Life in Poland

Bigos, baby!

Bigos is a Polish sauerkraut dish. It’s warm, filling, perfect for cold winter days, and it’s a crowd pleaser. Chris’s Bigos Recipe can be found at the end of the post.

OK, it’s a crowd pleaser when I make it, and the crowd consists of my family. It is not a crowd pleaser when your neighbor’s father makes it, improperly stores it in jars, and you and your whole family (minus the one person who didn’t eat any Bigos) spend the next three days in the bathroom. That was a couple of years ago, and it completely put us off Bigos. That’s not what we had in mind for a New Year’s cleanse.
I’m from Pennsylvania where it is a New Year tradition to make pork and sauerkraut served over mashed potatoes. They say it is an Amish tradition and that it brings good luck. With that tradition in mind, we decided to try our hand at Bigos again this year. I am proud to say that everything turned out as planned.
Bigos – Stage one: frying the onion, garlic, mushrooms and sausage with the other meat boiling in the back.

Bigos – Stage two: all ingredients simmering in the pot. Be prepared to be on “pot duty” in the kitchen. Somebody’s got to keep stirring the Bigos so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Bigos – Stage three: finished product after an entire day of cooking. The cabbage and meat are completely softened, and the color has darkened. 

Slice of bread and ceramics from Boleslawiec, optional. Polish breakfast of champions 😉

Chris’s Bigos Recipe – Polish Sauerkraut 

1.5 kilos (3 pounds) sauerkraut
1 large carrot 
1 onion
a couple cloves of garlic
1/4 pound mushrooms white or wild
prunes (20)
200 grams tomato paste (small jar)
1 tablespoon honey
meat of your choice but should include one smoked – I used smoked sausage and beef roast.
salt & pepper 
cumin – whole not ground
allspice – 3 berries 
laurel/bay leaf -2 or 3 leaves
juniper berry -2 or 3 crushed
sweet or semi sweet red wine – glass or two
How to make Bigos:
Rinse and chop the sauerkraut. Start cooking in pot or crockpot with some water. Grate or slice the carrot and add to the pot. Add water as needed. Some folks add some grated fresh cabbage as well. 
Fry the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and sausage. Boil or fry the remaining meat. I use 2 kinds of meat only, but some folks add smoked sausage, beef, pork or ham, and fried bacon. Add everything to the pot with the prunes, whole or chopped, spices and wine to taste, honey, and tomato paste. If you’d like a thicker stew, add some flour as a thickener. Cook forever till everything is soft and yummy. 
Adjust ingredients and proportions to your family’s taste.

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  • Reply
    The Twisted Red LadyBug / Anda Alexandra
    January 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    That is one yummy dish :)The Twisted Red LadyBug @

  • Reply
    January 4, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Mmm…delish! I've been craving it for days.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Delicious! Usually I leave it to my dad – he makes it at least three days (it has to be winter because it goes like that: cooking for a few hours, whole night outside to freeze it to make it even more soften). You end up with a huge pot of delicious bigos (so huge you'd have to put it into your freezer because you won't be able to eat that much). But it's the most delicious version!Nina

  • Reply
    January 19, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    Welcome Nina. I'm glad to hear that we aren't the only ones to put our Bigos outside for the night. None of it went to the freezer though. We ate it all up!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2015 at 9:02 am

    HI Chris, I'm wondering what cut of beef do you buy here in Poland to make bigos. Is it karkowa? I usually just ask for goulasz beef and say that I'm making zupa and it usually seems to work. 🙂 Thx!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Hi Joy – I use a lean beef roast. I don't really like karkowka. Whichever you choose, a night spent in the pot and it'll soften right up. Smacznego 🙂

  • Reply
    November 2, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    I recommend you to put a few prunes inside. it really does well for the bigos.

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