Wholesome Cook

Bigos a Polish Sauerkraut, Sausage and Meat Stew

Bigos (pronounced bee-ghos) is a traditional Polish sauerkraut stew. Hearty, sticky and full of meaty flavours of pork, beef, smoked speck and sausages – it’s also Paleo. Perfect for the sort of cold and rainy weather you get in the winter.

Bigos Polish Paleo Sauerkraut Stew

What is Bigos?

Bigos – often called Hunter’s Stew – is a traditional Polish stew made with sauerkraut, various meat cuts and smoked sausages.

The recipe was widely used by travelling hunters peasants who fermented cabbage to make sauerkraut for winter. Cuts of meat, farmed and hunted were then added and slow-cooked together, to make a nourishing stew. Often, this involved using leftover meat cuts and cold cuts as well.

The recipe dates back centuries but has had a number of different renditions over this time. Nowadays wine, spices and lemon zest are often added to enrich the flavour.

Traditionally, the Polish sauerkraut stew is enjoyed in the winter months and often served on Christmas and Boxing Day.

Polish Bigos Recipe

The following rendition of the traditional Polish sauerkraut stew has come a long way from its peasant beginnings.

This bigos is spiked with a little red wine for deep colour and flavour. Lemon zest can also help add a layer of flavour. Smoky chorizo instead of traditional Polish juniper or garlic sausage adds a hint of warmth to the dish too. You can also add a handful of diced prunes to elevate the flavour further. Smoked prunes are even better if you can find them. Again, the idea going back to using summer’s bounty preserved for winter.

What to serve with bigos?

Serve bigos on its own if you’re after a Paleo version of the sauerkraut stew. Otherwise, a hunk of sourdough or steamed or mashed potatoes go very well with it as well.

How long can you store bigos for?

Bigos will keep in the fridge for up to a week. It also freezes well. Since it takes a good couple of hours to make, it pays to make a little extra and save it for another day.

Besides, it is best made a day ahead and cooked again the next day for an extra 30 minutes or so. The flavours and textures are there already, but perhaps not as intense as the would be the next day.  Having said that there is sure to be leftovers so feel free to try both and compare.

Now that you have the recipe and know how to make it, mover Reuben sandwich I say!

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Bigos a sauerkraut, sausage and meat stew + giveaway

While the sauerkraut might loose its probiotic properties due to the cooking, it is still a delicious treat with a slightly tangy-sweet flavour, Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, most get thrown in at the same time. You can buy sauerkraut (or weinkraut) from most major supermarkets and European delis. I like the Krakus brand because the cabbage is actually quite firm and crunchy and not too sour – or make your own using the recipe in The Wholesome Cook book. Instead of Polish smoked sausage, I used Chorizo which is very similar and readily available from any supermarket.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 chorizo diced
  • 100 g speck or streaky bacon diced
  • 1 kg sauerkraut
  • 200 g diced pork
  • 200 g diced beef
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms broken into small pieces
  • 100 g dried pitted prunes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 whole allpsice seeds pimento seeds
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 strip of lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined sugar of your choice
  • olive oil


  • To prepare the stew:
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Brown onion, chorizo and speck, mixing regularly. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Heat the remaining tablespoon oil over high heat and add the pork and beef. Sear on 2-3 sides and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add sauerkraut together with the cooked chorizo, speck and onion and all the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 1-2 hours or until meat is tender and falling apart to the touch.
  • To serve: Spoon bigos into a serving bowl, serve on its own, with mash, green salad or slices of fresh sourdough bread.


gluten-free dairy-free paleo
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Amber Templeton September 10, 2011 at 10:08 am

This sounds divine :-) I can imagine the aromas that would waft around the kitchen with this cooking away! Yummo! (GF too! Yay!) #gf

Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide September 10, 2011 at 11:23 am

I’m not entering the contest, sadly I won’t be in Melbourne for some time. (Loved it in 2008.) I loved this post, wasn’t familiar with this dish. Looks like a classic.

