Air Fryer Sauerkraut Balls w/ Bacon: Crispy Good Luck Bites

I had never even heard of a sauerkraut ball until someone brought them to a New Year’s Eve party I attended. It was love at first bite, and now they’re something I make every year! Of course, I had to make it my own, and the result is these air fryer sauerkraut balls with bacon.

air fryer sauerkraut balls with bacon recipe dinners done quick featured image

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Tangy sauerkraut and salty bacon are wrapped in a breaded, crispy crust that makes for a delightful savory bite! Your air fryer does a great job of getting a nice, crispy crust without the need for deep frying which I love!

Of course, there are a lot of other meats you can use besides bacon in this recipe – that just happens to be my personal choice. I’ll include other options for you as well so you can adjust to your own tastes.

I love making sauerkraut balls for New Year’s Eve when the menu is primarily appetizers and snack foods that we graze on all evening. It just seems right, since eating sauerkraut and pork for New Year’s brings good luck according to Midwest, German-based traditions!

holding up a split in half air fryer sauerkraut ball

While kraut fritters do take a little extra time to make because they need to chill, you can do that part ahead of time! Then, just roll and air fry and you’re ready to serve, for easy entertaining.

Ingredients List

ingredients to make air fryer sauerkraut balls with bacon
  • 14-ounce can sauerkraut (drained, juice reserved, and chopped)
  • 6 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup reserved kraut juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

For the Breading

  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil spray (or similar)

For Dipping

  • 2 Tbsp whole grain mustard

Ingredient Tips and Substitutions

  • This amount of sauerkraut makes around 18-20 balls (depending on size). This recipe easily doubles if you’d like to make more!
  • Other meat options include: ham (use up that leftover Christmas ham), beef, corned beef, brats, kielbasa or sausage. Make sure to cook ahead of time and finely chop the meat (a food processor is handy for this)! You may also omit the meat for a vegetarian option
  • A white, yellow, or sweet onion works great for this, or you can use 2 green onions instead
  • You can use leftover bacon grease instead of the butter if preferred (but if you use a different type of meat, you won’t have this option)
  • In place of the kraut juice, feel free to substitute chicken, beef, or vegetable stock!
  • Cheese variations. For a cheesier option, add 4 ounces of softened cream cheese to your mix, or cut 4 ounces of swiss cheese into cubes and stuff the center of each sauerkraut ball with a cube before frying
  • Alternative dipping sauce options include: Thousand Island dressing, remoulade, or other types of mustard

Step By Step Instructions

  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the onions, cooking until they are soft and slightly browned, about 6-8 minutes
in a large skillet melt butter and add onions
  1. Add the flour, and cook for 1 minute
add flour to the butter and onions
  1. Stir in the reserved kraut juice, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley, and cook until thickened (about 1 minute more)
stir in reserve sauerkraut juice, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley
  1. Remove from heat and fold in chopped sauerkraut and bacon
fold in chopped sauerkraut and bacon
  1. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 hours (or up to overnight) until well chilled so that it can easily be rolled into a ball
  2. Once sauerkraut mixture is completely cooled, form into approximately 1” balls. You can do this with your hands like a meatball, or use a cookie scoop
after cooled, roll sauerkraut mixture into balls
  1. Create a 3-stage dredging station of flour, beaten eggs, and panko breadcrumbs (feel free to season each with a little salt and pepper to taste)
set up a dredging station of flour, egg, and breadcrumbs
  1. Roll each sauerkraut ball in the flour, then the egg mixture, and lastly into the panko, making sure to coat them thoroughly at each step
roll sauerkraut ball through flour, egg, and breadcrumbs
  1. Place the kraut balls into your air fryer’s basket or rack in a single layer, allowing air space between each one for even cooking. Spray the tops with a mist of olive oil spray
place sauerkraut balls in air fryer basket
  1. Cook on the air fry setting at 380°F for 6 minutes, then carefully flip them, spritz with oil again, and cook for an additional 4-6 minutes, until golden brown
  2. Cool slightly (they will be hot!) and serve with mustard for dipping
overhead view of air fryer sauerkraut balls on a long serving platter

More Recipes to Use Up Sauerkraut

Recipe FAQs

What are Sauerkraut Balls?

