Spicy Sauerkraut

Looking to spice up your basic sauerkraut? Give this variation a go… adjust the level of heat to your liking. This recipe posts up about a 2 out of 5 level of spiciness.

The fermentation time is a bit shorter, too. We’re not sure why– perhaps the spices speed up the fermentation?

Ginger Sauerkraut
Prep time
Fermentation time
Recipe type: Fermented vegetable
Yield: About 2 quarts or liters
  • 3 lbs./1.5 kg red or green cabbage (1 medium to large head)
  • 3 Tablespoons/45 mL sea salt
  • 1 fresh hot chile pepper such as jalapeno, habanero, etc.
  • 1 teaspoon/5 mL cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon/3 mL medium/mild chile powder (e.g. ancho, California/Anaheim)
Prep & Season Veg
  1. Clean vegetables to wash dirt off. Remove any dark green tough outer leaves from cabbage and compost or use for another purpose.
  2. Slice a cabbage head in half lengthwise, so that stem keeps each half together. Shred each half into ¼”/8mm ribbons using v-slicer, mandoline, or chef’s knife.
  3. As you shred, add to a large mixing bowl, and add ¼ of the salt (about 2 teaspoons). Let sit while shredding the next half. Brine will form as salt draws water from cabbage. Repeat until all cabbage has been shredded.
  4. Squeeze or pound the mixture with clean hands or a kraut pounder to break the cell walls and encourage more water to come out of vegetables.
  5. Remove top from pepper. To increase spiciness, leave seeds and membrane in. Otherwise carefully slice the membrane out. Dice pepper and add to mixing bowl.
  6. Add spice powders to bowl. Mix thoroughly with tongs or clean hands.
  7. Add veg to a gallon-sized or larger glass jar or ceramic crock, or about 2 quart-sized wide mouth mason or other canning jars. Make sure to get every last drop of brine that formed in bowl into the container(s)!
  8. Pack down contents so that surface is even and flat.
  1. Place a lid or plate that fits into the container on top of the surface. Add a weight like a sterilized rock, a jar or glass bottle filled with water. OR, if using a small batch fermentation kit, add the weight(s) to the jar.
  2. There should be enough brine to just cover the contents when weighed down. It is normal for more brine to form in the first day or so after putting up.
  3. Cover container with a dish towel or tea towel to keep out flies and dust. Secure with a rubber band, twist ties or elastic strap. Stash it in a cool, dark place– a cellar, under the stairs, or under the sink in the kitchen.
  1. Check on it every few days. Mold and/or yeasts may form on the surface. THIS IS NORMAL. Remove weight and lid, and wash them with warm soapy water. Scoop out any surface mold, getting as much as you can. Don’t worry if you don’t get it all. Then stir the contents and re-pack the surface. Any residual mold will quickly be killed in the acidic environment of the brine. The contents are safe under the brine.
  2. Cabbage will start to ferment within a few days. It’s up to you how long you want to keep it fermenting. Fermentation time varies with the seasons and the climate. Four to 8 weeks in the winter and 2 to 4 weeks in warmer months are typical fermentation times.
  3. When taste and texture are to your liking, move to the refrigerator (aka "fermentation pause button"). Sauerkraut will last in the refrigerator several months.


Sauerkraut, like all fermented vegetables, should be enjoyed like a condiment. Eat a little before each meal, and eat it often!

Looking for something more traditional? Try our Slow Sauerkraut recipe.

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