Sherilyn @ Wholepromise September 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Wow this looks so hearty and fulfilling. My husband would love this….. I’m not entering but coincidentally I will be in melbourne that weekend for a course and if i finish early i may have to head on over to the GF show to check it out…

Bizzy Lizzy September 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Delicious for this bitter cold in Springtime!

no one (@asmiym) September 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm

This sounds delicious! I’ll have to get the ingredients and make it next weekend #gf email asmiym at yahoo.com.au

JasmyneTea September 10, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Wonderful recipe! My partner likes to connect with his Polish heritage by cooking with Polish ingredients and recipes, so no doubt this will feature on one our dinner lists soon :)

lateraleating September 12, 2011 at 9:56 am

Interesting recipe, I never thought of using sauerkraut as a stew ingredient.

Candice Free September 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm

sounds wonderful but sadly due to my fructose malabsorbption, it’s a no no for me, however a double pass to the gluten free show would be amazing!! #gf

Natalie September 14, 2011 at 9:00 pm

I can’t wait to cook this! #gf

sportsglutton September 16, 2011 at 8:40 am

I’ve never heard of Bigos before, but it sounds absolutely awesome! Bookmarking this and definitely giving it a try. :-)

Emma September 16, 2011 at 10:58 am

Yummo!! Could I chuck it all in the slow cooker maybe? #gf tag

Wholesome Cook September 16, 2011 at 11:49 am

Hi Emma, definitely! I don’t actually own one so am unable to advise on cooking times, but it is a one pot slow cooked dish so can’t see why not!

5 things to make with Sauerkraut other than a Reuben « Wholesome Cook January 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

[…] Recipe: Sauerkraut hunter’s stew // Bigos […]

cook.eat.play March 15, 2012 at 2:14 pm

OMG pork and prunes? Sounds absolutely heavenly. I’ll be pinning this one to try for sure.

thekitchenexpert July 8, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Looks like real “comfort food”. My father was Polisg but my mother was Hungarian, so we grew up predominantly with Hungarian Cuisine. Fortunately, I am a good cook, so I am going to try this recipe out. #gf

Doodle17 March 19, 2013 at 11:30 pm

My dad was Hungarian so Sauerkraut is one of the things I love to eat. I looked for recipes using this
and found Bigos. I made it yesterday for tonights dinner, and it is absolutely lovely.
We will put Bigos on our ‘favourites’ list.

Filiep Bruynooghe April 23, 2014 at 1:04 am

Bigos is a Polish national dish. Every family has their own recipe(s). Nearly all Polish bigos recipes I encountered had tomato paste listed, since it is a winter dish, and ‘back in the good old days’ there were no fresh tomatoes around in Polish winter. But, feel free and inspired. Add whatever you like, Bigos it will be.
TIP: Once you have it all (whatever) in your pot and boiling, cover, and lower the flame as far as you can, really. It does not even have to bubble. 80C or 175F is fine, if you have time. Leave it alone for +/- 4 hours. Finally, open lid, stir, reheat to a boil, cover, and after 1 min turn off the gas. Have a good nights rest.
Next day, stir cold, reheat to a boil, stirring every now and again, cover again and let boil for a min or so. Turn off the gas and let it sit for 10 mins before lifting lid and serving.
Sounds all more complicated than it is. Use common sense and you’ll be fine.

Teresa Maria Vandal February 3, 2015 at 2:16 am

Fiiep, maybe you might like my version that my mother and my uncle taught me to make, and that the whole family loves. I do need to warn though; mine does not have alcohol, prunes, or tomato paste in it, and if you go to an actual Polish deli to get your sausage you might find one that has as much depth as Mexican Chorizo or Portuguese Chorico. I prefer using a combination of Kabanosy and Kielbasa Wieska. One thing my mom did not teach me though is that I put a cup of no sugar added apple juice in my Bigos to help reduce any left over sourness from the saurkraut that rincing did not help with. I also do not put potatoes in it… (I was taught not to)… I serve it with either pumpernickle or multigrain breads…

Maria Peszek July 9, 2016 at 9:28 pm

Teresa, I love the sourness so I leave all the sauerkraut juice in – but to each his own, I guess.

I make mine with regular cabbage and sauerkraut, smoky bacon (the kind you find in a good market deli), polish sausage, fresh mushrooms and dried porcini, onion, grated carrot and some passata. No prunes or wine. I discovered a polish spice mix specifically for bigos but prior to that I seasoned it with things like worcestershire sauce and even oyster sauce. As Filiep said, everyone has their version and bigos lends itself to a lot of variation.


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