Sauerkraut balls are savory appetizers made with a mixture of sauerkraut, meat, and spices, coated in breadcrumbs and then deep fried or air-fried for a crispy exterior.

Cheese or mustard are other common additions to make different variations in flavors.

Can I Cook Sauerkraut Balls in an Air Fryer?

Yes, air frying sauerkraut balls works well. It gives them a crispy texture without the need for excessive oil.

However, they may also be deep fried, which is the traditional preparation method.

What Variations Can I Try in Sauerkraut Ball Recipes?

Experiment with different meats, cheese blends, or seasoning to personalize the flavor profile of your sauerkraut balls.

Additionally, you can pair them with different dipping sauces, such as mustard, honey mustard, Thousand Island dressing, or remoulade, for a unique flavor combination.

Can I Make Sauerkraut Balls Ahead of Time?

Certainly! You can prepare and refrigerate or freeze them before air frying. When ready, simply air fry them to finish them off.

If you are cooking directly from frozen, add 2-3 minutes to cooking time to account for the frozen state.

How Do I Serve Sauerkraut Balls?

Sauerkraut balls are often served as appetizers or finger foods. They pair well with various dipping sauces like mustard, aioli, or marinara.

They are ideal for entertaining, such as around the holidays, New Year’s, the Super Bowl, or other occasions where finger foods are popular.

Are Sauerkraut Balls Gluten-Free?

Traditional recipes for sauerkraut balls contain both flour and breadcrumbs, making them not gluten free.

However, you can substitute gluten-free flour and crumb alternatives for a gluten-free version, though note that the final texture may vary.

Can I Bake Sauerkraut Balls Instead of Air Frying?

Yes, baking is an alternative cooking method. However, air frying usually results in a crispier texture.

To bake, place balls on a baking rack on top of a baking sheet. Spray with cooking oil, and bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes. Flip and reapply oil halfway through cooking.

Recipe Pro Tips

  • This recipe was made in my Ninja Dual Zone air fryer and I cooked the sauerkraut balls for 12 minutes total to get this shade of browning. I did not preheat my air fryer for this recipe. Note that cooking times will vary between different brands of air fryer, so adjust as needed until they’re the shade you like!
air fryer sauerkraut balls on a serving platter with mustard dipping sauce

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • Store leftover sauerkraut fritters in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer term storage, freeze individually on a cookie sheet, then bag and store up to 3 months
  • To reheat sauerkraut balls, air fry at 350°F for 3-5 minutes, until warmed through and re-crisped (add 2-3 more minutes if reheating from frozen)

More Air Fryer Appetizers to Try

Final Thoughts

These air fryer sauerkraut balls take a little bit of prep work, but they’re completely worth it for the final result! Plus, you can do the hard part ahead of time and just cook them up when you’re ready, for low stress entertaining.

The air fryer delivers a crispy outer layer with far less oil than the deep fryer, but you won’t be sacrificing flavor! Serve them up with some mustard for dipping and you’ve got a tangy, creamy, salty, savory appetizer perfect for company.

I love to serve these kraut balls up for New Year’s in particular, but you can enjoy them around the holidays, for the Super Bowl or tailgate, or anytime you have some leftover sauerkraut to use up.

air fryer sauerkraut balls with bacon recipe dinners done quick featured image

Air Fryer Sauerkraut Balls (With Bacon)

Air fryer sauerkraut balls are loaded with bacon and tangy kraut tucked inside a crispy shell for the perfect bite. These fritters are great for the holidays, New Year’s, and tailgating too!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 27 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American, German
Servings 6
Calories 334 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 14 Ounces sauerkraut (drained, juice reserved, and chopped)
  • 6 Ounces bacon (cooked and crumbled)
  • ½ Medium onion (finely diced)
  • 2 Tbsp butter (salted)
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • ¼ Cup reserved kraut juice
  • 1 Tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
  • ½ Tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 Tsp dried parsley

