Lazy Sauerkraut Pierogi Casserole with Apple

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Lazy Sauerkraut Pierogi Casserole with Apple

Once the familiar crisp chill of autumn settles in, my mom eases back into her routine of making big traditional comfort meals for our Sunday suppers, instead of casual dinners cooked on the grill. A few years back she started making a dish called Lazy Pierogies that she learned from an old friend of the family. I was recently craving this dish, and as my mom was reading me the recipe over the phone, I saw my next project materialize.

It needed a little bit of a healthy makeover, 5 Star-style, and the timing could not have been more perfect. This month’s 5 Star Makeover theme is apples and I saw the perfect opportunity to ease them into this dish. Thanks to Natasha and Laz for hosting the event!

Lazy Sauerkraut Pierogi Casserole with Apple 2

For the same number of servings, the original recipe for Lazy Pierogies has more noodles than my version, and if you can believe it, a lot more butter too (up to 1 1/2 sticks or 12 tablespoons!). I’m all about the butter, but that’s excessive to the point of being ridiculous. And this dish traditionally has 1/2 to 3/4 cup of brown sugar (wow…there is no need for dessert when dinner has that much sugar!). Plus my mom usually serves Lazy Pierogies along with a generous portion of chicken kielbasa, which of course ups the amount of both fat and salt in the dish.

Health-wise, this recipe needed a little tweaking in more ways than one.

I wanted to keep the flavor profile of the dish while lightening it up a bit. (I’m trying to save up those extra calories for holiday baking that’s right around the corner!) So I did the following:

  • I used less noodles, and then to bulk the dish up with minimal calories, I added fresh cabbage.
  • Also because I used fresh cabbage, I used less sauerkraut (the original recipe calls for 2 lbs of sauerkraut and I reduced it to 1 lb, which is still a generous amount). I have to say, sauerkraut is a very healthy ingredient! The only reason I wanted to decrease it a bit was to lower the overall sodium content of the dish. (According to NutritionData, 100 g of sauerkraut has 661 mg of sodium, or 28% of the recommended daily value. So in the original recipe, the amount of sodium from 2 lbs (about 910 g) of kraut is: 910g kraut X 661mg sodium/100g kraut = 6,015 mg sodium. Yes, rinsing the kraut will remove some salt, but that is still a lot.) To reduce the salt, I not only rinsed the kraut before adding it to the dish, but I also cut the amount of kraut in half; since I added lemon juice, vinegar, and fresh cabbage, none of the flavor was sacrificed.
  • I used much less butter; it was still enough to add to the flavor of the dish, but not so much that it’s just silly how much excess butter is in there.
  • I took out the brown sugar (the amount that the original recipe calls for is outrageous). To provide a much more balanced subtle amount of sweetness, I used a lot less sweetener (I chose maple syrup instead of brown sugar) along with an apple.
  • To make this a vegetarian meal, I took out the chicken kielbasa that my mom usually serves with Lazy Pierogis (this dish is filling enough without any meat!). If you want to include meat while keeping the added fat and salt to a minimum, you could use boneless, skinless chicken breast. Thinly slice it and cook it up right before you cook the mushrooms, removing it from the pot before cooking the shrooms.

Lazy Sauerkraut Pierogi Casserole with Apple 3

It might be hard to believe, but this dish was every bit as delicious as the original version. And my mom actually asked me for the recipe!

A Quick Note on Pierogi: Of course, pierogi are actually dumplings filled with things like sauerkraut, potato, or cheese; what makes this casserole a quick version (or “lazy”, as the name says) is that it has all the flavors going on without having to make and fill each dumpling individually. According to Wikipedia, “Pierogi are small enough to be served several or many at a time, so the plural form of the word is usually used when referring to this dish. In Polish pierogi is actually the plural, pieróg being singular.”

Lazy Sauerkraut Pierogi Casserole with Apple 4

Lazy Sauerkraut Pierogi Casserole with Apple
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 8 servings
  • 12 oz egg noodles
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided, plus more to grease the dish
  • 1 lb button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1¼ lbs green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground marjoram
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 lb fresh sauerkraut, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 large semi-firm sweet-tart apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • Sour cream, for serving (optional)
  • Minced fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
  1. Cook the egg noodles according to the package directions; drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a 5-quart lidded pot over medium to medium-high heat; add the mushrooms and cook until browned, about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.
  3. To the same pot, add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter; once melted, stir in the cabbage, onion, lemon juice, vinegar, maple syrup, water, bay leaf, thyme, salt, marjoram, black pepper, and cloves. Cover the pot and cook until the veggies are softened about halfway, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes of cooking, add the apple and sauerkraut and continue cooking until everything is tender, about 10 minutes more.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F; butter a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish or 8 individual-sized gratin dishes. Pour the casserole into the dish (or dishes) and bake until it starts to turn a little golden on top, about 20 minutes in a large dish or 10 minutes in individual dishes.
  5. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of parsley on top if desired.

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  1. says

    I love pierogis and I love noodles with cabbage so this lazy pierogi dish is right up my ally. You are absolutely right, there is no need to add all those unhealthy ingredients to this dish, and I definitely think I’d prefer your makeover version to the original. Now I suddenly have an overpowering craving for pierogis. Thanks, a lot, Faith :-D lol

  2. says

    This looks I have a tin of proper German sauerkraut just begging to be opened and used in this fabulous deconstructed dish. Healthy comfort food. Roll on autumn! PS Tell your mother thank you from me!

  3. says

    ooh, this definitely is getting tried soon!! LOVE this healthier and easier version :) i only make them once a year (around thanksgiving, make a ton for the holidays) and can’t stray too much from the recipe. this would definitely be a great excuse to enjoy them year-round! fabulous :)

  4. says

    Looks delicious! I’m constantly doing the same thing — making over favorites of mine from when my mom made them and trying to get them healthy enough to enjoy on a regular basis. Hats off to your makeover… looks like you got it down pat!

  5. says

    Fantastic makeover. This is truly a dish to kick back and savor. All the while, enjoying the reduced calories. My dish certainly is not lacking in calories.

    Great photography as well.

  6. says

    This dish screams autumn Faith! I always try to reduce calories in old family recipes. Time has changed and we do nto live the way our grandparents did. I love your more healthified tweakening!

  7. says

    What an interesting recipe, I’m sure that it is absolutely delicious. The cabbage was an excellent decision for reducing the overall sodium content of the meal. Love maple syrup, must have been fun making this.

  8. says

    I love that you have the word “Lazy” in the title of your recipe ;) Also, your summary of the things that needed “tweaking” in the recipe is hilarious! I think you did a fantastic job making this recipe lighter and less salty, and your 5-star contribution is perfect!

  9. says

    I have vowed to clean up my act this fall and eat a little lighter. Things like dumplings and pierogis are problematic because of the filling/dough proportions. You have to eat a whole lot of dough before eating a tiny bit of filling. I try to make pasta with lots of vegetables, a little meat and not too much pasta. This dish fits my plan beautifully ( and I love maple syrup!!!). Lovely work, Faith!

  10. says

    I love your tweaks here!! Man, I love butter too but you’re not kidding, that sounds like a bit too much in the original! (Don’t tell your mom I said that.) And it’s anything but lazy!!

  11. Joan says

    I tried this recipe over the weekend and we loved it !! My daughter put kielbasa in hers and her husband loved it !!

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