsin Pork, but all opinions are my own!
Ribs & Sauerkraut Recipe
Fork tender and juicy is the best way to describe properly cooked country pork ribs. Country style ribs are easy to prepare in the oven and have maximum flavor! Nestle them in German sauerkraut for the last stretch of baking to make a winning combination.
Take the next step and add potatoes to create a more filling meal. Slices of red onions add beautiful color to this simple sheet pan meal. Or just stick with the basic ribs and sauerkraut if that’s the tradition you prefer.
Country style ribs are a great value and super easy to make! A large sheet pan provides so many options for this easy family meal. The sheet pan can sit right on the table to serve dinner out of.
Fork tender ribs require a low and slow cooking method and browning requires high and direct heat. Using the stove top for searing and oven for baking combination allows the best of both worlds!
We try to keep up with popular traditions like eating pork and sauerkraut on New Years Day. These days are the perfect time to create special meals to enjoy with loved ones and create lasting memories.
Pork is very versatile and fits in so many of the recipes we like to rotate through all year around at our house like Pork and Sauerkraut Roll-Up, Basic Pork & Sauerkraut, on Hotdogs and in the Air Fryer. Each meal reminds us of good home cooking!
Country Ribs & Sauerkraut
The most popular type of pork ribs to eat with sauerkraut is country style ribs because they are eaten with a fork along with the kraut. This low carb or keto meal really features the meat and vegetable flavors that we love.
Country ribs are unique because whether they are bone-in or boneless they are still eaten with a fork. Making it easy to mix bites of tender pork and sauerkraut.
Spare ribs and baby back ribs are often eaten off the bone with fingers. This takes more work to switch back and forth between fingers and fork to enjoy with a vegetable side dish.
A Healthy Meal
I feel good about serving pork to my family because it’s packed with high-quality protein that is needed to build muscles and maintain a healthy body. In general pork has about 16% less fat and 27% less saturated fat when compared to 30 years ago.
Pork is also a good source of several important vitamins and minerals like thiamin, selenium, protein, niacin, vitamin B6 and phosphorus.
Sauerkraut is known to have probiotics and be another healthy food!
What Are Country Style Ribs?
County style ribs is a general term that encompasses a variety of sizes and muscles in the ribs. Country style pork ribs typically come off the edge of a larger cut like the pork loin or pork shoulder, the the size and shape can vary.
Most country ribs are pieces of meat that are cut into a rib shape and do not have an actual rib bone. However some can have a piece of a spare rib bone as part of the country rib cut.
Why Do Country Ribs Look Different?
Our favorite ribs are deeper red, have more marbling or intramuscular fat and come from junction where the shoulder and rib end of the pork loin meet.
Deeper red muscle with more marbling tends to be the most tender, have the most flavor and create the most enjoyable eating experience when properly cooked.
The loin tends to be a leaner, lighter pink colored muscle. This cut can taste great, but will not be as tender as other ribs.
- Bone-in or boneless shoulder country style pork ribs – these ribs will be the most tender and become the star of the show
- Seasoned salt and pepper – to lightly season ribs
- Jar of sauerkraut – the fermented classic that pairs perfectly with pork
- Yukon gold potatoes that don’t need peeled. Just wash and chop into 1″ or 1 1/2″ chunks. Potatoes are optional.
- Red onion adds color and a bit of flavor to the meal. Any medium onion is optional, we prefer red to make the meal more eye appealing.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Max of 3 pounds of ribs fit on a large sheet pan when potatoes are added
- A maximum of 4 – 5 pound of country ribs and sauerkraut will fit on a large sheet pan. The ribs should be have adequate space for air flow around the entire piece of meat and not touch during the initial baking time.
- No extra liquid like vinegar is needed because at least some fat will render from the ribs keeping them extra moist. The sauerkraut will also have moisture.
- Boneless is better for families as they are easier to eat
- A bone does add some flavor, so bone-in ribs have a reputation for tasting better
- For maximum tenderness try to bring meat closer to room temp before cooking, but this not as critical with smaller pieces as with larger pieces like a roast
- Could add sliced or coarsely chopped apples when potatoes and onions are added
- Seasoned salt can be substituted for cajun seasoning
- Depending on the cut of ribs some may have fat that renders off while cooking, if there is more than a couple tablespoons of fat on the pan this should be drained before adding vegetables, potatoes or sauerkraut to the tray
- Brown isn’t a color, it’s a flavor – Searing in a skillet creates a brown finish and expert cooks know brown is not just a color, it’s a flavor
- Goal is just to heat sauerkraut, doesn’t need cooked
Does the Sauerkraut Need Drained?
Draining sauerkraut is a personal preference. I know sauerkraut lovers that always drain, rinse and then press excess moisture out. My husband is a huge fan and he loves all of the flavors and prefers to only lightly drain.
Either method will work in the oven recipe. The kraut will be a bit crisper the more it is drained as long as it’s not sitting in pork fat. Undrained will have more zing and a tangier flavor.
Draining sauerkraut to cook in the slow cooker or instant pot isn’t as critical because it will sit in liquid while cooking anyway. For the best quality sauerkraut we like to make it in a skillet while using a moist cooking method for the ribs.
