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Easy Spicy Sauerkraut Recipe

This EASY spicy sauerkraut recipe is lacto-fermented, making it a gut healthy condiment to serve with your meal!

Easy Spicy Sauerkraut 4 ways!

Have you ever had the pleasure of tasting spicy sauerkraut?

Those complex sour, funky, spicy flavors add such interest to a meal.

I love serving it with a bowl of steaming rice and stir-fry. 

Plus the probiotics from the lacto-fermentation process are nourishing to your gut!

A jar of spicy sauerkraut made with jalapenos.

Today I’m going to share 4 easy spicy sauerkraut recipes.

2 of the recipes have more of a neutral flavor profile with just jalapenos/red pepper flakes and carrots added to the cabbage.

The other 2 recipes have more of a kraut-chi flavor profile with ginger and garlic added as well.

Okay, let’s dive in and I’ll show you exactly how to make it!


Here’s a video tutorial in case you learn better that way!

How to Make Easy Spicy Sauerkraut

Weighing a head of cabbage for making homemade spicy sauerkraut.

The process for preparing your cabbage will be the same for all for versions.

First things first. 

Before you do anything else to your cabbage, weigh it.

You’ll need 1 ¾ to 2 pounds of cabbage, depending on which of the 4 versions you choose.

Removing brown leaves from a head of cabbage.

Preparing the Cabbage

First, make sure to peel off any brown leaves from the outside of the cabbage.

Cutting out the core of a head of cabbage.

Next, cut out the core.

Washing a head of cabbage in preparation for making spicy sauerkraut

Wash the cabbage.

Washing a head of cabbage.

Make sure to let the water run into the leaves. 

Then drain it well.

Removing an outer leaf of cabbage for making sauerkraut.

Finally, peel off an outer leaf and set it aside for later.

Shredding cabbage with a food processor.

Chopping the Cabbage

Finely chop your cabbage.

I like to shred my cabbage with a food processor. 

This is faster than chopping by hand, and it also results in juicier sauerkraut in my experience.

Sprinkling salt on shredded cabbage for homemade spicy sauerkraut.

Adding the Salt

Sprinkle 4 teaspoons of salt on the cabbage.

It’s a good rule of thumb to use 1½ to 2 teaspoons of salt per pound of cabbage.

Keep in mind that if you’re adding any extra ingredients, you’ll need to use more salt.

Let the salted cabbage sit for 15 minutes.

Massaging cabbage for homamde sauerkraut.

Massaging the Cabbage

Now get your hands in there and massage the cabbage for 5 minutes.

The massaged cabbage.

This helps the cabbage to release its juices, which is what you’ll use for the brine of the spicy sauerkraut. 

Different flavor profiles for homemade spicy sauerkraut.

Adding the Extra Ingredients

Now it’s time to add the additional ingredients!

Spicy sauerkraut made with shredded carrots and a jalapeno pepper.

Version #1: Spicy Sauerkraut with Jalapeno

For version #1, you’ll simply add a shredded carrot and a jalapeno.

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Spicy sauerkraut made with red pepper flakes and shredded carrot.

Version #2: Spicy Sauerkraut with Red Pepper Flakes

Oh wait, yes it does!

For version #2, simply add a shredded carrot and 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.

This amount of red pepper flakes makes a medium-spicy sauerkraut. If you want it spicy, you can go ahead and increase the amount!

Kraut-chi made with garlic, ginger, carrots, green onions, and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes).

Version #3: Kraut-Chi with Gochugaru

Version #3 has more of a kraut-chi vibe. I’m not at all trying to recreate authentic kimchi here. This is just an easy way to get a similar flavor.

Add a shredded carrot, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 1 clove of garlic, 2 green onions, and 3 tablespoons of gochugaru.

Kraut chi made with red pepper flakes, carrots, garlic, ginger, and red onion.

Version #4: Kraut-Chi with Red Pepper Flakes

Finally, we have version #4.

This one also has a kraut-chi flavor profile, but I used red pepper flakes in case you don’t have any gochugaru on hand. 

Add a shredded carrot, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 1 clove of garlic, 1/2 of a red onion (thinly sliced), and 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.

Again, adjust the heat according to your tastes!


Sterilizing a wide mouth glass jar for making sauerkraut.

Now it’s time to pack the spicy sauerkraut into a jar!

First, sterilize a wide mouth glass quart jar by pouring boiling water into it.

Make sure to dry the jar and let it cool before packing the kraut into it.

Packing the kraut into the sterile mason jar.

Next, pack the sauerkraut into the sterile jar with very clean hands.

Packing the spicy sauerkraut into the mason jar.

Press down on the cabbage mixture periodically while you’re filling the jar.

This allow it all to fit in the jar, and it also encourages the brine to rise to the top.

If your hands are too large to fit into the jar you may need to use a sauerkraut tamper to get the job done.

Cutting out a round of cabbage leaf for making sauerkraut.

Remember that cabbage leaf you saved earlier?

Cut out a circle that’s a little bit wider than your jar.

Putting the leaf on top of the kraut in the jar.

Place that circle of cabbage into the jar.

