It's cold!!! Temperatures have dropped and beautiful pictures of white landscapes and bright blue skies are all over the internet. Perfect weather for a wintery dish, the humble but oh so tasty zuurkoolschotel, or sauerkraut casserole.

In the Netherlands, zuurkool is sold raw, i.e. uncooked, straight out of the brine from huge grey or white plastic barrels. The produce man or woman will scoop out a handful, squeeze some of the brine out and deposit the white stringy mass into a plastic bag, tie it closed and hand it to you. And there, in your hand, you hold a humble, flavorful, healthy and chockful with Vitamin C, cabbage bomb, so to say.

Zuurkool is most often served in a casserole (zuurkoolschotel), with three main ingredients: ground beef, mashed potatoes and ofcourse, zuurkool. But that's where it stops, as for every family that eats zuurkoolschotel, there is a different casserole recipe. Some families like to have fruit mixed in: pineapple or apple or raisins or bananas, sometimes even raisins and bananas. Other families prefer a spicier sauerkraut, so they mix in sambal or hot peppers with the ground beef. Yet others rather have a Hungarian twist so they mix lots of paprika and caraway in with the cabbage. Not always are the sauerkraut and potatoes separate: some families like to make a zuurkoolstamppot by mashing the potatoes and mixing in the sauerkraut, which leaves a big old mess for your stamper as the strips of cabbage get tangled in with the wavy metal bars of the masher. But that's half the fun!

And what about the ground beef? Some mix in pieces of fried bacon strips, others use half-om-half (half beef, half pork)........There is no one standard recipe for a zuurkoolschotel and most families will claim that their dish is the best tasting one, but what ALL can agree on is that the zuurkoolschotel is a traditional wintery dish and that it falls in the category of comfort foods.

So make this dish your own, by mixing in favorite flavors. Add garlic, or slice your potatoes instead of mashing them. Use shoarma spices on the ground beef to give it a different twist, or stud the dish with raisins, apples and a spicy, ground mustard. You decide!

Here are the basics:

6 large (750 grams) potatoes, floury
4 tablespoons (60 grams) butter, divided
1/4 cup (65 ml) milk
16 oz (500 grams) sauerkraut
16 oz (500 grams) ground beef
1 small can pineapple pieces, drained (optional)
2 tablespoons panko or breadcrumbs

Peel and quarter the potatoes, place with enough water to cover on the stove and boil till done in about twenty minutes. In the meantime, drain the sauerkraut. Most sauerkraut in the US is sold ready-to-eat, but read the packaging to make sure. If it's raw, please follow the instructions on the packet.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet, pour off the fat and season the meat with salt and pepper, or give it your personal twist.

Preheat the oven to 375F/180C. Grease an oven dish with a teaspoon of the butter.

Mash the potatoes with the milk and two tablespoons of butter. Depending on how "dry" your potatoes cook, you may need more milk to get a smooth, creamy consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Spread the ground beef in the casserole. Top it with the sauerkraut, and add the pineapple on top, if using. Finish with a layer of mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the panko on top and dot with the remaining butter. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the panko is golden brown.


  1. Ik ben dol op zuurkool. Maar ik was wel een beetje het zuur eruit. Wij eten zuurkool met aardappels en cashewnoten. Een kuiltje voor de jus en natuurlijk unoxworst!

  2. Ja, die Unoxworst is toch wel uniek in zijn soort. Zuurkool met cashews, da's ook apart, en vast ook lekker!

  3. It snowed this morning. The wind was cold and biting when I went out to milk this afternoon. I made it with raisins in part because I did not have pineapple. It was ready and hot in the oven when I came in from milking. It was so right.

  4. I remember my mom making this when I was little - she topped the mashed potatoes with a little cheese. I'd forgotten about this recipe until now!

  5. Marcel van Zijderveld in DubaiJune 6, 2013 at 2:04 AM

    Zuurkool is not only a winter dish! Eat it when you want as it is full of goodness!!

    I am making it tonight (recipe below) and it is 43C outside here in Dubai with the aircon on 29C.

    Use the saurkraut from a jar or fresh (but don't throw the brine!), add some bay leaves, junipers, garlic, marjoran and plenty of white wine. Then also add a good chunk(s) of porkbelly with some meat. Boil all together on slow heat whilst you prepare and boil the potatoes.

    The choice of meat is up to what you like but we use (plenty) of "rookworst" or any other good sausage (we love the polish spicy sausages).

    Mash the potatoes with some butter, egg, nutmeg, pepper and milk and then mash/stir the sauerkraut through. Make sure you discard the fat from the pork belly, bayleaves and junipers, but use the meat in the wine and other ingredients in the dish.

    Then take your biggest oven dish and put sausages on the bottom, scoop all the mixed sauerkraut and flatten off.

    Then put, at regular spaces pineapple slices on top.

    Finally, put a good amount of grated cheese on top (mixture of any dutch cheese and some mozarella) or more mature cheese if you like strong taste with some oregano and put in oven to get a golden colour.

    Now many pepole say porkbelly is fattening, wine has alcohol etc.etc.

    I remember this recipe from my mother in the ealry 1970's. She was agreat cook and was always experiencing new dishes (in addition to the old classic ones). The tastes were always great and I followed on to do my own cooking in my own kitchen, or wherever I am.

    One thing I still remember, she always said (natural) fat is good! as long as you exercise and burn your calories.

    PS If you have some left overs the dish is also good for freezing, so you don't have to cook when you warm up.

  6. I remember a recipe in the Allerhande (Dutch magazine made by the Albert Heijn grocery store chain).. I made it once, back then, and lost the recipe. I have NEVER been able to find it again.

    It was a saurkraut casserole with paprika powder and salami and some other things. It was unusual and delicious.

    My mom also made this awesome cabbage casserole, also from the Allerhande. You shred green cabbage (she used spitskool.. but I have never seen that in the US) and cook it with ketchup and raisins. Then layer it with browned seasoned ground beef (use your fav. gehaktkruiden) and mashed potatoes. Top with the usual breadcrumbs and cheese and bake. Mmmmm...


    1. Sauerkraut casserole with paprika powder and salami: You might be looking for Kolozsvari Kaposzta, a delicious sauerkraut casserole with meat and salami, rice and sour cream. It's absolutely delicious.

  7. This recipe makes me very happy. You have communicated a lovely piece of human culture, as well as a lovely recipe. Freedom is a wonderful thing, especially when it involves nutritious food. Blessings!

  8. mijn schoenmoeder altijd gemakt zonder ananas, maar denk het beter met meer pitige spijs. (that just came out in my choppy dutch) I like it with more spice. I add a bouillon cube to the meat when cooking to give it lots of flavor. My sister in law cooks it with pineapple, too. I just thought that was her own special touch.
    We usually eat it with appelmoes so there is no need for the pineapple.


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