Instructions for using a skillet can be found in our Kielbasa and Sauerkraut recipe.
Step By Step Instructions
Preheat oven to 300F. Line a large baking sheet with heavy duty foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
Lightly coat meat with seasoned salt and pepper.
Sear 6 to 8 ribs in hot vegetable oil in a large skillet.
Arrange ribs on sheet with some space between each piece. Cover with heavy duty foil and bake for 2 hours.
Remove from the oven and use tongs to loosen foil on the corner of the pan. Take care to avoid getting burned from the trapped steam. The ribs will not be fork tender yet.
Turn oven up to 325F. Drain excess fat from baking sheet.
Arrange ribs in a row down the center of the pan. Toss well-drained sauerkraut with 1/2 cup applesauce if desired and then nestle around the partially cooked meat.
Coat 1 to 1 1/2” chunks of unpeeled potatoes in olive oil or non-stick cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes in rows to the sides of the baking sheet.
Finally add onions in between pork and potatoes.
Re-cover baking sheet well with heavy duty foil and bake for an additional hour until pork and potatoes are tender.
Carefully remove the foil and enjoy warm!
How To Make Ribs and Sauerkraut in the Oven
Any type of country style rib will bake well in the oven. We have a strong preference for the shoulder country ribs that are deeper red as they ultimately become most tender.
Using the oven is the best way to make crispy sauerkraut that is delicious and free of excess moisture.
Cooking ribs on a sheet pan covered in foil, then draining any rendered fat before adding sauerkraut and potatoes is the best oven baked method we’ve tested.
The ribs remain moist and tender when baked under low heat.
How to Cook Ribs and Sauerkraut in a Crock pot
Country ribs from the shoulder with plenty of deeper red meat and several different muscles in each “rib” will the best type of rib for this low and slow cooking method.
Cook ribs covered with sauerkraut and potatoes if desired on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high for 4 – 5 hours.
The vegetables in the crock pot will be more soggy or soupy in texture and absorb liquid flavoring like apple juice or beer. For crispy, tender sauerkraut prepare in a skillet and then serve together with ribs made in the crock pot.
How to Make Ribs and Sauerkraut in the Instant Pot
Again we recommend shoulder country ribs, but loin ribs will have leaner meat and will do better in the pressure cooker for about 30 minutes. Smaller ribs cook in 30 minutes and larger ribs take closer to 45 minutes to become fork tender.
Sauerkraut can be cooked in the pot along with the meat like in our Instant Pot Sauerkraut and Sausage, but it will be more like soup in texture.
Sauerkraut Jar vs Bag vs Can
A jar of sauerkraut is a higher quality than in a bag. Kraut from a bag is much crispier and not soggy when prepared properly.
The jar container costs more than a plastic bag and will preserve food longer. Jars and cans do not need refrigerated where bags do.
A variety of factors including the variety of cabbage used, time processed and where caraway seeds are added all affect flavor.
Canned kraut is the lowest quality and is partially cooked before canning to help with preservation and to keep it shelf stable.
Farm To Fork
However I prepare it I feel good knowing that pork is raised by real farmers, like my family, on real farms in Wisconsin and the United States. There is so much passion and care that goes into not only raising food for our families and communities, but also for the world to enjoy.
For more information about affordable food made by the pork community check out the We Care commitment.
More Options For Flavor
As purist we prefer to let the basic flavors shine, but there are several other options for those looking to personalize this meal.
Drained sauerkraut can be tossed with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of applesauce for a sweeter flavor. Applesauce can give the dish more of a classic pork and apples flavor combination too.
Caraway seeds are optional. They may come in the sauerkraut or be added, but the dish will taste great without them.
Some people like to drain a jar of sauerkraut by pressing into a strainer. This makes it more crispy and less floppy when cooking.
Minced garlic or brown sugar may be stirred in or sprinkled on top as more options to customize the meal.
More Easy and Delicious Meals with Pork
Cheesy Sausage and Potato Casserole is a classic homestyle meal that can be made in the crock pot or oven.
Scrambled Egg & Sausage Casserole tastes great for any meal of the day and is super easy to make!
Pierogies & Kielbasa is another super simple skillet meal that is great to feed the family!
Tender Country Style Ribs and Sauerkraut
- 3 – 4 pounds shoulder country style ribs
- 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 32 ounce jar sauerkraut drained
- 4 medium potatoes cut into 1" cubes
- 1 medium red onion sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon Koshor salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Rub seasoning into country style ribs.
- Add oil to a skillet; once hot sear sides of ribs until brown.
- Set browned ribs in a row down the center of the prepared baking sheet. Cover tightly with heavy duty foil and bake for 2 hours.
- Carefully uncover and drain any excess fat off the baking sheet. Turn oven up to 325°F.
- Arrange drained sauerkraut in between the ribs.
- If using potatoes toss lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in the space along the long sides of the baking sheet.
- Nestle slices of red onion in between the potatoes and ribs.
- Cover again with foil and bake for one additional hour until sauerkraut is warmed through and potatoes are tender. Serve warm and enjoy!
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