For the Breading

  • ½ Cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Large eggs (beaten)
  • 1 ½ Cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil spray (or similar)

For Dipping

  • 2 Tbsp whole or coarse grain mustard

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the onions, cooking until they are soft and slightly browned, about 6-8 minutes
    ½ Medium onion, 2 Tbsp butter
  • Add the flour, and cook for 1 minute
    2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • Stir in the reserved kraut juice, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley, and cook until thickened (about 1 minute more)
    ¼ Cup reserved kraut juice, 1 Tsp garlic powder, ½ Tsp black pepper, 1 Tsp dried parsley
  • Remove from heat and fold in chopped sauerkraut and bacon
    14 Ounces sauerkraut, 6 Ounces bacon
  • Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 hours (or up to overnight) until well chilled so that it can easily be rolled into a ball
  • Once sauerkraut mixture is completely cooled, form into approximately 1” balls. You can do this with your hands like a meatball, or use a cookie scoop
  • Create a 3-stage dredging station of flour, beaten eggs, and panko breadcrumbs (feel free to season each with a little salt and pepper to taste)
    ½ Cup all purpose flour, 2 Large eggs, 1 ½ Cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Roll each sauerkraut ball in the flour, then the egg mixture, and lastly into the panko, making sure to coat them thoroughly at each step
  • Place the kraut balls into your air fryer’s basket or rack in a single layer, allowing air space between each one for even cooking. Spray the tops with a mist of olive oil spray
    Olive oil spray
  • Cook on the air fry setting at 380°F for 6 minutes, then carefully flip them, reapply oil, and cook for an additional 4-6 minutes, until golden brown
  • Cool slightly (they will be hot!) and serve with mustard for dipping
    2 Tbsp whole or coarse grain mustard

Notes

  • This amount of sauerkraut makes around 18-20 balls (depending on size). This recipe easily doubles if you’d like to make more!
  • Other meat options include: ham (use up that leftover Christmas ham), beef, corned beef, brats, kielbasa or sausage. Make sure to cook ahead of time and finely chop the meat (a food processor is handy for this)! You may also omit the meat for a vegetarian option
  • A white, yellow, or sweet onion works great for this, or you can use 2 green onions instead
  • You can use leftover bacon grease instead of the butter if preferred (but if you use a different type of meat, you won’t have this option)
  • In place of the kraut juice, feel free to substitute chicken, beef, or vegetable stock!
  • Cheese variations. For a cheesier option, add 4 ounces of softened cream cheese to your mix, or cut 4 ounces of swiss cheese into cubes and stuff the center of each sauerkraut ball with a cube before frying
  • Alternative dipping sauce options include: Thousand Island dressing, remoulade, or other types of mustard
  • This recipe was made in my Ninja Dual Zone air fryer and I cooked the sauerkraut balls for 12 minutes total to get this shade of browning. I did not preheat my air fryer for this recipe. Note that cooking times will vary between different brands of air fryer, so adjust as needed until they’re the shade you like!
  • Store leftover sauerkraut fritters in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer term storage, freeze individually on a cookie sheet, then bag and store up to 3 months
  • To reheat sauerkraut balls, air fry at 350°F for 3-5 minutes, until warmed through and re-crisped (add 2-3 more minutes if reheating from frozen)
  • Exact nutritional values will vary based on brand of ingredients, choice of dipping sauce, size of balls, and quantity consumed, and assumes use of all breading materials, so please consider this a guideline only

Nutrition

Serving: 156gCalories: 334kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 15gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 1329mgPotassium: 324mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 209.7IUVitamin C: 10.5mgCalcium: 47mgIron: 2.4mg
Keyword air fryer appetizers, air fryer sauerkraut balls, hors d’oeuvres ideas, ninja air fryer sauerkraut balls, party finger foods, sauerkraut appetizer ideas, sauerkraut balls recipe, sauerkraut fritters
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air fryer sauerkraut balls with bacon recipe dinners done quick pinterest
Katie Vine

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