Apple Sauerkraut au Gratin - New Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipe

It's not often that I find a new dish I want to include in our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus.  This Apple Sauerkraut au Gratin makes the cut.  The layers of sweet apples with crunchy tart sauerkraut and smoked cheddar baked with bread crumbs equals one amazing sweet and salty vegetarian side dish.

I served this to friends over for dinner and they asked if there was bacon in it.  Nope, it's the smoked cheddar that lends the bacon like fat and smokey flavor.

My husband declared this ought to be on our holiday meal menus and I agree.  This dish is comforting and warm.  And since we have German heritage the sauerkraut seems just right.

Later that night after our dinner guests were gone, I snuck back into the kitchen and made myself another plate claiming I didn't get quite enough because I was holding the baby.  Excuses, excuses.  I wanted more and so I ate more. It was excellent reheated.  This recipe makes a 9x13 pan and it was all gone by the next day.

I wasn't looking for this dish at all.  I was looking for a winter salad my sister made last year that had cabbage, dried fruit, slivered almonds and a mushroom vinaigrette dressing.  She told me it was a Mollie Katzen recipe from her second cookbook The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.  I only have her first cookbook The Moosewood Cookbook. I never found the recipe for the cabbage salad but I did find a recipe for Apple Sauerkraut au Gratin.

Actually I found a version of this recipe that wasn't very complete and then I hunted down a bunch of similar recipes by other bloggers to fit the pieces together.  The recipe I am sharing below is not Mollie's original recipe but a riff on it inspired by many others.

I choose to use allspice instead of the cinnamon with nutmeg, cloves combination because we get that spice combination a lot this time of year and I wanted there to be no mistake that this is a savory dish.  I also upped the anti from just cheddar to smoked cheddar at the suggestion of Kate Rigot's article in The Metropolitan.  I also suggest choosing a tart baking apple like a Granny Smith, Jonathan or Braeburn.

While writing up this post today I did find the original recipe on the Molly Katzen website. The reason I couldn't find it by Googling was because Mollie simply calls it Savory Apple Casserole and only in the ingredients list do you discover the sauerkraut.

I'm not hiding the sauerkraut, I'm letting you know right in the title that it's in there and it is good!

I'm also calling this a gratin and not a casserole because casserole does not invoke the cheesy breadcrumbs that made me sneak into the kitchen for seconds.  So without further ado here's the recipe.  You should make it. 

Apple Sauerkraut au Gratin

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup onions, sliced
1 teaspoon course ground mustard, like dejion 
1 1/2 pounds of sauerkraut, rinsed and liquid pressed out
6 cups of apples, sliced and tossed with lemon
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 pound smoked cheddar, grated
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 cup walnut
  1. Preheat your oven to 375F.  Butter a 9x13 casserole pan.  
  2. In a skillet saute the onions in the butter.  When the onions are glassy add the sauerkraut and mustard.  Heat through.  
  3. In a large bowl toss the apples in the flour and allspice.  Set a side.  
  4. Layer like this: 1/2 apples, 1/2 sauerkraut, 1/2 cheddar, 1/2 apples, 1/2 sauerkraut, 1/2 cheddar and top with walnuts and bread crumbs.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes covered and then 15 minutes uncovered to brown the top.  Serve warm.   
Submitted to yeastspotting.com


  1. That sounds really good! We always have a couple of vegetarians at our Thanksgiving feast so it's nice to have a few dishes in my arsenal.

    Will definitely give this a try!

  2. I'm going to make this for Thanksgiving this year! Sounds fantastic!

  3. This looks AMAZING!! and I know I am making it for Thanksgiving this year :)

  4. Anonymous11/19/2012

    this looks so yummi :) the cheddar got me! I must try it ;) thanks for sharing.. xxo

  5. Anonymous11/20/2012

    I’m big on Thanksgiving. Scratch that, I’m big on Thanksgiving turkey. This
    year I’m faced with the challenge of hosting a vegetarian feast. Not an easy
    task as it turns out. That being said I’m excited to give it a shot, and your
    post is actually making me look forward to it. Me being me, I do a lot of
    research, and on my way stumbled on a pretty cool cranberry sauce comparison.
    Handy if you’re pressed for time like I most likely will be. http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/showlink.aspx?bookmarkid=IQ8N3FNFAXB5&preview=article&linkid=7ad9729b-065f-40fa-af87-599178787c9d&pdaffid=ZVFwBG5jk4Kvl9OaBJc5%2bg%3d%3d
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Perfect name for what sounds like a great dish. Thanks so much for linking on Busy Monday!

  7. OMG I made this the whole family LOVED it!!