Grandma Jo’s Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake is a soft and moist chocolate cake topped with a thick and creamy chocolate frosting. (If you love chocolate cake but can’t bring yourself to try this one, be sure to also check out my Best Chocolate Cake Recipe!) But, who is Grandma Jo? She is my friend’s grandmother. We were visiting and happened to look at a cookbook of her recipes. While perusing the book of recipes, the sauerkraut chocolate cake certainly got my attention. So, of course, I had to test it. After I tasted it, I knew it belonged here!


Pan of Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake with Two Pieces Missing and the Spatula in the Pan.
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!

Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake

No, you did not read that wrong…there definitely IS sauerkraut in this chocolate cake. According to, “‘Sauerkraut Cake’ sounds like some sort of sick joke, but it is very real indeed. It came about in the 1960s as a result of the USDA Surplus Committee’s request (specifically to school lunchroom managers) for ideas to use up a large quantity of stockpiled canned sauerkraut.” It was credited to Mrs. Geraldine Timms who was a lunchroom supervisor.

I am honoring where my friend discovered the recipe, from her Grandma Jo. She uses a full 18 ounces in her version. I love the ingenuity and creativity and most definitely love the flavor of this decadent cake!

Overhead of a Pan of Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake with Chocolate Swirled Frosting.

Cake Ingredients

Sauerkraut: I will get to the unexpected ingredient first, the sauerkraut. Be sure to drain the sauerkraut and finely chop it before folding it into the batter. You could also put it in a food processor. 

Room Temperature Ingredients: Using room temperature ingredients, specifically butter and eggs, does make a difference in the final product of the cake. The texture will be light and fluffy.

Cocoa powder: I used Dutch-processed cocoa powder for both the cake and the frosting. Using Dutch-processed cocoa results in a darker color and more chocolate flavor in both.

Raw Chocolate Cake Batter with Sauerkraut In it Before Stirring.

Why Add Sauerkraut to Chocolate Cake?

I know people will wonder what the point is of adding sauerkraut to a chocolate cake. First of all, it adds some liquid to the batter, which gives the baked cake a little springiness to it. Second, the slight tanginess from the sauerkraut complements the sweetness of the chocolate. It does NOT taste bitter! And third, you get a little texture from it.

Fork Taking a Bite Out of One Piece of Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake on a White plate.

Can You Taste the Sauerkraut?

Nope! You could serve this to your friends and family who dislike sauerkraut, and they would never know it was in the cake. However, they would enjoy the moist tenderness of the cake, for sure! The only thing they might notice is the slight texture, similar to the consistency of coconut flakes, in the cake.

Can I Use Regular Unsweetened Cocoa?

Although I used Dutch-processed cocoa, you could use regular unsweetened cocoa for both the cake and the frosting instead. The difference would be that each would be a lighter color and will not be quite as rich tasting.

Piece of Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake with a Bite Removed and Fork Resting on the Plate.

How to Store Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake

This cake is fine at room temperature for 2-3 days. You could also store it in the refrigerator for a little bit longer. However, once people start eating the cake, it won’t last long no matter where you store it!

Can I Make Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake in a Different Pan?

Yes! This recipe could be made into a round layered cake. Use 2, 8-inch round cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. (This is how the original cake recipe was prepared.)

More Chocolate Cakes

4.88 from 8 votes

Grandma Jo’s Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake is a soft and ultra-moist and sweet chocolate cake topped with a thick and creamy chocolate frosting.



  • ¼ cup (½ stick / 57 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (59 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (250 g) water
  • 18 ounces sauerkraut, drained and chopped (about 1½ cups)


  • 3 cups (375 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (44g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
  • 3-5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  • Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with a hand mixer, starting on low and increasing to medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Again, mix on low, increasing to medium speed until incorporated.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
  • Alternating between the flour mixture and water three times, add each to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing until incorporated.
  • Fold in the drained and chopped sauerkraut.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool before adding the frosting.


  • In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth. Then, alternating between the sugar mixture and heavy whipping cream three times, add each to the creamed butter. (I ended up using all 5 tablespoons of the heavy cream.)
  • Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more whipping cream or sugar.
  • Spread the chocolate frosting over the cooled cake.


Did you make this recipe?

Thank you for making my recipe! You took pictures, right? Well go ahead and post them on Instagram! Be sure to mention me @iambaker and use the hashtag #YouAreBaker.

Share with your friends!

Categorized in: , ,

Related Recipes

Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

  1. Can’t rate it yet as I haven’t made it. My question is, must you rinse, then squeeze out the sauerkraut juice?
    Looking forward to trying this. I love using weird things that go into making delish recipes.

  2. It was great! More of a spongy texture after it cooked…..I did throw my sauerkraut in the Ninja. But you would never know what was in it!

  3. Just made this today. It’s AMAZING. Had some leftover sauerkraut and it’s so easy to make. Really good!! Will definitely make again.

  4. Have made Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake in the past using a cakemix. Will like using fresh ingredients, preservative free version better. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  5. sounds yummo where do you get your Dutch chocolate? i want to try exactly as you state.
    thank you

    1. Dutch processed cocoa. It refers to the way it has been processed. Fry’s cocoa powder is an example of a commonly found Dutch processed cocoa.

    1. Why would you make a chocolate cake without chocolate? There are millions of other recipes in the world. Just find another one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.