The round of leaf sitting on top of the spicy sauerkraut in the jar.

This helps to keep the sauerkraut below the brine.

Putting a glass fermentation weight on top.

Sterilize a glass fermentation weight and place that on top of the cabbage as well.

Now a fermentation weight isn’t 100% necessary, but it does help to keep everything submerged, preventing mold.

Screwing a plastic lid on top of the jar of homemade sauerkraut.

Finally, screw a plastic lid loosely on top of the jar.

I don’t recommend using a metal lid since it can rust.

I’ve never experimented with a fermentation lid, so I don’t know whether or not it makes a difference. Some people swear by them, though!

Easy spicy sauerkraut homemade recipe.


Allow to ferment until your preferred level of sourness is reached.

This is usually around 2 weeks for me, but you might prefer how your kraut tastes at 1 week, or many even 3 weeks.

A jar of kraut-chi made with gochugaru.

The temperature of your kitchen affects fermentation time: a warmer kitchen will ferment faster.

Check up on your kraut now and then to make sure it’s doing okay.

Be on the lookout for any mold or super funky smells.

Stay safe, and if it doesn’t smell right, don’t eat it!

If the brine gets too low (below the veggies), top it up with a 2% salt water solution.

4 jars of spicy sauerkraut on a kitchencounter.

So that’s the easy way to make spicy sauerkraut at home!

If you have any questions, make sure to leave a comment – I’d love to talk kraut with you!


Easy homemade spicy sauerkraut 4 ways!

More Healthy Homemade Recipes:

Easy Spicy Sauerkraut Recipe

4 easy spicy sauerkraut recipes for you to make at home!

Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Keyword Cabbage, Fermented, Probiotic, Sauerkraut, Spicy
Prep Time 40 minutes
Fermentation Time 7 days
Total Time 7 days 40 minutes
Servings 1 quart
Calories 15 kcal
Author Erica Kastner


Jalapeno Spicy Sauerkraut

  • 2 pounds cabbage (weigh before coring)
  • 4 tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced

Red Pepper Flakes Spicy Sauerkraut

  • 2 pounds cabbage (weigh before coring)
  • 4 tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more to taste)
  • 1 carrot, shredded

Kraut-Chi with Gochugaru

  • 2 pounds cabbage (weigh before coring)
  • 4 tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)

Kraut-Chi with Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

  • 1 ¾ pounds cabbage (weigh before coring)
  • 4 tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¾ tsp crushed red pepper flakes


For All Versions:

  1. Sterilize a wide mouth quart jar and a fermenting weight. Set aside.

    Sterilizing a wide mouth mason jar.
  2. Remove any brown/wilted outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut out the core of the cabbage and rinse it well, allowing the water to flow between the leaves. Drain well.

    Removing the outer leaves of a head of cabbage for making spicy sauerkraut.
  3. Remove one of the outer cabbage leaves and set aside for later.

    Removing an outer leaf of a head of cabbage.
  4. Finely chop the cabbage. This can be done by shredding it with a food processor.

    Shredding sauerkraut with a food processor.
  5. Place the cabbage in a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt on top and let sit for 15 minutes. Massage the cabbage for 5 minutes, or until it softens and releases its juices.

    Massaging cabbage to make spicy sauerkraut.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients for the particular type of spicy sauerkraut you're making. Stir well.

    Different types of spicy sauerkraut.
  7. Pack the mixture into the cooled sterilized jar, pressing down on the cabbage to get it to all fit in the jar.

    Packing spicy sauerkraut into a wide mouth mason jar.
  8. Cut out a round of cabbage from the leaf you reserved that's a bit bigger than the jar. Place the circle of cabbage on top of the sauerkraut in the jar to keep the veggies submerged under the brine.

    Cutting out a round of cabbage leaf.
  9. Place the fermentation weight on top. Screw a plastic lid loosely on top. Set aside in a spot out of direct sunlight. It's best to put the jar in a small dish to catch any overflow.

    A glass fermentation weight for making sauerkraut.
  10. Allow to ferment for 1-2 weeks, or until the sauerkraut is as sour as you like it. If at any point the brine gets too low, you can top it off with a 2% salt water solution.

    A jar of kraut-chi.
  11. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • If your hands are too large to fit into the jar, you may need to use a sauerkraut tamper to pack the kraut into the jar.
Recipe Rating


Sunday 4th of February 2024

How long can this stay in the fridge after the 2 week fermentation period?


Sunday 21st of January 2024

Do you have to burp the kraut? Normally I use a crock but wanted to try these in smaller quantities! Thanks for the recipes :)!

Erica Kastner

Monday 22nd of January 2024

The method I use doesn't require burping, but if you use a different lid/weight setup, definitely follow the instructions that come with that!


Sunday 24th of September 2023

Can't you just start with Cole slaw mix?

Erica Kastner

Sunday 24th of September 2023

I wouldn't really recommend that since the coleslaw mix could have been washed with something that could kill off the good bacteria. But I can't say for sure that it wouldn't work!


Saturday 8th of January 2022

I haven't tried it, but this came just in time when I've been searching for a spicy sauerkraut recipe. Sounds delicious, would try! Thanks!