Lazy Pierogi Casserole with Sauerkraut and Apple (aka Lazy Perogies) has all the flavor of a delicious perogy, but with a quick, easy, and healthier spin!
Once the 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 that she calls Lazy Perogies that she learned from an old friend of the family. (Growing up in Buffalo, New York, this is actually a fairly popular recipe!)
I was recently craving this dish, and as my mom was reading me the recipe over the phone I saw my next project materialize. Her Lazy Perogies needed a little bit of a healthy makeover.
Mom’s Lazy Pierogi Casserole Recipe (aka Lazy Perogies Casserole or Lazy Perogy Casserole)
For the same number of servings, my mom’s Lazy Pierogi Casserole recipe has more noodles than my version. And if you can believe it, her version has 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 typically has 1/2 to 3/4 cup of brown sugar. She said she wasn’t exactly sure because she always eyeballs it and then adds a touch more. Wow…there is no need for dessert when dinner has that much sugar, lol!
Plus my mom usually serves her perogy casserole along with a generous portion of chicken kielbasa. It’s delicious, but of course it increases the amount of both fat and salt in the dish.
Health-wise, my mom’s delicious and indulgent Lazy Perogies needed a little tweaking in more ways than one.
Healthy Casserole Makeover – How to Make a Casserole Healthier
I wanted to keep the flavor profile of the dish while lightening it up a bit. 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 pounds of sauerkraut and I reduced it to 1 pound, 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. 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 in my Lazy Pierogi recipe. It is still enough butter to add to the flavor of the dish, but not so much that it’s just silly how much excess 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. (Because this dish is pretty filling without any meat!) However, 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. And then stir it into the cabbage mixture along with the mushrooms and cooked noodles.
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!
Cabbage Pierogi Casserole with Apple
The addition of cabbage and apple in this recipe are my own twist. Using fresh cabbage means we can use less sauerkraut, which is delicious, but high in sodium. And apple not only adds nutrients, but also lends a slight sweetness so we can use less sweetener!
What is a Pierogi?
Also sometimes spelled perogy, perogi, and pierogy, this Eastern European dish is dumplings!
Pierogi are dumplings filled with things like sauerkraut, potato, or cheese. What makes this casserole recipe 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.”
More Casserole Recipes to Try:
- Old Bay-Spiced Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole with Buttered Toast Topping
- Taco Casserole
- Moussaka (Greek Beef Eggplant Casserole)
- Homemade Three Cheese Manicotti
- Cheesy Jalapeno Popper Casserole
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Lazy Pierogi Casserole with Sauerkraut and Apple (aka Lazy Perogies)
- 12 ounces egg noodles
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter divided, plus more to grease the dish
- 1 pound button mushrooms sliced
- 1 1/4 pounds green cabbage thinly sliced
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground marjoram
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 pound fresh sauerkraut rinsed well and drained
- 1 large semi-firm sweet-tart apple peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 8 tablespoons sour cream for serving
- Minced fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- Cook the egg noodles according to the package directions; drain and set aside.
- 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.
- To the same pot over medium to medium-high heat, 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 sauerkraut and apple, and continue cooking until everything is tender, about 10 minutes more.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the cooked, drained noodles and the browned mushrooms.
- 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.
- Top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream and minced fresh parsley. Serve.
- My mom always serves this casserole along with chicken kielbasa!
- 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. And then stir it into the cabbage mixture along with the mushrooms and cooked noodles.
- Freezer-Friendly: This dish freezes well! Thaw to room temperature before reheating. You can reheat this in the microwave or in a 350F oven covered with foil until warm throughout.
- Instead of egg noodles, kluski noodles are also delicious here.
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