Fried Sauerkraut Balls Are An Akron, Ohio Classic

Everything is better deep fried, right? From a simple basket of French fries to the more bizarre (but undoubtedly delicious) fair-classic fried Oreos, there's one thing America knows how to do right, and that's deep fry anything. While foods like French fries, onion rings, and fried chicken transcend state lines, there are plenty of regionally-beloved fried foods that fewer people know about.

For instance, Texas's famous chicken fried steak (or country fried steak) is a twist on fried chicken with beef taking center stage instead. Of course, in Philadelphia one might not be surprised that enjoying deep fried cheesesteaks for dinner is not uncommon. And, plenty of Midwestern states, particularly Wisconsin, love to enjoy deep fried cheese curds. Even Maine enjoys getting in on the fun when it comes to greasy food by frying up their famed lobster. While these dishes all sound relatively tame, you may be more surprised by Ohio's famous go-to deep fried appetizer.

Ohio is known for its fried sauerkraut balls, and the dish is sure to turn some heads. Look, we know sauerkraut can be a divisive dish flavor-wise. And, if you're not from the region, you may be shocked by it, but Ohioans know how tasty it can be. These balls are filled with gooey cheese, savory meat, and plenty of tang from the 'kraut, so make sure to learn about this dish first before passing any judgment.

History of fried sauerkraut balls

While sauerkraut balls are well adored by a countless number of Ohioans, many outside of the state are not familiar with this unique appetizer. According to Renee's Kitchen Adventures, it's known that the famed sauerkraut balls date all the way back to the 1960's, and it is also widely accepted that they were invented in the Northern city of Akron, Ohio. However, while their exact origin story is not known, they are believed to have come from either German or Polish immigrant influences. Many dishes in Ohio have roots with these European countries, as many immigrated to this area of America during the nineteenth and twentieth century.

While no one knows exactly where these famous appetizers were invented, they are currently available for purchase at plenty of Northern Ohio restaurants, especially in Akron. You may also see them at important family events in the area, from major holiday gatherings to wedding celebrations.

Ingredients in fried sauerkraut balls

No need to worry, these appetizers do not just simply feature funky sauerkraut in the center of this crispy dish. Plenty of other ingredients are mixed together to form a complex and delicious fare, and they feature all the necessary components to make it a star appetizer.

While the name may take after the sauerkraut portion of this recipe, there's plenty of supporting actors. Crumbled pork sausage and cream cheese are often the tasty binders in this dish adding both a salty and savory balance to the more sour and tangy sauerkraut. Chopped onion and, of course, sauerkraut are the other main components of the filling. Yellow mustard, garlic salt, pepper, and parsley are typically mixed in as seasonings.

The balls are then usually rolled in Italian breadcrumbs, flour, milk, and eggs before frying in vegetable oil. While there's lots of ingredients, these appetizers are actually quite quick and easy to make.

How fried sauerkraut balls are made and eaten

The first step to making these is to brown the sausage and onion in a hot and oiled skillet. Once cooked, the meat and onion gets mixed with drained and patted dry sauerkraut, some bread crumbs, cream cheese, the seasonings, and mustard. This is cooled in the fridge for about an hour. Once chilled, this mixture can be formed into balls. The balls get dipped in the egg, milk, flour, and bread crumbs, and then fried. When removed, they're placed on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

These fried appetizers should be served hot and fresh. They can be dipped in any condiment, from a classic and simple store-bought ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise to a homemade spicy hot sauce concoction. So, for your next family gathering or potluck event, make sure to try these Akron classics and whip up some scrumptious fried sauerkraut balls.